Archive for November, 2013

Preview: Jets (5-6) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-6)

Friday, November 29th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Mired in their longest losing streak of the season (two games), the Jets have just five games remaining in the 2013 season to right the ship, prove they belong (or don’t belong) in the playoffs, or start preparing for next year.

Quarterback Geno Smith has been under fire all week. So have the secondary, offensive line, receiving corps, and coaches Marty Mornhinweg and Rex Ryan. But a cure for all those ills would be a win against the division rival Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

The team's struggles aren't all his fault but, ultimately, the Jets will live and die by Geno Smith.

After building a reputation as road warriors under Ryan, the Jets are struggling away from MetLife this season (1-5), so a return home should do them some good. But then again, this team has been wildly unpredictable.

With a six-team logjam forming for the final AFC playoff spot, Sunday is perhaps the most important test in determining whether the Jets are indeed contenders or pretenders. A loss would set them back significantly. A win would keep them right in the thick of the action.

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

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Injury Report (as of Thursday)

Jets:

Did not practice: DB Antonio Cromartie (hip), WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring), TE Kellen Winslow (knee)

Limited: RB Chris Ivory (ankle), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow), OL Nick Mangold (wrist), LB Garrett McIntyre (knee)

Full practice: OL Willie Colon (calf), DL Kenrick Ellis (back), WR Stephen Hill (knee), DB Dee Milliner (wrist), WR Greg Salas (finger), DL Mo Wilkerson (wrist)

Dolphins:

Did not practice: S Chris Clemons (knee/hamstring), CB Dimitri Patterson (groin), RB Daniel Thomas (ankle), CB Jamar Taylor (hamstring)

Limited: C Sam Brenner (knee), WR Rishard Matthews (back)

Full practice: LB Koa Misi (knee), WR Marlon Moore (hamstring), DT Jared Odrick (knee), RB Marcus Thigpen (wrist), S Jimmy Wilson (adomen)

What to watch for:

‘Sons of Anarchy: Along with having one of the coolest nicknames in sports, the Jets defensive line must have a major impact on Sunday’s game for the Jets to have a chance – and they should. The Dolphins are infamously missing two fifths of their offensive line (Richie Incognito and Jonathon Martin) and have allowed a league-high 44 sacks. The Dolphins running game is 26th in the NFL and the Jets run defense is 1st (by a lot) in the NFL. You do the math. Expect the defensive line, especially Mo Wilkerson, to have a big day. They should be able to keep steady pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and hopefully take some pressure off a struggling secondary. Speaking of …

Secondary blues: From 2009-2011, Football Outsiders had the Jets pass defense ranked in the top four of the NFL, holding the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in ‘09 and ‘11, respectively. Even without All-Pro Darrelle Revis for much of 2012, they were ranked in the top 10. But this season, they’re ranked 16th, giving up 11.33 yards per pass, which is well below the league average. Cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner have struggled mightily and the acquisition of Ed Reed has yet to pay any real dividends. Making matters worse, Cromartie may not play with a hip injury. The deep ball has plagued the Jets all season and, although he has been quiet for much of the year, Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace had a breakout, 127-yard receiving game against the Carolina Panthers last weekend. Something has to give.

Marty ball: The Jets have run a league-high 32 wildcat plays this season, a testament to their trust or lack thereof in their young quarterback. If Ryan and Mornhinweg don’t want to make the move to Matt Simms or David Garrard they need to take the leash off Geno and see how he fairs. The only reason to play him at this point is to see what you have moving forward. But that evaluation is incomplete if he’s split out wide, catching passes for six plays a game or handcuffed and unable to take chances down field. At this point, the Jets seem ready to live or die by Geno, so let’s see what he can do.

X-factor: It’s no secret that Geno Smith has struggled this season, but he’s not the only one to blame on offense. The pass protection has not always been up to snuff and the receivers, especially Stephen Hill, aren’t doing their jobs. If the team wants Geno to succeed, everyone has to contribute.

