Archive for November, 2009

Identity Crisis

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
What type of the team are the Jets?  Trying to mold their quarterback of the future while attempting to win now is a recipe for disaster.

What type of the team are the Jets? Trying to mold their quarterback of the future while attempting to win now is a recipe for disaster.

Losing makes you question everything.

Everything’s alright when you’re winning.  The plays that don’t go as planned are swept under the rug, just as poor coaching decisions are overlooked, as long as the “w’s” keep piling up.

But when you lose six of seven in the NFL, everything you do begins to come into question.  And that’s the world in which your New York Jets currently reside.

Everything, from the coach’s style to the injuries to the quarterback’s mistakes have come to the forefront, things that were once masked by the glow of a 3-0 start.  But the honeymoon has long been over, and it’s time to start asking some questions.

Questions, for instance, about how this team has been constructed.  There’s no question this team is one of the more talented in the league.  Their defense has a Pro Bowl-caliber player at every level of the unit.  The left side of their offensive line features two first round draft choices and a high-price free agent import.  They’ve been active in free agency in each of the last two seasons, bringing in talent at a feverish pace.

They’ve also traded away a multitude of draft picks.  Like in the most recent draft, when they traded their first and second round picks in the draft along with three players for rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.  In the same draft, they traded their third, fourth and seventh round picks to get rookie tailback Shonn Greene.  And already this season, they’ve traded two draft choices and two players for wideout Braylon Edwards.  If you’re scoring at home, that’s seven draft choices they’ve surrendered in trades in six months.  For three players.

Now, those players can all be stars in this league.  But moves like those create the perception  the Jets are in “win now” mode.

Only they’re not winning.  And now, at 4-6 with their playoff hopes dwindling, you have to begin to think about the decisions that have been made.

If your team is in “win now” mode, as you’ve clearly made it apparent that that’s the case, it’s awfully gutsy to entrust your big-money roster to a rookie signal caller, no matter how talented he is or how a good a player he may become.  The lack of draft choices will not allow you to achieve sustained success:  The model franchises of this league (Patriots, Colts, Steelers, Giants to name a few) have achieved their success through the draft, and finding quality players in the later rounds, something the Jets are not leaving themselves the option of doing with their current strategy.

You’re either coming or you’re going.  You’re either trying to win now, or trying to build for the future.  You can’t do both – that is, you can’t do both and win.   The Jets tried to use the same formula the Baltimore Ravens used a season ago to reach the AFC Championship Game, only the Ravens had a better defense, and a rookie quarterback who was further along in his development. The Jets’ quest to reach a Super Bowl while molding their quarterback of the future has backfired for the 2009 season.  Which wouldn’t be so bad, if they hadn’t talked up a Super Bowl berth the moment Rex Ryan stepped to the podium as the new head man of Gang Green.

Sunday’s game was a perfect example.  The rookie qb’s turnovers lead to 17 New England Patriots points – the exact same amount of points the Jets lost the game by.  It’s been like that on more than one occasion so far this season – which again, wouldn’t be so bad, if their coach hadn’t boasted of meeting President Obama in his opening press conference.

A team filled with swagger no longer talks trash.  A star-studded roster is being harpooned more weeks than not by its rookie quarterback.  A team with the talent to win now is simultaneously trying to mold its quarterback of the future.  And with a great deal of draft picks either gone or on their way out in the next draft, this will be the majority of the club’s roster going forward.  The Jets need to figure out which way they’re headed, and what type of organization they want to be.  Either they build through the draft, or make every move they can to win now.  You simply cannot do both.  And these Jets have tried to do just that.  And, at least for this season of NFL football, it’s blown up in their faces.

NEWS FROM JETS CAMP

Aside from the David Clowney Twitter revelations that have been previously reported on this very website, the only major news coming out of Jets camp is that head coach Rex Ryan will be taking on a bigger role on the offensive side of the ball, sitting in on offensive meetings and becoming more of an involved overseer in the offense.

“I’m new to this and I came in with more of a controlling interest in the defense, obviously,” he said.  “I tink that this is what I can add to them.  This is what I can help.  Brian has got to run the offense.  That’s not going to change.  We’ve got great coaches.  I’m here to help this football team.  To me, it’s giving him (Sanchez) the understanding of the game of right now this is an opportunity, we have to take chances, or we can’t take chances here.  If you can make this completion, make it.  If not, get rid of it or run with it.  I’m going to be here to support Brian.  I’m here to support Mark and everybody else.  I have to be demanding of that, because right now that’s not getting done to my satisfaction or this football team’s satisfaction.”

As the head man, Ryan has no choice but to make this move.  He’s got to know what’s going on, has to have his hand in every area that’s struggling at this point, so that at least he can say he’s involved in every aspect of what’s going on with this team.  He can’t pidgeon-hole himself to the defensive side of the ball anymore – he has to be an overseer of every aspect of this team, for better or worse.

The Jets return to the practice field Tuesday with a morning workout beginning at 11:50 AM.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.

PATRIOTS 31 – JETS 14

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

5 Sanchez turnovers doom Jets as team’s playoffs chances slip away.

FOXBORO, MA – What a difference nine weeks make.

To say Sunday’s AFC East showdown between the Jets and the New England Patriots featured two teams heading in opposite directions would be an understatement. The Patriots are no longer out of sync on offense. Tom Brady no longer looks uncomfortable when pressure comes his way. And on the flip side, the Jets no longer possess the swagger on defense that marked their exhilarating Week Two victory over these Patriots.

