Jets face mega challenge in stopping ‘Megatron’

September 24th, 2014

Florham Park, N.J.- There is a high sense of urgency coming into this week as the Jets, more specifically their cornerbacks, will face perhaps their biggest test of the season Sunday afternoon when they face the Detroit Lions at home.

“In the NFL it’s the equivalent of a ten game losing streak when you lose one game.” Said Head Coach Rex Ryan. “So, we’re on a 20 game losing streak…So, yeah there is a huge sense of urgency.”

Head coach Rex Ryan said there is a sense of urgency heading into their week four matchup against Detroit. (Jetsinsider.com photo)

The Lions’ star receiver wide receiver Calvin Johnson aka Megatron (Ex-Jet Damien Woody has made numerous claims in the past about being the creator of that nickname) is well regarded as the best wide receiver in the NFL.

And for the second straight week the Jets may be without cornerback Dee Milliner due to a quad injury leaving converted safety Antonio Allen and perennial backup Darrin Walls as the starting corners.

To their credit, at times Walls and Allen have had their bright moments. Other than a questionable pass interference call, Walls played well against the Bears. As for Allen, he has made a somewhat smooth transition to the cornerback position but there is still clear room for improvement.

Take last week against the Bears, Allen got beat badly by his college teammate Alshon Jeffrey for a 42-yard gain and dropped an easy interception that could have resulted in a large return.

Enter Megatron. In back-to-back weeks, the Jets have allowed receivers to have monstrous games. Against the Packers, Jordy Nelson torched the secondary for 209 yards (although most of Nelson’s big gains came when covered by Milliner) receiving and the aforementioned Jeffrey caught eight passes for 105 yards.

Naturally, Johnson is looking forward to facing both Walls and Allen.

“Just from watching the film I’ve watched so far, they play what the coach has them play.” Said Johnson during a conference call with the media on Wednesday, “I don’t have anything negative to say about them but I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to get in some single coverage.”

Johnson also said he expects to see a lot of man-to-man coverage due to their exotic blitzing schemes.

“We expect to get some of that (man-to-man coverage) just only from the blitzes that they bring all the time.”

Johnson already dominated one New York team when faced with single coverage, catching seven balls for 164 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants during the first week of the season. That game must have had an impact on Ryan because he quickly denounced the idea of Johnson being single covered.

“He’s not going to get that (single high man coverage). I’m crazy, but I’m not that crazy.” Ryan said.

Ryan also said that Johnson’s size and skills are intangibles that he has rarely come across as a coach and isn’t comparable to other receivers.

“No (other receivers are comparable)…I’ve gone against him a couple times, Brandon Marshall is about as close as it gets. I think but he’s (Johnson) a little bigger and a little faster.” Said Ryan, “I mean really there is no way, I have no idea (who is comparable to Johnson).”

While Johnson expects to have little trouble with the Jets secondary, Detroit Head Coach Jim Caldwell knows that Ryan always has tricks up his sleeve.

“We go into each game and each game presents you with different challenges and one of the things that we know for certain is it’s never been an easy road with Rex’s scheme, and how he does things.” Said Caldwell during his conference call with the media, “Its difficult to manage, he doesn’t give you the same looks all the time. To be able to determine when you get certain things at which times is going to be difficult. So, we think it’s going to be a real challenge.”

The natural solution then would be to double cover Johnson. But according to Johnson if the Jets go that route, the Lions have plenty of other options.

“If they want to do that then we have a plethora of playmakers that can go out there and get the job done as well. So you kind of got to pick your poison,” said Johnson.

One of those “playmakers” Johnson is referring to is free agent acquisition Golden Tate. Tate has 16 catches on the year and has averaged over 12 yards a reception.

“Golden’s real shifty, he has great strong hands.” Said Johnson, “Like I said if they want to bring two over to one side, bring an extra defender over to one side, leave him one-on-one he can do damage as well.”

The Jets secondary will have to be on their A game in order to slow down the Lion’s and avoid going into a 1-3 hole.

“We don’t want to dig ourselves in any further hole than we’re in.” Said Ryan “So, we got to find a way (to win) albeit against a good a opponent.”

If Decker can’t go, Jets have other options

September 17th, 2014

Florham Park, N.J. – As if blowing an 18 point lead to the Packers wasn’t disheartening enough, the Jets may be without one of their most important offensive weapons for their Monday night showdown against the Chicago Bears.

Late in last Sunday’s loss, Eric Decker was forced to leave the game with a hamstring injury. Not much is known about Decker’s status but if he is forced to miss time it would be a big blow to the Jets receiving corps.

Decker was brought in so quarterback Geno Smith could have a clear-cut number one receiver, and so far Decker has been that guy. He currently leads the team in both catches and receiving yards (nine for 137) and is the only receiver through two games who has caught a touchdown.