Prediction: If we’ve learned anything about the Jets this season, it’s that when everyone is counting them out they turn around and prove us all wrong. They’ve had success at home this season, the defensive line should wreak havoc, and the Dolphins haven’t scored more than 23 points all season. Jets win, 17-13.

Secondary issues: Geno not the only problem

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Geno Smith might be the poster boy for the Jets’ struggles this season – the guy that gets the headlines and elicits the most talk radio debate – but he’s not the only one to blame.

No, the Jets have a secondary problem, namely, problems with their secondary.

Geno Smith will get most of the coverage this week but he's not the only one to blame. The Jets secondary has struggled mightily this season and it's becoming an issue.

“The big play is the Achilles’ heel of our defense,” said head coach Rex Ryan before playing the Baltimore Ravens, a game in which the Jets secondary gave up two pass plays over 60 yards.

“That’s it, that is what’s preventing us from being an elite defense right now,” he added. “Obviously, we’re playing the run better than anybody in the league and it’s not close.”

And Ryan is right. In almost every context, the Jets have the league’s best run defense. They’re holding opponents to 2.85 yards per rush, which is tops in the league by almost a full yard, and Football Outsiders ranks them first in rush defense by nearly 10 percent.

But once the ball is in the air, particularly deep down field, the Jets struggle mightily and it’s becoming too hard to ignore.

From 2009-2011, Football Outsiders had the Jets pass defense ranked in the top four, holding the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in ‘09 and ‘11, respectively. Even without All-Pro Darrelle Revis for much of 2012, they were ranked in the top 10.

But this season, Football Outsiders have the Jets ranked 16th in pass defense, giving up 11.33 yards per pass, which is well below the league average. They struggle against opponent’s No. 1 wide receiver, allowing 84.9 yards per game, and are nearly last in the league (30th) against opponent’s No. 2 wide receivers.

If only the Jets had a shutdown corner, you know, the type of player who could take away the opponent’s No. 1 weapon. Maybe someone with his own island?

Not to say that the loss of Revis is to blame for the secondary’s problems this year or that the Jets wouldn’t do that deal a thousand times over if it meant getting Sheldon Richardson in return. But it’s clear that Ryan’s once dominant secondary is in sharp decline.

Looking for some type of solution, Ryan had the secondary running “Buddy Ryan” pass defense drills all last week to help them with the deep ball. It didn’t work.

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith still beat former All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie with 60-yard pass and both rookie Dee Milliner and the newly acquired Ed Reed saw Joe Flacco drop a 66-yard dime right in between their outstretched arms.

Cromartie is clearly not himself, either because of a nagging hip injury or natural decline. Reed was brought in merely as a stopgap and Milliner has struggled so publically that he’s been benched for Darrin Walls on more than one occasion.

But both Ryan and his players believe a turnaround is coming.

“For us, it comes off as, they see us as this and we know we’re something different,” said Walls. “We take it as a challenge. We know we’ve given up the deep ball in the past couple games and that’s one thing we want to stop. We want to burn that fire out and give them something else to talk about. Now it’s the deep ball, so we have to take care of that.”

And how can they be so confident?

“Because I’ve seen it and done it,” said Ryan.

Jets can’t bounce back in ugly loss to Ravens

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD – A new streak ended and an old one endured in Baltimore. And that means bad news for the New York Jets.

After falling to the Baltimore Ravens, 19-3, on Sunday, the Jets failed to follow a loss with a win for the first time all season and dropped to 3-17 when facing a reigning Super Bowl champion.

Geno Smith had an opportunity to silence a few doubters against the Ravens. Instead, he added more fuel to the fire.

The Jets, now 5-6 on the season, were downright awful on offense, managing only 220 total yards – including a paltry three yards in the second quarter – going 1-12 on third down with three turnovers.

Shades of Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Tony Sparano.

