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PREVIEW: NY JETS (1-1) @ Miami Dolphins (1-1)

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

The New York Jets look to rebound after a loss in the form of their long time division rival, the Miami Dolphins.  Darrelle Revis will play after missing the game against Pittsburgh with a concussion that took place Week 1.  Tight end Dustin Keller is questionable with a hamstring and fullback John Conner and linebacker Bryan Thomas are doubtful.

The Jets look to bounce back from an offensive effort that raised some eyebrows at the conclusion of last Sunday’s game.  After marching down the field and scoring a seemingly effortless seven points on the first drive, the offense could only muster up another three points in the rest of the contest.  An out of sync, no rhythm performance seemed to bring expectations down to Earth after a dominating performance against the Bills.

“Just too many incompletions, I took a couple shots down field and didn’t complete them. That’s what happens when you don’t hit those and it looks good the first week when you hit some of those deep balls and things work,” said Mark Sanchez on the poor offensive effort.

The strength of the Miami defensive is their front seven, which provides a rush defense that completely shut down one of the most explosive running backs in the NFL last Sunday, the Raiders’ Darren McFadden.

“The emphasis is on our front five, the tight ends blocking, our receivers blocking down the field and me putting us in the right running play,” said Sanchez on Miami’s run defense.  “We see the same thing every year, a physical, tough strong defense that’s great in the back end. It’s one of the toughest front sevens we will play, similar story to the week before. We have to hold up in protection. We have to run the ball well and it’s up to me to find more completions than I did last week.”

Rex Ryan should be able to make Tannehill feel like a rookie quarterback on Sunday.

The Dolphins biggest offensive threat is running back Reggie Bush, who is coming off one of the best performances of his career.  “Reggie Bush is, everybody knows, he is a special player,” said Rex Ryan.  He has great speed, that’s the first thing that jumps out at you.  He’s shifty, he runs with a little bit more power than people give him credit for.  But, I think the big thing is, his last three home games, he’s rushed for over 100 yards. So he likes playing at home, he’s doing a tremendous job. This past week in particular, he had some explosive runs.  He made a great run, the touchdown run and he broke like five tackles.  Obviously, we have to do a great job of getting a lot of guys to him and getting him on the ground, put some hot sauce on him, if you will.”

The Dolphins roll out rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is playing in his first AFC East division game.  “They did a good job against Oakland at getting him out, much more boot-type action, sprint-type action,” said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine of Tannehill.  “He’s a guy that doesn’t look out of place in there, he looks very comfortable and the reason being, he’s running his offense.  This is the offense he’s been running since he was in college.  Again, our guys have been prepping for it and forewarned that this is a guy that has a big arm and can make all the throws, but he can just as easily beat you with his feet.”

The Jets should have no problem throwing the ball against Miami after the Dolphins traded one of their top cornerbacks, Vontae Davis to Indianapolis during training camp.  The only true threat the secondary presents is cornerback Sean Smith.

WHEN: Sunday, September 23, 2012 @ 1:00 p.m. EST (Can be seen on CBS or heard on ESPN Radio).

WHERE: Sun Life Stadium / Miami, FL (capacity: 75,000)

SERIES HISTORY: Jets lead all-time regular season 48-44-1.

LAST MEETING: Dolphins 20 — Jets 17, Sun Life Stadium

NOTABLE: Jets playoffs hopes were slim heading into Week 17 last season, but slim turned to zero when the Jets couldn’t win against a 5-10 Dolphins team.

NOTABLE: Tony Sparano coached the Miami Dolphins from 2008-2011 until he was fired after going 4-9.

COACHES:

  • JETS — Rex Ryan / Fourth Season
  • DOLPHINS — Joe Philbin / First Season

INJURY REPORT:

  • JETS — OUT – OL  Dennis Landolt (knee). QUESTIONABLE – TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), CB Ellis Lankster (back). DOUBTFUL – FB John Conner (knee), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring). PROBABLE – LB Nick Bellore (shoulder), DE Quinton Coples (illness), CB Antonio Cromartie (shoulder), DT Mike Devito (calf), DT Kenrick Ellis (illness), S LaRon Landry (heel), C Nick Mangold (wrist), G Brandon Moore (hip), LB Calvin Pace (achilles), DT Sione Pouha (back), CB Darrelle Revis (concussion), QB Mark Sanchez (back), WR Chaz Schilens (ankle), LB Bart Scott (knee), S Eric Smith (hip, knee), CB Isaiah Trufant (ankle), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (not injury related)
  • DOLPHINS — OUT – DT Tony McDaniel (knee). DOUBTFUL – WR Marlon Moore (hamstring). PROBABLE – WR Anthony Armstrong (hamstring), LB Kevin Burnett (foot), LB Jonathan Freeny (thumb), CB Richard Marshall (back), RB Lamar Miller (ankle), LB Koa Misi (foot), DE Jared Odrick (thumb), RB Daniel Thomas (concussion), S Jimmy Wilson (back)

