Archive for October, 2013

Preview: Jets (4-4) vs. New Orleans Saints (6-1)

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The Jets have keep a pretty consistent win-loss, win-loss pattern going this season, so if it holds, they should pull off a thrilling victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

But as against the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, teams the Jets have upset so far this season, conventional wisdom isn’t in their favor.

The forecast will be grim for the Jets, whose struggling secondary must face off against the Saints and the third best passing offense in the league, a squad led by Drew Brees and a variety of weapons, including All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, a position the Jets have struggled to defend this season.

The Saints’ defense is also vastly improved under Rex Ryan’s brother, Rob Ryan, a unit that is ranked seventh in the league in total defense, up from 32nd a year ago. “I think the two guys, in my opinion, that are doing the best job in this league are Bob Sutton in Kansas City and then my brother in New Orleans. I don’t even think it’s close,” said Rex on Monday.

Add it all up and the Saints are 6-1 since the return of head coach Sean Payton from his suspension, making the Jets 6.5 point home underdogs this weekend.

The again, the Saints don’t really have an impressive lineup of victories (Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Miami, Buffalo) and their only loss came against the Patriots who, as we know, just lost to the Jets.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance …

After a crushing loss to the Bengals, it's only natural that the Jets would pull out a win against the Saints. But will they?

When: Sunday, November 3, 2013, 1:00 p.m. EST (TV-FOX Radio-ESPN NY, 98.7 FM)

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Injury Report (as of Thursday):

Jets:

Did not practice: G Willie Colon (calf), TE Jeff Cumberland (concussion), RB Alex Green (hamstring), WR Santonio Holmes (hamstring)

Limited: WR Stephen Hill (foot), C Nick Mangold (ribs), WR David Nelson (quadricep)

Saints:

Did not practice: G Jahri Evans (hip), S Malcolm Jenkins (knee)

Limited: WR Marques Colston (knee), TE Jimmy Graham (foot), S Roman Harper (knee), DE Tom Johnson (hip), DE Cameron Jordan (ankle), S Kenny Vaccaro (concussion, back), DT Tyrunn Walker (knee)

Watch to watch for:

Secondary education: Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner made all the headlines this week after his poor performance and subsequent benching against the Bengals. Quarterback Andy Dalton completed four of five passes with a perfect 158.3 passer rating when throwing in Milliner’s direction, but Rex stressed patience when critiquing the team’s ninth overall pick. “I will say this, by the time the season’s over, I think he will be the best rookie corner and playing better than any rookie corner in this year’s draft. I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Ryan said. It’s far too early to declare Milliner a bust and even after two benchings this season the Jets secondary has bigger problems than just Milliner. By his own admission, All-Pro Antonio Cromartie is having a down year after a Pro-Bowl campaign a year ago and with Brees rolling into town the secondary won’t be getting a break. If the Bengals can throw for 323 yards and five touchdowns, imagine what the Saints will do if the Jets don’t find a quick fix.

Resurrecting the pass rush: Putting pressure on the quarterback hasn’t been an issue for the Jets this season, until last week that is. The Jets managed only one sack and one quarterback hit against the Bengals, allowing Dalton to have a career day. If the Jets are to have any success against the Saints, they must put pressure on Brees. The also must prove that last week was nothing more than a fluke. The Jets defense is at their best when they’re getting to the quarterback. When they aren’t, the secondary is exposed and, well, it isn’t pretty. There’s no need to push the panic button just yet, the Jets are still sixth in the league with 25 sacks, led mostly by their dominant defensive line. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is the premier guy, tallying seven sacks, right up there amongst the league leaders and already a career high.

Offensive injuries: Injuries are always an issue, but this week the Jets will be especially thin on the offensive side of the ball. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, tight end Jeff Cumberland will most likely be out with a concussion, leaving Konrad Reuland and Patriots cast-off Zach Sudfeld as the only active tight ends in the wake of Kellen Winslow’s suspension. Yes, you read that correctly. Ouch. On top of that, Santonio Holmes (hamstring) will also most likely be out through the bye week, giving his hamstring ample time to get right. Making matters worse, guard Willie Colon hasn’t practiced all week with a calf injury, although he says he’s expecting to play.

