INSIDER WEDNESDAY TEAM REPORT
It is often said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
In 2008, the Jets went into Miami on the NFL’s opening weekend and defeated the Dolphins 20-14. Emotions rode high going into their home opener against the New England Patriots, the following week.
With Patriots QB Tom Brady knocked out for the season in Week 1, Gang Green hoped to take full advantage, kicking their hated rivals while they were down. The plan was to beat New England in front of the home crowd, start their season off 2-0, and take complete control of the AFC East.
Let’s just say, things didn’t quite go as planned.
Instead, QB Matt Cassel led the Pats into the Meadowlands, where they proceeded to outplay and outclass New York, defeating the Jets 19-10, and essentially extinguishing all the positive momentum the team had following their Week 1 victory.
One year later, the Jets find themselves in a similar scenario, hoping to do anything but repeat history. With team morale sky-high after another impressive season-opening road victory, the Jets look to build off of their Week 1 success in Houston and lay the metaphorical smackdown on Tom Brady and company when they roll into the Meadowlands Sunday.
The Jets returned to the practice field Wednesday, beginning their preparations for Bill Belichick’s crew, with owner Woody Johnson looking on from the sidelines.
With a new head coach, new quarterback, and new swagger about them in ‘09, Gang Green is confident that Sunday’s home opener will prove to be more successful than last season’s.
“It’s embarassing,” said CB Darrelle Revis. “To be home and be the favorite and have the crowd into it, and we couldn’t pull it out in the past. So, this is a great opportunity for us to get this win.”
“We know they’re gonna come down here ready and focused and we gotta stomp ‘em out.”
Last week against Houston, QB Mark Sanchez displayed the strong pocket presence and veteran poise that the Jets saw in him when they drafted Sanchez fifth overall in April’s draft. The rookie carved up the Texans’ defense for 272 yards and a touchdown, a performance he hopes to replicate Sunday against New England.
“I know that this is a well coached group,” said Sanchez of the Patriots’ defense. “You don’t see guys acting like individuals doing their own thing on this defense. They play well together and they give quarterbacks fits. So it’s important for me to be smart with the football and be on my game.”
Bill Belichick stated his impressions of the rookie’s performance Wednesday, in his conference call with the New York media. “I think he’s done a good job,” said Belichick. “He’s managed the team well. I think he handles the things at the line of scrimmage, the different audibles, and packages that they run. I think he handles those well. He’s certainly got a live arm, athletic guy, can move the ball around. He got it to everybody, the receivers, the tight ends, the backs. They run him on bootlegs and moving pocket kind of plays.”
“He’s been asked to do a lot and it looks like he can handle it. He has the talent to make all the throws and buy time in the pocket on the roll-out plays. He’s done a good job.”
For a good portion of New England’s Monday night showdown against Buffalo, QB Tom Brady looked very much like a player that missed all of last season. Brady appeared rusty at best, shaking off the cobwebs in his first regular season start in a year. But then came the fourth quarter. The two-time Super Bowl MVP, finally resembled his former self with the game on the line, throwing for two touchdowns in the final 2:06 to lead New England to a 25-24, comeback victory.
Sunday, the Jets look to become the first team to beat Brady in the regular season since December of 2006. While much has been made about the Patriots defense being on the decline, this is still the same team that went undefeated two years ago and won 11 games with a backup quarterback a year ago.
Head coach Rex Ryan, still refuses to back down from New England. “I’m not conceding anything,” said Ryan Wednesday. “People think that, you know New England ‘well this is a win for them for them’. Oh yeah? They’ve won eight in a row at the Meadowlands so you’ve got all that information, you’ve got that history and all that. But, I’m not conceding anything. I promise you, we’re gonna give everything we have.”
Ellis ready to go
The Jets’ defense, which dominated in their season-opening victory in Houston, will receive a boost Sunday, as DE Shaun Ellis is scheduled to return to action. Ellis was activated from the reserve/suspended list after serving his one game suspension, which stemmed from marijuana charges from last season.
The stalwart defensive end is more than ready to go. “I feel real good,” said Ellis. “This game means a lot to me. Having to sit back and not play last week kinda opened my eyes to how important this is to me and how eager I wanna get back out there and play.”
Ellis admitted that not being able to participate in the team’s opener was a hard pill to swallow. “It was real tough,” said Ellis. “Not being able to be apart of that, kicking the season off, was kinda disappointing.”
On Monday, the Jets released CB Marquice Cole, in order to make room for Ellis on the active roster.
Rex calls out fans
Jets season ticketholders were treated to an unexpected voice on their answering machines Monday; Jets head coach Rex Ryan. The Jets sent out a recorded message from Ryan, challenging Jets fans to get extra loud this Sunday at the Meadowlands. “It’s tough enough when we have 11 but when our fans are into it it’s almost impossible to do anything against us,” said Ryan in the voicemail. “So, that’s my challenge to you and again I admit that I’m not as good as Belichick, but at the end of the game, I want to be 1-0 against him.” As of Wednesday, a number of tickets to Sunday’s game were still available.
In his press conference Wednesday, Ryan elaborated on the need for strong fan support on Sunday. “We’re looking to get an edge, anyway we can get it,” said Ryan. “You want it to be a rough place to play and you want your fans behind you. It’s almost like they’re an extension of the defense.”
Harris earns honors
LB David Harris was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Harris had a standout game Sunday against Houston, registering 11 tackles and a sack.
Hold the Mayo
The Jets will catch a major break Sunday, as New England will be without 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year, LB Jerod Mayo. Mayo sprained the MCL in his right knee on Monday night in New England’s game against Buffalo. According to The Boston Globe, Mayo is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Mayo did not practice Wednesday, but the Patriots have yet to release an official timetable on the star-linebacker. Mayo, who led the Patriots with 139 tackles last season, is a significant loss for the Patriots’ defense. Most notably, Mayo posted a season-high 23 tackles against the Jets in Foxboro last season.
Home sweet groan
Giants Stadium has served as anything but a home-field advantage for the Jets in recent history against the Patriots. Entering Sunday, New England rides an eight-game winning streak against the Jets at the Meadowlands. The last time the Jets beat the Patriots at home was September 11, 2000; Bill Belichick’s first season as coach.
DT Kris Jenkins (back), DT Sione Pouha (ankle), WR Wallace Wright (hamstring), and RT Damien Woody (illness) were all limited in practice today. None of the injuries are considered serious.