While Decker obviously wants to play Monday night, he told reporters that he wants to make “smart” decisions regarding his injury.

“Every day I am going to try and do a little bit more and see how it feels, and keep at it.” Said Decker, “Whether it’s a strengthening program, or a stretching program, whatever they have for me, and we are going to be smart with it. But, I want to get out as soon as I can for my teammate, so I am going to obviously make a smart choice but try to get out there.”

Decker did not practice Wednesday but head coach Rex Ryan is “hopeful” that Decker will be able to play.

If Decker doesn’t play however Smith doesn’t expect the offense to be negatively affected.

“(We) just got to go in with a mindset that we’re still going to do the same things.” Said Smith, “We’re pretty confident and I’m confident in the other guys around him. Every single guy has an opportunity to step up. Eric’s a key part to our offense, but we’ve got other guys that can step up and make plays for us and I look forward to seeing them do so.”

One of those other guys is wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who has emerged as Smith’s second favorite target. He has eight catches for 60 yards on the young season. In Ryan’s eyes, Kerley has become a tremendous asset for the Jets offense.

“Jeremy has been that guy. His role is getting more and more as he goes. But he’s a guy that’s shifty… he’s a versatile player but now he’s also a complete

Jeremy Kerley has become an important part of the Jets offense. (Jetsinsider.com photo)

player.”

After Decker and Kerley however the Jets are lacking at the receiver position. David Nelson is the only other wide receiver on the team with more than one reception—and he only has two.

Greg Salas who played his way onto the roster with a fantastic training camp has not been able make a significant impact so far. He has been targeted four times and only has one catch for 12 yards including a dropped touchdown pass in the home opener against the Raiders.

With a lack of depth at wide receiver, Smith has looked to running back Chris Johnson and tight end Jeff Cumberland for completions. Cumberland has bounced back from an Achilles injury to register five catches for 64 yards.

With six catches including a touchdown pass, Johnson has made a strong impact in the passing game as Ryan said he would.

“Having a guy with Chris Johnson’s talent obviously presents some different things because if he catches one he can take it to the house” said Ryan.

With the possibility of Decker not being able to play Monday, look for Smith to rely on not only Cumberland and Johnson but rookie tight end Jace Amaro.
Amaro has only three catches through the first two games but Smith is confident that he will emerge as an offensive threat.

“Jace has been doing a great job.” Said Smith, “When Jace gets in he’s always a viable option for us and he gets open. His time will come.”

The Jets should not have too much have trouble moving the ball through the air even if Decker doesn’t play. While the Bears’ secondary performed well against the San Francisco 49ers last week when they forced Collin Kaepernick into three interceptions, the same secondary allowed Buffalo Bill’s quarterback EJ Manuel to complete over 70 percent of his passes the week before.

The Bears’ also lost a key member of their secondary to injury when Charles Tillman went down with a season ending triceps injury. Tillman’s replacement Kyle Fuller played fantastic against the 49ers registering two interceptions but he is a rookie and one great performance shouldn’t be overvalued.

The bottom line is that although possibly losing Decker is obviously a big loss, he believes that even if he doesn’t play, the passing game will be just fine.

“I think we’ll be fine either way.” Said Decker, “There’s a lot of guys that can make plays in that receivers room. With the ability to run like we can, guys in the room, I think, have the potential to step up and play really well. Things will be okay.”

Jets blow 18 point lead, lose to Pack 31-24

September 15th, 2014

Green Bay, Wisconsin- In what can only be described as a tough and bizarre affair the Jets blew an early 21 to 3 lead and lost to the Green Bay Packers by the final score of 31 to 24.

The Jets appeared to tie the game on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith to Jeremy Kerley but the touchdown was negated when a timeout was called on the Jets sideline.

The timeout was apparently called by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg but according to NFL rules only a head coach or player can call a timeout. Head coach Rex Ryan was dumbfounded on the sideline as he was informed that the tying score did not count.

ackers QB Aaron Rodgers is sacked by LB Demario Davis during the Jets 24-31 loss to Green Bay on Sunday (JetsInsider.com Photo)

One thing is for sure, Ryan did not call the timeout.

“I just know for a fact that I did not call the timeout.” Said Ryan, “Of course that would be our fashion that we would score the touchdown and there would be the timeout.”

The “fashion” that Ryan is referring to is the pattern of excruciatingly painful losses the Jets have suffered over the years.

“This is a rough one to say the least” Ryan said on the loss. “We thought the game was really going the way we expected it to go. And then obviously to Green Bay’s credit they made a lot of big plays against us and I think that was the difference in the game obviously.”