Rookie Geno Smith didn’t do himself any favors, completing just nine passes for 127 yards with two interceptions and a 22.3 percent passer rating. Smith now leads the league with 18 interceptions.

For the record, wide receiver Josh Cribbs, who threw two passes out of the wildcat, ended the day with a higher passer rating – 70.8 – than Smith, who until deep into the second quarter was the team’s leading receiver.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg went with a heavy dose of the wildcat throughout the game, opting for Cribbs and running back Bilal Powell instead of Smith, an unspoken indictment on his rookie quarterback.

“[The problems] have to be corrected and it starts with me,” said Smith. “I’ll take it upon myself to be the first one to say that I didn’t play well.”

Even though the buzzards were circling around Smith all game – and will be all week – head coach Rex Ryan stayed with him all game and remained committed to him after it.

“It’s on all of us,” said Ryan after to falling to 0-3 against his former team. “We have to get better. We have to get better in a hurry and we know that.”

Ryan was pressed after the game about the future of his young quarterback but remained adamant that the loss wasn’t all on Geno.

And it wasn’t.

The Jets receivers dropped a number of passes in key situations, which Ryan said “jumped out” to him and the pass protection was porous, allowing three sacks and four quarterback hits.

“I’m not going to talk about one individual, starter or backup,” said Ryan. “I want to watch the tape first.”

The Jets secondary also struggled, allowing two pass plays of at least 60 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown, from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones, a play that put the game out of reach with five seconds left in the third quarter.

All week, Ryan called for improvement in the secondary, running “Buddy Ryan drills” in practice to prevent big plays, which he called “the Achilles’ heel” of the defense.

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith also burnt cornerback Antonio Cromartie for a 60-yard completion in second quarter, adding on to the long list of blunders for the All-Pro corner this season.

Adding insult to injury, Cromartie left the game late in the fourth with a hip injury.

The run defense was again superb for the Jets, bottling Ray Rice up for 30-yards on 16 carries, and holding the Ravens to 67 total yards on the ground, a 2.2 yards per carry average.

Nick Folk was the only other bright spot for the Jets, nailing his only field goal attempt, a 27-yarder in the first quarter. He is now 23-for-24 this season.

Moving forward, the Jets will prepare for next week’s game against the division rival the Miami Dolphins while facing two awful realities: they’re now on the outside of the AFC playoff picture looking in, and they have sure-fire quarterback controversy on their hands.

When asked if he thinks he’s the quarterback to lead the Jets to the playoffs, Geno Smith responded: “I know I am,” adding, “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Jets fans just hope that light isn’t an oncoming train.

Rex Ryan returns to Ravens with no hard feelings

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – After spending 10 years with the Ravens, Rex Ryan will return to Baltimore for just the second time since becoming the head coach of the New York Jets.

But things will be different for Ryan this time around. For perhaps the first time since being passed over as head coach of the Ravens, he will take to the sideline at M&T Bank Stadium at peace with how things ended.

In 2008, the Ravens went with John Harbaugh over Rex Ryan for head coach. On Sunday, Ryan will be more than at peace with that.

With almost five seasons under his belt, Ryan is a Jet, first and foremost – an ex-Raven second.

“I had a great experience [in Baltimore]. I spent 10 great years there, but this is my team, this is my team now,” Ryan said on Wednesday.

“I’ll always cherish the years that I had there without question. I have a lot of fond memories there, but right now I’m focused on building those memories here and that’s what it’s about.”

After starting the season on the hot seat, Ryan seems completely secure in his role as head football coach of the Jets. The Ravens? Well, they’re just his former employer, and he swears it’s all water under the bridge.

“I certainly didn’t take it personal, too bad, when it happened,” said Ryan, referring to the Ravens’ decision to hire current head coach John Harbaugh over him back in 2008.

“All I did was say, I’m going to do the best job I possibly can and I’m going to take it out on the league, that was my approach. That’s kind of what I did.”