X-factor:

Will the real Geno Smith please stand up (again)? Geno Smith will continue to be the x-factor for the Jets until further notice. When he plays well, the Jets find ways to win. When he doesn’t they don’t. It’s not really that simple, but it is. Smith has show flashes of being a very successful NFL quarterback, who can stretch defenses with his arm and extend plays with his legs. He’s in the top half of the league in yards (1,882) and yards per attempt (7.44) but top three in the league in interceptions (13) and top two in sacks (28). As Geno rolls, so do the Jets.

Prediction: You’d like to think the Jets will maintain their win-loss trend, at least for this week, but it just doesn’t seem likely. Not with a struggling secondary against Drew Brees and a banged up supporting class around Geno Smith. The Jets head into their Week 10 bye with a loss to the Saints, 31-17.

Rex Ryan deserves a contract extension

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – On the heels of the second worst defeat in the Rex Ryan era, a 40-point drubbing by the Cincinnati Bengals, the Jets brass should be certain of one thing: their coach deserves a contract extension.

What? Not what you were expecting?

The timing might come off as a little premature, but now, just as the Jets roller coaster season hits its all-time low, is the actually the perfect time to remind the Jets and their fans what they have.

A good coach.

Woody Johnson and John Idzik will have some tough decisions to make this offseason but extending Rex Ryan shouldn't be one of them.

One loss, no matter how ugly, doesn’t change what Ryan has done for this team. Despite Sunday’s loss, the Jets are still 4-4. They’re still in second place in the AFC East and still technically right in the thick of playoff contention.

No one thought the Jets would be in that position halfway through the season. No one. ESPN ranked the Jets 32nd in their power rankings coming into the year, with most people expecting the Jets to get their fourth victory in December, certainly not in October, if at all.

No one, that is, except Ryan.

“A lot has been said about this football team,” Ryan said, quite defiantly, before the season started. “There are a lot of non-believers out there.”

But it’s not the confidence that Ryan should be commended for. It’s his ability to coach football.

People seem to forget Ryan’s back-to-back AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010 and that his defense, despite an decrease in talent, has managed to crack the top 10 every year he’s been at the helm.

Now, factor in the massive decreases in offensive talent over his tenure, the trading away of his best player (Darrelle Revis), the shifty locker room personalities the Jets imported by the bucket load, the circus that was Tim Tebow, and the fact that there’s no denying Mark Sanchez is a bad quarterback and Ryan might actually deserve a raise.

Last week, Woody Johnson said that he wouldn’t discuss Ryan’s contract situation during the season but added, “I’m happy with him. I think he’s a great teacher, a good teacher, maybe a great teacher, and a good leader.”

Ryan, too, has remained coy about his future: “I like the fact my boss said some nice things about me, that’s pretty cool. As far as anything else, I said it before and you guys get tired of me saying it, it’s not about me.”

It may not be about him just yet, but it will be.

Ryan’s $3 million per year contract runs out after this season, a sign that many interpreted as one last lame duck season for the defensive guru. But if Johnson and general manager John Idzik have any sense, they’ll run with the combo of Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg while building through the draft.

No matter how this season turns out, Ryan deserves another shot because he’s remains the Jets best shot.

Cromartie’s next big test: shutting down AJ Green

Friday, October 25th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Somewhere along the line, Antonio Cromartie became a veteran, someone who has been around the block long enough to recognize talent when he sees it.

And it’s safe to say, the 29-year-old Cromartie sees something in Cincinnati Bengal’s wide receiver AJ Green.

Antonio Cromartie faces his biggest test of the season in Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver AJ Green.

“[Green reminds me] a lot of Randy Moss, I would say he’s that type of receiver just because how he attacks the ball down the field,” said Cromartie. “And also a little bit of Calvin Johnson.”