You couldn’t script a more perfect beginning to the game for the Jets. On the first play of scrimmage, the Packers rookie center Corey Linsley had a miscommunication with quarterback Aaron Rodgers resulting in a fumbled snap, recovered by Sheldon Richardson.

The Jets capitalized when quarterback Geno Smith was able to scramble for a one-yard touchdown run.

After the touchdown, the Jets defense continued to look dominant sacking Rodgers twice and forcing a quick three and out. Of Green Bay’s first four offensive plays, the Jets had two sacks, a fumble recovery and a deflected pass—can’t get much better than that.

The Jets were able to embark on a six-play 84-yard drive resulting in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Smith to wide receiver Eric Decker. During that drive, Smith looked like a completely different player than the rookie who struggled at times last year, especially on the touchdown pass to Decker.

Facing a blitz, Smith stepped up into the pocket, stared down the blitz, absorbed a clean hit and hit Decker in stride for the touchdown.

After holding the Packers to a field goal, with their bend but don’t break mentality on defense, the Jets, again, were able to march down the field and put seven on the board. This time on a four-yard run by running back Chris Ivory which capped off the 17 play, 80 yard drive.

The Jets offense scored touchdowns on their first three possessions. They were executing perfectly and showed how good their offense can be.

“We can be as good as we want to be.” Said Smith, “It’s all about execution like I always say. We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the guys that want to do it… we think if we execute the way that we should, we can be one of the best there is.”

After two Mason Crosby field goals, the Jets recovered a failed Packers onside kick attempt setting them up with great field position. The Jets seemed poised to put at least three points on the board and head into halftime with a commanding lead.

That’s when Gang Green began their epic collapse. Guard Brian Winters was beat badly by Packers defensive end Mike Daniels, who leveled Smith as he threw a wobbly pass intended for tight end Zach Sudfeld but was intercepted by cornerback Tramon Williams at the Packers 3-yard line.

“I got to get the ball out faster, I got to get the ball out faster.” Said Smith, “I got hit as I was throwing, the ball flew up, I was praying that someone knocks it down (or) it falls to the ground. In hindsight, looking back on it like I said I got to get the ball out faster. The guy was open, I had a good shot at him, I thought I was going to hit him but unfortunately we had a turnover.”

Rodgers then led the Packer offense on a 10 play, 97 yard drive which narrowed the Jets lead to 21 to 16.

“Give those guys credit, that’s a heck of a football team and they made some plays there (on that drive)” said Ryan.

The Jets offense failed to recover and regain the momentum that they had in the first half. Green Bay took their first lead of the game at the 5:45 mark of the 3rd quarter on one-yard Aaron Rogers’ touchdown pass to receiver Randall Cobb.

Green Bay then successfully attempted a two-point conversion to make the score 24 to 21 which is when things escalated. All-Pro defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was thrown out of the game after throwing a punch at Packers guard Josh Sitton.

Wilkerson than egged on the Lambeau Field faithful by smiling and waving his arms up and down.

After the game both Ryan and Wilkerson acknowledged that what happened was wrong and can’t happen again.

“First off nobody feels worse than Mo does.” said Ryan, “He’s apologized to the team about it. He feels bad that he let his team down. It’s an emotional game but having something like that, taking a swing is not acceptable and Mo would be the first one to say it.”

“I lost my cool and I let my emotions get the best of me.” said Wilkerson, “I can’t do that (throw a punch). I let my teammates down. We’re a family here, I let everybody down, I apologized to everybody in the locker room and my actions, I can’t do that.”

The Jets rebounded from relinquishing the lead and Wilkerson’s ejection to tie the game on a Nick Folk 52-yard field goal. The Packers quickly regained the lead on their first play of the next drive when Aaron Rodgers connected with wide receiver Jordy Nelson for an 80-yard touchdown pass.

On the play, cornerback Dee Milliner, was badly beaten and faked out by a Nelson double move. In total, Nelson accounted for nine catches and an astronomical 209 yards receiving.

The Packers clearly looked to take advantage of the Jets holes at secondary with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball 42 times, completing 25 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns, one to Nelson and two to Cobb.

Milliner, who is coming off an ankle injury was clearly not 100 percent healthy. It especially showed on the 80-yard touchdown pass to Nelson. After he was beat on the double move he had trouble chasing Nelson down the field and appeared to run with a slight limp.

Earlier in the game, Milliner looked sharp but he clearly wasn’t healthy enough for anything more than a limited role.

Either way, the Jets secondary struggled and Ryan says the team has to improve in that aspect.

“Clearly it (the secondary play) wasn’t good enough.” Ryan said, “(The play) wasn’t to our standards. Again it has to get better, our play has to get better and it starts with the 100 percent understanding with what’s called and how it’s played.”

