Archive for October, 2009

JetsInsider Thursday Team Report

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Running game’s revival centers around the boys up front

The Wildcat offense might be here to stay in the NFL,  but there will never be a substitute for a power running game.

The offensive line has engineered back-to-back 300 yard rushing games in the last two weeks.

The offensive line has engineered back-to-back 300 yard rushing games in the last two weeks.

The Jets have proven as much over the past two Sundays, registering back-to-back 300 yard games in each contest.  With the running game back in full swing, it’s time to give credit where it’s due – to the supremely talented offensive line.

“I think that’s a great group of players,” head coach Rex Ryan said.  “Individually, they all have outstanding talents, but it’s the way they play together, the way they combination block and the communication they have.  I think it starts with Bill Callahan.  He’s a tremendous offensive line coach and coach in general.  I think they are all smart, tough guys, durable, dependable.  This is an outstanding group.”

Part of being a good head coach is surrounding yourself with great assistant coaches, guys whose strong points are your weaker ones.  Ryan has done an outstanding job of knowing his limitations as a coach – he’s a defensive guy, which is why he still calls the plays on defense as the head man of the Jets.  But the offensive line is probably not something he’s a master of, so he sought to get the best man he could to fill the job.

Enter Callahan, who seems to be the right man for the job.  But a good coach, however, is only as good as his players.  And Callahan has some extremely talented guys to work with on the offensive front.

There’s D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the former fourth overall pick in the draft out of Virginia.  Taken in that same first round was center Nick Mangold.  Then you have high-priced free agent guard Alen Faneca.  Toss Damien Woody into the mix, and you’ve got a load of talent, and an even bigger amount of money, in one area of the ball club.  For all the money the team has committed to this unit, they’d better be performing at this level.

So while the credit being heaped on the guys in the offensive trenches, this shouldn’t be so unexpected.  This is a group that can be as dominant as any line in the game, and it will become increasingly important for them to perform as the weather in the NFC East begins to worsen.

With rookie signal caller Mark Sanchez having never thrown through the swirling winter winds in Giants Stadium, he will need to rely on his running game to put the team in positions to score points and come away with victories.  In order for that to happen, his star-studded offensive line needs to remain healthy – and productive – for this team to have a chance to compete for a playoff spot.

UPDATING THE INJURY FRONT

There was an extremely welcomed sight at Jets practice today – the stationary bikes reserved for players not participating in practice were completely empty, for the first time in what seems like forever.

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery was limited in practice, but as has been reported, he will most likely play Sunday against Miami.  Cornerback Lito Sheppard was also limited in practice today, but Coach Ryan is currently not optimistic he will play.  All other limited participants are expected to be ready to go for Sunday, leaving the Jets with a surprisingly full active roster outside the losses of Kris Jenkins, Leon Washington, and Sheppard.

REPLACING LEON

It’s impossible to fill the void of a player who does as much for your team as Leon Washington does for the Jets.  But the show must go on, so Justin Miller will be returning kicks Sunday for Gang Green.  Miller was the Jets’ return man before Washington put a stranglehold on the job, so there is some familiarity there, and Miller’s experience makes him a more than formidable replacement.

“We want to give a total chance and a complete opportunity,” special teams coach Mike Westoff said.  “In some ways his style, because of his speed is a little bit more adept to running with a two-man (wedge) rather than a three-man (wedge) so I think there might be a little bit of advantage there.  He looks good at practice so we want to give him every opportunity and then we’ll go from there.  I have a great comfort level with him.”

It will be interesting to see how well Miller performs, and whether he and running back Shonn Greene can replace the production Washington afforded the Jets.  The first test is just four days away.

The team returns to the practice field for a workout beginning at 11:50 AM.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.

I

Back on Track, But Carrying One Less

Monday, October 26th, 2009
The Jets lost versatile running back Leon Washington for the season in their win over the Oakland Raiders with a fracture fibula.

The Jets lost versatile running back Leon Washington for the season in their win over the Oakland Raiders with a fractured fibula.

You would think there’d be nothing bad that could come out of a dominant 38-0 road victory, especially one that gets your team back on the right track in all phases of the game.

But in the case of Sunday’s beatdown of the hapless Oakland Raiders, the team was hit with a loss much more devastating than a 3-game losing streak.

Running back Leon Washington, the Jets’ do-it-all standout offensive performer, was lost for the season in the Jets’ victory Sunday afternoon, suffering a broken fibula while being tackled on a running play.  Gang Green could have won 60-0, and the injury to Washington still wouldn’t have put a major damper on an otherwise outstanding performance.

“It’s horribly unfortunate,” center Nick Mangold said of Washington’s injury.  “It’s tough to lose a guy like Leon.  It’s tough to lose a player like Leon and it’s tough to lose a friend like Leon.”

Indeed, the loss of Washington is a potentially devastating blow to this Jets squad.   One player accounting for the majority of special teams return yards, in addition to a nice chunk of yards from scrimmage on offense, makes that player awfully hard to replace in the even that player gets hurt.