That’s high praise for a player in his third season, but Green is a dynamic playmaker with the 6-foot-4 frame to go up and get the ball, breakaway speed (4.5 second, 40-yard dash) and the versatility to play outside or shift into the slot.

“What does [Cromartie] need to do?” joked defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. “Put his hands on him and pray.”

Green is currently top-10 in the league with 43 receptions, 619 yards receiving and five touchdowns along with seven catches longer than 20 yards, 204 YAC and a 155 yard, one touchdown performance against the Detroit Lions last Sunday.

“He’s a great receiver for that team and he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL right now in our league,” said Cromartie. “They want to try to get the ball to him. The thing for us is just to be patient and try to take [our] time, pick and choose, just try to be physical and just go out there and play football, make plays on the ball when the ball’s on the field.”

After turning in his best game of the season against the New England Patriots, holding Kenbrell Thompkins to 11 yards on one reception, Cromartie will get his latest test as the Jets No. 1 cornerback in Green.

“What does the kid not have? He has size, speed, athleticism, route running [and a] great catching radius,” head coach Rex Ryan said of Green. “Like I said, in my opinion, he’s probably the best receiver in the AFC. There are some good receivers, but in my opinion, he’s probably the best.”

The silver lining for Ryan, however, is there probably isn’t a corner in the league, aside from maybe Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, who has the talent and measurables to handle Green better than Cromartie.

“We’re almost about the same height so that’s the only difference that’s going to be out there,” said Cromartie. “He’s not facing a 5-foot-11 DB, he’s facing a 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 DB.”

The challenge may come for Cromartie when Green shifts into the slot, a place where the Bengals like to put him from time to time  a place where Cromartie is not used to, but certainly not afraid of playing.

“I can play anywhere,” said Cromartie. “I can play any position they need me to play, slot, outside, so that doesn’t bother me at all.”

Cromartie is having an up and down year by his standards, grading his performance a “C” in the wake of his Pro Bowl season a year ago.

However, Cromartie is by far the best shot the Jets have at slowing down Green on Sunday, as Ryan joked on Wednesday, “Well, we’re not going to put Snacks [Damon Harrison] on him.”

Rex Ryan on Belichick’s pushing accusation: ‘That’s not true’

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Rex Ryan fired back at Bill Belichick on Wednesday, responding to a claim by the the Patriots coach that the Jets used the same illegal pushing tactic that New England was penalized for on Sunday.

“That’s not true. That’s not true,” said Ryan, who has, for the most part, played nice with the Patriots this season.

Rex Ryan wasn't buying Bill Belichick's accusations on Wednesday, saying the Patriots coach needs to, "make up his mind" about the Sunday's pushing penalty.

With a win against the division rival securely under his belt, however, Ryan appeared to be done playing games. Now, he wants the credit.

“He’s got to make up his mind,” Ryan said of Belichick. “Was he aware of this thing? Was it at the second level? All this kind of jazz.”

“Now, the story is we did it. Okay, gotchya,” he shot back. ”The fact is, we’re moving on. We earned that victory, plain and simple. We’re focused on Cincinnati.”

In a conference call with the New England media on Tuesday, Belichick was asked about a report saying the Jets told officials to keep an eye on the Patriots during field goal attempts. Belichick dismissed the question while throwing one last jab at the Jets.

“Well, I mean, since they were using the play themselves, I don’t even know about all that. But basically we’re just moving on here.”

It might be a stretch, but Belichick is most likely referring to Quinton Coples’ push of Muhammad Wilkerson during Stephen Gostkowski’s 44-yard field goal at the end of regulation. During the play, it appears as though Coples reaches out his right forearm and shoves Wilkerson forward.

However, officials were standing within five yards of the play and held onto their flags.

Regardless, Coples’ shove was nowhere near as obvious or intentional as Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones’ in overtime.

The Jets and Patriots won’t meet again this season, unless both teams find there back to each other in the playoffs, but when they do it’s never dull.

We can now officially add “PushGate” to their storied rivalry.

Jets activate David Garrard, release Brady Quinn

Monday, October 21st, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The Jets announced Monday that they will indeed active quarterback David Garrard to the 53-man roster, releasing quarterback Brady Quinn in the process.