Ryan specifically singled out the 80-yard touchdown pass to Nelson, “The double move should be doubled off a boot and it wasn’t. So again that’s obviously a mistake.”

While the secondary struggled today, Ryan said the secondary needs to improve because the schedule doesn’t get any easier.

“We got to get it (the secondary play) fixed because it doesn’t get any easier.”

The fourth quarter was relatively uneventful until the botched timeout call. Smith said that he did not understand why a timeout was called in that situation.

“I haven’t talked to Marty about that yet. It would be better for you to ask him about it but I don’t know why (the timeout was called) as of right now.”

Defensive end Sheldon Richardson claims that he was responsible for why the timeout was ultimately called.

“That’s all on me” said Richardson, “I saw Marty calling the timeout and I was into the game I knew it was clutch time, so I didn’t know if he wanted a timeout or not I just know he called it and I helped him out a little bit and I whispered in the referee’s ear “timeout” and he called it before the play was dead. Before the ball was thrown.”

Whoever, called the timeout, it was not the sole reason the Jets lost this game. The Jets converted on 4th and 4 but failed to convert on a subsequent fourth down and Green Bay was able to run out the clock and secure the win.

The point being is that one timeout call, although it was clearly a mistake and devastating to the team, did not decide the game. After jumping out to an 18-point lead, the Jets were outscored by a 28 to 3 margin.

The Jets look to rebound from this excruciating loss when they take on the Chicago Bears next Monday Night.

For now though, the Jets have a long flight back to New Jersey to think about all that went wrong this afternoon.

NEWS AND NOTES

Wide Receiver Eric Decker was forced to leave the game with a hamstring injury.

Ryan did not have an update on Decker’s condition saying, “No (I don’t have a further update) I just know he left with a tight hamstring.”

Jets Must Apply Pressure On Aaron Rodgers

September 11th, 2014

The NFL schedulers were not kind to the Jets. After giving them a gift in week one when they faced a rookie quarterback making his first career NFL start, the Jets now embark on perhaps the toughest part of their schedule.

In their next six games, the Jets will face six Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Up first is perhaps the best quarterback in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers.

At his post practice press conference today Jets head coach Rex Ryan, was asked to pinpoint one attribute that makes playing against Rodgers so difficult.

“I really can’t say one thing because he’s got an arm that (can) make throws every spot on the field. Said Ryan, “He’s got great movement skills. A lot of times with great quarterbacks, a lot of guys can do one or the other. They can run really well or they can sit back…well this kid combines accuracy with escapability and I think that’s what separates him from most quarterbacks in the league.”

Muhammad Wilkerson and the rest of the Jets defensive line must pressure Aaron Rodgers on Sunday (Jetsinsider.com Photo)

When you couple that with the Jets unproven secondary, on paper, the game against Green Bay seems to have bad news written all over it.

But the Packers have a huge weakness, which just happens to be the Jets strength. Their offensive line is a work in progress while the Jets boast what may be the best defensive line in the NFL as Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged during a conference call with the media today.

“I’m really impressed with the Jets’ defense.” Said McCarthy, “I think the depth, the size and what they have up front and schematically with what they challenge you with. It’s an excellent defense and it’s something we’re obviously spending a lot of time on.”

How do you make up for a weakness at cornerback? You play to your strength by putting pressure on Aaron Rodgers.

Against Seattle last week, the Packers, who started rookie Corey Linsley at center were beaten down by Seattle’s front seven. Seattle sacked Rodgers three times and hit him four including a strip sack by Seahawk defensive end Michael Bennett that resulted in a safety for Seattle.

It is possible that the Packers could be down another offensive lineman after right tackle Bryan Bulaga left the Packers season opener with a left sprained MCL.  If Buluga doesn’t play his backup, Derek Sherrod, struggled mightily against the Seattle front four and would struggle even more with Ryan’s complicated and exotic defensive scheme.

Seattle primarily rushed four defenders and still created a ton of pressure on Rodgers. Say what you will about Ryan’s offensive coaching attributes but he is a defensive genius. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and Ryan will throw Green Bay exotic looks and blitzes that should result in tremendous pressure on Aaron Rodgers.

As All-Pro defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson stated, facing the Packers shouldn’t be a challenge — unless they don’t execute their assignments.

“It’s not tough at all, we got to execute our assignments and execute the game plan.”

The formula for victory this week is simple, get consistent pressure on Aaron Rodgers.

Dee Milliner Returns To Practice

September 10th, 2014

Florham Park, N.J.- Cornerback Dee Milliner, who has been sidelined with a high ankle sprain since early August returned to the practice field Wednesday for the first time since his injury.