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Jets Defense vs. Reggie Bush — The only way I see an upset happening is if Reggie Bush runs wild on the Jets defense.  Revis can cover Brian Hartline while sleeping and the next wide receiver in line is Devone Bess who doesn’t scare anyone.  If Bush is shutout and rookie quarterback Tannehill has to beat the Jets with his arm, that sounds like a favorable matchup the Jets would drool over.
  • Sanchez vs. Miami Secondary — As mentioned earlier, the strength of the Miami defense is their front seven.  If anyone was hoping for a Shonn Greene dominating performance, it is time to alter those expectations.  The secondary doesn’t present elite talent and if Sanchez wants to be an offensive threat, he should start by carving up this Miami secondary.

X – FACTORS:

  • Anthony Fasano, TE, Dolphins — If Tannehill is going to have success through the air, it would be in the middle of the field where the Jets linebackers are forced to cover.  Fasano, or any tight end for that matter, is a rookie quarterback’s best friend and he could be effective against the weak spot in the Jets defense.
  • Joe McKnight, RB, Jets – Earlier this week, Ryan has stated that McKnight will see more carries than the previous two games.  Greene hasn’t looked to explosive to start the season, look for Sparano to try and create some home-run run plays for McKnight.

THE PICK: I don’t see a scenario where the Jets blow this game.  It is too important for the Jets to start 2-0 in the division, especially with San Francisco and Houston approaching.  Ryan’s defensive genius should be expected to stump a rookie quarterback and Bush will be contained for an easy Jets W.

Yeremiah Bell Faces Old History

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Eight years is a long time.

Being in the same house for eight years, working the same job, whatever it may be.  Eight years is a decent chunk of time.

Yeremiah Bell is currently playing in his ninth year of his NFL career, the first of which has been in the city of New York (well, New Jersey but…whatever).  The first eight years of his career were spent surrounded by those orange, white and off-green colors that makeup the uniforms of the Jets Week 3 opponent—the division rival Miami Dolphins.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Bell of facing his old team.  “I’m not putting any extra incentive on it or anything like that.  It’s a division game we definitely need to win and it’d be nice to go 2-0 in the division.”

After watching Yeremiah Bell play against his team, Woody Johnson didn't miss the chance to make Bell part of the Jets.

The sixth-round pick in the 2003 draft was released this offseason in a financially motivated decision by Miami’s front office.  Bell had lead Miami in tackling for the past four seasons and in those four seasons, he recorded over 100 tackles in each and was considered a team leader for not just the defense, but the entire team.  In 2009, Bell was recognized for his 114 tackle, three interception season by being voted to his first and only Pro Bowl selection.  Bell has shared success with current members of the Dolphins, but realizes when the game starts, there are no friendships.

“Oh yea I’m sure I’ll see some of them.  I mean I’m still friends with a lot of guys so we’ll have our laughs before the game, but only before, when the game starts there are no friends,” said Bell.

Bell was teammates with Miami’s most effective offensive weapon—running back Reggie Bush—who is coming off what was probably his best game as an NFL running back in his seven year career.  Bush carried the ball 26 times for 172 yards including two Sportscenter highlight touchdown runs in a dominating home win against the Oakland Raiders.  He averaged over six yards per carry while also catching three passes for 25 yards.  Today, Bush was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 2 of the NFL season.

“It was a collective effort,” said Miami Coach Joe Philbin of Bush’s effort on Sunday.  “The first touchdown run was more of an individual effort.  I think there were three, maybe four broken tackles on his own.  He made people missed, bounced off and finished the run.  The second one (a 65-yard run down the sideline), I don’t believe he got touched.  There was good execution at the point of attack, we had receivers blocking down field…it was just a good overall solid football play.”

“Were going to have to play good gap discipline,” said Bell of his former teammate.  “We can’t jump around blocks, we can’t let him out on the perimeter.  When you do that, he can make guys miss with ease.  He’s similar to C.J. Spiller in that he’s quick, he’s fast and he’s a home run hitter.  We need to make sure we keep him inside, don’t let him outside and swarm tackle him.”

Rex Ryan also offered his two cents of Bush, saying, “He has great speed, that’s the first thing that jumps out at you.  He’s shifty, he runs with a little bit more power than people give him credit for.  Obviously, we have to do a great job of getting a lot of guys to him and getting him on the ground, put some hot sauce on him, if you will.”

The most notable addition to the Dolphins since Bell’s departure is first-round draft choice Ryan Tannehill, the team’s present and future signal caller for years to come barring some unforeseen setback.  The rookie quarterback earned his first NFL win last Sunday.  “They are keeping it pretty simple for him,” said Bell of Tannehill.  “A lot of quick throws, a lot of easy reads, boots things like that—what you probably should do with a young QB.  But outside of all that we are going to throw him some different looks.  We have to make it difficult for him out there and if he wants to throw the ball quick, we have to make him throw over our defensive linemen and we have to be in the right position.  They found success with that [traditional two-back set] this past weekend, but they also like to open it up a little bit.  They like to do a multitude of things, keep the QB fresh and pride themselves on running the ball.”