Their quarterback doesn’t put together as many games like the one he orchestrated in that victory anymore either. On this cool November Sunday, the Jets’ Trojan warrior was in fact their Achilles Heel.

Sanchez finished the day a putrid 8-21 for 136 yards with four crippling interceptions, each managing to come at a worse time than the one preceding it. When the dust settled, the Patriots had methodically dismantled a desperate Jets team 31-14, putting Gang Green at 4-6 and all but out of the race for the AFC East title.

Patriots WR Wes Weker runs over Jets CB Marquice Cole during New Englands 31-14 win over NY. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Patriots WR Wes Weker runs over Jets CB Marquice Cole during New England's 31-14 win over NY. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

New York never lead in this crucial tilt, with Sanchez putting his team behind halfway through the first quarter when Patriots corner Leigh Bodden intercepted a pass and took it 53 yards for a score, putting New England up 7-0. The New England offense struck on the last play of the quarter, when quarterback Tom Brady hit wide receiver Randy Moss for a 4-yard touchdown pass putting the Pats up two scores.

The barrage continued in the second stanza, when running back Lawrence Maroney capped the Pats’ opening series of the second quarter with a two-yard score, putting New England up an insurmountable 21-0. Sanchez then cost his Jets three more points, when Bodden intercepted his second pass of the day, putting the Pats in great field position halfway through the frame. A Stephen Gostkowski 26-yard field goal put the Patriots up 24-0, and put the Jets on the ropes not even halfway through the game.

But a glimpse of hope broke through late in the second, when the Jets were able to block a New England punt deep in Patriots territory, and wide receiver Brad Smith was able to recover the loose ball and take it in for the Jets’ first score of the day, cutting the lead to 24-7 just before the half.

It seemed as though the tide was finally turning in favor of Gang Green in the third, when Sanchez drove his troops down the field on the opening series of the half, connecting with wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery on a ball tucked inside the sideline in the end zone, the 29-yard score bring the Jets within 10 points. Suddenly, their defense was showing signs of life, bending but not breaking, and keeping the team in the game allowing the offense a chance to put the team back in the affair.

But Sanchez struck again with another self-inflicted wound in the beginning of the fourth quarter, serving up his third interception of the day to Bodden, killing a Jets drive and crushing the momentum they’d fought so hard to achieve. The defense was able to force a punt, but Sanchez then committed his final interception of the day, this time Brandon Meriweather being the culprit. The result was a Maroney one-yard scoring run on the ensuing drive, putting the game away at 31-14.

The Patriots finished the day with 410 total yards, 299 of it coming through the air. Wideout Wes Welker made his presence felt after missing the clubs’ first matchup, catching a career-high 15 balls for 192 yards.

For the Jets, Thomas Jones posted a 100-yard performance on the ground, finishing with 103 on 21 carries.

Insider Thursday Team Report

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Focus Marks the Day

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery could see time returning punts this Sunday when the Jets take on the New England Patriots.

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery could see time returning punts this Sunday when the Jets take on the New England Patriots.

The New England Patriots are not the same group that came to East Rutherford in Week Two.

They’re clicking on offense, Tom Brady looks like the Golden Boy of old, and they’re angry after blowing a victory against the rival Indianapolis Colts.

So if the Jets are going to halt this seemingly unstoppable slide with a win in Foxboro this Sunday, they’d better bring their best effort in each day of preparation.

That’s just what Gang Green did today, with an outstanding, crisp practice marked by a team-wide focus that signals Coach Ryan’s group has seen enough of the wrong side of the final score.

“We had a great practice out there today,” Ryan said.  “Focus (and) attention to detail was right on point.  Normally, I talk about the quarterback or this guy, that guy, but I’m going to call out Danny Woodhead and Justin Miller.  I they were outstanding.  Justin Miller was outstanding.  He’s looking good, so hopefully he can get our defense down and we can use him because he was great today.”

The Clemson product is on the verge of seeing his role increase with the Jets if he’s able to adapt to Ryan’s defensive scheme.  Miller can do a lot of things on the football field – serviceable in the return game, and a potential impact player on the defensive side of the ball.  They say every player simply needs an opportunity, and this might be Miller’s shot find a home here with the Jets.

PIECING TOGETHER THE RETURN GAME

The sight of Leon Washington and his motorized scooter around the Jets’ training facility is a welcomed sight to some, but nevertheless serves as a constant reminder of what the club must do in order to have some semblance of a return game heading into Sunday’s game against the Pats.

So far this week, it’s been anyone from Lito Sheppard, to Darrelle Revis to Miller trying to take on the job.  With safety Jim Leonhard most likely out for Sunday’s tilt, the guy who may assume the post is neither of the three.  Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery has looked the most promising returning punts this week, and will most likely take on the job in New England.

“What’s looked best in practice is Jerricho (Cotchery).  Plus I like the fact that he came to me and wants to do it.  He looked really good.  He looked smooth and we’ll play some two-deep like we’ve done before with he and Brad (Smith).  The two of them together, I felt looked really good.  Plus with Jerricho being short-handed, then I can play some different fronts and be a little more aggressive at times.  I may want to do that some, so I liked what I saw with Jerricho.  He looked very good catching the ball.”

