Archive for August, 2012

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.

Sanchez praised, but Jets Offense Continues to Sputter

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

The Jets offense stumbled out the gates Friday night against the Bengals, recording -3 yards in three plays on the first drive and 38 yards in 11 plays on their second, both resulting in zero points.  Mark Sanchez threw for 21 yards on four of six passing and was sacked twice.

Tim Tebow had success scrambling for yards, but completed four of eight passes with an interception.  Granted the play calling was as vanilla as it gets, the quarterback sacks (McElroy was sacked three times) and turnovers may be a hindering, ongoing problem for this year’s offense.

The struggles continued on Wednesday.

Mark Sanchez

Sanchez had his first multiple-interception day at practice today and would’ve been sacked three times.  Tebow was also intercepted and sacked one time during team drills.

The question marks are beginning to pile up.

Along with the offensive line issues, wide receivers Santonio Holmes (ruled out for Saturday against Giants), Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens didn’t practice today due to various injuries.  Sanchez has had little time with the complete offense in top gear.  Learning a new system is complicated enough and with multiple pieces flip flopping in and out of the lineup, will there be enough time for this offense to gel?

On a positive note, the tune of the week has been how Sanchez is carrying himself on and off the field.

On Tuesday, former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington visited Cortland, N.Y., and had nothing but praise when it came to how Sanchez looked on the field.  “Mark is throwing the ball better than I’ve ever seen,” said Pennington.  “He’s got excellent control with his throws and his ball placement.  He’s definitely gotten better over the offseason and made a point to bring it up to the next level.  Kudos to him because that’s a decision you have to make as a pro, to listen to the criticism and do something about it.”

Cornerback Darrelle Revis reiterated those thoughts today saying, “I think the best thing that he’s been doing is the placement of his balls on deep throws.  He’s throwing them away from the defenders.  He’s putting the ball where it needs to be.”

Linebacker Bart Scott added comments on Sanchez’s new demeanor.  “I think everybody has seen a difference in how he walks, how he handles it if he throws a bad ball, how he carries himself.  Mark’s always been a guy that you can see his emotions and how he’s feeling about himself by his facial expressions,” said Scott.  “I think now he carries himself upright and he sticks that chest out like a peacock and I think that really shows confidence to him, but it also helps and inspires his players because they respond (to him) because he’s their leader, and they’re are going to go as he goes.”

Which do you put more stock in, Wednesday’s positives or Wednesday’s negatives?

Jets v. Bengals Preseason Preview

Friday, August 10th, 2012

The Jets finally get to mix it up with players other than their own tomorrow night in Cincinnati.  Seeing the Bengals should bring positive memories, as the Jets posted back-to-back wins at the end of the 2009 season that allowed a run to the AFC Championship game.  The Jets also won their last regular season meeting against the Bengals in 2010, 26-10.

But after a disappointing 2011 season, the Jets have waited a long time to get back on the football field.

There is no reason to over-analyze a Week 1 preseason game, but live action against another team will shed some light on what is to come in 2012.  There are three groups of players to focus on Friday night.

1. Offensive Line

On Wednesday, the Jets rewarded Matt Slauson with the starting Left Guard position to finalize the offensive line starters.  D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Slauson, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore and Wayne Hunter (from left to right) is the group.  The Bengals finished their 2011 season ranked 7th best in total defense and 5th in sacks.  Friday night is a tough early test for an offensive line that had its shares of problems last season.

All eyes on: Slauson, Hunter

To no one’s surprise, Slauson and Hunter are the largest question marks of the offensive line group.

The Jets showed their lack of confidence in Hunter by trying to trade for Panthers Tackle Jeff Otah, but a failed physical sent Otah back to Carolina and gift wrapped Hunter a starting spot.  Hunter took plenty of heat at the end of the 2011 season for being the weak link of the offensive line.  Many people didn’t expect Hunter to have a starting role this season, but his chance at redemption starts Friday night.

Slauson won the competition against Vladimir Ducasse for a starting Left Guard spot.  Slauson has started every game for the past two seasons and didn’t miss one snap in 2011 (other player to do this was Ferguson).  Even so, he is not as highly regarded in comparison to Mangold and Ferguson.  Slauson had multiple surgeries this offseason but has not showed any lingering effects.

2. Wide Receivers

“Probably doubtful,” was the quote Rex Ryan used when asked if Santonio Holmes will be available Friday night.  Jeremy Kerley has been nursing a hamstring injury and has missed the majority of training camp.  With Holmes and Kerley both out, rookie Wide Receiver Stephen Hill gets the nod to be Mark Sanchez’s primary target.  Chaz Schilens, Patrick Turner, Dexter Jackson and undrafted free agent Royce Pollard will be other names rotating spots.

All eyes on: Schilens, Turner, Jackson

With Holmes being the primary target when healthy and Hill assuming the other starting spot, the Jets will have to find out what talent they have when they reach deeper in the depth chart.  Schilens has impressed early in camp and will fit well when Hill needs a breather.  Turner is another big target (6′5″, 220 lbs) on the outside who will see plenty of snaps against the Bengals.

Jackson will man the slot position while Holmes and Kerley sit out.  This preseason might be his highest exposure point, as Ryan mentioned Holmes will be moving around from the outside to slot position depending on the package.  Jackson has a chance to impress coaches with the extra snaps he will see due to other players being injured.

Lastly, keep an eye out for Antonio Cromartie on the offensive side.

3. Safeties

How Ryan uses the trio of LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith will be interesting.  All three players plan on seeing significant minutes depending on packages and situations.  It will be interesting to see Ryan find the right combinations between the three.  There will most likely be moments where the safety groups looks out of sync, but let Ryan have some time figuring out the formula before the panic button is pressed.

All eyes on: Landry

Landry only played in 8 games in 2011 was still rehabbing his Achilles injury in the beginning of camp.  Ryan says he expects Landry to play in the opener, so watching Landry get through a game pain-free will be a huge plus for the Jets defense.

All in all, it will be hard to judge the offense since it is not at full strength.  It would’ve been interesting to see what packages Tony Sparano has for this offense, with talks of Holmes bouncing around from outside to slot, but that will have to wait.  As long as the Jets don’t look absolutely awful, look forward for this team taking the field again.