After a sloppy defensive performance against Pittsburgh, Bell knows the Jets defense isn’t where it needs to be just yet.  “Were somewhere in the middle and that is not where we wanna be.  We obviously want to be at the top.  There are some things we have to sure up, were much better than I think we showed.  We pride ourselves on coming out and playing good defense.  We just have to get back to playing winning football.

Be sure to find the Jets perform better in two areas of concern: tackling and getting off the field on third down.  “Those are two major things, third down especially.  The first two games we haven’t played well on third down and if you want to be a good defense in the league you have to get off the field on third down.  A lot of that has to do with tackling as well, so we’ve been working on both aspects and we hope to improve drastically.”

Bell is ready to face and defeat the team who drafted him and the team that shaped his NFL career.  “It’s a good challenge for us and one we are ready for,” said Bell.  Miami players will have to remember that “When the game starts, there are no friends.”

Jets Outplayed In All Phases In Loss To Steelers

Monday, September 17th, 2012

The Jets struggled in all phases during their 27-10 defeat in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.  Mark Sanchez couldn’t orchestrate scoring drives, receivers dropped passes, the defense missed tackle after tackle and the special teams made a mistake the team couldn’t afford.

“It came down to the simple fact they out-executed us and played better in all phases, including coaching,” said Rex Ryan in his post-game press conference.

The Jets also lost the third down battle, succeeding on only 4-12 while allowing the Steelers to complete over 50% of their third down conversions.

“We couldn’t get off the field on third down and we couldn’t stay on the field on third down,” said Ryan.

After giving up a field goal in the game’s opening possession, Sanchez came out firing, marching 90 yards in eight plays on the team’s opening offensive possession, resulting in a Santonio Holmes touchdown reception.  The Steelers answered with their second field goal in as many possessions.

The Jets second drive gobbled up 61 yards in 12 plays and resulted in a Nick Folk field goal to put the Jets up 10-6.

After trading three and outs, Ben Roethlisberger constructed an 11-play, 80-yard time consuming drive that ended with Heath Miller beating David Harris in the end zone.

After returning the kickoff to the 32-yard line with two timeouts and 1:03 seconds on the clock, Ryan decided to sit on the ball and not even attempt to grab more points before the half was over.

Sparano's decision to sit on the ball before halftime raised eyebrows.

“There was discussion about it, but ultimately it was Sparano’s call,” said Sanchez of the time management at the end of the half.

The Jets received the ball to start the second half, but couldn’t muster up enough offense to cross the other side of the 50-yard line.  The wheels started to come off after Roethlisberger completed an 11-yard pass to Antonio Brown combined with a LaRon Landry horse-collar tackle that brought the Steelers into Jets territory.  Shortly after, Big Ben tossed a jump ball to Mike Wallace who came down with the ball in the end zone, beating Antonio Cromartie rather easily.

“It was a back-breaker obviously,” said Ryan.  “That was a killer play in the game.”

With 8:44 left in the third quarter, the Jets were looking for a spark.  Tim Tebow provided a small one, carrying the ball 22 yards on his first carry right through the middle of the Steelers defense.  Joe McKnight followed with a 12-yard first down run of his own, as the Jets seemingly snapped out of their funk.  But after a negative run by Shonn Greene, Sanchez re-entered on second and 16 and couldn’t sustain the drive.

“We didn’t have the couple of throws or couple of catches we needed to come up with on third down,” said Sanchez.

With the field position switched, the Jets defense came up with a well-timed third down stop and the Steelers punted from their own 13 yard line.

With the Jets looking to get back into the game, the Steelers recovered a Jeremy Kerley muffed punt, seemingly taking the wind out of the Jets’ sail.  Even though no points were scored as a direct result of the kick, field position was changed and the Jets didn’t come close to sniffing the end zone.  Last ditch efforts were thwarted by multiple dropped passes from Kerley and Holmes.

Kerley's dropped punt deflated the Jets.

“The throws weren’t there at times, the catches weren’t there at times.  We just came up short,” said Sanchez.

The defense—worn out by Roethlisberger’s third down success—became sloppy, not wrapping up and missing tackles until an Isaac Redman rushing touchdown put the game out of reach.

“Every time you play him [Roethlisberger] you appreciate the guy more and more, but it’s hard to take,” said Ryan of the Steelers signal caller.

The absence of Darrelle Revis seemed to rear its’ ugly head at the worst times.  The Jets would not use the injury as an excuse for the loss, but seeing Emmanuel Sanders and Brown catching critical third down passes again and again would not let anyone forget an important piece was missing.