The writing was on the wall for Quinn when the Jets decided to bring Garrard back for a two game “tryout” period, in which he was kept on the exempt list to see if he was healthy enough to play. In the end, the Jets bring back the quarterback they wanted all along to mentor rookie Geno Smith.

General manager John Idzik signed Garrard during the offseason, with the possibility of him competing for the starting job behind Smith and Mark Sanchez, but the veteran was forced to retire during minicamp because of chronic knee problems.

Still, time spent on the shelf (and playing flag football with his wife) allowed Garrard to get healthy, never losing the itch to play.

“When I left, I knew I just needed time to get away, and let my body heal up,” said Garrard upon returning. “My knee was truly bothering me. I just took the whole summer and relaxed. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do any kind of conditioning.”

“I don’t want to turn 50 one day and think back and say, ‘what if I just called somebody,’” he said.

Looks like he made the right choice.

Jets grab controversial win over Patriots in OT

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – A rule’s a rule.

Bill Belichick may not like it. The fans may not have known it existed. But for Rex Ryan and the New York Jets, a controversial call may have just saved their season.

Winless in their last five games against New England, the Jets managed to claw their way into a 30-27 overtime victory at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, thanks in part to a bounce-back game from rookie Geno Smith, a timely pick-6 and a new NFL rule regarding field goals.

Rule 9.1.3.2, to be exact.

Chris Ivory rushed for 104 yards and the Jets defeated the rival Patriots, 30-27, in overtime on Sunday.

It’s a rule, brand new to the NFL in 2013, that states: “Players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation” and it came into effect on the game’s deciding play.

After failing to convert on a crucial overtime third down at the New England 38-yard line, the Jets elected to send Nick Folk out for a would-be game winning, 58-yard field goal.

“We had ‘Folk Hero’ and we thought maybe we could pop one on them,” said Ryan after the game.

Instead, it went wide left, setting up Tom Brady with a second chance and a short field, needing only a field goal to cap off the victory.

Then the flags flew.

The call on the field was unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty, on Patriot’s defensive tackle Chris Jones for pushing his teammate into the formation. The Jets retained possession, ran the ball three more times and Folk kicked a much more manageable 42-yarder for the win.

Belichick was irate on the sideline, fans in the stadium were on their feet and the press box was abuzz with people saying, “What in the world just happened?”

“We have probably talked about it before,” said Jones. “It slipped my mind at the time. Now I know it. I just have to keep that in mind during the up coming games so I don’t make that mistake again.”

The real kicker (pun intended) is that this was the first case ever of the rule actually being enforced.

“We’ll take it,” said Ryan, head coach of the now second place, 4-3, New York Jets, a team that many people wrote off as one of the worst in the league before the season started.

“We don’t care how people look at us as long as the fans know that this team right here is going to compete every single day,” said Ryan. “We’re certainly much better than what people thought. I guess that’s not hard to be, we were picked 32nd, I think. But I think we’re better than that.”

Geno Smith went 17 for 33 for 233 passing yards, 32 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown.

The rookie’s only mistake came on a forced pass to David Nelson in the first quarter that resulted in a 79-yard pick-6 by Logan Ryan.

“I think this one means a little bit more to us,” said Smith. “You could just get that feeling in the locker room and around the community. Everyone knows about this rivalry.”

Running back Chris Ivory was a work horse grinding out 104 yards on the ground and Jeremy Kerley was money on third down, going for 97-yards and a touchdown pass. David Nelson added four catches for 80 yards.

Antonio Allen played great in coverage against star tight end Rob Gronkowski, deflecting two passes and returning an interception for a touchdown early in the second half.

“We knew we needed a turnover,” said Allen. “We were trying to get one … We knew we had to force a turnover in order to win the game.”

The Jets travel to Cincinnati next week to face the 5-2 Bengals, starting a stretch that also includes the New Orleans Saints and division rival Bills and could very well ignite or extinguish New York’s playoff hopes.