Milliner injured his ankle during an August 10th practice when he came down on it awkwardly while defending receiver Quincy Enunwa during team drills.

According to Head Coach Rex Ryan, Milliner did “quite a bit” during the practice including participating in team drills.

Cornerback Dee Milliner practiced for the first time since injuring his ankle on August 10th. (Jetsinsider.com photo)

During the first thirty minutes when the media was allowed to view practice, Milliner was back peddling and catching balls thrown by coaches.  He seemed to be moving well without much discomfort in that left ankle.

Although he hasn’t practiced in a month, Milliner said that he did not feel limited or rusty the field today.

“No it’s not rust, you just got to get back into it and get back into the rhythm of things,” said Milliner.

While Milliner has progressed in his rehab, Ryan said that Milliner wouldn’t be thrown in to the fire right away.

“They (The Green Bay Packers) want to have 75 snaps on offense, I don’t expect Dee to play 75 snaps” said Ryan.

Ryan did said that he was “cautiously optimistic” that Milliner would make his season debut against the Packers on Sunday afternoon.

What is concerning to Ryan now, is how Milliner’s ankle will feel tomorrow.

“Sometimes you feel good, you get out there and you think you can do it and then next day its like ooh like it’s almost where you can’t run even” said Ryan.

Ryan did hint at the possibility that Milliner can be used in a limited role against Green Bay.

“If he can play a limited role, lets play him in a limited role. That’s how I see it” said Ryan.

As for Milliner, he said he wants to be out on the field.

“Of course I want to be out on the field it’s a big game.”

For T.J. Barnes, Hard Work Is Paying Off

September 9th, 2014

Standing at six-foot-seven and weighing in at 364 pounds, one thing is clear, T.J. Barnes was born to be a football player.  But at this time last, year Barnes’ football future was in doubt.

At this time last year, if you told Barnes he would be on a 53-man roster for this upcoming NFL season, he would’ve had a hard time believing you.

Rex Ryan said that T.J. Barnes' "development has been tremendous" since he was signed to their practice squad last year. (Jetsinsider.com photo)

“I probably would have laughed at you. It didn’t seem possible, everything didn’t seem obtainable at that time.” Barnes said.

After going undrafted in 2013, coming out of Georgia Tech, he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars but was released during final cuts. Barnes was then forced to watch the start of the season from a close friend’s couch–as well as spend his nights there.

But all of these setbacks did not deter Barnes, he continued to work hard, hoping to land a spot on a team’s practice squad or active roster. His hard work paid off when he was signed to the Jets’ practice squad after their Monday night win over the Atlanta Falcons during week five of last year.

Barnes’ journey continued as he remained on the practice squad through the end of the season. Going into the offseason, Barnes knew he had to do something extra to impress the coaches and earn a spot on the final 53-man roster. So Barnes’ upped the intensity of his workouts and arrived to this years training camp 20 pounds lighter.

Barnes said his weight loss during the offseason helped show head coach Rex Ryan and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, how committed he was to earning a spot on the final roster.

“I think they took it and [it showed] how committed I was to the whole process.” Said Barnes, “They didn’t think I was going to come back and lose 20 to 25 pounds. I just made it a big thing on me to just do something that is going to stand out a little bit.”

Barnes’ career arch is one that Jets fans have seen before. Nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison. Like Barnes, Harrison was an unheralded undrafted rookie with a need to lose a few pounds. “Snacks” has now emerged as one of the best run-stopping nose tackles in the NFL. With so many parallels in their road to the NFL it would make sense that Barnes would seek out Harrison for advice, and that is exactly what happened.

“He (Harrison) had a big mentorship role on me.” Barnes said, “Because even on (the) practice squad last year, that’s the one thing I did. In the meeting room, all I did was watch him, watch his mistakes, watch everything he got right and try to emulate him in some type of way.”

Barnes’ said Harrison’s mentorship role played an important part in his offseason weight loss and said Harrison helped him further understand the Jets’ defensive system.

“When we came back during the offseason, he just took me under his wing and just showed me some things to do and what not to do and how to stand out in the system” said Barnes.

Jets coaches not only took notice of Barnes’ slimmer physique when training camp began, but Barnes began impressing them with his play on the field.

“He’s a guy that if we’re giving out game balls, we would’ve gave one to him for sure in that game.” Said Head Coach Rex Ryan of Barnes after their first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.

As camp progressed and Barnes’ play improved, the possibility of him making the roster increased. With his goal earning a roster spot within reach, Barnes’ hard work never wearied, something that Ryan took notice of it.

“The thing I always liked about T.J. was that here was a huge man but he played hard and big guys like that, that play hard are hard to find and they’re going to be around a long time.” Ryan said during a conference call with Jetsinsider.com and a few other select Jets fan blogs last week.