“There’s no excuse.  Guys have to step up and we just couldn’t get it done,” said Ryan.  “They were without players, we were without players, that’s the way it is.  You play with who you have.  We felt comfortable and confident we were going to get it done but Pittsburgh did a lot better job at executing then we did.”

After the Jets initial success on their first offensive drive of the game, Sanchez completed 6-21 passes for 68 yards and the team ran for 87 yards.  The most telling stat was the aforementioned lack of third down success, where the Jets were successful on only two of 10 tries.

“One for seven on third down in the second half isn’t going to beat anyone,” said Sanchez.  “Us not converting on third down was a big hit today.”

Another glaring absence was rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill, who was only targeted two times and didn’t record a catch.

Stephen Hill was nowhere to be found against the Steelers.

“We just didn’t get him the ball at certain points.  Just the way the game went.  Sometimes that’s the way it happens,” said Sanchez.

Through two games the Jets offense has hit both sides of the spectrum.  After exploding against Buffalo and then struggling against Pittsburgh, it is reasonable to assume that when it’s all set it done, the offense will finish somewhere in between.  The Jets must shake off the loss quickly and regroup, because a meeting with the NFL’s best defense is looming two weeks away.

As Sanchez said, the best thing for the Jets is to, “take it on the chin and move on.”

Jerricho Cotchery Reflects on the Old and New

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.: You will be hard pressed to find any Jets fan who would talk about Jerricho Cotchery in a negative manner.  For seven seasons, the Jets wide receiver selected in the fourth-round of the 2004 draft quickly became a fan favorite, producing four seasons with over 50 receptions (including two over 80) and appearing in multiple playoff games for Gang Green.

It is hard to forget the tough yards after the catch, his success against the Patriots and him almost always being involved in the most crucial plays.  Have you ever read an article about him complaining about touches, let alone anything?

Who can forget the diving catch against the Browns in overtime, which he completed after hurting his groin?

Cotchery is in his second season as part of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jets next opponent.  Today at Jets practice during a conference call, Cotchery let us in on how his tenure with the Jets ended, how close he came to returning to the Jets and the atmospheres in New York and Pittsburgh. To put the information in order, it will be in chronological order leading up to the current season.

A painful memory for fans is the ‘What could’ve been’ feeling, after the Jets couldn’t climb back from a 24-3 halftime deficit in Pittsburgh during the 2010 playoffs.  “That was a tough loss, I thought we would’ve come out with more emotions and play with a little more sense of urgency,” said Cotchery.  “Obviously Pittsburgh came out with more energy and more passion.  That was a tough loss, it’s something you just have to live with for the rest of your life.  The guys over here give me a lot of grief about that.”

The following offseason, Cotchery was released and was apparently unhappy with some of the personnel moves the Jets decided to make.  They re-signed Santonio Holmes and brought in troubled wide receiver Plaxico Burress, fresh off his prison sentence.  Cotchery felt like the odd man out.

Cotchery as a Jet

“I mean everyone wants to finish their career out with the team that drafted them,” said Cotchery.  “But that’s something that doesn’t really happen that much, you get a few guys that it happens to—I don’t have statistics or anything—but I feel like it doesn’t happen at all.  The reality of it, I don’t think anyone really knows everything that transpired with the Jets.  Everything in there is just between us.  There isn’t anything to look back on and say I really regret anything.”

Cotchery moved on to Pittsburgh, where last year he found himself in one of the most unlikely upsets in NFL Playoff history.  The Tim Tebow led Denver Broncos eliminated the Steelers in overtime, as one of the worst perceived throwers in the league shredded a top defense for over 300 yards and two touchdowns.

“It wasn’t stunning to me, because he’s a good football player,” said Cotchery of the game.  “That’s what good football players do, they find a way to make plays and no matter how hard you critique the throwing motion or throwing accuracy or whatever it is, when the game is on the line and you continue to put the ball in a good football player’s hands, he’s going to find a way to make a play.”

As Tebow was advancing into the second round of the World’s greatest tournament, the Jets were having locker room turmoil after failing to reach the post season.  Cotchery took notice of what was going on with his former club.

“As far as personality wise, I don’t want to say that caused the problems or whatever.  I think anytime you lose a game, it’s hard to fight that urge to blame someone,” said Cotchery.  “It’s just a naturally tendency to blame someone when times get hard.  I really don’t know all that went in to it, but I just know anytime you lose your going to have that urge to want to talk.”

During this past offseason, when the Jets brought in heavy-hitter LaRon Landry, safety Yeremiah Bell and others, rumors of Cotchery signing back with the Jets were floating around.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it was close.  I did talk to the Jets but, at the end of the day, Pittsburgh really wanted me back here and this is the place I wanted to come back to.  Once you’re apart of this atmosphere, it’s hard to go somewhere else.  That’s just the type of atmosphere it is.  I wanted to come back, they really wanted me back and we found a way to get it done,” said Cotchery.

As Cotchery remained a Steeler, he is preparing for a defense that he knows well, but takes notice of one very important difference.

