Archive for December, 2009

Back in the hunt

Monday, December 7th, 2009
Bart Scott and the Jets defense have got their swagger back, but can they carry Gang Green into the postseason?

Bart Scott and the Jets defense have got their swagger back, but can they carry Gang Green into the postseason?

The roller coaster that has been the Jets’ 2009 season has reached another peak following this Sunday’s NFL action, and Gang Green wasn’t even a part of a single snap of football.

The mighty New England Patriots suddenly look incredibly vulnerable, and with a quarter of the season to go, the Jets find themselves just a single game behind the Pats for the AFC East lead, and are finally back to .500 at 6-6 after Thursday night’s victory over the Buffalo Bills.

A group that was counted out by most of the football world now finds themselves right where they always thought they’d be – in the thick of the playoff race heading into the season’s championship rounds.

“It’s always great to be still alive this late in the season,” linebacker Bart Scott said.  “We’ve just got to take care of our business.  I appreciate the help, but we still have four games to go and a lot of tough opponents to go through.  It’s not to start watching what other people do.  You have to take care of your business and hopefully you earn a chance.  If we don’t, then, it’s nobody’s fault but our own.”

Indeed, despite all their trials and tribulations over this seesaw season, your New York Football Jets have a realistic – even an incredibly legitimate – shot at sneaking in the back door of the 2009 AFC postseason.

Their remaining schedule features games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (currently 1-11), Atlanta (currently without starting running back Michael Turner and quarterback Matt Ryan) the undefeated Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnatti Bengals to close the season.

Now, no game in the NFL can be taken for granted, but with the Jets playing better football, they should handle the Buccs to move to 7-6.  Turner is expected back for the Falcons, but Matt Ryan’s status is still up in the air.  The game is in the friendly confines of East Rutherford, New Jersey, though, a nice advantage for Gang Green.  The Falcons have plummetted in recent weeks, so this is another extremely winnable game for the J-E-T-S.

But if they can get through those two games unscathed, it can get hairy in week 16.  The Colts won’t have anything to play for by then outside a shot at 16-0, which they’ve already stated they want no part of.  If they happen to lose before then, they’ll be resting their starters for the major of the fina games of the season according to former coach-turned-analyst Tony Dungy, so even though this game is on the road, it could also be a winnable game if the circumstances work in the Jets’ favor.

Then we have week 17 against the Bengals.  Cincy currently sits at 9-3, with a three-game cushion in the AFC North.  They can wrap up the division as early as next week, so what happens if they’ve locked up the division, and say, the number two seed in the AFC before that game?  Do they rest their starters for the final game of the season, opening the door for a Jets victory?

There’s plenty of things that still need to go right for the Jets to earn a postseason berth, no question.  That scenario alone requires too many “what ifs” to be more than a pipe dream at this point.  But there’s hope, Jets Faithful.  And with four games left in the season, that’s all you can ask for after all the head-scratching losses that have marked this season’s first 12 games.  Your Jets have attributes that spell winning football in December: the NFL’s best defense, and an oustanding running game.  If those two things can hold serve, they will be in every game they play the remainder of the season, with a shot to take their act into January.

SANCHEZ UPDATE

This potential for a playoff run is predicated on the Jets’ quarterback, Mark Sanchez, being on the field, however.  Head coach Rex Ryan updated the media on his qb’s condition Monday, and while the signal caller didn’t practice, Ryan is optimistic he’ll be able to go Sunday.

“His spirits are good,” he said of Sanchez.  “I know he expects to play.  We’re optimistic he’ll play.  I remain optimistic he’ll be able to play.”

Ryan also stated the rookie will wear a brace on the injured knee if he is able to go Sunday, and he would be wearing it for at least the next two games, if not longer.  If he is in fact able to go, the Jets need to be careful with their prized first round draft choice.  A playoff berth is not worth a knee surgery in his rookie season, and everyone in the organization most likely feels the same.

The team will take the day off tomorrow, and will resume their week of preparation Wednesday with a workout beginning at 11:50 AM.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.

JetsInsider Tuesday Team Report

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

The “Sanchize” gets a lesson in self-protection from a championship skipper

The Jets want rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to be a part of their organization for many, many years to come.

So it’s only natural that when a player the club has put it’s collective faith in sacrifices his body in a reckless manor, there’s other people than just the coach holding their breath.