“It’s a big push. That is a division team,” said Kerley of the Patriots. “We definitely want to get up in the division but a win like that against an opponent like that is a big motivation and hopefully a drive for the next some odd games.”

Ex-Stony Brook star Miguel Maysonet comes home

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Miguel Maysonet walks out to the field house after his second day of Jets practice wearing Air Jordan sandals, a bright red Stony Brook football hoodie and a million-watt smile.

Exactly a year ago, the star running back was preparing for the Gardner-Webb University Bulldogs – an opponent he bulldozed for 244 yards and two touchdowns, including a 75-yard kick return.

Today, the former Walter Payton Award runner-up for the best player in the FBS is preparing for a much different opponent: NFL front offices.

“Hopefully I’ll stay longer than a week and then I’ll start getting excited about everything,” Maysonet told Jets Insider after signing with the team on Tuesday.

“I am excited, but it’s hard to … you know,” he said, his voice trailing off.

It’s hard to get your hopes up.

Maysonet is on his fifth team in sixth months after going undrafted out of Stony Brook University in April. He signed with Philadelphia following the draft but was cut after less than a month and has since made short stops in Cleveland, Indianapolis and San Diego. Never sticking.

“It’s the business I’m in and you just have to accept that. When [I get cut], I’m sad for a couple seconds and then I just have to move on,” said Maysonet. “I am looking forward to settling down and actually staying with a team for a long period of time.”

And what better team to settle down with than his hometown New York Jets?

The kid from Riverhead, NY, who wore a Curtis Martin jersey growing up and rushed for 1,964 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior for the hometown Seawolves has come home.

“I was just excited that I was able to have the opportunity to still be playing football,” he said. “And then playing in New York, that’s just a dream come true.”

The Jets snatched up Maysonet the moment he landed in Cincinnati for a workout with the Bengals, a workout he never made it to.

“As soon as I touched down, I turned my phone on and the phone rang and it was a New Jersey area code so I was like, ‘it has to be the Jets or the Giants,’” said Maysonet. “When I answered, it was the Jets.”

The Jets were in the market for a running back after Mike Goodson went down for the season, tearing his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. Now, Maysonet may just have a chance to stick with his hometown team.

Still, Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory will get the lion’s share of the carries for the Jets, as Maysonet awaits his opportunity as a practice squad player, fourth on the depth chart behind Alex Green, catching passing from the recently retired (and then unretired) David Garrard in practice.

“You don’t know how upstairs works and what they’re doing, so it’s hard,” said Maysonet, still uncertain about his whether his sentence in practice squad purgatory will end. “I would hope, and love to stay here, but you never know at the end of the day.”

Maysonet continues through the Jets field house after practice, past Curtis Martin’s Ring of Honor banner, and on to this temporary home, the Hyatt a couple blocks from the facility. He doesn’t know how long he’ll be staying there, but he’s thankful for another chance to pursue his dream.

“I played my high school football in New York, I played my college football in New York and now me staying in New York, that’s just awesome,” he said.

Rex Ryan on the Patriots: ‘We fear none of them’

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The New England Patriots tend to bring out the best in Rex Ryan.

At the microphone, that is.

Despite a 3-7 record against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, Ryan never seems to disappoint when discussing the rival Patriots.

Despite a Week 2 loss and a 3-7 head-to-head record, Rex Ryan still isn't afraid of the Patriots.

Whether it was his refusal to kiss Belichick’s rings during his inaugural press conference or openly admitting he hates the Patriots and doesn’t care much for Brady, either, Ryan has a knack for saving his best performances for the podium.

And since the Jets and Pats face off at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Ryan was back to his old bag of tricks.

“Absolutely we respect them,” said Ryan of New England. “But we fear none of them. I can promise you that.”

Ryan did heap an extra helping of praise onto the Patriots, but didn’t mince words or non-verbal cues when discussing how the defense disrupted (or didn’t disrupt) Brady and his young receivers during their first matchup of the season on Sept. 12.