It certainly will be interesting to see #89 back deep for the Jets Sunday.  But they could do worse.  He’s a sure-handed, speedy receiver who has no problem eluding tacklers.  He also went to special teams coach Mike Westhoff and asked to be involved in the punt-returning game.  You have to love the go-getter mentality of Cotchery, but someone with little experience against a Patriots team that’s solid in every phase of the game could get this team in trouble.  Only four quarters of football Sunday will tell.

LIFE ON REVIS ISLAND

Cornerback Darrelle Revis will be going up against his old pal Randy Moss this weekend, a challenge the top-flight corner relishes taking on twice a season.

“It’s always great to compete against the best.  It brings out the best in me and it brings out the best in those guys.  I still give respect to all of the receivers that I go up against.”

Revis was also asked about the addition of Wes Welker to the Patriots’ offense for this week’s matchup, the receiver have been inactive for the first game between the two clubs.

“It’s a big change.  He’s a big part of their offense.  Brady throws to him all the time.  He (was) hurt early in the season and then you see he comes back and has 64 catches and a couple of touchdowns.  We know he is a go-to guy for them.”

The addition of Welker potentially poses major problems for the Jets’ secondary, especially with the absence of Leonhard.  If the defense is not able to get to Tom Brady, the D could be in for a long afternoon.

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


Change Is In The Air

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Losing five out of your last six leaves you searching for answers.

The Jets find themselves in this very predicament today, after dropping another winnable home game yesterday to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  With their playoff hopes slipping away with each passing Sunday, Gang Green made some interesting personnel decisions Monday.

First came the release of cornerback Ahmad Carroll, and the subsequent signing of linebacker Kenwin Cummings off the practice squad.

“I think (Marquice) Cole has really taken (Carroll’s) role,” head coach Rex Ryan said of the move.  “I think he’s done an outstanding job.  That’s not a slight on Batman (Carroll).  It’s just that I think this guy won the job.  It’s a chance for us to get Kenwin Cummings up.  He’s really looked good on the scout teams (and) been a real physical presence for us.  We’ll see what Kenwin can do for us.”

Later on in the day, it was announced defensive line coach Kerry Locklin will not remain with the team the rest of the season, a surprising move in that he lost his best player, Kris Jenkins, for the season due to injury.  So the unit’s performance in his absence couldn’t have been the reason for the departure, the defensive line doing a mostly solid job in Jenkins’ absence.

“It’s  mutual decision that Kerry no longer will be with us,” Ryan said.  “I will be overseeing the entire defense as I always have with Mike Pettine.  We felt it was the best thing for both of us moving forward.  This is a sensitive issue.  The timing is unfortunate but I felt this was in the best interests for both of us.”

The Jets defense was given another blow as S Jim Leonhard needs thumb surgery and his status is TBD. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

The Jets defense was given another blow as S Jim Leonhard needs thumb surgery and his status is TBD. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

And if a midseason coaching change and a bad loss wasn’t enough to give everyone a case of the Mondays, Ryan announced safety Jim Leonhard will have surgery on his injured thumb, and it’s unclear how long the first-year Jet will be out.

And with that, it’s safe to say the wheels are coming off the 2009 season for these New York Jets.

They have sustained major injuries to starters on both sides of the ball.  They can’t seem to put a complete game together, an effort in which all three phases of the game perform well on the same Sunday.  And their trash-talking defense doesn’t seem so brash anymore after having a chance to end the game and preserve a win that could have turned the season around, and not getting the job done.

They’re losing games in heartbreaking fashion, and it doesn’t seem like anything can pull them out of the quicksand they currently inhabit.  But take solace in the fact these Jets are not pointing the finger.  They’re not making excuses, and they’re playing hard for their unwavering head coach.  The injuries they’ve sustained may be too much to overcome, but all you can ever ask out of the team you cheer for is for them to play as hard as they can.  And these Jets do that.

So while the losses seemingly get worse by the week, Gang Green will always show up to play their hearts out under Rex Ryan.  Unfortunately, effort doesn’t always equate to wins, and with a fanbase as passionate as the Jets’, the level of patience is shrinking by the day.

THOUGHTS ON THE LOSS

As their head man has said numerous times, the Jets know the keys to getting back on a winning track lie in doing away with the misques that have marked their recent slide.

“The biggest thing is to stop spotting (them) points,” wide receiver Braylon Edwards said.  Yesterday we spotted them on the first play of the game and then we came back and spotted them on another play.  We’re giving guys a chance.  You look at what we did in Miami.  We’re spotting guys points and then at the end we’re trying to play from behind.  This is the National Football League.  That’s pretty hard to do.  We’re just hurting ourselves, I had to take credit away from these guys but we’re losing games.”

These misques must end in order to make a serious playoff run, and Gang Green knows they’ve put themselves in a tough spot.

“There is no margin for error,” tackle Damien Woody said.  “This is the situation we put ourselves in.  We understand that and we have to be accountable to that.  Moving forward we do have an opportunity.  It’s all about taking advantage of the opportunity.  That’s all we can ask for is an opportunity to right the ship and do something that we set forth way back in the offseason.  We have seven weeks to prove ourselves as a team.  We’ll see what happens.”

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

Jets Insider Thursday Team Report

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

 

REX CHALLENGES THE FAITHFUL

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Just how important is Sunday’s matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars? The Jags’ 4-4 record matches that of Gang Green, and with both clubs fighting to stay alive in the AFC playoff race, falling a game below .500 will be devastating for either squad.

This one’s so important, in fact that head Coach Rex Ryan has once again challenged the loyal Jets faithful to bring their “A” game this Sunday.