But like with every dark cloud, this one has a silver lining, and he’s sporting the number 23 on the back of his jersey.

I’m talking of course about running back Shonn Greene, who scampered for 144 yards on just 19 carries with two touchdowns in the win.  We’ve been waiting for the rookie out of Iowa to make an impact, and even though a large chunk of his yards were earned in garbage time, performance can’t simply be dismissed.

The Jets traded up to draft this guy for a reason.  They see a running back of the future in him, and after Sunday’s performance, you’d have to at least start thinking about drinking the CoolAid.

“I’m just going in there and try to do the best I can and do what I’m able to do,” Greene said of his new role in the offense.  “(I’m going) to try to help the team out in any way that whether it’s on special teams and then again, being on offense.  I just look forward to more opportunities and doing the best I can.  I’m not going to fill Leon’s shoes, but I’m going to do the best I can.”

The Raiders are not exactly the type of defense you can measure a running back against, so we can’t consider Greene as having “arrived”.  But it’s definitely a step in the right direction for the rookie runner, and with his role set to increase, a nice confidence boost heading into a crucial divisional game against the Miami Dolphins.

QUOTES FROM THE VICTORS

Other than the loss of Washington, the team has plenty to be excited about after Sunday’s victory.  Their quarterback didn’t need to be spectacular, but he also didn’t make mistakes, something that has clearly plagued him in recent weeks.  And the defense was back to it’s dominating self, pitching a shutout against a team who’d beaten the Philadelphia Eagles the week before.

“It’s a good springboard,” Mangold said.  “You go out and you see what we’re able to accomplish, what we had planned to do leading up to it and what we’re able to do.  It gives you good confidence giong into this week.  It’s going to be great to be back at home.”

Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates throughout the week leading up to Sunday’s matchup with Miami.

JetsInsider Thursday Team Report

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

A dose of good news on the injury front, and sizing up the replacement for #77.

Jerricho Cotchery participated in individual position drills today, but its uncertain whether or not he will play Sunday in Oakland.

Jerricho Cotchery participated in individual position drills today, but it's uncertain whether or not he will play Sunday in Oakland.

When a team is on a slide the likes of which these New York Jets are currently riding, a piece of good news, any good news, is met with abnormal enthusiasm.

Such was the case today at the club’s training facility, when wideout Jerricho Cotchery not participating in practice, but taking part in individual position drills during the day’s workout, #89 still being bothered by a hamstring injury.

“Today was a big step for me,” J-Co said of his return to the practice field.  “I just want to build on today, and just try to get better every day and not have any setbacks.  It was a good start for me.”

Indeed, the sight of Cotchery on the field should be one for sore eyes as far as this team is concerned.  We have yet to see him on the field opposite Braylon Edwards, therefore leaving the true possibilities of the offense’s potential still a mystery.

But most importantly, if Cotchery can strap it on this week and get on the field for the Jets’ matchup against the Raiders, he will provide another weapon for suddenly struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Cotchery is, after all, a player who Sanchez went through all of training camp developing a chemistry with.  His 24 total receptions and 360 receiving yards are both team highs even though he’s missed a week, so its’ clear him and the rookie have developed a good rapport in their time together.

But there was also never another option like there is now that Edwards has joined the fold.  With Cotchery off the field against the Bills, Sanchez was guilty of targeting Edwards too much, leading to some of the misques the former Trojan made throughout the course of the game.

Having another receiver of J-Co’s caliber on the field will force Sanchez to not look simply in one direction to make plays, and that just might be the trick that helps him.  It will force him to look to another side of the field, and will allow him not to force as many balls into tight coverage.

David Clowney has had some nice moments in his time on the field, but he is not Jerricho Cotchery.  J-Co back in the mix will not allow to the Raiders to double Edwards, which could spell disaster for Sanchez after his awful effort last week.  If he can get on the field for Sunday’s game, you could see a vastly different Jets offense then the one we saw against the Bills.

POUHA GETS THE NOD

Defensive tackle Sione Pouha has been tabbed as the man to replace injured tackle Kris Jenkins in the starting lineup for Sunday’s matchup in The Black Hole.  While Pouha has seen considerable action so far this season, the role of filling the void in the defense is one he doesn’t consider to be a daunting task.

“I’m excited to go out there and get a win,” he said.  “I know circumstances have put me in a situation where it’s been kind of highlighted a little bit more.  It’s not anything new.”

“He’s just a powerful guy,” head coach Rex Ryan said of Pouha.  “Anytime you come in and see us going through drills (and) hitting that buck board.  He is a powerful man.  When his pads are down and he rolls off the football, he’s a handful in his own right.”

As for the absence of Jenkins, Ryan reached back into the annals of Jets coaching lore to properly analyze the current situation.