“We are seeing some of the same stuff with Rex, with the way he calls it, guys all over the place.  I think the presence at safety, Landry, that’s something I really haven’t seen.  He’s a physical presence, you have to find him.  He’s an excellent player and he’s making a lot of plays for the defense,” said Cotchery.

Cotchery took the high road when asked to compare atmospheres between his old and new team, but ended with the classy answer you would expect from a highly respected player.

“I just know I had a lot of great teammates over the years when I was with the Jets.  Starting from Day 1, meeting Chad Pennington and Curtis Martin, Kevin Mawae and all of those guys—all the way to guys like Brad Smith and Brandon Moore.  True leaders that you knew had your back when you stepped out onto the field,” said Cotchery.  “I have many friends and still do have many friends over there so I don’t really want to compare those guys or the atmosphere to these guys over here.  I just know it’s ran like a family business.  Everyone is held to a high standard and they put you back in line when you don’t hold up to their standards.  It’s a great family atmosphere, the guys like going to work with one another and they lay it on the line once they get out on the field.”

To all the fond memories of Jerricho Cotchery.

Jets RT Howard Dealt Tough First Assignment

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, NJ: As everyone knows, schools across the country are gearing up for another year.  We’ve all been there—adjusting to some of the easiest days the school year has to offer.  Whether it’s receiving a syllabus and pretending to listen how the semester is planned out or filling out emergency contact information, the first few days are a breeze.

DOH! Austin Howard...meet Mario Williams. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“I almost feel like school’s are starting up,” said Rex Ryan.  “Public schools start up on Thursday and all that, you kind of feel like you’re starting school.  First Wednesday of a game week, first game of the regular season, there’s so much excitement.” Go back to the first days of a college or high school semester.  Imagine expecting to be able to settle in and take it easy for a few days.  What if instead, you were handed one of the hardest assignments of the year, right off the bat. Austin Howard, a third year tackle who was awarded the starting position less than two weeks ago, was assigned to Bills’ Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams, for Week 1 of the NFL season. “Probably the only thing worse than that would be the [DeMarcus] Ware kid that’s going up against somebody tonight,” said Ryan, who didn’t sugarcoat the tough matchup. “He’s a heck of a pass rusher,” echoed Nick Mangold.  “He gets after it.  It’s going to be a challenge for us and were going to have to hold up the best we can because he’s a heck of a player.” Williams, who spent his first six years in the NFL as a Houston Texan, signed with the Bills for a six-year up to $100 million deal.  The deal included $50 million in guaranteed money and is the richest contract ever given to a a defensive player.  The 6′6″, 292-pound Williams has started in two Pro Bowls, but missed 11 games last season with a torn pectoral muscle. “Obviously he’s a tremendous player,” said Ryan when asked about his initial thoughts of the Williams signing. “Your first thought is you’re going against him, but then it’s like, ‘Hey he does get to play New England twice’. Obviously you took notice of that one.” Howard became the starter before the Jets preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, after the coaching staff decided it was time to move on from embattled tackle Wayne Hunter, who was eventually traded to the St. Louis Rams. “He has long arms, he’s quick,” said Howard of Williams, “all the things good pass rushers have, he has it.  There defensive line is the forefront of that defense.” But Howard wasn’t interested in the individual matchup, but more the offensive line as a unit to protect the quarterback. “We respect their defense a lot, but we are very confident as an offensive line,” said Howard.  “As a unit we want to play together and make sure we protect the passer and make holes for the runner.  That’s our goal and that’s what were going to try to do.” Believe it or not, Mark Sanchez started his answer the same exact way Mangold did when asked about Williams.  “He’s a heck of a pass rusher.  He really is a game changer type player,” said Sanchez.  “He’s one of those guys, playing against him in Houston, who gets his hands on the quarterback and you’re in trouble.” After praising Williams, Sanchez said encouraging words about one of his bodyguards. “It puts a lot of emphasis on Austin, and I know he will rise to the challenge and play well for us,” said Sanchez.

#77 Austin Howard in a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles

Ryan wouldn’t divulge information on what would be done to help Howard so he is not left him one on one with a premier defensive end for long stretches.  “I guess we’ll find out,” said Ryan. “You don’t want to just leave him or anybody out there by themselves down after down, but sometimes he is going to be by himself.  There’s things that you have to do against any great pass rusher to help slow him down.” Howard did not have an answer either, saying “No clue, however many times they call those plays” in response a similar question. But even with this matchup perhaps being in the Bills favor, Ryan is confident in the offensive line as a whole to get the job done.  “I think were the only one in the league that has three Pro Bowl players in it, so it’s easy for me to be confident,” said Ryan.  “They’re a tight group, they work extremely hard and I think it’s going to be an outstanding group.  They will be challenged this week.” Although Ryan mentioned the only thing being worse would be to go up against Ware, Howard has already been through that.  When asked if he has went up against anyone comparable to Williams, Howard quickly responded with, “DeMarcus Ware my rookie year.”

