Archive for November, 2009

INSIDER MONDAY TEAM REPORT

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Less than 24 hours removed from their victory over the Carolina Panthers, the New York Jets took to the practice field Monday morning, beginning preparations for their Thursday night showdown against the Buffalo Bills at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.

“This week the preparation is critical,” said Ryan.  “Mentally, you’ve got to make up for a few days.  The thing about playing these Thursday night games (is) these are great games to win.  They’re horrible to lose, but these are great games to win because it’s almost like you get another bye at the end of it.  If you lose these games, it’s miserable because you’ve got all that time to wait before you get to play again.”

The Jets had little time to celebrate Sundays victory, returning to the practice field on Monday (JetsInsider.com Photo)

The Jets had little time to celebrate Sunday's victory, returning to the practice field on Monday (JetsInsider.com Photo)

A second loss to the Buffalo Bills would be beyond miserable, it would be decimating.  As they presently stand, the Jets are a game and a half out of the last wildcard spot (occupied by Jacksonville, who beat the Jets two weeks ago).  With five games to go, the Jets still have a fighting shot to reach the postseason, but cannot afford a loss to the Bills.

Out of the five remaining games on the schedule, three can be classified as “winnable” (at Buffalo, at Tampa Bay, home vs. Atlanta).  The Jets close out the season against Indianapolis and Cincinnati, both tough opponents.

Rex Ryan believes that the team can’t worry about playoff implications at this point and must focus on the game at hand.

“We’re not even looking at it,” said Ryan.  “To have any chance at all, we have to take care of our business and that’s it.  We put ourselves in this situation, but we’re not even at that stage of looking at and worrying about how other teams fare.  We know we have to win.  That’s all we’re focused on.”

Thursday, the Jets will look to build off their strong defensive performance against Carolina, in which they kept the Panthers out of the end zone all day, limiting them to only 179 yards of total offense.

Despite the defense’s dominating performance on Sunday, CB Darrelle Revis made it clear that the team isn’t gloating, they don’t have time to.

“It’s a short week this week,” said Revis, who intercepted Carolina QB Jake Delhomme twice on Sunday, bringing back one for a touchdown.   “We’re done with it.  We did what we had to do yesterday and now it’s a short week and we have to focus really fast.  We have to get the game-plan down and we have to study for this week.  The game comes Thursday and we have to do what we have to do.”

“It’s pretty intense, said QB Mark Sanchez.  “This is huge turnaround for us and it’s quick.  We have to make sure we don’t get caught up in the aftermath of last game.  We’re excited about the win, but we need to move on.  We can’t get too excited about it.  We need to move on and prep like we do in a normal week which means extra preparation time, extra study time in the next couple of days and get ready for this next game.”

It’s been a while since Sanchez has played two games in five days.  A long while.

“Probably early in high school,” recalled the rookie quarterback.  “I played a JV game on a Thursday and ended up playing a varsity game on the Friday. That was kind of weird. This is a lot higher level than that. These guys are a lot better. I just really need to get ready. (It was) sophomore year, I think. I played JV and then started a varsity game. We did win. That was before I transferred high schools and we played two games.”

INSIDER TIDBITS

Injury update

Cornerbacks Dwight Lowery (ankle) and Donald Strickland (head) sat out today’s practice and most likely will not be available for Thursday’s game against Buffalo.  Ryan admitted that the short week really limits their chances of playing.  “I know they’re trying to get back on the field, he said.  “But this is a short week.  Hopefully, we can see enough out of them.  If they don’t practice, I don’t see how you can play them.”   G Robert Turner (knee) was also absent from practice.

DE Shaun Ellis (knee), QB Mark Sanchez (knee), and OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson (hamstring) were all limited.  Ryan said that Ferguson “tweaked” the hamstring during Sunday’s game, but it sounds like he should be ready to go on Thursday.

S Jim Leonhard (thumb), LB Calvin Pace (shoulder), and S Eric Smith (back) all participated in a full practice.

Homecoming for Rex

Jets head coach Rex Ryan will be on familiar turf for Thursday night’s game in Toronto.  Ryan lived in the city for 12 years during his childhood with his mother and brothers Jim and Rob.

“It was kind of neat,” said Ryan.  “First, when we moved out there I never knew how to skate.  Some would argue I still can’t skate.  You have to play hockey or you weren’t going to play any sport really, so I learned how to play hockey.”

“Toronto is a great town.  I never thought I’d see the day where the NFL would be playing a game in Toronto.  I certainly never envisioned myself coaching a team that would be playing in Toronto.  It’s a great opportunity for us.  It’s a great town, and, hopefully, we can convert some of those hockey fans to become New York Jets fans.”

Thursday’s game is slated for an 8:20 p.m. kickoff.  The game will be televised on both the NFL Network and WPIX 11 for all you Cablevision customers out there.