“To quote a former New York Jet head coach, Lou Holtz, he would say, “Adversity to some becomes opportunity for others.”  That’s a true statement.  Some of these guys are goign to have opportunities and they’ve been working the whole time.  We’ll see how it pans out for them, but I have a lot of faith in those guys.”

GETTING THE MOJO BACK

Thursday’s practice was all about playing with more “energy” after a relatively sluggish workout on Wednesday.  The team responded to the call of Coach Ryan, and put forth one of their best practices of the season in the eys of the head man.

“Practice today was excellent.  The communication was much better than yesterday.  We were flying around.  It was great competition.  We had our tw0-minute (drill) today and it was great competition.  The energy of the practice, I think, was really good today.”

OTHER INJURY NEWS

In addition to Cotchery, wide receiver Brad Smith (quad), tackle Damien Woody (knee, foot) and cornerback Lito Sheppard (quad) did not practice.  Wideout Braylon Edwards (quad) defensive end Shaun Ellis (knee) and cornerback Donald Strickland (ankle) were limited in today’s activity.  Linebackers David Harris (wrist) and Larry Izzo (hamstring), safety Kerry Rhodes (knee), linebacker Bryan Thomas (wrist) and wide receiver Wallace Wright (knee) all participated fully in practice.

The team returns to the practice field for a Friday workout beginning at 11:50 AM.  Check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.


The Aftermath

Monday, October 19th, 2009

With Jenkins gone for the year and Sanchez struggling, where do the Jets go from here?

The Jets have lost nosetackle Kris Jenkins for the season with a knee injury

The Jets have lost nose tackle Kris Jenkins for the season with a knee injury

How quickly things can change in 21 days.

It seems like just yesterday these Jets were the toast of the league at 3-0, seemingly destined for a run deep into January with a lights-out defense and a rookie quarterback playing as if he was a ten-year veteran.  But here we stand now with the same club at 3-3, having just suffered a disastrous loss to the previously 1-4 Buffalo Bills.

And if that wasn’t enough to make the New York sports media go into full-scale Panic Mode, the news today that nose tackle Kris Jenkins will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL suffered in yesterday’s loss certainly has to do the trick.

“It’s going to be hard to replace Kris,” head coach Rex Ryan said.  “There’s not many Kris Jenkins playing in this league.  Obviously, his impact is going to be felt.  I have a lot of confidence in the guys we have behind him, Sione (Pouha) and Mike DeVito.  I have confidence in these guys, but to think they are going to come in and play like Kris, that’s not realistic.  We’re all going to have to step up our game to make up for the loss.”

“It comes with the game,” Jenkins said.  “My feelings are hurt that I won’t be able to be out there fighting with my teammates this year.  It still doesn’t mean I’m not a part of this team.  Things happen for a reason.  I’ll take care of it, get it together and go from there.”

This injury couldn’t come at a worse time for this club.  They were already reeling from three straight bad losses, and now a key cog of their defense is gone for the year.  A lot of what a Rex Ryan defense does is predicated on having a big tackle in the middle of the defensive line to bottle up the running game – his units in Baltimore reached another level when the team drafted Haloti Ngata, the mammoth defensive tackle currently occupying Jenkins’ spots in the Ravens’ defense.

So how does the defense recover?  Ryan was right – you can’t replace a player like Jenkins, so it’s not really worth trying to find someone that’s going to give you the production he did.  But they need to understand what opposing defenses are going to do to them from here on out.

If you thought opponents were trying to run against this defense before, just wait and see how often they try and pound the rock with Jenkins out of the lineup.  The way to neutralize Ryan’s exotic blitzes is to stay out of third-and-long situations, and if they can run the ball effectively, those situations will become nonexistent.  It won’t be easy, but it’s imperative Ryan figures out a way for this defense to stop the run with Jenkins gone. If they don’t, teams will be running the ball over, through and around this unit for the next 10 weeks.

THE PSYCHE OF SANCHEZ

Five picks in a single game have to weigh on you.  You wouldn’t be human if they didn’t.

Mark Sanchez cant have too many more of these reactions.

Mark Sanchez can't have too many more of these reactions.

But what separates us from the athletes we cheer is not just their talent, but their mental toughness.  Their ability to move forward when they come extremely close to single-handedly costing their team the game, and somehow block it out the next time they take the field.

That’s what Mark Sanchez must do now after the worst game of his brief professional career, and he must do it quickly to maintain the confidence his coaches and fellow teammates have in him.  But those coaches don’t seem to think his confidence is a problem, a welcome sign both in the locker room and in the stands.

“He’s resilient,” Ryan said of Sanchez.  “He’s going to come back from this.  I believe that.  He’s mad at himself because he thinks he let his team down.  Could he have played better?  Absolutely.  There’s a lot of guys that could have played better.  When he makes a mistake, they are obviously much more glaring and he has to realize that sometimes it’s okay to take the incompletion.  You don’t have to try to force a ball in there and try to complete every pass.  If it’s not there, get rid of it.”