Jets Kumbaya at Leadership Experience

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.: As I settled in my area on the sideline to watch practice and everything looked bigger.  The spacious grounds of the practice facility, large open areas everywhere I turned.  Something felt different—less intensity, less volume, less everything.

The big name players on the Jets were missing.  Nowhere to be seen.  No Mark Sanchez, no Tim Tebow, no Nick Mangold, no Darrelle Revis…anyone who assumes a large role on this team wasn’t there

The confusion ended when Rex Ryan approached the media on the sideline and let us in on what was going on.

The leaders of the New York Jets were off on a leadership experience from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., ran by professionals at an undisclosed location.  The 19 players on the trip were told as they arrived at the team building this morning.

Jets leaders were sent on a field trip this morning upon arriving to practice.

“This Spring we did a leadership thing [with the coaches] and had a blast,” said Ryan.  “I had this planned all season—since the Spring, I wanted to get a group of our leaders on the team and have them go through a similar experience.”

“We just had such a great experience as a coaching staff, I’m hoping the players have the same type of experience we had,” continued Ryan.  “It’s just some different little exercises that you do, it was really a heck of a deal.  I’m not getting into the specifics of it but, I thought it was fantastic and thought it would be good for our players.”

No need for the injured leaders—Dustin Keller, Mike DeVito and David Harris—to feel left out, they weren’t allowed to go.

Hopefully Ryan didn’t leave anyone out who would hold a grudge against him for doing so.

Team Updates: Ryan named players in the first groups who would see snaps tomorrow night against the Philadelphia Eagles.  The most notable being rookie defensive end Quinton Coples and recently anointed starter Austin Howard.  Newly acquired lineman Jason Smith is expected to be on the field for approximately 10 snaps.

“I want to see him for 10 plays but I don’t even know if that’s a possibility,” said Ryan.  “He’s supposed to be a sharp, young man. Let’s see what he can do.”

Ryan also plans to play John Connor and Nick Bellore at the fullback spot, while lining up Terrance Ganaway at multiple positions.

An interesting nugget from Ryan’s presser was the hypothetical scenario of Mark Sanchez having an injury where here were to miss a bulk of the regular season.  Two schools of thought are Greg McElroy becoming the starting, more conventional quarterback, while leaving Tim Tebow in the same role he would have if Sanchez were on the field.  The second scenario would be Tebow receiving most of the snaps and having an expanded role.

“I think Tebow would expand his role,” said Ryan.  “I think with Tim, we feel good about what Time can do.  But you would have to go in and be confident in McElroy.”

Injury Update: Ryan said at his press conference before Wednesday’s practice that he expects Harris, Keller, Chaz Schilens, DeVito, Sione Po’uha and Jeff Cumberland to all be ready for the opener.  Keller, DeVito, Harris, Ellis Lankster and Ricky Sapp were in the rehab group at today’s practice.

Eric Smith is the biggest question mark heading into Week 1, it doesn’t sound as if he will be ready.

Ryan noted DeVito wouldn’t play Thursday if it were a regular season game but will have enough time to recover for their game against the Buffalo Bills.

Sapp will not play tomorrow still bothered by a high ankle sprain.

Wayne Hunter for Jason Smith Trade: “I think it’s going to be good for both teams,” said Ryan.  “With Wayne being familiar with Shotty’s system, I’m sure that’s going to help Wayne when he goes there.  I think he needed a fresh start and I think the same can be said for Jason.  Sometimes when you’re that high of a pick automatically they assume you’re Orlando Pace.  Orlando Pace is a Hall of Fame Tackle.”

Ryan continued, “Certainly Jason has the athleticism that you look for.  Were going to put him in a similar role we had pegged for Wayne.  Ryan re-emphasized the largest upgrade between the two is plainly, athleticism.


PANTHERS 17 – JETS 12

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ: Things were looking up.  Fans almost let out that sigh of relief.

With 6:47 left in the first half—and the looming stat of being the only team in the NFL not to have scored a touchdown this preseason—rookie Quinton Coples stripped a stumbling Cam Newton, leading to Mark Sanchez and the offense taking over at the Panthers 12-yard line.

Looking to finally reach pay dirt, the Jets ran three plays inside the Panthers 10 yard line resulting in five yards.  After a Folk field goal and a three and out forced by the defense, Sanchez looked to extend their six point lead with good field position at their own 38-yard line.

Then the team who doesn’t have enough firepower to make mistakes, simply, made mistakes.

One positive note was the play of new starting RT Austin Howard who had a great game replacing Wayne Hunter. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Sanchez fired an accurate, deep pass to Santonio Holmes down the left side line, hitting Holmes in the chest before finding the ball rolling around on the turf for an incomplete pass.  “I think he just put the ball out there a little early,” said Holmes.  “Timing was perfect, but the ball just came out super fast and I didn’t have a chance to get my head turned around.”