Fireman Ed will need to bring his A game Sunday after being challenged by Jets coach Rex Ryan. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Fireman Ed will need to bring his "A" game Sunday after being challenged by Jets coach Rex Ryan. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“When we played New England, that was the loudest stadium I had ever been in.  There was no question this wasn’t just the Jets.  This was their team, our fans’ team.  We need a great effort this week, so I’m challenging our fans.  Be prideful that this is your football team and we can accomplish everything we set out to do and I think when we get that energy from our crowd, that might be the difference this week.”

STOPPING THE MOJO

The Jets are going to need a raucous crowd, and an outstanding performance from their defense to stop running back Maurice Jones-Drew, the third-leading rusher in the NFL, from wreaking havoc in Sunday’s affair.  He may look small in height, but Jones-Drew is nothing short of a bowling ball when he hits the hole.  The Jets’ defense has done a job beyond anyone’s expectations in stopping the run in the absence of injured tackle Kris Jenkins, but on Sunday, they’ll be faced with their toughest challenge to date in Jones-Drew.

“It’s difficult because you’ve got to bend at your ankle, knees, hips and everything to get down there to hit this guy.  He is a powerful man.  There is no question about it.  I really like this guy.  I like the guy at Miami probably the best, Ronnie Brown.  Then, I’d put this guy right there.”

So, how do you go about stopping a player who presents this type of problem?  Many have tried, but few have succeeded so far this season – his 737 rushing yards put him third in the NFL through the first nine weeks of the season.

“A big point of emphasis is tackling,” linebacker Calvin Pace said.  “If you can get a guy down, get him down.  Get guys to the ball.  It’s simple, but it’s not that simple.  It’s going to be tough.”

“He’s every bit as advertised,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said.  “He’s a special back.  We faced him a year ago in Baltimore and he was as much as we stressed all week.  It’s easy to say, that you make sure you set the edges on him and he’s never down and make sure the second and third guy in never relax around the pile.  he still managed to really get some runs on us.”

Pettine, like Pace, stressed tackling as imperitive for Gang Green’s defense this week if they want to stop Jones-Drew.  If the unit can maintain gap discipline and keep him off the edges, they have the personnel to be able to stop MJD and put the ball in quarterback David Garrard’s hands and force him to try and beat them, which presents a huge advantage for the Jets.

INJURY UPDATE

Linebacker Vernon Gholston was unable to practice today, and Shaun Ellis and wide receiver Brad Smith were limited in their activities, but Coach Ryan fully expects them to play Sunday.  Cornerbacks Lito Sheppard (quad), and Donald Strickland (ankle), Damien Woody (lower back) and Wallace Wright (knee) all participated fully in today’s workout.

The beneficiary of the bye week, Sheppard feels ready to go for this Sunday’s matchup with the Jags.

“I’m feeling good,” Sheppard said.  “I’m anxious and can’t wait to get back out there and hopefully add a great asset to this secondary.  These guys have been playing great up until this point.  Hopefully, I can come back and continue to add on to that.”

The team will work out tomorrow in their final preparations for Sunday.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.



Back to Work

Monday, November 9th, 2009
Rex Ryan feels the Jets will get back on track if they can take care of the little things.

Rex Ryan feels the Jets will get back on track if they can take care of the "little things".

The Jets got back to the daily grind on Monday, fresh off some time away from the pigskin and away from their training complex in Florham Park during the bye week.

The day’s workout was merely designed to get the rust off after an extended break, but time away can provide you with plenty of room to think about what’s gone wrong, and how it can be fixed.

That was the vibe at Jets camp this afternoon, with Gang Green appearing rejuvinated as they returned to football after a week off.

“It felt good to get back out there,” running back Thomas Jones.  “Guys had a chance to get away, recover, look back over the last eight weeks, correct some of the mistakes we’ve made and get ready.  Guys were full of energy today and excited to get back onto the field and are looking forward to playing this weekend.”

It’s all well and good that these guys appear ready and excited to get back to work.  But the fact remains this team is 4-4, and have put themselves in a considerable hole in their quest to get to postseason play.  The self-inflicted wounds that have plagued this team all season long must be fixed, or the second half of this season could be even more of a roller coaster than the first.

But that’s my opinion.  What does our fearless leader, Rex Ryan, have to say about what his squad needs to do fix in order to secure a playoff spot?

“Just doing the little things,”  he said.  Our special teams, at times, have been outstanding and where we thought they’d be.  As good as Jay (Feely) is, challenge yourself.  Place the ball (on kickoffs).  Let’s make sure we’re doing the little things.  Getting tackles on special teams would be huge.  Even on offense, the turnover is going to happen, but we need to get the guy down.  You’ve got to get the guy on the ground.  You have to give our defense a chance to go out there and keep them out of the end zone.  On defense, our communication needs to still get better.  There are things we’re doing well, but we’ve got to get some turnovers and score with turnovers.  Usually, we’re the team that’s scoring with takeaways.  There are things I know we can get better at and I’m confident in our group that we will get better at those things.”

If the Jets can get rid of even half of the little mistakes they’ve made over the course of the first 8 weeks, they’d be staring at a 6-2 record.  Another area that needs gain consistency, though, is the play of the quarterback.

Mark Sanchez has had his outstanding moments through the first half of his rookie season, but his bad ones have equaled them.  Still, Ryan feels the USC product has done very well in this his first NFL season, and needs only to follow his job description to improve.