JETS 17 – PANTHERS 6

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Four days after Rex Ryan demoted Kerry Rhodes to the second-string, the veteran safety finally made the big plays his coach had been asking for.

Rhodes responded with two interceptions and the Jets (5-6)  bounced back from their loss in New England a week ago, rolling to a  17-6 victory over the Panthers (4-7) at the Meadowlands Sunday.

“I got the message,” said Rhodes, who was brief and to the point with the  media after the game.  “The message was sent.  Now, I am moving on and you’re going to see Kerry Rhodes.  The message was sent to me by Coach and now I’m moving on.  That’s all it takes.  You saw Kerry today and that’s what you’ll see.”

“Great game,” said head coach Rex Ryan.  “He got a game ball for the two picks.  That was awesome to see.  He also had a big hit on the quarterback as well.  He really played well.”

“He did great today,” said Darelle Revis, who matched Rhodes with two interceptions of his own.  “He faced adversity and made two big plays in this game.  That’s great on his part.  He never got down on himself and we never got down on him, as well.”

After losing his starting job this week, Jets S Kerry Rhodes responded mightily with two interceptions against Carolina during the Jets 17-10 win. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

After losing his starting job this week, Jets S Kerry Rhodes responded mightily with two interceptions against Carolina during the Jets 17-10 win. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

It was clear Rhodes wasn’t the only one motivated by his benching.  The Jets defense stepped up in a big way, limiting the Panthers to 175 yards of total offense, while picking off Carolina QB Jake Delhomme four times and registering three sacks.   Delhomme struggled all day, completing only 13 of 33 passing attempts for 126 yards.

Carolina stormed out of the gate , converting their first three third down situations with plays of 18, 13 and 13 yards and looked poised to score on the game’s opening drive.  But their luck ran out on their fourth attempt.

On third-and-9 from the Jets 39 yard line, Delhomme fired a pass into the left flat that was intended for Steve Smith.  The pass caromed off of Smith’s heel, bouncing conveniently into the arms of Darrelle Revis, who took it 67 yards to the end zone, to put the Jets on top 7-0 with 8:59 remaining in the first.

Revis’s interception was the Jets first defensive touchdown of the season, and his second career return.  Afterward, the third-year cornerback was asked if he’d ever had an easier interception in his career.

“No that was the easiest one,” he said.  “That was an easy score right there.  It don’t get no better than that to start us off.”

Rex Ryan joked about the play after the game.  “We’ve been working on that play,” said Ryan.   “You know, the deflection-off-the-heel play for a while.  That’s great coaching”

“What’s funny is that the same players are always lucky.   Whether it’s Revis or whoever, the great ones are lucky.   The thing was there and he made the play.  That Steve Smith is a heck of a football player and like I said, we’ve got the only corner in the league that can cover him.”

Smith was held to one catch for five yards and gave credit to his opponent after the game.  “He did a good job against me,” said the four-time Pro Bowler.  “I have the utmost respect for him.  He’s a good, young corner and I think he will continue to do well if he keeps continuing to work the way he is working.”

In the beginning moments of the second quarter, the Jets caught another huge break.  After Carolina return-man Captain Munnerlyn returned Steve Weatherford’s punt for 37 yards, the Panthers took over at the New York 37-yard line.

On first down off a flea-flicker, Delhomme threw an incomplete pass intended for Muhsin Muhammad who appeared to be bumped by Eric Smith at the goal line.  Off-setting pass interference penalties were assessed on both Muhammad and Smith.

While the Jets defense was successful in keeping the Panthers out of the end zone on the drive, they couldn’t keep them off the scoreboard.   John Kasay connected on a 40-yard field goal to cut the Jets lead to 7-3 with 10:11 remaining in the second quarter.

On the ensuing drive, the Jets were forced to punt after Sanchez was sacked on third-and-12 by Carolina DE Everette Brown and DT Damione Lewis.  Following a 54-yard punt by Steve Weatherford, Carolina took over at their own 20.  But it wouldn’t be for long.

On the first play of the drive, Delhomme once again tried to force a ball the way of Steve Smith and ended up paying for it.  Darrelle Revis boxed out Smith and intercepted the under-thrown pass for his second pick of the day, giving the Jets possession at their own 42.  However, the Jets could not take advantage of their great field position.

After Sanchez connected with Dustin Keller down the middle for 19 yards, the Jets went into ground and pound mode, handing off to Shonn Greene on three consecutive carries.  On first-and-10 from the Carolina 29, Greene ran for a gain of two yards but had the ball knocked from his grasp by Panthers DE Julius Peppers.  The fumble was recovered by Panthers LB Jon Beason, ending the Jets drive.

