Archive for December, 2009

INSIDER WEDNESDAY TEAM REPORT

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Clemens to start vs. Bucs as Sanchez still nursing sore knee.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Just two days after stating he was “optimistic” that Mark Sanchez would play against the  Buccaneers, Rex Ryan has named Kellen Clemens the starter for Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay.

Ryan said that the decision was made after he consulted with the advice of the Jets medical staff.

“The more information I got from our doctors this morning, I just think that we’d be taking an unnecessary risk,” said Ryan.  “Every decision is always based on the player’s well-being first and then our football team.”

“This is a decision I’m comfortable with right now.”

Sanchez is being shut down completely for Sunday’s game and will not travel with the team to Tampa Bay.   The rookie will stay back in Florham, where he’ll receive three days of treatment on the injured knee.

With Mark Sanchez nursing a strained PCL, Kellen Clemens will get the starting nod Sunday in Tampa Bay (JetsInsider.com Photo)

With Mark Sanchez nursing a strained PCL, Kellen Clemens will get the starting nod Sunday in Tampa Bay (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Ryan also revealed that Sanchez did not take the news of his benching well, stating that the rookie was “mad as a hornet” upon hearing the news that Clemens would start.

That assessment certainly seems accurate as Sanchez appeared visibly angry and disappointed, when speaking with the media on Wednesday.

“I’m pretty upset about it,” said the rookie as he pouted at the podium.  “It’s just a frustrating part of this game.”

“It’s difficult to handle but I’m excited for Kellen and I’m backing him one hundred percent.  I think he’s going to do really well.”

It has become increasingly clear that Sanchez fully expected to play and was totally caught off guard by Ryan’s decision.  Sanchez told reporters that he tried to reason with Ryan, asking if he could practice tomorrow but was shut down by the head coach.

The organization has made it clear that the decision to bench Sanchez is by no means punitive, as a means of Ryan sending a message to the quarterback about sliding.   The move is solely based on the rookie’s health.

Sunday will mark Clemens’ first start since December 30, 2007, the final game of the ‘07 season season against the Kansas City Chiefs.  In eight career starts, Clemens has compiled a record of 3-5, with a career passer rating of 59.9.

Clemens says that Ryan talked to him on Monday and told him that Sanchez wouldn’t be able to go.   This morning, Clemens was told he would be the starter on Sunday.

“I’ve been approaching the week as if that were the case,” said Clemens.  “It’s nice to know this early in the week that this is the direction we’re going.  I think for myself and the guys in the huddle.”

In limited action this season, Clemens has completed 1 of 3 pass attempts for 14 yards.   Despite an underwhelming training camp and a lack of repetitions with the first-team offense, Ryan is confident that Clemens will be able to get the job done.

“He prepares every game like he’s going to be needed,” said Ryan.  “Even last week, the numbers weren’t great, but he had to go in and finish that game and we had confidence in him.  He was smart.  I told him, (in reference to the offense’s color-coded system) ‘Hey we’re in red.’  He said. ‘No, this isn’t red, Rex, this is maroon.’  So he knows the situation of the game.”

Clemens’ teammates agree that he is more than ready to handle the challenge.   “He works at his craft,” says OT Damien Woody.  “Anytime you’re a backup quarterback, you’re always put in a rough spot.”

Braylon Edwards says that Clemens is comparable to Derek Anderson,whom Edwards played with in Cleveland.  “He has a strong arm, he throws the ball fast, he anticipates spots,” said Edwards.  “I kind of just took myself back to my time with D.A. today in practice to make up for some lost time with Kellen.  It worked.”

Clemens showed no signs of rust in today’s portion of practice that was open to the media.   The former second-round pick completed a number of fire-ball throws to receivers Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, and David Clowney.

“I think everybody else on the offensive side of the ball just stepped up there with intensity and execution,” noted Clemens.  “Coach Schottenheimer challenged us to pay more attention to details, to be crisper particularly in the passing game.  It translated in one practice.”