“You can just look at the turnover battle.  When we win the turnover battle we win, when we lose it we’ve lost.  He’s played well.  He’s played well enough to win most games.  For a rookie quarterback, he’s better than maybe I even thought as a rookie.  He’s just part of the team.  He doesn’t have to do anything Herculean.  He just (has) to play the position.  Go play quarterback.  I’m confident that he’ll do it.”

The team will practice each day this week, with tomorrow’s workout beginning at 11:50 AM.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.

Self-Inflicted Wounds

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
Weve seen to many looks like this from quarterback Mark Sanchez over the first eight games of the season.

We've seen to many looks like this from quarterback Mark Sanchez over the first eight games of the season.

On Monday, the talk at Jets camp wasn’t about the Miami Dolphins winning yesterday’s 30-25 game at the Meadowlands.

It was about Gang Green losing it.

When you hold a team to 104 total yards and sack the quarterback six times, you need to win the game.  But the Jets didn’t yesterday, in large part due to two special teams breakdowns and a fumble on offense leading to 21 of the 30 Dolphins points.

“We spotted them,” head coach Rex Ryan said.  “You give up 21 points and your defense is not on the field, you’re probably not going to win too many games.”

Indeed, that is not exactly a winning formula.  But there were positives to take from yesterday’s agonizing loss.

The defense was dominant at points, doing a much better job of applying pressure on Miami quarterback Chad Henne.  They only gave up 9 points.  But they were unable to stop the Dolphins when it mattered most, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of the Jets, who currently sit at 4-4 and 1-3 in the AFC east.

AT THE HALFWAY MARK…

We’re through eight games, and it’s been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride for these New York Football Jets through the season’s first half.  We’ve seen the highest of highs (the Patriots game) and the lowest of lows, (the Buffalo disaster) and everything in between.  But Gang Green is still very much alive in the playoff race, and still has an outside chance to make a run at an AFC East title.

So what needs to change for this team to go the minimum 5-3 they’re going to need to go to get a playoff spot?  The first objective, according to Ryan, is to cut down on the misques.

“We’ve given up six touchdowns when the defense has not even been on the field,” Ryan said.  “That has to change.  But we also need to start scoring on defense.  We need to start getting the takeaways and start scoring when we get them.”

“The fact that we’re still in those games with all the parameters that we’ve talked about, is something that I think we can build from.  I think it’s something that if we can get this corrected, I think we’re good enough.  I think we’re close to being that team, but we have to find a way to win.  That’s what we’re going to try to accomplish.  We have to get there just one step at a time.  We know that.  But I have confidence.  My confidence has not wavered one bit on the people that we have in this organization, in the coaches that we have, in the players that we have.”

SANCHEZ ON HIS FIRST HALF PERFORMANCE

Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez provided some comments on his performance through his first eight games as a pro, and leaves the first half of the season feeling optimistic about where he, and this team, can go from here.

“More than anything those two, the New Orleans game and the Buffalo game were just two stinkers.  They were bad.  There are no two ways about it.  Bad, poor decisions, poor reads and just terrible games by a quarterback.  The way I bounced back, I was proud of that.  The way I wasn’t afraid to throw it after that, I’m real proud of that.  I have had the same mindset the entire time, that something good is about to happen.”

As for what he can improve on during the bye heading into the final eight games, the list was plentiful, but #6 feels he can get it done over the break.

“There will be little things from each game,” he said.  “My footwork, cleaning up some of the reads and some decision making things that need to improve.  Overall, I won’t be satisfied.  I never will be.  A lot of people will say, “Hey man, you’re a rookie and you’re playing really good for a rookie.”  But I don’t want to play like a rookie.  I want to play like a 10-year vet, a Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl Champion.  That is the way I want to play and that’s the way I feel I can play with this team around me.”

The team is off for the rest of the week, but be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.





DOLPHINS 30 – JETS 25

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Miami completes season sweep as Jets are grounded by miscues.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Usually, if your team puts up 25 points and holds the opposition to 104 total yards, you’re going to win the football game.

But Sunday’s matchup against the Miami Dolphins was just one of those days for the Jets.

Their defense was dominant, they ran the football, and Mark Sanchez threw two touchdown passes and ran for another.  But two kickoff return touchdowns from Ted Ginn Jr. and a fumble return TD by Jason Taylor helped Miami steal their second victory of the season over these Jets, who now sit at 4-4 and 1-3 in the AFC East with Sunday’s 30-25 loss.

Dolphins KR Ted Ginn Jr. scores one of his two kickoff returns for TDs as the Jets lose to Miami 30-25.

Dolphins KR Ted Ginn Jr. scores one of his two kickoff returns for TD's as the Jets lose to Miami 30-25. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Perhaps most bewildering were the two touchdowns by Ginn, of 100 and 101 yards respectively.  A unit that is widely regarded as one of the best in the game, and which hadn’t allowed a touchdown all season, surrendered scores on consecutive kickoffs, each infinitely deflating to the comeback hopes of the Jets.

“I take pride in special teams, so when a guy runs back two kickoff returns, in my mind we’re responsible for the loss,” special teamer Wallace Wright said.  “That killed us today. That’s just how I am.  They can say everybody contributed to the loss, and maybe people contributed to the loss.  We had some penalties today, but in my mind we lost the game.   That’s how I look at it.  That’s unacceptable, two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a game.”