As for the rest of the team, Ryan offered the same positive message as to the morale of the rest of his troops.

“We have a lot of good players on this team.  We are not backing down, we are stepping up and that’s the way it’s got to be.  Each week, it’s win one game a week and that’s not asking too much.  That’s where our entire focus is going to be.  Not looking behind us, not looking too far ahead.  We are about the present.  Right now, we are going to play Oakland and our entire focus and everything is going to be on just accomplishing that mission, not getting ahead of ourselves.”

The team returns to the practice field Wednesday for a workout beginning at 11:50.  Check back to JetsInsider for all your news and updates.

Jets-Bills Preview: Getting you ready for Week 6

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

The Jets find themselves in an interesting position heading into their week six matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

The talk of the league just 13 days ago, Coach Ryan’s squad now finds themselves at just a single game over .500, and have seen each of unit of their club become suspect over their last two losses.

With the Bills, currently sitting at 1-4, coming to the Meadowlands, this is an opportunity for the Jets to get themselves right against a struggling team that hasn’t found its rhythm offensively in the season’s early going.  But that doesn’t mean this game is going to be an easy victory – if Gang Green isn’t careful, this one could end up sneaking away from them, putting them at a disappointing 3-3 through the season’s first six weeks.

With that in mind, here’s three things the Jets must do to get back on the winning track in their week six matchup against Buffalo:

The D needs to get back to its dominant ways against the Bills Sunday

The D needs to get back to its dominant ways against the Bills Sunday

1.  ATONE FOR LAST WEEK’S DEFENSIVE DUD: 413 yards of total offense, 151 of them coming on the ground?  Not exactly the type of performance Jets fans expected when the defense lined up against the Miami Dolphins’ Wildcat attack.  But that’s precisely the stinker the D put up Monday night, overshadowing an outstanding performance from newly acquired wideout Braylon Edwards and the offense.

Two things stuck out like sore thumbs in the loss:  the unit’s inability to get to the quarterback, and the inability to get off the blocks being put on by the Dolphins offensive line, both polar opposites of the staples of a Rex Ryan-coached defense.  The Jets will be dealing with an anemic offense in week six, so this is a great opportunity to get back to the basics of what they do on the defensive side of the ball, and doing them well.  They can make this game hell for Trent Edwards and Company, so look for the group to get back to pounding the quarterback in a big way Sunday afternoon.  The Bills offense has been terrible at best so far this season, so this should be a great chance for the defense to get back on track.  But it’s important for them to be dominant in this game as a confidence boost as they head into the rest of their schedule.

2. GET THE RUNNING GAME GOING: Thomas Jones is currently sitting at 247 yards on the season, through five games.  His

The Jets need more Thumbs Up performances from Shonn Greene and the running game.

The Jets need more "Thumbs Up" performances from Shonn Greene and the running game.

yards-per-carry average is down nearly a full yard from 2008, and he’s on pace for nearly 500 fewer yards then the 1,312 he put up last season.

If the Jets are going to win tough games in December when throwing conditions may be tough, they are going to need to get the running game going in a big way.  The addition of Edwards should open things up in the box for Jones, Leon Washington and Shonn Greene, but the absence of wideout Jerricho Cotchery will allow the Bills to continue to stack the box with eight defenders, forcing Mark Sanchez to beat them.

The Jets have a high-priced offensive line that is talented and experienced, and it’s time they start creating some holes for their running backs.  The Bills are currently giving up 4.7 yards per carry, good for 14′th in the AFC.  So if the Jets aren’t going to run against this group, who are they going to run against?

3.  MAKE USE OF THEIR NEWEST WEAPON: The Jets have brought running back-turned-wideout Danny Woodhead off the practice squad and will have him on the roster for Sunday’s game against Buffalo, due to the injuries to Cotchery and wideout Brad Smith.

While you may consider this a meaningless move, you should take a closer look.  Woodhead has the versatility to be a productive player at the wideout spot – he gave the Jets defense fits in their preparation for the Patriots game posing as Wes Welker.  He could give the squad a nice option in the slot with his speed and elusiveness.  He might just be there to fill up the roster, but offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer should consider utilizing his newest weapon.  With David Clowney and Edwards on the outside, there may be openings underneath for Woodhead and tight end Dustin Keller to wreak havoc on the Bills defense.

PREDICTION: The Bills are a hapless group right now, and the Jets are angry and embarrassed after their defensive performance against the Dolphins.  The defense gets itself right Sunday, and the offense doesn’t miss a beat with the injuries at wide receiver.   The Jets move to 4-2 on the season, and the Bills move further and further away from relevancy.

FINAL SCORE:  Jets 31, Bills 6


Jets Insider Thursday Report

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Injuries Rock the Receiving Core

Wideout Brad Smith was one of two receivers to miss practice Thursday

Wideout Brad Smith was one of two receivers to miss practice Thursday

This Thursday afternoon practice was marked by who wasn’t on the field at wide receiver, not the other way around.