Even with perhaps the best defensive line in the NFL and holes at other positions like cornerback, General Manager John Idzik and Ryan believed that Barnes’ talent, production and potential warranted a spot.

“There’s no way,  (we would have released him)” said Ryan during the conference call. “If we would have put him out he would have been picked up. Probably 31 other teams would have claimed him. So he’s really progressed that far,” Ryan said.

What a difference a year makes. Last year Barnes was sleeping on a friend’s couch and this past Sunday he made his NFL debut playing five series. So what does Barnes have to say about his journey?

“It’s amazing because this time last year I was sleeping on the couch in my good friend(‘s) apartment and now I made the 53(-man) roster. And it shows that hard work and dedication and giving it your all, you know really does turn out to be a blessing.”

Rex to Fans: “We’re getting ready to be good”

September 5th, 2014

FLORHAM PARK, NJ- Earlier today, head coach Rex Ryan hopped on a conference call with a JetsInsider.com as well as a few other select NY Jets Fan blogs and touched on a variety of topics leading up to Sunday’s regular season opener against the Oakland Raiders.

Perhaps the greatest concern among Jets fans is the large question mark surrounding the cornerback position. Converted safety Antonio Allen will get the start on Sunday and Ryan said that while he understands fan’s concerns about Allen, due to his lack of experience at the position, he is confident Allen will play well on Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »

GAME PREVIEW: Raiders at Jets

September 4th, 2014

EAST RUTHERFORD , NJ – The preseason is over and now it’s time to see what the Jets are made of…

Jets’ fans have had September 7th circled on their calendars since training camp began, because that day marks the team’s home opener against the Oakland Raiders.

Jet fans, players and coaches alike are all looking forward to finally opening up the regular season.

“Everything is just ramped up,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “As much as you love training camp and everything else, and it’s true, there is just something special about opening a season. I know the fans, I feel it from the fans, their anticipation, I feel it from our players and I for one, without question can’t wait to get this thing started.

Expect to see a lot of celebrating from Geno Smith and the Jets' offense on Sunday. (Jetsinsider.com Photo)

Second year quarterback Geno Smith is also excited to have the opportunity to improve upon what was an up and down rookie year and showcase the team’s improved offense.

“Man, we’re excited. We get a chance to go out there and play four quarters of football, put everything we’ve been working on out there and showcase it for the fans and everyone watching. We’re excited. We’re ready to go.”

While the Jets seem to be a team on the rise with all of their young talent on the defensive line, their week one opponent seems to be one in complete disarray.

The Raiders are coming off a 4-12 season and haven’t finished a season above .500 since 2002. Their pass defense was perhaps one of the first in football giving up on average 255.8 yards per game. Their run defense wasn’t much better as they allowed 107.8 yards per game.

If that didn’t convince you their defense was bad, they ranked 28th in points allowed giving up an average of over 28 points per game. (All team stats courtesy of ESPN.com)

The Raiders’ offense isn’t much better. They are starting rookie second-round draft pick Derek Carr. According to ESPN, Carr is the 18th, yes 18th different quarterback the Raiders have had since 2003.

You know the teams, you know the matchups, now lets delve into specifics.

WHEN: Sunday, September 7th, @ 1PM EST (TV-CBS Radio, -ESPN)

WHERE: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

*INJURY REPORT:

JETS- DB Antonio Allen (Concussion) Probable, LB Nick Bellore (Calf,) Probable, DB Josh Bush (Quadricep) Out, Ikemefuna Enemkpali (Foot) Out and DB Dee Milliner (Ankle) Out.

RAIDERS- TE David Ausberry (Knee) Probable, CB Chimdi Chekwa (Knee) Out, K Sebastian Janikowski (Right Quad) Probable, CB Taiwan Jones (Knee) Probable, LB Nick Roach (Concussion) Questionable, QB Matt Schaub (Rt. Elbow) Probable and T Menelik Watson (Hip) Probable and, DE LaMarr Woodley (Not Injury Related) Probable.

GAME KEYS

Ground and Pound- Ryan’s favorite mantra is essential to a Jet victory Sunday. As stated earlier, Oakland has one of the worst run defenses in the entire NFL. What the Jets’ may lack at wide receiver other than Eric Decker, they more than make up for it with their three-headed monster at running back.

Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory, and Bilal Powell should have a field day running the ball against this Oakland defense. While the Raiders attempted to improve their run defense with the signing of free agent linebacker LaMarr Woodley and the drafting of Khalil Mack, the Jets’ running backs should have no problems finding the open holes and exploiting them for big gains.