The game had all the makings of a defensive slugfest through the first 30 minutes of play, with the rivals playing to a 3-3 tie through two quarters.  Both offenses were anemic at best, with the two clubs combining for a whopping 179 yards of total offense

Mark Sanchez was equally miserable, going 8-16 for 54 yards and looking downright lost in the process.  The only bright spot was the defense of the Jets, who were able to get consistent pressure on Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne throughout the game totaling six sacks. The unit kept the Jets in the game, and second quarter field goals by each team left the score tied at three at the end of the half.

But what seemed like a lesson in offensive ineptitude morphed into a shootout in a wild second half.  After Jay Feely gave the Jets a 6-3 lead early in the third quarter, Ginn notched the first of his two return TD’s on the ensuing kickoff, streaking down the sideline to give the Dolphins their first lead of the day at 10-6.  On the very next possession for the Jets, running back Shonn Greene took a handoff off right tackle and coughed up the football, the pigskin bouncing perfectly up into the arms of Miami defensive end Jason Taylor who took it 48 yards for a touchdown.  Just like that, the Jets were down 17-6 before they blinked.

Sanchez would not let his offense go quietly, though, as he engineered a five-play, 29-yard drive after a muffed punt by the Davone Bess, capping it off by calling his own number for a one-yard touchdown scamper.  The Jets were right back in the game at 17-13, needing only a stop on defense to get the ball back with a chance to take the lead.

Or so they thought.  On the ensuing kickoff Ginn struck again, this time eluding several Jets tacklers before taking his second kickoff return of the day to the house for six, this one of the 101-yard variety.  You could hear the air seep out of Giants stadium with each step Ginn took towards the end zone, seemingly providing the dagger for the Dolphins late in the third quarter.

But the Jets stormed back behind Sanchez, as the rookie orchestrated a three-play, 74-yard drive culminating in a 19-yard touchdown catch by Braylon Edwards, that once again brought the Jets to within five.  But instead of kicking the extra point, head coach Rex Ryan decided to go for the two-point conversion, which ended up failing, keeping the Dolphins lead at five.

It appeared the Dolphins had finally put the game away halfway through the fourth quarter when they churned out a 13-play, 67-yard drive that elapsed 7:47 off the clock, and ended with a Chad Henne touchdown pass to Joey Haynos from five yards out.  The Jets weren’t out of haymakers, though.  Just 2:56 later, Sanchez found Dustin Keller at the goal line, and the tight end who had eight catches for 76 yards make a shoestring grab and broke the plane, bring the Jets back once again from the depths of defeat.  But the two-point conversion once again failed after an illegal shift penalty moved the offense back five yards, leaving the lead at five with five minutes to play.

The defense that had been outstanding all game long came up huge once again forcing a three-and-out, giving the Jets offense one last shot to pull out the victory.  Sanchez, who finished the day 20-35 for 265 yards and two touchdown passes, drove the unit all the way to the Dolphins 12.  But the Dolphins defense held strong, and Sanchez’s fourth down pass attempt fell harmlessly to the ground in the back of the end zone, handing Gang Green their third loss in their last four games, and sending them into their bye week with a disappointing 4-4 record.

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Jets-Dolphins Live Blog: Taking you inside the action live from the Meadowlands

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Good afternoon Jets Fans,

12:50 PM: I’m coming to you live from East Rutherford, New Jersey, where we’re just over a half hour away from kickoff between the Jets and the Miami Dolphins.

Gang Green currently sits at 4-3, but a subpar 1-2 record in the AFC East has marked the club’s first half. The club is looking to avenge their loss 20 days ago to the Dolphins – a 31-27 thriller in South Beach – this time taking on Ronnie Brown and the Fins in the friendly confines of Giants Stadium.

Heading into kickoff, I can’t help but remember Coach Ryan’s press conference after the loss to Miami, in which he called the defensive performance “embarrassing”. It certainly wasn’t one for the record books – 413 total yards allowed, 151 coming on the ground. The two things the unit didn’t do well, according to Ryan, was put pressure on the quarterback and get off the blocks put on the by the offensive line of Miami. I’m interested to see how well they can do those things in the early going against Miami’s Wildcat offense.

Also, there was a big body wearing #77 for the Jets on the defensive front the last time these two teams played. Kris Jenkins won’t be on the field today, having been lost for the season with a torn ACL. How much will that effect the Jets’ defense against a predominantly running offense? It’s certainly a storyline to watch as the game progresses.

As for the offense, watch for a big game from Braylon Edwards. Miami cornerback Will Allen was lost for the season with an ACL injury, so the Dolphins will be starting two rookie corners, Sean Smith and Vontae Davis. If the Jets can keep Mark Sanchez upright, we might see a big game from the Jets’ new deep threat.

Staying on the wide receiver front, Jerricho Cotchery will play today, so it will be interesting to see how much impact he will have, both on the game and on the targets for David Clowney.

We’re just about ten minutes away from kickoff, so be sure to check back throughout the game for my thoughts on the action live from the Meadowlands.

1:00 PM: Miami has won the toss and elected to defer. Interesting decision by the Fins – why put your defense on the field to start the game, when your offense dominated the Jets’ D three weeks ago? Establishing your offense from the opening snap could take the crowd out of the game. But we’ll see how it plays out.

1:03 PM: Leon Washington’s replacement, Justin Miller, gets off to a nice start with a 27-yard return. Keep an eye on the return game for the Jets today – we’ll get a look at just how much they’re going to be missing Leon.