Three plays later, Carolina gave it right back.  On third-and-6, Delhomme was intercepted by Kerry Rhodes on a ball that was badly overthrown.  Rhodes returned the interception, his first of the season, 11 yards, setting the Jets up at the Carolina 38.

On the very next play, Sanchez took off running down the middle of the field for a 12 yard gain putting the Jets in scoring territory setting up a majestic, three-yard prance into the end zone by Thomas Jones with 28 seconds to go in the half.  Jones made an impressive lateral cut to avoid a tackler on the play, which was reviewed by the booth.   After the play stood as called, the Jets took a 14-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Jones finished the day with 75 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown.  “It’s very important for us to get this win,” said Jones.  “We needed to get some momentum back, get some confidence back.  Anytime you can get a win at home, it was a team effort, it’s always a positive.”

On the Jets opening drive of the second half, Sanchez led the offense on a nine play, 72 yard drive that was halted at the Carolina goal line.

After a series of runs by Jones and a pair of receptions by Braylon Edwards, Sanchez completed a 16 yard pass down the middle of the field to Dustin Keller on third down.  As Keller reached for the end zone, the ball was knocked loose by Carolina safety Chris Harris.  Harris pounced on the ball in the end zone, keeping the Panthers in the game with 9:12 to go in the third.

“I was so close to the end zone, said Keller, who finished with four receptions for 68 yards.  “I just wanted to drive in and get a touchdown right there for us.   I reached out and he (Chris Harris) made a nice play, knocking it out.  I just have to secure that, it was a bad play by me.”

After forcing a three and out, the Jets took over at their own 27.  Threatening on first-and-ten from their own 46, Sanchez scrambled to the right side for a gain of eight yards but was taken down hard by Carolina cornerback Richard Marshall.  Sanchez landed awkwardly on the play and was replaced by backup quarterback Kellen Clemens.  Sanchez briefly had his left knee, the same knee he injured while at USC, examined by team doctors.

Sanchez, who finished 13 for 17 for 154 yards with an interception, downplayed the injury after the game.

Clemens, exhibiting obvious rust, threw one ugly pass and was unable to lead the drive anywhere.  Weatherford was forced to punt for the third time on the day on fourth down.

Taking over at their own 20, Carolina gained a first down on a direct snap to DeAngelo Williams.   But three plays later, Delhomme was sacked by Jets linebacker Calvin Pace for a loss of 12 yards, ending the drive and forcing Jason Baker’s fourth punt of the day with under a minute to go in the third quarter.

Sanchez returned to the game on the Jets next drive and was given a warm greeting by the Carolina defense.   On second-and-6 from the New York 37, the rookie was intercepted by Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble, who returned the pass to midfield.

Carolina wasted no time capitalizing off the Sanchez turnover.   On the first play of the drive, Delhomme completed a 26-yard pass to tight end Dante Rosario, who was knocked out of bounds at the Jets 24-yard line.  Four plays later, Delhomme found Smith in the corner of the end zone for an apparent 10-yard touchdown pass.

Rex Ryan challenged the play, and it was ruled that Smith indeed did not have both feet in bounds.  On third down, Jets cornerback Drew Coleman applied a big hit on Dante Rosario, causing an incompletion and forcing the Panthers to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Kasay.   Kasay’s second boot of the day cut the Jets lead to 14-6, with 11:45 remaining.

Brad Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 38 yards, setting the Jets up with solid field position, but they could not take advantage.  A holding penalty on second down set the Jets back 10 yards and after an 11-yard completion to Dustin Keller, Sanchez was sacked on third down.   Another Weatherford punt set the Panthers up at their own 30 yard line with just under nine minutes to go.

Following incompletions to Mushin Muhammad and Dwayne Jarrett, the Carolina drive was stalled again, inside their own 30.  Following a punt return of 18 yards by Jerricho Cotchery, the Jets took over at their own 39.

On third-and-2, Sanchez connected with rookie Danny Woodhead for a 16-yard completion down the left sideline, prolonging the drive.  Three plays later, Thomas Jones was stopped on third down, setting up a 47-yard field goal attempt for Jay Feely.

Feely drilled the kicked, extending the Jets lead to 17-6 and making it a two-score game with 3:44 remaining.

Taking over at their own 22-yard line, Delhomme led Carolina on one of their promising drives of the afternoon, completing an 11-yard pass to Rosario on second down and then on fourth and long, completing a 24-yard strike to Dwayne Jarrett near midfield.  Two plays later, Delhomme connected with Jarrett again for 19 yards this time, bringing Carolina inside the Jets 30-yard line.

Then, on second-and-20 following an offensive interference penalty on Jarrett, Delhomme was intercepted by Rhodes for the second time on the day.  With 1:18 remaining, it was only fitting that it would be Rhodes who made the play to seal the deal for Gang Green.

Gameday Report: Jets-Panthers

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Greetings from the ninth level of the Meadowlands, Jet fans.