“He looked sharp,” said Woody.  “The tempo, everything was great.  I thought that was one of the better practices of the year.”

“The tempo today was outstanding,” said Ryan.  “We actually never threw an incompletion today in our team period.  It was pretty impressive.”

Clemens feels the full week of practice with the first team will go a long way in regards to his performance on Sunday.

“It will make a huge difference,” he said.  “Getting a chance to throw to the guys, be in the huddle.  Just getting reps.  There is no substitute for getting reps.  I hadn’t thrown to Braylon yet until Monday.  I had a chance to develop some chemistry with him, reignite some chemistry with JCo, Dustin.”

The 6-6 Jets, in the midst of a playoff race, face another must-win situation in Tampa on Sunday.  Despite the high stakes, Clemens refuted the notion that the game’s importance will change his approach.

“I think I’d be a little more concerned if it was my first start ever,” he said.  “I have some experience under my belt.  I know that I have a lot of support from my teammates around me.”

“Added pressure?  As of Wednesday at 2:40, I’m not feeling it,” joked Clemens.  “Talk to me again on Sunday.”

 

INSIDER TIDBITS

Ground game hopes to get Buc’ wild in Tampa

With Kellen Clemens forced into a starting role for the injured Mark Sanchez, Tampa Bay could prove to be a very timely opponent for Gang Green.

It’s been a rough season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-11) and rookie head coach Raheem Morris.    The Bucs have struggled mightily on the defensive side of the ball, especially against the run.

Tampa Bay has given up 160.1 yards per game on the ground, 31st in the NFL.   The Buccaneers defense has also allowed an eye-popping 27.5 points per game, also 31st in the NFL.  They have also allowed performances of 100 yards or more to five different opposing running backs.

This bodes well for Thomas Jones and the Jets, who boast the league’s leading rushing attack, garnering 168.6 yards per game.    The attack has been spearheaded by outstanding play by the offensive line, fullback Tony Richardson, and Jones.  Jones, a former Buccaneer, has rushed for 1,068 yards in ’09, eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark for the fifth straight season.

With their starting quarterback sidelined, the Jets should have no problem grounding and pounding their way to a victory against Tampa Bay’s underachieving defensive unit.

The last time the Jets led the league in rushing this late in the season was 1979, when they led the NFL with 165.4 yards per game.

INJURY UPDATE

QB Mark Sanchez and OT Robert Turner both sat out today’s practice with knee injuries.   CB Marquice Cole (knee), DE Shaun Ellis (knee), LB Larry Izzo (neck), and cornerbacks Dwight Lowery (ankle) and Donald Strickland (head) were limited.

LB Calvin Pace (shoulder) and S Jim Leonhard (thumb) both participated in the full practice.

JETS-BILLS: Previewing the Canadian Clash

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Ready for some football…eh?

Toronto’s Rogers Centre is a stage better accustomed to 90-foot basepaths and 96 mile-per-hour fastballs from Blue Jay’s ace Roy Halladay.   This week, the arena formerly known as Skydome will play host to one of the biggest gridiron matches of the year.

Given new life in the AFC playoff race following a victory over the Panthers and a slew of losses by conference opponents, the Jets have renewed hope and purpose as they travel north of the border Thursday night for a rematch with the Buffalo Bills.

A steady diet of Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene should be more than enough to beat Buffalo on Thursday night (JetsInsider.com Photo)

A steady diet of Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene should be more than enough to beat Buffalo on Thursday night (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Buffalo is an entirely different team than the squad the Jets faced back in Week 6.   Since the firing of Dick Jauron three weeks ago, the Bills have played inspired football under interim head coach Perry Fewell.  The defensive coordinator has appeared to light a fire under this fading, uninspired team, which lost a tough game to Jacksonville two weeks ago and is coming off an emphatic victory over the Miami Dolphins last week.  Fewell’s fiery, impetuous demeanor seems to be exactly what the Bills needed, in comparison to Jauron’s laid-back, subdued style.  Unlike Jauron, Fewell isn’t afraid to step on toes or get in his face of his players.