It wasn’t always that way, as Ryan’s tune seems to have changed since the first two times the Jets played the Ravens, both losses, in 2010 and 2011.

“Was I bitter about not getting the head coaching job? Yeah, absolutely,” Ryan said before the Jets-Ravens game in 2011 – a game in which the Ravens sacked Mark Sanchez twice and recorded 10 quarterback hits, beating the Jets, 34-17, on Sunday Night Football.

Past relationships aside, Ryan is harping solely on football now, most importantly, getting back into the driver’s seat for the AFC’s final wild card slot. And the Ravens are just another roadblock on the way to that goal.

“Right after that loss to Buffalo, I was like it doesn’t matter who we play because we have to move on,” he said.

So, are there any hard feelings left? Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’

“I was given this unbelievable opportunity and so that’s behind me,” Ryan said. “I have no hard feelings whatsoever with that organization, I mean none whatsoever.”

Jets sign safety Ed Reed

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The New York Jets announced Thursday morning that they have signed free agent safety Ed Reed a day after clearing waivers following his release from the Houston Texans.

Reed, a nine-time Pro-Bowler, Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 and future Hall-of-Famer, will be at practice with the Jets on Thursday and is available to play in the team’s game on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

The Jets' brass took a flier on future Hall-of-Fame safety Ed Reed, who will be at practice on Thursday and in Buffalo on Sunday.

To make room on the roster for Reed, the Jets also announced the release of outside linebacker Ricky Sapp.

Head coach Rex Ryan hinted on Wednesday that he’d like to have a reunion with Reed, whom he coached for seven seasons while with the Ravens.

“Look, the way I am, I could say absolutely yes. I would like [Reed] on our team. And I’ll say that knowing that you guys know me,” Ryan told reporters on Wednesday, mentioning that he’d also like to have back Ray Lewis, Alan Faneca and Trevor Pryce among others.

Now the reunion is a reality.

The veteran safety will join a Jets secondary that has struggled at times, ranking 14th in league in pass defense according to Football Outsiders. Reed will play alongside former Raven and teammate Dawan Landry, the up-and-coming Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett, but his playing time for Sunday remains unknown.

Reed signed a three-year, $15 million contract with Houston in the offseason before undergoing hip surgery, missing the first two games, losing his starting job and then ultimately getting cut. He has no interceptions, no pass breakups and 16 tackles on the season.

“He’s going to land somewhere and create havoc. I’d love to have him here,” said Jets tight end Kellen Winlsow on Wednesday, who was a teammate of Reed’s while at the University of Miami.

Now, the hope is Reed will reek havoc for the Jets.

Facing the Bills will be ‘personal’ for David Nelson

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Jets wide receiver David Nelson still has fond memories of Buffalo, NY.

“I’m a Duffs guy,” he joked with Jets Insider, referring to the city’s famous wing joint. “I went to Duffs probably twice a week. I miss Buffalo for that reason, for the food.”

As for Buffalo’s football team, well, the memories are a little more stale.

“Anybody who tells you that when they play an old team or a team that cut them, that it’s just another game, is lying to you,” Nelson said. “Because this is definitely more than just another game for me.”

Sunday’s divisional game against the Bills will be the first time Nelson is back in Buffalo, the place where he started his career as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Florida in 2010, since the Bills decided not to tender him a one-year deal back in February.

Nelson was in the process of rehabbing an ACL injury, which he sustained in Week 1 of the 2012 season against the Jets, when he got the news that he would not be returning to Buffalo.

“I found out through Twitter, like a lot of other things in life,” he said.

The Bills didn’t notify him or his agent before the wide receiver got the news while at a Chicago Blackhawks game.

“Because of the way it kind of ended, it’s still a little difficult for me to swallow,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m glad to be here. I consider it a true blessing to be here and I’m glad the way it worked out.”

Nelson has been a pleasant surprise for the Jets this season since signing as a patchwork free agent on Oct. 2, catching 13 passes for 179 yards in three games.