The next play, rookie Stephen Hill watched a ball tip off his hands into Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

“We had some drops that really hurt us,” said Ryan.

The 9-3 Jets lead quickly turned into a 10-9 halftime deficit.  High spirits turned into a sour taste.

“We found a way to shoot ourselves in the foot,” said Rex Ryan.  “We do have to do a better job of getting in the end zone,” said Holmes.  “We got to finish,” said Shonn Greene.

To open the game, Cam Newton drove the Panthers down to the red zone, but were stopped before reaching the end zone.  The Jets defense gave up 65 yards, but recorded a forced fumble (Cromartie) and more importantly, a coverage sack on second down to force the Panthers in a third and long situation when the Panthers were threatening for a touchdown.

The Jets offense burst out of the gate, with Sanchez firing consecutive 20-yard completions on their first two plays from scrimmage to Dustin Keller and Patrick Turner.  But after a short run and a screen play that went for negative yards, the Jets were left to settle for three, with a 46-yard field goal by Nick Folk.

Both teams failed to put anything significant together after scoring on their first possession.  After a short, five-play drive by the Panthers, the Jets showed their willingness to at least attempt a big play, as Sanchez missed a streaking Holmes for a long incomplete pass.

Newton and the Panthers seemed to be on their way to another trip to the red zone after two first downs, but a tipped ball by Kenrick Ellis and a pass breakup by Cromartie would get Jets the ball back.

The Jets longest, most diverse drive of the game began at their own 12-yard line.  After two first downs from a defensive holding on Hill and a Sanchez scramble up the middle, Greene had two straight carries for 14 yards to add to the first down tally.  Sanchez then hooked up with Holmes for eight yards on third down to keep the chains moving.

“All is well when you move the chains,” said Holmes.

Greene’s ability to run the ball allowed Sanchez to find a wide-open Hill for a 32-yard pass off play action.  Greene 10-yard run, Holmes eight-yard catch and a Hill 32-yard catch in a five-play span—positive signs for the Jets offense.

And that brings us back to the top of the story.

A what-could’ve-been complete first half of offense turned into a head-scratching realization.  Ball security is this year’s most important offensive aspect.

With the defense looking in mid-season form, there is an actual pressure on the Jets offense to not lose the team the game.

The defense gives up chunks of yards at times, but have shown the ability to bear down on their side of the 50 when push comes to shove.  The Panthers had a 13-play drive for 65 yards that was worth three points in the first quarter and a nine-play, 34-yard drive which resulted with a punt in the second quarter.

“Overall I thought the defense was playing well,” said Ryan.  “What we have to do better is getting off the field on third down.  You play to your strength, you just don’t let them in the end zone and you’ll win the game.”

The offense demonstrated they are capable of double digit, time consuming drives with their 12-play, 72-yard trip in the second quarter that lasted over six minutes resulting in three points.

“We had a couple of nice drives, couple of 10, 12-play drives,” said Ryan.

The Jets will play in games with a smaller number of possessions and points will come at a premium.  Be prepared for a season that could go either way, with more close games than anyone will be comfortable with.

Injuries:

The Jets saw injuries to two significant players on Sunday night. Tight end Dustin Keller left the game with a hamstring injury early in the game and linebacker David Harris sprained his ankle.  Harris’ injury was thought to be greater, but X-rays were negative.

Josh Baker received a more serious knee injury on a pass breakup thrown by Sanchez in the second quarter.  “That’s going to be more serious of an injury,” said Ryan, “It didn’t look good, that’s for sure.”

Quick hits:

Newly appointed starter Austin Howard’s name was not mentioned often on Sunday night, which is good news.  Howard was not going against a top of the line starter and had some help, but for the most part all signs were positive.

LaRon Landry intercepted a pass thrown by Panthers backup Derek Anderson in the third quarter.

Josh Brown missed a 45-yard field goal in the third quarter.  All indications are Folk has won the kicking competition.

Tim Tebow threw an interception, but also had the crowd cheering the loudest when he scrambled his way for a 20-yard gain.  He also had an opportunity to win the game on the final drive but fell short.

Opportunities Thrown Jordan White’s Way

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.: Everyone knows Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens have missed plenty of practice time due to injuries during the preseason.

Although today Rex Ryan said Holmes and Kerley are progressing and are “maybes” to play against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, (Schilens has been ruled out, ankle) the injuries to the wide receivers have allowed rookie Jordan White to see more snaps that anticipated.

“Even if I weren’t getting the snaps, I would be taking the mental reps,” said White.  “I obviously have to take advantage of the snaps, every opportunity I get out there whether it be in practice or in the game.”  But it is not enough for White to just be ‘good’ when on the field.

“The biggest thing I’ve taken away from it is just having to be perfect,” said White.  “In college, there would be some times where you may not run that perfect depth or you might be a yard or two short and it might not be a big deal, but here you can’t get away with anything as far as running routes.  They don’t work at this level.”