Just seven days ago, wideout Braylon Edwards was on the practice field for the first time as a Jet.  But on this Thursday, the receiving core looked a whole lot thinner than the addition of Edwards should have allowed.

Wideouts Jerricho Cotcery (hamstring) and Brad Smith (quad) did not practice once again today, leaving Edwards, and David Clowney as the starting options for quarterback Mark Sanchez on the outside during the workout.

It remains unclear whether or not either will play, but head coach Rex Ryan stated in his daily press conference that it “doesn’t look good” for Cotchery playing Sunday when the Jets welcome in the 1-4 Buffalo Bills.

It looks like we may have to wait another week to see what an offense with Edwards and Cotchery on the same field can do.  All signs point to J-Co not being on the field Sunday, which coupled with the absence of Smith leaves it up to David Clowney to step up once again.

He had a rock-solid game Monday night in Miami, and showed the big play ability we’ve all been waiting to see in a game that actually counts in the standings.  We’ve now seen the lows (the Twitter fiasco) and the highs for Clowney, and Monday night’s performance might signal a turning of the corner for the young wideout.

The absence of Jerricho Cotchery presents an opportunity for David Clowney

The potential is certainly there – he has the breakaway speed that is so tough to defend against in the NFL, especially with Edwards now on the opposite side and tight end Dustin Keller in the middle.  With Cotchery most likely down for the second straight game, we might be witnessing the emergence of Clowney we’ve all been waiting for.

A solid third receiver would make the offense even more dangerous when Cotchery returns, but it certainly will be interesting to see how “Mr. August” takes advantage of the opportunity in front of him in Cotchery’s absence.  So far, so good.

WOODHEAD WEARS A NEW HAT

Danny Woodhead has been moved to wide receiver on the Jets practice squad

Danny Woodhead has been moved to wide receiver on the Jets' practice squad

Practice squader Danny Woodhead was greated with a new number before today’s practice; 83.  With all the injuries at wide receiver, Woodhead has moved to that position on the practice squad, just in case he’s needed for Sunday’s matchup against Buffalo.

“It kind of all happened fast,” Woodhead said.  “I got a call from my running backs coach [Anthony Lynn]. He told me they’re going to try me out there. “I’m out there to do whatever the coaches want me to do. This is not a ‘me’ thing. Any way I can help us out, I’m going to help us out.”

“I think we’re looking at him as he might give us a better option right now if our receivers are down,” Ryan said.  “There’s a chance Jerricho and Brad won’t play. He could be a slot receiver,” Ryan said. “Sometimes you stumble into it, but he did a great job being Wes Welker when we were preparing for New England. When we put him in the slot, he was tough, he really was.”

OTHER INJURY UPDATES

Defensive end Shaun Ellis (knee), and tackle Damien Woody (foot) also did not participate in practice today, with cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland (ankle) limited in the day’s activities.

On the positive side, linebacker Larry Izzo (hamstring), safety Jim Leonhard (knee), safety Kerry Rhodes (knee), and wide receiver Wallace Wright (knee) participated fully in practice for the second consecutive day.

RAIN’S NOT ALL BAD

Some look at the rain being dumped on Florham Park Thursday as a damper on practice, but Coach Ryan feels dealing with poor conditions is a positive for his club.

“Any time you get a chance to work in the elements, things like that, just in case it ever happens, it’s good to get out there,” he said.

With rain in the forecast for this weekend, it’s nice for the club to get used to being out in the wet conditions as they prepare for the divisional game against the Bills.    Coach Ryan did remark, however, that the team will be practicing indoors at the Jets’ training facility on Friday.

Be sure to check back to JetsInsider tomorrow for updates from Friday’s workout.

DOLPHINS 31 – JETS 27

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Dolphins’ wildcat makes fish food out of Gang Green defense. 

MIAMI – Last week, it was the rookie quarterback that was given a wake-up call in Gang Green’s loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Tonight, the harsh dose of reality was issued to the defense, the trash-talking, brash unit that until tonight seemed nearly impenetrable.

The side of the football that has been Rex Ryan’s staple was dominated by an unproven quarterback and a gimmick offense Monday night, with the Miami Dolphins using the Wildcat formation and the steady hand of qb Chad Henne (20-26, 241 yards with two touchdowns) to gash the vaunted Jets defense for 31 points and 313 total yards – 151 of them on the ground – en route to an upset 31-27 victory in Miami.

A great debut by WR Braylon Edwards was ruined by a poor performance by the Jets defense on Monday Night.

A great debut by WR Braylon Edwards was ruined by a poor performance by the Jets defense on Monday Night.

It was about as an unchacteristic a performance as you could imagine from a defense that allowed just 10 points to the New Orleans Saints, the best offense in the NFL, eight days ago. Coach Ryan’s Baltimore Ravens defense had shutdown Miami’s Wildcat offense twice in 2008, so it seemed a mortal lock that his new squad would do the same on this night.