Here are the inactives for today’s game:

Carolina Panthers: QB A.J. Feeley (3rd string), CB C.J. Wilson, RB Mike Goodson, FB Tony Fiammetta, G Duke Robinson, WR Kenneth Moore, DE Charles Johnson, and DE Hilee Taylor.

Absent from the list are RB Jonathan Stewart and WR Steve Smith, so expect to see them in action today.

New York Jets:  QB Kevin O’Connell, QB Erik Ainge (3rd QB), CB Dwight Lowery, CB Donald Strickland, LB Ryan Fowler, LB Kenwin Cummings, OL Matt Slauson.

Follow JetsInsider on Twitter for the latest in-game updates and scores from the Meadowlands.

http://twitter.com/JetsInsider

INSIDER WEDNESDAY TEAM REPORT

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Say goodbye to Hollywood, say goodbye my baby.

After weeks of making headlines with his mouth, Jets safety Kerry Rhodes finally got some attention for his play on the field. Unfortunately for Rhodes, it’s negative attention.

In an attempt to perhaps send a message to his 4-6, underachieving veteran squad, Jets head coach Rex Ryan has benched his starting free safety, following weeks of ineffective play.

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In the midst of losing five of their last six, head coach Rex Ryan has sent safety Kerry Rhodes to the bench (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“I will say this, Kerry Rhodes has been a pretty darn good football player in this league,” said Ryan in his press conference with the media this afternoon.  “Do I expect more of Kerry?  I would say that’s a true statement, than what we’re getting.”

Rhodes took reps with the second team at today’s practice and was seen having a brief chat with Ryan midway through the session.

“I was a little stunned to hear that,” said Rhodes.  “Being the player that I am and being the guy in this league that I am, I was a little stunned and a little embarrassed that it came that way.”

Rhodes stated that Rex explained to him that his demotion to the second team was temporary, not permanent, comparing it to “a little kid in timeout”.

“He just told me that he wanted me to do some more stuff, some stuff that we talked about, and I’ll get back in the package again.  It could be a couple of days, it could be a game, but just do a few more things.”

“Kerry knows what he has to do,” said Ryan.  “Leave it at that.  He knows what I expect.”

“I know he’s embarrassed by this, as am I quite honestly.  But I think he’s gonna respond, I really do.”

By sending the former Pro Bowler to the pine, Ryan has made it clear that he is not playing games and that no one’s job is safe, regardless of past accolades or contract size.

Rhodes, who quickly emerged as one of the league’s up and coming stars at the safety position following his impressive sophomore campaign in 2006, has seen his production dip considerably since signing a five-year, $33.5 million contract extension following the ‘07 season.  The free safety has been more “Folly-wood” than “Hollywood”, the nickname Rhodes has earned in respect to his aspiring acting career.

Prior to signing his new deal, which is almost identical to that of the Indianapolis Colts’  Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders, Rhodes registered career totals of eight sacks, six forced fumbles and ten interceptions.  Since the extension, the fifth-year free safety has only one sack, two picks, and hasn’t forced a fumble since.

Rhodes, who back in August proclaimed himself “Kobe”, promising to be a big-time playmaker in Ryan’s system has been a non-factor in 2009.  Through ten games, Rhodes has yet to record a sack, interception or forced fumble.

Rhodes was particularly putrid during Sunday’s 31-14 thrashing in Foxboro.  In what may have been the final straw for Rex Ryan, Rhodes missed several tackles on Patriots RB Laurence Maroney and passed up the opportunity to lay a big hit on New England WR Wes Welker, early on in the game.  Welker finished with a career high 15 receptions for 192 yards.

In the Jets home loss to Jacksonville two weeks ago, Rhodes was also the player at fault.  With Jacksonville backed up at the Jet 47-yard line with just over two minutes to go, Rhodes failed to communicate with strong safety Jim Leonhard, missing a pre-snap signal, and was responsible for allowing a thirty-three yard completion to Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis.  The long pass set up the game winning kick by Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee, as time expired.

Speaking via conference call, Carolina head coach John Fox defended Ryan’s decision to bench his team-leader, citing it as just “part of the business.”

Ryan refuted the notion that the benching of Rhodes was predicated on the need to send a message to the rest of the team but despite what he says, the veterans in the Jets locker room certainly have taken the benching of Rhodes to heart.

“I’ve got to pay attention to what I’m doing,” said receiver Braylon Edwards.  “Am I doing it the right way?  Because this is the possibility or this is the ramifications that can happen.”

“For a guy like Kerry, his age, his experience, to get put to the second team, it lets guys know that the coaches are willing to make changes at all costs.  So, you’ve gotta be on it, you’ve got to be on your stuff, because that is something that could possibly happen.”