White understands getting better at the wide receiver position involves every step taken on a field.  “Fine tuning my craft every play is something that I’m continuing to work on and something I have to work on still.”

He didn’t shy away from demonstrating that he understands the game of football.  White described himself with having a “good football mind.”

“I know what’s coming to me, I know the plays, I know the formations, I know everything going on.  I just have to apply it and actually go out there and do it,” said White.

White led the team in receptions and receiving yards (3, 28) in Saturday’s preseason game against the New York Giants.

“It definitely felt good, but there’s even some more plays where I could’ve done better,” said White.  “Maybe one or two plays I could’ve been on the same page as Mark [Sanchez] on a few of my routes, but for the most part it was positive.”

Expect White to see snaps with the first team offense on Sunday.

Other wide receiver notes:

Holmes played in team drills with a red no-contact jersey today, and as mentioned before, was called a “maybe” by Ryan for Sunday’s game.

Kerley grabbed a few nice passes in team drills today, looking healthy in and out of cuts after a hamstring injury that had sidelined him for most of the preseason.  “It felt great to take reps and kind of get the timing back with Mark,” said Kerley on today’s practice.  Still, Kerley mentioned that Sunday, “Will be a game-time decision, I don’t want over-do it and set myself back.”

Patrick Turner left the practice field, but it wasn’t serious.  A player apparently rolled over his foot on a special teams play, but he left the locker room without any tape or support.  Turner said it will be day-to-day.

The Bright Spot On a Dark Night

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

MetLife Stadium: Think positive won’t you?

Forget Mark Sanchez interception returned for a touchdown.  Make believe Wayne Hunter isn’t the Jets right tackle.  Stop talking about how Tim Tebow led the team to three points against the Giants second team defense.

The usually radiant Rex Ryan was dreary at the podium tonight, saying, “You can say there were some positive things and all that, it’s kind of hard to really find too many, but there was.”

Although Ryan was down on the team’s performance, the defense held their own under the lights at MetLife Stadium.

“The defense is playing great, lights out, the whole defense is on,” said Ryan.

The Jets defense came out and stopped the reigning Super Bowl champions for three straight plays, but a Joe McKnight roughing the kicker penalty revived the drive.  The defense looked vulnerable in the passing game, giving up three catches to Victor Cruz for 48 yards, but stopped the bleeding and only allowed a field goal.

The Giants began their second drive at their own 49 after a quick three and out.  With a short field, the Giants again utilized Cruz (two catches for 17 yards) and marched to the red zone.  The Jets defense persevered again, stopping two consecutive run plays and breaking up a pass.  Another field goal stretched the lead to six.

Then the highlights began.

The Giants next drive lasted one play as LaRon Landry caught an errand throw by Eli Manning.  Landry returned the ball 21 yards before being brought down.

“That was a positive,” said Ryan when asked about Landry’s performance.  “So hey, there’s one.  You know what I was most impressed with, not the interception or a couple of big hits, it was the fact that he was dialing in on our defense.  He’s starting to pick it up, you’re not worried about him mentally handling it.”

“Without question he is an impact player,” Ryan concluded.

During training camp, a lot of attention was directed towards the positive play of linebacker Aaron Maybin.  He didn’t disappoint, partially blocking a punt on the next Giants drive after a three and out.

The defense stopped five of seven third down conversions (71%) and gave up 81 yards in 29 plays (2.8 yds/play) in the first half.  The run defense was most impressive, allowing 19 yds on 15 rushes (1.3 yds/play).

JetsInsider Photo

As negativity surrounds the team with a poor showing against the Giants, it is encouraging to see the defense play near regular season form.  Is it especially encouraging to see Bart Scott in the thick of most of the action, recording four solo tackles and getting a hit on Manning.

With that said, there is still work to be done.

Cruz had a great day catching balls over the middle at all depths—short, intermediate and long.  Cruz and Manning hooked up five times for 51 yards as the secondary couldn’t hold him in check.

Another area with room for improvement is the defensive line, which generated little pressure.

This defense may have may have to carry the team on it’s back en route to a playoff appearance.  As of now, they look ready to handle the weight.

Shonn Greene First Half Workhorse for Jets

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

MetLife Stadium: The Jets had six drives in the first half against the Giants at MetLife Stadium Saturday night.  After 27 plays, only 83 yards were gained and four first downs were earned.

Shonn Greene was the workhorse, touching the ball just under 50% of the plays (13-27).  His first half was highlighted with a three-play stretch where he rushed for 10 yards and caught one ball for nine yards.

Greene found most of his success rushing between the tackles, rushing 10 times for 40 yards averaging a very obvious four yards per rush.  Greene only had one outside run, a toss play where he lost four yards.

Greene was also tied for the team led in receptions with two (Dustin Keller and Jordan White).

Greene also had a moment on the field where he was visibly upset after the Jets failed to gain a yard on two carries for a turnover on downs in the second quarter.