Fewell’s first act of duty as head coach was naming Ryan Fitzpatrick starting quarterback, a move which has paid immediate dividends.  In his two games as starter, Fitzpatrick has passed for 543 yards and two touchdowns.  More importantly, he has been able to get the ball to star receiver Terrell Owens, who has caught 14 balls for 293 yards with two touchdowns.   Prior to the moves at head coach and quarterback, Owens had struggled mightily, posting only 26 receptions and one touchdown through 10 games.

With that being said, the ultimate key to the game for the Jets will be CB Darrelle Revis.  Revis has put together a standout season, shutting down the likes of Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, Randy Moss, Steve Smith.  Owens name was added to that list in Week 6, when the third-year corner limited the five-time All-Pro receiver to three receptions for 13 yards.   It is safe to say Revis will more than be up to handle the task at-hand on Thursday.

“He is strong,” said Revis, when discussing the matchup on Monday.  “He’s very different from Randy Moss.  Randy is tall and a little bit lanky.  Terrell Owens is tall, fast and strong, and he’s a little thicker.  He’s about 230 (lbs.).  He has a lot of explosion in his game.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the key for the Jets will be sticking to the running game and the cautious gameplan they executed so eloquently against Carolina.   Last week, the Jets ran the ball 39 times combined to their 18 attempts through the air.

This conservative approach bodes well against the Bills, who have excelled in forcing turnovers this season.   Buffalo is third in the NFL in takeaways (25) with 21 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles.  (Though those numbers may be a bit inflated considering the Jets turned the ball over six times against Buffalo in Week 6)

Prediction

Darrelle Revis rises to the occasion once again, putting the clamps on T.O.  The Jets defense has another strong performance and is able to effectively infiltrate Buffalo’s banged-up offensive line with relative ease.   But the ultimate difference will be the conservative offensive gameplan in regards to Sanchez.   The rookie plays another solid game, relying on his ground attack and a few plays from Braylon Edwards to carry the offense:  Jets 21, Bills 10

INSIDER TIDBITS

Matchup history

Thursday will mark the 98th meeting between the two teams, who have played twice every regular season since 1960 (except for the strike-shortened season of 1982).

Buffalo leads the all-time series 53-44, and is 13-12 in the last 25 meetings, dating back to 1997.   The Bills will be going for their third season-sweep of the Jets on Thursday.

Last time they met…

The Jets lost an ugly, 16-13 game in overtime at the Meadowlands on Oct. 18.   In that game, the Jets were killed by a career-high five interceptions by Mark Sanchez.   Gang Green blew a 10-0 halftime lead, and wasted a franchise-record 210 rushing yards by Thomas Jones.   The loss was in many ways, the low-point of the Jets season.  Adding insult to injury, DT Kris Jenkins went down in the second quarter of the game with a knee injury, which would turn out to be season-ending.

Thursday night shortcomings

Historically, the Jets have struggled in mid-week affairs, posting an all-time record of 4-6 on Thursday and 1-3 on Thursday night.   Gang Green’s lone Thursday night victory came last season, when Brett Favre and company traveled up to Foxboro and defeated the New England Patriots, 34-31 in OT.

Injury Report

The Jets will most likely be thin in the secondary for the second-straight game.   Corners Dwight Lowery (ankle) and Donald Strickland (concussion) haven’t practiced all week and are not expected to go on Thursday.   After being limited in practice on Monday, OT D’ Brickashaw Ferguson (hamstring) and QB Mark Sanchez (knee) will both start.

For Buffalo, OT Demetrius Bell (knee), DT John McCargo, and CB Ashton Youboty have missed practice time this week and are not expected to play.   S Jairus Byrd (groin) and CB Terrence McGee (knee) have been limited this week but are more than likely to play.   Byrd picked off Mark Sanchez twice in Buffalo’s Week 6 victory at the Meadowlands.