But the Dolphins used a variety of wrinkles within the Wildcat formation, providing enough looks to dominate the Jets’ D from the opening whistle and eventually score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take the victory. Suddenly an aggressive, punishing defense was reduced to a unit being thrown around for 60 minutes, unable to shed blockers or get to the quarterback, virtually helpless to stop the onslaught of running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.

Brown got the scoring started at the halfway mark of the first quarter, when he notched his first touchdown run of the game to give the Dolphins a 7-0 lead. The cushion would be short-lived as newly-acquired wide receiver Braylon Edwards made his presence felt early on in his first game as a Jet, catching a Mark Sanchez pass in the back of the end zone and scraping his feet in bounds for the six.

Miami would take a 10-7 lead in the final minute of the first quarter, when Dan Carpenter connected on a 35-yard field goal. Jets kicker Jay Feely answered with two field goals of his own in the second quarter, connecting from 40 and 43 yards to give Gang Green a 13-10 lead in the final seconds of the first half.

After a scoreless third quarter, the AFC East rivals exploded for five touchdowns in the final 15 minutes of play. The first came just 47 seconds into the frame, when Henne hit tight end Anthony Fasano on a play-action rollout pass to give the Fins a 17-13 lead. Sanchez and the Jets responded on the very next series, as he hit wide receiver David Clowney on a deep ball that brought Gang Green deep into Dolphin territory. After an Intentional Grounding penalty, Sanchez once again found Edwards near the goal line, this time lofting a ball for his new target down the sideline and watching the wideout make a highlight reel catch at the pylon, falling out of bounds between two defenders inside the one yard line. Running back Thomas Jones would punch it in from there, putting the Jets back on top 20-17.

But Henne wasted little time as he exposed an uncharacteristic breakdown in coverage by Darrelle Revis, hitting receiver Ted Ginn Jr. on a 53-yard bomb that swung the lead back in favor of the Dolphins for the second time in the quarter at 24-20. Sanchez, who finished 12-24 for 172 yards and a touchdown, engineered yet another touchdown drive, culminating in Jones’ second score of the quarter and putting the Jets on the brink of victory with a 27-24 victory. It figured to be a wrap at this point – five minutes to go and a defense that even though they had been handled so far, seemed poised to get the stop they needed to secure the win.

But the Dolphins saved their final wrinkle for the game’s crucial minutes as rookie quarterback Pat White, unused in the Wildcat formation through the first four weeks, emerged to lead the dolphins on the final series of the game and get the offense started on the game-winning drive. Henne eventually took over, using his outstanding accuracy to convert several huge throws on the drive, moving the Dolphins down to the Jets one. Brown secured the victory with a keeper from a yard out to secure the 31-27 victory with six seconds to play, dropping the Jets to 3-2 on the young season.

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

Edwards was outstanding in his Jets debut, grabbing five balls for 64 yards and a touchdown. David Clowney also had a solid night, pulling down four balls for 78 yards. On defense, linebacker Bart Scott lead the team with 10 total tackles, nine of them solo.

Insider Thursday Team Report

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Edwards dons the Green and White

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – This wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill Thursday practice at Jets camp.

Sure, the drills may have been the same, and the order in which they were carried out hadn’t changed.  But there was a new face performing those drills today, someone Gang Green hopes can elevate their offense to a Super status.

Newly-acquired wide receiver Braylon Edwards participated in his first Jets practice today, amid the media buzz about the talented former Cleveland Brown’s arrival to the Big Apple.

New Jets WR Braylon Edwards at his first practice with the team. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

New Jets WR Braylon Edwards at his first practice with the team. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

As he went through position drills it was perfectly apparent why the Jets’ front office and Rex Ryan decided this was a guy they had to have.  Edwards has been blessed with an alarmingly imposing physique, his 6′3″ frame towering over some of the defensive backs on the club.  And his problems holding on to balls thrown his way were no problems at all on this day – only one ball thrown in his direction hit the carpet.

His talents are evident, but can he learn enough of the Jets’ offensive system to be available to play Monday night in Miami when Gang Green takes on the Dolphins?  The answer, according to head coach Rex Ryan and Braylon, is a resounding “yes”, as the team intends to start Edwards on Monday night.

“It felt real good,” Edwards said of his first day on the field as a Jet.  “I think I was lucky and fortunate that Rob Chudzinski was the former offensiver coordinator in Cleveland.  Especially because he spent some time in San Diego and worked under Schotty (Brian Schottenheimer).  I know a lot of the terminology.  I was able to pick it up and really move today as opposed to pointing in this direction, that direction.  It went really well.”

“He’s way ahead of where I even thought he’d be,” Ryan said.  “It’s great to see.  He knows the formations already, the verbiage of that.  So he’s at least going to be able to get lined up.  We’re going to have a little system in place where we’ll tell him what the routes are.  He’s way ahead of the game.”

Edwards may be ahead of the game, but it’s the Jets offense who has taken a giant leap forward with him coming on board.