1:08 PM: Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne narrowly misses a deep ball, a play in which cornerback Donald Strickland was beaten. What’s most important, the Jets sent pretty heavy pressure on Henne, and it was picked up superbly. It is imperative the Jets get to the second-year signal caller when they bring pressure, or he’s going to start hitting those deep balls for big plays.

1:15 PM: Two series on offense, 0-2 on third down conversions. The Dolphins are doing a nice job of getting pressure on Sanchez in the early going, forcing him to make quick throws. It also looks like the Jets are making a concerted effort to get tight end Dustin Keller into the flow of the game early – he’s already been targeted twice, with one going for a completion.

1:19 PM: Two series on offense for Miami, and no Wildcat? The Fins have been lining up in traditional formations in the early stages of this game, committing to the inside running game. Are they going after the hole left by the departure of Kris Jenkins? Sione Pouha is here to remind them he’s a formidable backup, stuffing a run on second down which lead to another 3-and-out.

1:28 PM: Mark Sanchez just got buried on a third-down play by Dolphins safety Gibril Wilson and the rookie was slow to get up after the play was over. He appears to be ok on the sideline, but it’s something to keep an eye on as the game progresses.

1:32 PM: We finally get a glimpse of the Wildcat, and the Jets defense stops the two plays for a total of one yard. We’re currently in a battle of punters, with Steve Weatherford of the Jets and Brandon Fields of the Dolphins doing their best to win the battle of field position.

1:39 PM: We’re at the end of one with goose eggs on the board for both teams. It’s clear we’re in for a grind-it-out, smash-mouth game. Both teams are committed to the power running game through the first frame, with the Jets utilizing the short to intermediate passing game early on. Dustin Keller is having a nice game so far, totaling three catches in the first quarter.

1:41 PM: Braylon Edwards checks in with a 25-yard reception from Sanchez. Longest offensive play of the day so far. The Jets can take advantage of Edwards’ matchups all game long for gains like this, but it seems as though they have committed to running the football until they’re forced to throw.

1:45 PM: Sanchez nearly gives the Dolphins a touchdown as his pass intended for Jerricho Cotchery goes right through the hands of Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith at the Miami one. Jay Feely comes on to cap the drive with a 23-yard field goal, giving the Jets a 3-0 lead. In a low-scoring game like this, touchdowns can put the opposition in a serious hole. When the Jets are actually able to get the ball into the Red Zone, they’ve got to capitalize with six points, not three.

1:48 PM: Good to see Feely getting after it on the kickoff coverage. Excellent tackle there by the Jets kicker at the Dolphins 25.

1: 5o PM: Espn.com is reporting Jets safety Kerry Rhodes got into a pre-game shoving match with trash-talking Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter about a half hour prior to game time. In a shocking turn of events, Porter said something to Rhodes, starting the altercation.

1:54 PM: Huge sack by David Harris on an all-out blitz by the Jets defense on a third-down, forcing a Miami punt. That’s two sacks thus far, two more than they had in the teams’ previous meeting. They’re already getting better pressure with their blitz packages, making it tough for Chad Henne to even set his feet to throw. You don’t want to get into third-and-long situations with the Jets defense on the other side of the field, and unlike in their first meeting, the unit is putting the heat on Chad Henne.

2:06 PM: Gibril Wilson says hello to Sanchez once again with another big-time hit on the qb, forcing a punt. The Dolphins have finally swung the field position battle, starting this drive from the Jets 45 yard line. You can feel the momentum shifting in Miami’s direction as they start this drive.

2:10 PM: A botched Wildcat play is stuff by the Jets, but the Dolphins get 10 crucial yards back with a completion to tight end Anthony Fasano, putting Miami back in field goal range. The 48-yarder barely clears the crossbar, knotting the score at 3-3 with 1:55 left. Let’s see whether or not the Jets offense comes out throwing to try and get into field goal range, and see if they can’t go into halftime with a lead.

2:15 PM: The Jets are handed a gift as the Dolphins kick the ball out of bounds, putting the ball at their own 40. And Mark Sanchez promptly fumbles the snap on first down, fires one into the ground on second down, and hits David Clowney on a four-yard route on third-and-five. Huge opportunity wasted for the Jets, as there’s still 1:09 left on the clock, plenty of time for the Dolphins to execute a scoring drive with two timeouts.

2:19 PM: The Dolphins appear willing to run out the clock, handing off on the first two downs of the drive. The Jets smartly call a timeout before third-and-five, attempting to get the ball back. But it is for naught as the Dolphins come away with the first down with 24 seconds to play. The offense sputters from there, with the Jets calling timeout with four seconds to play.

Here’s where you miss Leon Washington. The Dolphins are set to punt, and you could toss #29 out there to return it and see if he can’t hit you a home run. Jim Leonhard is solid as a punt returner, but he’s not Leon Washington.

2:20 PM: The Dolphins elect to go for it on fourth down, and throw a long incomplete pass to run out the clock. At the half, the score stands tied at 3-3. The Jets heard a small chorus of boos as they left the field, in large part due to the subpar play of their quarterback.

2:37 PM: We’re set to go for the second half, with the Dolphins getting the ball to start.

If the Jets are going to come out on top in this must-win divisional contest, Mark Sanchez simply has to play better. The defense is doing an outstanding job of containing the Wildcat, and putting pressure on Chad Henne. But Sanchez is routinely shooting his team in the foot. He has to have a better second half, or these Jets will be right back to .500 in 30 minutes of play.