“It has nothing to do with us, I understand we were just out there,” said Ryan sarcastically. “Certainly that was well reported. We’ll get to see if some of those issues exist this week.”

Without the familiar faces of Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, Brady was visibly out of sync with his new receivers during his Week 2 matchup against the Jets, missing throws he’d normally make while letting them have it on the sideline.

Since then, Brady appears to have warmed to his new cast of characters, leading a game winning drive against the New Orleans Saints off a touchdown pass to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins.

But Ryan isn’t content with attributing Brady’s lackluster performance last time around to unfamiliarity or poor weather or any other excuse that has been conjured up recently.

“Well, I don’t know if that’s the case,” Ryan said, when asked if he thought the Jets defense might have had something to do with Brady’s struggles.

“Apparently it’s not,” he added, before finishing, facetiously, “It might have been, sure.”

Ryan’s bravado is not completely without merit as he has played the Patriots close during his tenure, with the exception of the buttfumble game and a 45-3 blow out loss on Monday Night Football in 2010.

But close doesn’t count for Ryan when he hasn’t made the playoffs in two years and has failed to take home a division title every year since coming to New York.

“Obviously you want to win. I want a championship. I want to win our division, no question,” said Ryan. “And the fact we haven’t done it, yeah absolutely, it’s a painful reminder.”

So, does that mean he’s ready to kiss Belichick’s rings?

“No, I haven’t,” said Ryan on a conference call to the New England media. “Maybe you have, but I haven’t and I never will.”

Preview: Jets (3-2) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – This is what football types like to call a trap game.

The Jets, coming off an impressive comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, are at home on a short week to take on the winless Steelers.

It seems like a gimme win, a no-brainer, a tune-up before Tom Brady and the New England Patriots come to town.

Not so fast.

Muhammad Wilkerson was dominant against the Falcons but he'll have his hands full as Big Ben and the Steelers come to town.

The Steelers may not have any wins, but they do have two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. They have rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, who is one week healthier. And they also still have a proud, Dick LeBeau-led defense.

But more importantly, they’re hungry and coming off a bye-week, with ample time to do nothing but prepare for Geno Smith and the Jets.

No, this game is far from a gimme, it’s a statement game  for both teams.

It’s put-up or shut time for Pittsburgh (either win or it’s Drowney for Clowney time).

It’s also Smith’s best opportunity yet to prove he’s really for real.

Two weeks ago, Smith was a bust, a turnover prone rookie who many fans wanted to see replaced by the equally inexperienced Matt Simms.

Today, he’s a savior. A young phenom who led a game winning drive in the final two minutes on national television, tossed three touchdowns with no interceptions and completed 80 percent of his passes.

Which is he? A convincing win against a well-prepared Steelers team would go a long way in proving he’s the latter.

A loss in a trap game? Well, then Geno’s back to square one.

When: Sunday, Oct. 13 2013, 1:00 pm EST (TV – CBS, Radio – ESPN NY, 98.7 FM)

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Injury Report (As of Thursday):

Jets:

Limited: Oday Aboushi (knee), Antonio Cromartie (hip, knee), Quinton Coples (ankle), Clyde Gates (knee), Chris Ivory (hamstring), Jaiquawn Jarrett (knee), David Nelson (hamstring), Darrin Walls (shoulder). Did not practice: Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), Dee Milliner (hamstring), Kellen Winslow (knee)

Steelers:

Full practice: QB Ben Roethlisberger (right finger), G Ramon Foster (pectoral). Limited: S Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith (hip). Did not practice: WR Markus Wheaton (finger, definitely will not play)

What to watch for:

‘Big Mo’ Wilkerson: Geno Smith will get most of the headlines, especially if he plays well, but Muhammad Wilkerson is without a doubt the star of this team. Wilkerson had Jon Gruden gushing as he dominated the Falcons on Monday night, racking up seven tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and two tackles for loss. “I think he’s right there with the top defensive linemen in this league right now that aren’t named J.J. Watt,” said Rex Ryan on Wednesday. Wilkerson is approaching must-see TV levels – a la Mr. Watt – and against a banged up Steelers’ offensive line, boy, get out the popcorn.