He is the breakaway threat this unit has been starving for.  Teams can no longer stack the box with eight or nine men eliminate the run game, forcing rookie signal caller Mark Sanchez to beat them.  If they do decide to do that, you have Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery on the outside, in one-on-one matchups.  You’d have to like your chances if you’re the Jets if that situation arises.

Having a player of Edwards’ caliber on the outside opens everything up in the middle of the field, which is why Thomas Jones, Leon Washington and tight end Dustin Keller should be ecstatic this guy is wearing their colors now.  You can talk about the dropped passes all you want – you know in the New York media, every dropped pass is going to be a newsworthy event.

But it’s the threat of Braylon Edwards that the Jets needed.  The threat of a big-play receiver on the outside.  Jerricho Cotchery is a top-flight receiver in the NFL, but there’s only a small handful of wideouts who can both command, and still be successful when a doubleteam comes their way.  Having Edwards means single coverage for Cotchery, a situation in which he can immediately excel.

Putting Edwards on the field with the Jets offense makes every player on the unit better, including Sanchez.  His presence alone will create positive changes to a unit that wasn’t very far away from being outstanding.  With another weapon at their desposal, this move could prove to be a huge one as the season progresses.

BRAYLON EDWARDS FIRST PRACTICE PICS

INJURY UPDATE

On the injury front, cornerback Donald Strickland did not practice Thursday, still hampered by the ankle injury he suffered in the Patriots game.  Tackle Damien Woody also did not practice today due to a foot injury, and it’s uncertain whether or not either will play Monday against the Dolphins.  Jerricho Cotchery, Kerry Rhodes and cornerback Lito Sheppard were limited in practice today, but all are expected to play against Miami.

On the positive side, linebackers Larry Izzo (hamstring) and Bryan Thomas (wrist), and safety Jim Leonhard (knee) all participated fully in practice today.

MONEY MAY MAKES A HOUSE CALL

If the Jets want to be champions, they need to surround themselves with champions.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., regarded as pound-for-pound the best boxer in the world, paid a visit to practice to provide some inspirational words to Coach Ryan’s Jets, and issue a warning to kicker Jay Feely.

“He did have a message for Feely,” Ryan said.  “He said, ‘Don’t be missing any field goals.’ ”

As for his message to the team, Mayweather gold Gang Green that he loves their style of play, and that they’re currently in the top five teams on “Money May’s Power Rankings”.

“It’s kind of neat that here’s a guy in another sport altogether, but he enjoys football and enjoys watching the Jets play,” Ryan said.  “It was great to have him out there.”

The Jets return to the practice field Friday for a practice session beginning at 11:50 AM.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider for all your news and updates.

INSIDER MONDAY REPORT

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Saints post-mortem, Pace Back

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – A day after the Jets were given a non-stop flight back down to Earth, they were greeted at their training complex by a familiar face Monday afternoon, one that will undoubtedly send chills down the spines of quarterbacks around the NFL.

Linebacker Calvin Pace was back at the Jets compound Monday, fresh off his four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

The Jets defense will get a big shot in the arm this week with the return of LB Calvin Pace. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

The Jets defense will get a big shot in the arm this week with the return of LB Calvin Pace. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“I’ve never been so happy to see 61 guys in my life,” the linebacker said.  Being away from the game is tough.  People ask me (if I) have a game today, and I need to explain to them why (not).  I’m just ready to get started.”

With the way this defense has been playing, it was easy to forget that it was without a player of Pace’s caliber.   This is, after all, the defense that limited Drew Brees and the video game-esque New Orleans Saints offense to just 10 points, and held Brees without a touchdown pass.  They’re also the same unit that has not allowed a fourth-down conversion through the season’s first four weeks.  And they’ve been doing it without a starter who’s known for being able to put pressure on the quarterback.  Like they need more guys like that.

“Calvis is a tremendous player, there’s no doubt, and that’s not being disrespectful to the men that were filling in for him because I thought they played well in his absence,” head coach Rex Ryan said.  “This is a unit I feel that can be tremendous, and we’ve said that from day one.  We’re having to use the depth at the back end that we talked about, we’re having to use the depth at the outside linebackers, but now with Calvin back, I’m excited about that.”

It might take Pace time to get his timing back and get re-acclimated to the speed of the game.  But once he does, if you thought this defense was outstanding before, it has the potential to be downright scary with him reentering the mix.  Having another top-flight pass rusher on this defense will allow Rex Ryan to bring pressure from even more angles, if that’s even possible at this point.  Pace became virtually an afterthought through the first four games, because the defense had been so outstanding.  But now that he’s back, there’s no ceiling to the things this unit can do.

“My plan is to go out there and put more pressure on the quarterback.  You can’t do that enough.  Stop the run, especially this week with two great running backs.  Go out and do the same thing I did last year.  Cause some turnovers, fumbles and go out and be an impact player.”