No Turnovers- The Jets are clearly a better team than the Oakland Raiders but one way to even the playing field are turnovers. Geno Smith was interception prone last season with 21 picks but he looked different this training camp.

He looked calm in the pocket, made all the right reads, and just looked like a completely different quarterback than what Jet fans saw last season.  While Oakland’s defense isn’t the ’85 Bears, it is one filled with savvy veterans like Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck. Smith acknowledged that fact and that the offense has to execute the game plan in order to succeed on Sunday.

“(They are) veteran guys, very smart, very savvy, crafty guys.” said Smith. “We’ve got to pay attention to Charles Woodson back there. He’s one of the best there is. They’ve got a bunch of guys that are new to their defense but not new to the NFL, so they understand how to play football. We’ve got to prepare to go out there and play a hard game.”

Look for Smith and the Jets’ offense to do just that on Sunday afternoon

Make Derek Carr Beat You By Stopping The Run- With a rookie quarterback starting, it seems likely that Oakland will rely heavily on their run game on Sunday. While the Jet secondary (more on that later) is not the best, they will be able to disguise their coverage’s and fool Derek Carr.

The running game is  perhaps the only area where Oakland did improve last season. They signed three-time All-Pro Maurice Jones-Drew and re-signed Darren McFadden.

While Jones-Drew isn’t the Jones-Drew of old, he is still a productive player. He still rushed for 803 yards last year. While some may scoff at that number when you consider that he was Jacksonville’s entire offense last year and he is only two years removed from a season in which he rushed for over 1600 yards. (stats courtesy of pro-football reference.com.)

The Jets shouldn’t have an issue stopping the run however. Under Rex Ryan the defense has always been one of the best against the run. That trend continued last year when the defense allowed only 88.3 yards per game which ranked third in the NFL.  When you factor those stats in with Damon “Snacks” Harrison being one of the better run stopping nose tackles in football, it should be a long day for the Raiders running game.

X-FACTORS:

Derek Carr- Carr is the unknown here. He beat out veteran Matt Schaub who last year was a pick six machine for the starting job with a strong performance against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks during the final preseason game. Although he did it against the Seahawk backups, Ryan was still impressed with the rookie’s ability.

“I think it’s more of the fact that in their first four drives I think they scored,” Ryan said. “Again, you felt a certain energy out there with their team. Obviously he has a big arm, a live arm and he’s fairly mobile and athletic. He gets the ball out, he’s got a quick release and things so the kid, he knows what he is doing.”

While Carr may be a good quarterback down the line, he is still new to the NFL. In college he had trouble when facing pressure, which is exactly the Jets’ defense’s expertise.

In addition, according to ESPNNewYork.com’s Rich Cimini, Ryan’s record against rookie quarterbacks during his time with the Jets is an impressive 7-3. The fact is that Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman will be disguising their coverages and throwing in some exotic blitzing to confuse Carr which is bound to lead to some Jet’s takeaways.

Cornerback Play- The Jets cornerback situation is what it is. It is not what they have had during year’s past with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie shutting down receivers but all hell isn’t breaking loose.

Converted safety Antonio Allen will get the start on Sunday against the Raiders and most likely Dee Milliner will not play so Darrin Walls will start along side him with Kyle Wilson as the nickel corner.

This game will in some ways determine the arc of the season for the Jets’ corners. If Allen and Walls get torched by a rookie quarterback then the Jets may be in some serious trouble.  On the flip side if the tandem plays well, it will boost their confidence as they head into a tougher part of the schedule when the Jets face some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

But all reports out of Florham Park indicate that Allen and Walls have the trust and confidence of their teammates and coaches. And with Dee Milliner who looked good during his short training camp on the mend, the corner situation may not be as big of dilemma as perceived.

Allen and Walls will have the chance to prove that on Sunday.

THE PICK: It would be insane to call week one a must win for the Jets because they have an entire season in front of them but week one is pretty close. This is a game, when the schedule comes out, you circle it as a W. Like I said earlier this game can kind of determine the way the season goes.

After this, the Jets have games at Green Bay in week two, Chicago at home in week three, Detroit at home, at San Diego, Denver at home and a Thursday night game against New England.

Even Geno Smith acknowledged that this week’s game is important.

“This one’s important. This is the only one we care about. It’s the one we can control. We can’t take care of anything else. We’re just focused on what we have right now” said Smith.

A resounding defeat of a bad Oakland Raiders team will give the Jets confidence heading into the difficult part of the schedule. I fully expect the Jets to give Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense fits with their disguised coverages and pass rush which will lead to a win.

If the Jets are the playoff team they claim to be, these are the games they have to win and I think they will.