Sanchez has hurled his body into the air on multiple occasions this season, and while this marks the toughness and intensity that are a few of his strong points, what the team has tried to emphasize to the young qb is that sometimes, you simply need to be smart.

And by smart, they mean taking a slide instead of leaping into the air or staying on your feet to take a bone-crunching hit.  But sometimes, a football coach simply can’t teach a quarterback how to properly execute a successful slide.   This is why, in the case of head coach Rex Ryan and the Jets, it pays to share their home city with the most prolific franchise in professional sports.

Ryan called in reinforcements for Tuesday morning’s workout, in the form of the newest World Series-winning manager, New York Yankees skipper Joe Girardi.  Girardi visited the Florham complex to help teach Sanchez the finer points of the baseball slide that must become a part of the rookie’s repertoire if he wants to remain in one piece for the better part of his tenure with Gang Green, let alone the rest of his first season in New York.

“I told Schotty (Brian Schottenheimer), ‘I’m going over your head,’” Ryan said.  “I’m going over (Matt) Cavanaugh’s head.  I’m going over my head.  We’re bringing in a world champ to get this done.’  He (Sanchez) was running and learning to slide off his right leg.  He’s too valuable and he needs to understand that we need him out there and people are going to take shots at him if he doesn’t start sliding.  I really did want to make an emphasis to Mark and get the best guy that we can in the area.  I made a call today to the Yankees and I was really happy that Girardi came over and did that for us.”

Mark Sanchez got a surprise visitor today to help his sliding skills.

Mark Sanchez got a surprise visitor today to help his sliding skills.

After watching Girardi perform the move, Sanchez worked on his slide for about ten minutes on a sliding mat, and seemed to grow increasingly confident with the maneuver.  He seemd to show no ill effects from the knee injury he suffered during Sunday’s victory over Carolina, and participated fully in practice today.

“It meant a lot to me personally for him to come out, take time out of his schedule, his vacation and celebration time, to help me with something like sliding,” Sanchez said.  “There’s nobody better to get coaching from than him, especially in this area.”

“I’ve never really been a slider.  In baseball, I slid head first.  In football, I’ve done the same thing, or tried to get out of bounds or throw the ball away.  It’s something that you need to learn at this level.  Once you get the first down or as many yards as you need, just protect yourself and protect the ball and give yourself a chance to play.”

There’s no shame in taking care of yourself, and that’s an important lesson for Sanchez to learn.  He’s shown his toughness, both mentally and physically, throughout the course of his first season as a Jet, but he needs to learn that he’s more valuable to this team when he’s actually on the field.  That means taking care of his body when he has the chance, something any NFL player who’s had a long career has been able to master.  It’s all part of the maturation of Sanchez, but learning from someone who manages the World Champion Yankees has to make the process a little easier.  Only in New York can you find these types of teachers just a phone call away.

INJURY UPDATE

Sanchez, along with tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson (hamstring), safety Jim Leonhard (thumb), linebacker Calvin Pace (shoulder) and safety Eric Smith (back) all participated fully in practice today.   Defensive end Shaun Ellis (knee) was limited, and cornerbacks Donald Strickland (concussion) and and Dwight Lowery (ankle) and guard Robert Turner (knee) did not practice.

SIZING UP THE BILLS

Thursday’s matchup between the Jets and Buffalo Bills will be the clubs’ second meeting this season, the first featuring a terrible game from the Jets’ signal caller.  So what’s the difference between this game and the first tilt for the qb?  Coach Ryan offered his thoughts Tuesday.

“You can’t buy experience,” he said.  “He went through that and I think he is a better quarterback now than he was then.  You play this game long enough, bad things are going to happen to you unfortunately.  I think he’s growing in the fact that he understands what we want from him.  Don’t force the issue.  If it’s not there, then find something else to do with the football.  Check it down.  Throw the incompletion.  Run with it.  Take a sack.  Anything is better than forcing the ball in particular times and i know he learned from that.”

It will be interesting to see how Sanchez, with his new color-coated wristband, will fare against a Buffalo defense that tortured him in their previous meeting.  If he can limit his mistakes, the Jets could find themselves at .500 by the night’s end, and in the thick of the AFC playoff race.