Will the real Geno Smith please stand up: In five games as a professional Geno Smith has 11 turnovers. He also has three game winning drives. So, which quarterback is he? The turnover machine or the clutch rookie with a big arm? Obviously, the answer is: both. He’s a rookie on a steep learning curve who has shown some serious ability, but he won’t be labeled anything other than inconsistent if he can’t put together great back-t0-back performances. The winless Steelers are the perfect test. Let’s see if he passes.

Field position: Through the first five games, Football Outsiders ranks the Jets 28th in the league in LOS/Dr (average starting field position) in the league at 24.23, which is a killer especially for a rookie quarterback. But things definitely started to turn around against Atlanta as the Jets average drive started at their own 41 with three of their six scoring drives starting in Falcons’ territory. On the flip side, the Falcons’ average drive started on their 21. Maintaining good field position will be key moving forward and the Jets might be getting a break in Pittsburgh who ranks dead last in LOS/Dr at 22.56.

X-factor:

Coples therapy: After fracturing his ankle in the preseason, Quinton Coples is using game day work his way back into tip-top condition. Regardless, he’s been relatively quiet in the three games since returning with three tackles and zero sacks. With Antwan Barnes out for the season, Coples needs to embrace his role as an outside linebacker who wreaks havoc on opposing quarterbacks or else people will start to notice his absence. With the stellar play up front by Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison, Coples has been an afterthought but the former first round pick needs to make an appearance sooner or later.

Prediction: The game will be closer than their records indicate, but Rex will have the defense ready to contain Roethlisberger as the Jets eek out a victory, 24-21.

Writing on the wall as Mark Sanchez hits IR

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – The moment the Jets drafted Geno Smith, the clock started on Mark Sanchez’s time left in green and white.

Late last night, his time ran out – unofficially, at least.

The Jets announced late Tuesday that Sanchez underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an injury he sustained in the third quarter of a preseason game against the New York Giants.

The surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews, will sideline Sanchez for the remainder of the season, keeping him out of sight and out of mind on injured reserve.

Mark Sanchez had season-ending shoulder surgery on Tuesday, effectively ending his tenure with the Jets.

“After over seven weeks of hard work and intense rehab, I’ve been advised by Dr. Andrews and other doctors that my shoulder injury clearly needs to be addressed surgically,” said Sanchez in a statement.

The announcement, coming on the heels of Smith’s impressive comeback victory on Monday Night Football, signals a changing of guard at quarterback in New York.

Technically, Sanchez is still under contract for three more years but with his money no longer guaranteed coupled with the emergence of Smith, the Jets won’t bother keeping their former top-5 pick past his $2 million roster bonus, which comes due in March.

On Wednesday, head coach Rex Ryan was keeping to the company line regarding his former starting quarterback, but it was clear Sanchez’s status with the team is anything but certain.

“I never want to lose a player, ever. But I also understand there’s a business side to every decision,” said Ryan, naming Brandon Moore, Dustin Keller and Shonn Greene as players the team has had to let walk during his tenure as head coach.

“I recognize there are certain things that happen in this league and that’s the unfortunate part as a football coach,” he said.

When pressed even further about Sanchez’s future with the team, Ryan waffled.

“Again, will he come back? He’s under contract, so, you guys know more about it than I do. You look at it, he’s under contract, so fine,” he said.

But Ryan spoke volumes about the team’s future at quarterback in how he started his press conference, not how he ended it.

“First off, I’m sure you guys know,” Ryan said as he got to the podium, the confirmation of Sanchez’s surgery almost certainly on its way.

“Geno Smith was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week,” he finished. ”Obviously we’re proud of him.”

It wasn’t until seven minutes into the press conference that Ryan was prompted to respond to the Sanchez news, and by the time the questions had ceased you could tell he was glad.

“We’re acting like he’s dead,” Ryan joked, breaking the tension. “Sanchez is going to be 100 percent healthy, it’s not like his career is over. He’s going to play again.”

Just not for the New York Jets.