2:39 PM: The fourth sack of the day for the Jets D forces a punt, giving the offense the ball at their own 49-yard line. They have to come away with points on this drive, if for no other reason than to give their defense some confidence that they’re going to score them some points.

2:47 PM: Jay Feely is in The Zone. Laying the wood on kickoff coverage, and now hitting 55-yard field goals to give the Jets the lead. It’s 6-3 Jets with 10:24 remaining. The play ties the longest field goal in franchise history, as well as Feely’s career long.

While the Jets take the lead, they just gained 14 yards on seven plays. Sanchez missed another open receiver, bringing his numbers on the day to 8-17 for 54 yards. Not exactly fantasy football starter-type numbers.

2:50 PM: Ted Ginn Jr. reminds us all that he may be out of favor in Miami, but he’s still really fast. The Ohio State product takes the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to the house to put the Dolphins up 10-6. And just like that, the Dolphins have a lead.

It’s now time for the offense to put together a sustained drive, or this game could slowly slip away from the Jets here in the third quarter.

2:57 PM: The Jets’ rookies are making it tough for Gang Green to have any shot in this game. Rookie running back Shonn Greene coughs up the football, the fumble being picked up by defensive end Jason Taylor and taken 48 yards to the end zone, giving the Dolphins their second non-offensive touchdown of the quarter. The score stands at 17-6, and with the way the Jets offense is playing, things are not looking good for a comeback.

3:01 PM: The offense runs the ball on first down, to a chorus of boos from the home crowd. I understand you want the team to throw because they’re down, but when your quarterback can’t hit the Atlantic Ocean right now, what exactly should they do?

3:04 PM: A gift for the Jets as Davone Bess muffs the punt from Weatherford, which Gang Green recovers deep in Miami territory. If they want to get back into this game, they need a touchdown here. Badly. Let’s see if they put it in Sanchez’s hands.

3:07 PM: Sanchez waltzes into the end zone from a yard out on a naked bootleg to bring the Jets to within four at 17-13. The team had opted to go for two, but a costly false start penalty on the conversion attempt negated the choice for Rex Ryan.

Suddenly we have a ball game on our hands, and the defense immediately becomes relevant again. With 18 and a half minutes to play in the game, this one’s still anybody’s ball game. The turnover and subsequent touchdown have allowed to Jets to stick to their game plan of running the football – there’s still plenty of time on the clock.

3:12 PM: Did I mention that Ted Ginn Jr. is really fast? Another special teams breakdown provides another kickoff return TD for Ginn, this one good for 101 yards. Just when the Jets climb back into the game, another unit has a breakdown. This one is a killer for the Jets – they had all the momentum in this game, the crowd was back into it, and Ginn has silenced them once again. The lead is back to 11, in the blink of an eye.

3:15 PM: Huge play for the Jets on the opening play of the drive. A 53-yard completion to Cotchery puts the Jets in business at the Dolphins 22 yard line.

3:16 PM: Braylon Edwards is a man. The wideout carries two defenders into the end zone after catching the ball at the one, willing his way to a touchdown and bringing the Jets back to within 5. The Jets burn a timeout before the two-point conversion, which could prove costly as the game winds down.

3:18 PM: The two-point try is no good, leaving the score at 24-19. What do you think the fan reaction will be if Ted Ginn Jr. is actually tackled on this kickoff attempt? I’m going with a standing ovation.

3:32 PM: We might have just seen the dagger from the Dolphins offense. A 13-play, 7:47 drive ends with a touchdown pass from Henne to Joey Haynos, putting the Dolphins on top 30-19. It’s going to be extremely tough for the Jets to mount a comeback in this one – They’d need two more touchdowns to win it at this point, or a TD with a two-point conversion and a field goal to tie. With 8:48 remaining, there’s still enough time, but big plays are going to need to happen for Gang Green to climb into this one.

3:42 PM: And just like that, the Jets are right back in the game. A shoestring catch by Dustin Keller caps the six-play, 81-yard drive, bringing the Jets back to within five. The two-point conversation would have been good on a completion to Wallace Wright, but another costly penalty negated the conversion. The following attempt from seven yards out went by the boards, leaving the Jets five points back with 5:52 to play

The defense needs a big stop on this series, and they need it early. Too much time off the clock will force the Jets to have to throw, putting the ball in Sanchez’s hands. While he’s been much better in the second half, I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be forcing him to throw the ball down the field late in this game.

3:49 PM: There’s plenty of reasons why the Jets wanted Bart Scott this offseason. But perhaps the biggest reason is that the guy makes big-time plays in big spots. He’s come up with another one here, sacking Henne on a crucial third down, forcing a punt. It’s also given the Jets great field position, with the offense taking over on their own 45. We’re getting down to crunch time, let’s see how Sanchez reacts.

3:57 PM: Play of the game for the Jets as Dustin Keller comes up with a huge 16-yard catch with a defender mauling him on a third and ten. The catch places the ball at the Dolphins 12 at the two minute warning.

What was great about the play was it gave us an opportunity to see all the great things Sanchez can do – buy time with his feet, make any throw on the field, thread the ball into traffic. The Jets are officially in business in the game’s final two minutes.

4:03 PM: A huge sack by Randy Starks sets up a fourth and 13 with 1:16 to go. Sanchez has been going to Dustin Keller all game, let’s see if he goes to him here.

4:05 PM: A desperation heave to the back of the end zone falls to the ground, as the Dolphins hold deep in their own territory preserving a 30-25 victory.