INSIDER TIDBITS

Injury woes continue in secondary

Corners Donald Strickland (concussion) and Dwight Lowery (ankle) both did not participate in today’s practice.  Ryan stated that he did not anticipate Lowery playing in Sunday’s game against Carolina.

LB Vernon Gholston (hamstring) did practice but was limited, as was DE Shaun Ellis (knee).

Numbers game

Through ten games, how do the Jets and Panthers stack up against each other and the rest of the league?

Jets offense: 21.3 points per game (17th in league), 328.5 yards of total offense (20th), 165 passing yards per game (28th), 163.5 rushing yards per game (2nd).

Panthers offense: 19.3 points per game (23rd), 336.4 yards of total offense (15th), 177.3 passing yards per game (24th), 159.1 rushing yards per game (3rd).

Jets defense: 18.9 points allowed per game (9th), 294.4 yards allowed per game (5th), 182.9 passing yards allowed per game (4th), 111.5 rushing yards allowed per game (16th).

Panthers defense: 23.9 points allowed per game (25th), 315.7 yards allowed per game (11th), 185 passing yards allowed per game (5th), 130.7 rushing yards allowed per game (26th).

Jets to host toy drive

The Jets have teamed with the U.S. Marine Reserve Corps and A-1 First Class-Viking Moving and Storage, and will be holding their annual toy drive to benefit the Toys-for-Tots program before Sunday’s game against Carolina.  Fans are encouraged to bring a new unwrapped toy that will be collected at all gates upon entering the stadium.


Report: Rhodes sent to pine

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Weeks of ineffective play may have finally cost Kerry Rhodes his starting job.

According to various sources, the Jets free safety has been benched by head coach Rex Ryan, in favor of backup Eric Smith.

Kerry Rhodes may not be smiling for much longer if reports surrounding his benching are true (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Kerry Rhodes may not be smiling for much longer if reports surrounding his benching are true (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Rhodes, who back in August proclaimed himself “Kobe”, promising to be a big-time playmaker in Ryan’s system has been a non-factor in 2009.  Through ten games, Rhodes has yet to record a sack, interception or forced fumble.

In what may have been the final straw, Rhodes missed several tackles on Patriots RB Laurence Maroney and passed up the opportunity to lay a big hit on New England WR Wes Welker during Sunday’s 31-14 loss in Foxboro.

More to come as this story develops including reactions from both coach Rex Ryan and Kerry Rhodes….

Stick with JetsInsider.com for all your breaking news surrounding Gang Green.  For the latest updates, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JetsInsider

INSIDER WEDNESDAY TEAM REPORT

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings—or in the Jets case, until the fat guy sheds some tears.

Various media outlets reported that head coach Rex Ryan let his emotions get the best of him during his Monday morning meeting with the team, following their disheartening 24-22 loss to Jacksonville on Sunday, which all but deflated the Jets playoff aspirations.

In light of the incident, Ryan opened up Wednesday’s press conference with the media by receiving a box of Kleenex from Jets PR Director Bruce Speight.

“First off before we start, I’ve got a new sponsor,” joked Ryan. “The Jets have the Toyota, I get the Kleenex for obvious reasons.”  Despite his joking, Ryan and the Jets aren’t kidding around in their belief that this season may not be over just yet.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan isnt shedding any tears towards the idea of a lost season, just yet.  (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Jets head coach Rex Ryan isn't shedding any tears towards the idea of a lost season, just yet. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“(Sugar Ray Robinson) made a great statement once,” said Ryan. “And it goes something like ‘to become a champion, you have to believe in yourself when nobody else will.’ I think that’s the message I believe in.”

“You have to believe in yourself to achieve great things. That’s the way I am, that’s the way this team is.”

Losers of five of their last six, the Jets head to Foxboro this weekend with their season on metaphorical life support. The 6-3 Patriots, coming off a fourth quarter collapse on the road against Peyton Manning, would like nothing more than to avenge their Week 2 loss at the Meadowlands by laying the smackdown on Rex Ryan’s squad, effectively pulling the cord on Gang Green’s 2009 season.

In fact, as bad as the Jets need Sunday’s game, a win bares as much, if not greater significance for their opponent. New England needs to kick the Jets while they’re down or it could come back to bite them. Despite the Jets skid into irrelevance since Week 3, a win on Sunday would put them only a game out of first place in the AFC East with the tiebreaker over New England in hand.

“It’s a big game,” said New England tight end Chris Baker in his conference call with the New York media on Wednesday. “It’s a big game for us and for them as well. Obviously, it’s a huge division game. We think we can go out and beat them. That’ll be big for us and get us going back on the right track to where we’re trying to get.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick also admitted that his team will need to bring their ‘A’ game on Sunday. “A couple of plays here or there and they could be looking at seven or eight wins. They’re a real solid team. They played well against us in all three phases of the game. We know we’ve got to do a better job.”