If he’s successful in executing that plan, we could be looking at the best defense in the game, period.

THOUGHTS FROM REX ON YESTERDAY’S LOSS

“There were a lot of really, really positive things and then we had some guys that maybe never played as well as what they’ve done in the past and the way we expect them to play, and that’s unfortunate,” Ryan said.  “But overall as a team, that was a team effort in defeat.  I thought New Orleans, you’ve got to tip your hat to them.  They deserved that game.  They outplayed us.  They were the better team that day.  It’s hard to accept, but that’s the facts.  So we’ve got to just go back to hard work, preparing, and get better.”

He also commented on Mark Sanchez’s demeanor following the game and this morning, stating exactly what you’d expect to hear about the rookie.

“He’s fine.  This kid can’t wait.  He can’t wait to get to the preparation for the next opponent.  That’s behind us.  That game is behind us.  We’ve got to move forward.  We’ve got to learn from it, but we’ve got to move forward.”

Gang Green moves on to their next opponent, the Miami Dolphins, tomorrow with their first practice of the week.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.


Jets-Saints Preview: Four Burning Questions

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

We’re just two days away from the Jets’ early-season showdown with the undefeated New Orleans Saints, so it’s time to get you up to speed on the key matchups heading into the contest.  In honor of the Jets going for their fourth straight victory to start the season, here’s four burning questions I’ll be looking at during the game:

1. Can a banged-up Jets secondary contain the Saints offense? With Rex Ryan calling the plays, you know the Jets are going to relentlessly attempt to put pressure on Saints quarterback Drew Brees.  But what happens if Gang Green’s D can’t get to him in time? The task of stopping the multi-dimensional offense will fall on the battered Jets secondary.  It’s still uncertain whether cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland will play on Sunday, which could potentially pose a major problem for the Jets defense.

Part of the reason they were able to stop New England’s prolific passing attack was the amount of defensive backs they had at their disposal.  They dressed 10 in all for their Week Two victory over the Pats, but the injuries to Sheppard and Strickland make it nearly impossible to repeat that if they in fact do not play.  If the Jets can’t get to Brees consistently, the defense could be in for a long day.

2. Can the sputtering Jets running game get it going? Things won’t get any easier for a Jets running attack that will square off against the fifth-rated rush defense in the NFL this Sunday in New Orleans.  The ground game has averaged just 83 yards over its past two contests, which just isn’t good enough.   In order to take the pressure off their young quarterback, the tandem of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington will have to be able to move the chains on the ground.  The Saints will most likely stack the box with eight defenders throughout the game, forcing rookie signal caller Mark Sanchez to beat them.  If the Jets can still run the ball, though, it will open the play-action passing game, something we’ve seen Sanchez excel at over his first three games.  The rookie will one day be able to win games by himself through the air, but right now he needs a solid ground game to allow this team to win football games as he develops.  The Jets establishing the run is one of the major keys to this game, so watch to see whether or not they can do so early on.  It’s time for that high-priced offensive line to get some push up front, and give these guys some room to run.

3.  Who will win the special teams battle? The battle of the number one offense in the NFL versus the number one defense isn’t the only intriguing battle taking place Sunday.  The Jets’ special teams have been outstanding so far this season, never more so than their performance against the Titans in Week Three, when they forced two turnovers that lead to 14 points.  But this isn’t Ryan Mouton lining up to return punts this Sunday – the Jets will have to contend with a guy you might have heard of, Mr. Reggie Bush.  An All-Pro at the punt returner spot, Bush has the ability to take it to the paint every time he touches the ball.  Gang Green’s punt and kick coverages have been tremendous so far this season, but this will be a major test for the unit.  If they can limit Bush’s return yards, they will keep their defense out of compromising field positions, giving them more of a chance to work their magic against Brees and Company.

4. Will the offense be able to handle the crowd noise? Coach Ryan’s squad has been using artificial crowd noise throughout the week to try and simulate what the inside of the Superdome will sound like Sunday.  Crowd noise hasn’t been a problem for these Jets so far this season – they were able to neutralize a normally raucous crowd in Houston because they were taking it to the Texans on the field.  But if the Jets fall behind early, the crowd will become rabid, smelling a 4-0 start for their Saints.  How the offense audibles, whether or not they use silent counts, and how they communicate with each other at the line of scrimmage are all things crowd noise can drastically effect.  It will be up to the rookie Sanchez to manipulate his offense, and how he deals with the tremendous crowd noise will be a major factor in this game should the Saints find themselves ahead early.

Prediction: The Buffalo Bills attempted to make the Saints running game beat them last week, and that running game became the driving force behind their victory.  Rex Ryan will not deviate from what he does – he believes in his system and has confidence it can stop anyone.  The Saints will score their points, and Brees will get his touchdown pass.  Both these teams can score points offensively, but I think the Jets score more.  The defense does just enough to slow Brees down, and the momentum keeps on rolling for Gang Green.

Final Score: Jets 27, Saints 24.