Jets win 28-14

With Injuries To The Secondary, All Eyes Will Be On Antonio Allen And Darrin Walls

September 3rd, 2014

Florham Park, NJ- Much of the concerns amongst Jet fans throughout training camp have revolved around the secondary. That concern was only exacerbated when last year’s first-round pick Dee Milliner suffered a high ankle sprain rendering him questionable for the season opener.

Combine that with that with rookie Dexter McDougle’s torn ACL and the Dimitri Patterson saga, which resulted in his release, it seemed as if the Jet secondary and therefore season was engulfed in a downward spiral.

However, that is not the case. For starters, last year’s secondary was not all that great either and the Jets finished 8-8. Antonio Cromartie struggled most of the season and Dee Milliner struggled to adjust to the NFL yet the Jets still finished at .500.

With Dee Milliner in question for Sunday's opener, Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls will be in the spotlight. (Jetsinsider.com photo)

The Jets clearly aren’t in an ideal position regarding their secondary. In fact they are far from it. With Milliner in doubt for the opener, the Jets are turning to converted safety Antonio Allen as on of their starting cornerbacks.

“Obviously he is full go right now and understand he’ll start on the corner for us this week.”

Allen, who has been officially cleared after suffering a concussion against the Giants, said he has made a smooth transition converting from safety to cornerback.

“It’s been going pretty well,” said Allen. “Safeties know the defense and as a safety you’ve got to tell the corners what to do so I pretty much got the scheme down for what a corner is supposed to do every play and I’m doing pretty good.”

Head coach Rex Ryan is also confident that Allen will be a productive corner for the Jets this season.

“We feel good about Antonio Allen,” said Ryan “We think he can be a decent corner as well and we get to find out.”

The other starting cornerback position is not as clear. While Ryan wouldn’t rule Milliner out for Sunday’s opener, he was pessimistic regarding his status.

“I never want to rule a guy out…but I hope he practices soon,” said Ryan, “He’s been away for a little while. I’d like to see him practice, obviously but I’m not going to say for sure will not play until we get further along. But the fact he is not even limited is a little bit of a concern.”

If and when Milliner is ruled out for Sunday, the next corner in line to take that starting spot is Darrin Walls. Walls, has been a perennial backup but said he is ready to start if called upon. When asked what his mindset is, given that he will possibly start, Walls emphasized preparation.

“To prepare as well as I can” said Walls. “I think preparing in practice, in the film room and studying is just going to help me a lot.”

Walls also said that his mindset will remain the same even though the games count.

“It’s not much of a difference [from] preseason games, this [game] counts now. That’s the only difference. But I’m just going to go out there and try to remain consistent.”

Walls’ also believes that he is a much better corner than he was last year with the Jets.

“I think I’m a lot better than I was last year, I think I’ve improved tremendously” said Walls.

When asked what specifically he improved upon, Walls singled out his confidence.

“I think for me it’s a confidence thing, believing in what I see, believing in my coaching, and believing that what I think is going to happen is going to happen.”

One thing is for sure, Walls and Allen have earned the confidence of their teammates and coaching staff.

“I feel real confident. It’s guys who had a great training camp [and] did great things in preseason” said safety Dawan Landry, “I have full confidence in those guys as [do] the coaches.

News And Notes

When asked what he knew about the team’s knew cornerback acquisitions, Leon McFadden and Phillip Adams, Rex admitted that he did not know much.

“Not much right now, we’ve just had them for a couple of days… We’re just trying to get to know them, [their] strengths and weaknesses…what they can pick up mentally as for preparation and things like that.”

According to TMZ Sports, Rookie Wide Receiver Quincy Enunwa was arrested for allegedly a female companion in a New Jersey Hotel Room.

Rex Ryan said he was “aware of the situation” but wouldn’t comment on it because it is a “pending legal matter.”

Jets Claim Cornerback Leon McFadden, Sign Seven To Practice Squad

August 31st, 2014

Florham Park, New Jersey- Looking to upgrade the cornerback position, the Jets claimed Leon McFadden of waivers. McFadden, a former 2013 third-round pick was released by the Browns yesterday during when teams were required to cut their rosters down to 53.

In his rookie season, McFadden played in all 16 games including two starts and recorded 19 total tackles (four on special teams) and one pass deflection. As per league rules, McFadden will be added to the Jets 53-man roster. In order to make room for McFadden, the team released cornerback LeQuan Lewis.

Matt Simms was one of seven players added to the Jets practice squad today. (Jetsinsider.com photo)

The Jets also signed seven players, who they released yesterday, to their practice squad. Quarterback Matt Simms, running back Daryl Richardson, safety Rontez Miles, defensive lineman Kerry Hyder, tight end Chris Pantale, defensive tackle Tevita Finau, and offensive tackle Brent Qvale were the seven signed.

The team still has three remaining practice squad positions open.