“We all understand that this is a huge division game against a team that’s beaten us the last two times we’ve played them. We need to have a good week of practice. We need to have a good week of preparation. We know how determined and competitive they are. I’m sure they’ll be at their best for this game, just like they were the last time they played us.”

At 5-5, the postseason would still be an uphill challenge for the Green and White, analogous to climbing Mount Everest. The Jets close out the season against the 9-0 Colts and 7-2 Bengals and do not hold the tiebreaker over 4-5 Miami, who swept the season series with New York.

Add in the fact that New England has also been proven to be almost unbeatable coming off of a loss under Bill Belichick. Since 2003, the Patriots are 18-1 in games following losses, dropping back-to-back games only once.

The Pats last instance of back-to-back losses? 2006, when New England followed a loss to the Indianapolis Colts by falling to none other than the New York Jets, 17-14 at Gillette Stadium. Sound familiar?

“This is same football team that we beat in Week 2,” reiterated Rex Ryan. “So we know we can beat them. I know was everybody said they’re going to be mad and they’re going to be ready to get after it, and they’re going to try and whip us and all that. Guess what? We’re going to try and whip them again.”

As the beat writers walked through the hallway past the cafeteria inside the Jets practice facility today, they were greeted by owner Woody Johnson. Johnson shook hands with each of the writers, uttering the phrase “Don’t lose hope.”

Hope starts with a win on Sunday.

INSIDER TIDBITS

Injury Update; Leonhard’s status still up in the air

Safety Jim Leonhard had surgery on his right thumb yesterday and is expected to miss a few weeks. The exact timetable for his return is unknown at this time. Leonhard has three screws in his thumb and his right hand in a sling, but Rex Ryan still isn’t ready to write the five-year veteran off for Sunday’s game just yet.

“He is a tough kid,” said Ryan. “I’m just telling you. And the average guy, there is no way he plays. But Jim Leonhard’s not an average guy.”

“If there’s any way possible of him playing, I wouldn’t be shocked.”

If Leonhard is unable to go, Eric Smith will get the start in his place with LB David Harris taking over the defensive signal-calling responsibilities.

Leonhard, as expected, joined LB Vernon Gholston (hamstring) on the bikes at practice this morning.  Shaun Ellis (knee) and Brad Smith (quad) were limited.  Bryan Thomas (toe) went through the full practice.

Definite questions in return game

The resounding impact of Leon Washington’s season-ending injury is finally starting to settle in around Florham.

With Justin Miller inactivated last week, and Jim Leonhard sidelined with the thumb injury, it remains to be seen who will step up in the return game for the Jets. In last week’s loss to the Jaguars, WR Brad Smith was seen back deep for kickoffs while CB Darrelle Revis returned two punts.

During this morning’s practice CB Dwight Lowery, Revis, and even WR Jerricho Cotchery all got in some reps returning punts. It’s often forgotten that Cotchery was the Jets main punt returner back in 2005, leading the team with 23 returns for 182 yards.

While Cotchery and Revis may possess to speed and ability to thrive in the return game, it would definitely be a questionable decision for Rex Ryan to throw two of his best players on either side of the ball out in an open-field situation, risking injury.

The Jets would be better served to have Lowery, a nickelback less vital to the team’s success, take over the primary return duties.

Baker sheds light on rivalry

Since his rookie year in ’02, Chris Baker had been programmed to despise everything the New England Patriots stood for as a football team and an organization. The Queens native spent seven seasons hauling in receptions at the tight end spot for Gang Green before his departure for New England this past off-season.

Baker spoke today on being on the other side of the rivalry and whether it means anything extra playing against his former team on Sunday. “I was thinking earlier in the day about it,” said Baker. Over the years and knowing some of the guys, it may mean a little bit more for me to play against guys I was teammates with and am still good friends with.”

“Early on it was a little weird (being on the other side of the rivalry) but I’ve kind of grown into it. Obviously I’ve been here for half a season now. I’m definitely here, so at first it was but I’ve gotten to the point where it’s not an issue anymore.

“Obviously, I miss a lot of my friends, but for me it was a positive change. I’m happy here and they’re doing a lot of good things up here and I’m having a good time. I’m doing pretty good, so I can’t complain.”  In nine games this season, Baker has 10 receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Baker holds that contrary to common belief, the Patriots do not have any contempt for the New York Jets. “I don’t think so,” he said.  “I thought there was when I came up here, but it’s really not. It has everything to do with one game at a time. Obviously, it’s a rivalry. They know us, we know them. I always thought that they didn’t respect us. It couldn’t be further from what is in here. We have more of a healthy respect for what they do.”

Jets add WR Davis to roster

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The New York Jets made yet another roster move Tuesday, signing WR Britt Davis to the practice squad.