In that time, he’s managed to play himself into an important role on the Jets offense, becoming one of Geno Smith’s most consistent targets, considering the glut of injuries and the suspension of Kellen Winslow.

“The fact that he’s able to pick up an offense in the short amount of time that he did, that’s very impressive. It speaks volumes about the teachers that you have in there … those guys do a great job, but it tells you about him. It tells you about the person,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “He put it upon himself to really learn it and I think that’s really, really impressive. I know he gained all the respect in the world from all his teammates.”

So, with the backing of his new teammates, Nelson will prepare to face his old ones on Sunday and he’s not holding back.

“This isn’t just another game for me,” he said. “It’s going to be personal and I think you’ll see that on Sunday.”

Folk-lore: Jets’ kicker having a magical season

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Just before every kick, Nick Folk takes three paces back, two paces to the side, plants his feet and then twists to his right.

Three, two, plant, twist. It’s his routine and it’s working.

Nick Folk has been one of many pleasant surprises for the Jets this season, kicking a perfect 23-for-23 heading into the bye week.

“Some guys have their own special pre-kick routine, that’s mine,” Folk told Jets Insider before last Sunday’s game against New Orleans. “I want to make sure that’s consistent so I know I’m starting in the same spot to give myself that best chance to make the kick.”

Folk then went on to make four more field goals in a victory over the Saints four more field goals in a victory over the Saints, connecting from 39, 21, 47 and 45 yards out and accounting for 14 of the Jets 26 points. Anyone who does sports betting online knows that Nick Folk has been money this season.

“You’re talking about ‘Folk Hero?’” joked head coach Rex Ryan after the game. “Guys, how about that year? Geez.”

“It’s not that it’s a given, but it’s like ‘Go ahead Folk Hero. Knock it through. Let’s go, and then get that kick-off coverage ready.’ It almost feels like that. I’ve been around some really good kickers in my day, but the year he is having is absolutely phenomenal.”

‘Folk Hero’ is the name Ryan has adopted for his prized kicker, a name he has repeated over and over, big kick after big kick.

In total, Folk has had to “three, two, plant, twist” 23 times this season, and 23 times the Jets have gotten three points.

He’s been perfect, there’s no other way to spin it.

“Anytime you can be consistent playing this game it’s a big help for our team. I just want to do whatever I can,” said Folk. “These guys put so much effort, time, blood, sweat and tears into this that I want to do my part to make sure that they’re getting the satisfaction of winning as many times as we possibly can.”

Including the streak, which at 23 straight is one away from Jay Feely’s franchise record, Folk has kicked three game winning field goals this season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and rival New England Patriots.

In the offseason, Folk actually modified his training regiment to kick less often during the week in an attempt to stay fresh during the year.

And by the looks of it, the change is paying dividends.

“We can keep going forward, keep progressing with [the training change] so that we can stay fresh throughout the course of the year and not go into Miami at the end of the year and be dead tired or go into a playoff run and be dead tired, we can keep that momentum going,” said Folk. “When you’re not tired, you’re not over-kicking, over-swinging and you can still make the long field goals, kick a kickoff deep, kick some touchbacks.”

In a season marked by inconsistency, especially on offense, Folk has been the Jets’ rock, twice winning AFC special teams player of the week. It’s funny to think that just this offseason the Jets brought in Dan Carpenter and Billy Cundiff to compete for Folk’s job.

In the midst of his best season as a professional, Folk hasn’t let the pressure get to him, falling back on his routine and letting it rip. Three, two, plant, twist. Nothing else.

“Nothing. I’m serious. I couldn’t tell you,” said Folk about what’s goes through his head before each big kick.

“I block everything out. I try to embrace the pressure part of it but not think about anything. I don’t want to have any swing thoughts where you’re complicating things. I want to keep it as simple as possible and kick the ball through the yellow poles, that’s the plan.”

Three, two, plant, twist.