Davis, a 6-foot-3 receiver out of Northern Illinois originally signed with the Jets as a rookie free agent on May 1, 2009 and was waived on Sept. 5.

Davis caught the eye of head coach Rex Ryan during training camp, working well with QB Mark Sanchez and the second-unit. During the preseason, Davis caught five receptions for 54 yards. At Northern Illinois, he finished his career fifth on the NIU all-time charts for career catches with 146 and totaled 1,676 receiving yards, 2,063 all-purpose yards and nine career touchdowns.

Defensive line coach sent packing too on ‘Black Monday’

Monday, November 16th, 2009

More news from Florham…

On a day where the Jets said goodbye to DB Ahmad Carroll, the team also bid farewell to defensive line coach Kerry Locklin,according to Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News.

Defensive line coach Kerry Locklin has left the team for personal reasons, according to a person familiar with the team. It was a mutual decision between Locklin and Rex Ryan, the person said, but this sounds a bit fishy. Ryan made no mention of Locklin’s departure during his late-afternoon news conference.

It’s believed that Ryan had a disagreement with Locklin, but the specifics aren’t clear. No word yet on who will replace Locklin. He and Ryan have known each other for nearly 20 years. They coached together at Morehead State from 1990-1993.

The ship is sinking fast…

UPDATE

DL Coach Kerry Locklin (right of Rex Ryan) is the first coaching casualty of the Jets collapse. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

DL Coach Kerry Locklin (right of Rex Ryan) is the first coaching casualty of the Jets collapse. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

The Jets have sent out an official statement regarding the dismissal of defensive line coach Kerry Lockin:

The New York Jets announced that Kerry Locklin will not continue as the team’s defensive line coach. His duties will be assumed by defensive assistant Jeff Weeks.

“It is a mutual decision that Kerry no longer will be with us,” said Head Coach Rex Ryan. “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.”

Locklin joined the Jets in 2009 after nine seasons as the defensive line coach at Fresno State. He has also coached collegiately at Eastern Michigan (1995-1999), Morehead State (1990-93), Utah (1989) and Western New Mexico (1988) and for Shreveport in the CFL (1994). As a player, Locklin was an All-WAC tight end at New Mexico State who played three years in the NFL (Rams, 1982-83, Broncos, 1987) and two seasons in the USFL (1984-85).

Weeks, a defensive assistant who worked with the defensive line, came to the Jets in 2009 after one season as a defensive assistant with the Raiders. A 23-year coaching veteran, Weeks coached with Rex Ryan at Morehead State (1990-91) and at Oklahoma (1998). Weeks has also coached collegiately at Texas A&M-Kingsville (2005-06), Southeastern Oklahoma State (2004), Trinity Valley (Texas) CC (2000-03), where he coached Jets defensive back Drew Coleman, Fort Scott (Kansas) CC (1999), Glendale (Arizona) CC (1997) and Phoenix (Arizona) CC (1996). Weeks played collegiately as a wide receiver at Southwest Oklahoma State and Northwest Oklahoma State before attending camp with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bartlesville, OK native was an all-state football player at College High School.

Jets waive Ahmad Carroll, sign Cummings

Monday, November 16th, 2009

In a rather surprising move, the Jets announced today that they have waived veteran defensive back and special teams player Ahmad Carroll, who was inactive for Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville.

With the open roster spot, the Jets signed LB Kenwin Cummings to the active roster from the practice squad.

In a surprising move, the Jets cut ties with veteran DB Ahmad Carroll this morning (JetsInsider.com Photo)

In a surprising move, the Jets cut ties with veteran DB Ahmad Carroll this morning (JetsInsider.com Photo)

At the moment, the reasoning behind the move is unclear but it’s safe to estimate that this could be Rex Ryan’s way of sending a message to his veteran team, following another inexcusable loss. Carroll was one of Mike Westhoff’s best special teams players and one of the team’s most vocal players during practices.

Carroll, who was signed by the Jets as a free agent on July 22, 2008, played in 22 games for the Jets, recording 30 special teams tackles. Originally the 25th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by Green Bay, Carroll has appeared in 57 career games for the Packers, Jaguars and Jets, registering three sacks and three interceptions.

Cummings was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 7, 2009. He originally signed with the Jets on May 2, 2008 as an undrafted free agent and was inactive for the 2008 season opener at Miami. He was waived on Sept. 10 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 16 where he spent the remainder of the season.

Stick with JetsInsider.com for the latest updates and breaking news from Gang Green.

JETS-JAGUARS: Previewing the clash of the hungry

Friday, November 13th, 2009

The Jets will look themselves in the mirror on Sunday, and hope to crack it.

Jacksonville and New York are carbon copies of each other.  Both are aggressive football teams that rely on their running game and their defense, and both are coached by men that were members of the 2000 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.  But the parallels don’t  end there.

Both the Jaguars and Jets have been models of inconsistency this season, posting a common 4-4 record, heading into the Week 10 showdown at the Meadowlands.

With each squad starving for a victory, this will no-doubt be a high stakes, blood-bath of a ball game.  The winner will be awarded the opportunity to prolong their season, with the loser most likely headed in the other direction.  At 4-5, a playoff run would be an uphill climb for either team in the tough AFC, where 10-6 may not even be enough to secure a playoff berth.

The Jets could use another rowdy performance out of the Meadowlands crowd on Sunday (JetsInsider.com Photo)

The Jets could use another rowdy performance out of the Meadowlands crowd on Sunday (JetsInsider.com Photo)

KEYS TO VICTORY FOR GANG GREEN

1) Travel by air

The Jaguars defense is among the worst in the NFL at getting to the opposing quarterback,registering only eight sacks all season.  As a result of their dismal pass-rush, Jacksonville has struggled mightily to defend against the pass, giving up over 240 passing yards per game.  QB Mark Sanchez should look to exploit the Jags’ secondary and should take some shots downfield early on, to not only test the corners but also to open up the running game for Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene.

2) Capitalize off turnovers

Despite forcing fifteen turnovers, the Jets have yet to score a touchdown off one of their takeaways all season.  Getting into the end zone and making their opponents pay for their miscues is something Gang Green must improve on in the second half of the season.   It starts Sunday.  In a close-fought game like Sunday should be, getting a touchdown as opposed to a field goal off a turnover, could prove to be the deciding factor.

3) Contain MJD

RB Maurice Jones-Drew is the main catalyst of the Jaguars offensive attack.   While it may seem simple, the Jets tackling needs to be on-point against a ferocious runner like Jones-Drew.  MJD excels at breaking tackles and turning them into big plays downfield.  In their losses at Miami and New Orleans, the Jets defense was done in by missed tackling, that cannot happen against Jacksonville.

4) Fireman Ed

Once again, Jets head coach Rex Ryan is calling on the Jets faithful to step their game up this week at the Meadowlands and get loud.  Since the home opening win against New England, the Giants Stadium crowed has yet to repeat their raucous performance, which resulted in several delay of game and false start penalties against the Patriots in Week 2.  The Jets need that twelfth man back in a game that could have serious playoff implications.

5)  Get pressure on David Garrard

Jacksonville QB David Garrard has struggled to find consistency all season.  As Garrard has gone, so have the Jags.  Garrard has especially struggled on the road, throwing two interceptions and zero touchdowns through four road games.   Coincidentally, Jacksonville has only won one of those four games.   If the Jets can get penetration up front against a relatively-weak Jacksonville offensive line, Garrard will struggle and make bad decisions with the football,as he is known to do.

Prediction

Coming off the bye week, Gang Greens defense come out with something to prove.  The defense takes advantage of inconsistent David Garrard, forcing at least two turnovers.  On the other side of the ball, Thomas Jones pounds away for another impressive day on the ground.   But this will not be a blowout by any stretch of the imagination.  The Jets grind out a close victory, with the strength of their defense being the difference in the end:  Jets 17, Jaguars 10

INSIDER TIDBITS

Matchup history

In eight meetings between the two teams, the Jaguars hold a 5-3 advantage, winning the last two.  In fact, Gang Green has not defeated Jacksonville since 2003.

Last time they met…

The Jets were shellacked in 41-0 loss at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in 2006, the franchise’s worst defeat in 20 years.   In that game, the Jets were dominated by the stifling Jacksonville defense, which clamped down on Jets QB Chad Pennington.  Pennington was sacked three times and was picked off three times, two of those leading to Jacksonville touchdowns.   The Jaguars defense also blocked a punt by Jets P Ben Graham, which turned into a score.   Jacksonville running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew also had impressive days, combining for three touchdowns and 170 yards.

Jones, Ellis looking at history

Thomas Jones can tie a team-record (Curtis Martin, Freeman McNeil) with a fourth straight 100-yard rushing performance.  Meanwhile, Shaun Ellis will play his 148th career game for the Jets this Sunday, an all-time record for Jets defensive linemen.  The previous record was set by Marty Lyons with 147 games from 1979 to 1989.   Ellis is also one sack away from being the franchise’s all-time leader in the department.

Injury Report: Gholston doubtful

The Jets go into Sunday relatively healthy, despite possibly being without the services of LB Vernon Gholston.  Gholston has been held out of practice all week with a hamstring injury.

CB Lito Sheppard will return to action on Sunday, after missing some time after aggravating a quad injury.   Sheppard will definitely play, but may not start.

For Jacksonville, TE Ernest Wilford and DT John Henderson have missed practice time this week with ankle injuries.  Without Henderson, the Jacksonville defense could struggle to contain the Jets running game.