Archive for September, 2012

49ERS 34 – JETS 0

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Sloppy, banged up Jets are no match for NFC elite Niners. Team is embarrassed at home.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Jets lined up against the 49er’s in MetLife Stadium and played in one of the worst performances in their franchise’s history.

To make matters worse, the Jets—who have already lost their defensive star Darrelle Revis for the season—lost their offensive star, Santonio Holmes with a non-contact foot injury after making a sliding catch in the 4th quarter.

“I was going to say we got our butt kicked, but we got our ass kicked,” Rex Ryan said after the game.  “Here’s the recipe for getting your ass kicked: Two for 13 on third down, that’s 15 percent, four turnovers, a blocked punt when they rushed one guy and giving up 245 yards rushing.  How’s that for a recipe?”

Players shared the same frustration their coach showed in the locker room.  “Everybody should be pissed the way we just got our ass whooped at home,” said Antonio Cromartie.

Even another dismal game by QB Mark Sanchez, Coach Rex Ryan says he's standing by his man. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“The biggest thing is everyone has to do their job, but do it better,” said Yeremiah Bell.  “You know what it is, you’re telling me.  It’s tackling, it’s third down.  We know what to do but it’s on each individual guy to go out there and get it done.  We know where we are hurting at, that’s not the thing.  It’s just executing.  It’s becoming a real problem and something we have to take care of right now.”

Chaz Schilens, who was the Jets most effective offensive weapon, said it’s just a case of needing to be better.  “Honestly, when we were out there we executed on drives and then they went horribly wrong,” said Schilens.  “We get back out there and start to drive and it would go wrong.  It seemed like we executed to a point then shot ourselves in the foot.  If we would’ve done what we were supposed to do it wouldn’t have been that score, at all.”

LaRon Landry showed the same frustration saying, “I hate losing.  Any competitor would hate losing.  I wish I had pads on and I wish I could start over, but you can’t do that.   Any loss is a tough loss, even more so when you’re at home in front of your fans.

Mark Sanchez finished the game 13/29 for 103 yards, throwing one interception, losing a fumble and finished with a 39.9 quarterback rating.  “It’s upsetting, frustrating.  This is not the way we imagined this way going and just left too many opportunities out on the field,” said Sanchez.  “It just wasn’t our best.”

The Jets traded punts in the first half until 49er’s backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed for a seven yard touchdown out of a Wildcat formation.  When asked if the 49er’s caught the Jets by surprise Kaepernick said, “Maybe a little bit.  We’ve never shown it before, but you still have to play defense.”

(Colin Kaepernick called running on the Jets “easy.”  If this doesn’t put them on notice, nothing will).

The Jets had two possessions in the first half with good field position but couldn’t capitalize.  They went three and out starting at their own 45-yard line and Sanchez was strip sacked on a drive that started on the 49er’s 47-yard line.  “It was a huge mistake on my part,” said Sanchez.  “I know we were in field goal range, that’s why it looked cloudy with my read.  Guys weren’t open so I took off to gain a couple of extra yards to make an easier field goal and I let go off the football.”

A David Akers field goal put the 49er’s ahead 10-0 at halftime, where the wheels fell off for the Jets.

The Jets started the second half gaining 25 yards in three plays, but a Sanchez screen pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted.  “You invite the rush and throw it right over them.  He made a pretty good play they always try and tip it and usually that ball goes right through.  That sucked that was tough,” said Sanchez.

After two more Jets three and outs and defending a short field, the Jets defense finally caved allowing a 48-yard touchdown drive capped off by a fourth and one touchdown run by Frank Gore.

The next Jets drive dragged into the fourth quarter, where Holmes caught a four-yard pass and let go off the football while grabbing his leg due to injury.  Carlos Rogers picked the loose ball off the floor and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown while the Jets watched another one of their playmakers lay in the ground in pain.  A punch to the gut to this Jets team.  “He fell down and I was just going to tag him down,” said Rogers.  “Next thing you know, the ball popped out and I just tried to scoop it.  I guess I surprised myself because it took me two or three times to scoop the ball.  Once I got it, there was a parade of defenders there and I just took it in.”

The Jets special teams added the final straw, as Robert Malone’s punt was blocked which soon led to a Kendall Hunter rushing touchdown to create the 34-0 final score.

Sanchez’s job security is safe, as both him and Ryan both shot down the notion that his job is in jeopardy.

If any positive encouragement is needed, look no further than Tim Tebow (who threw and completed his first pass with the Jets) to wrap up this game recap.

“It could be one of the best things to happen to us all season, you know?  When you have defeats like this, were you get beat up and beaten in every phase, it’s something you can rally behind and motivate you.  Different teams that I’ve been on have had losses like this and I feel we have rallied back because you don’t want to feel like this again.  It kind of puts you on edge a little bit.  When you’re in meetings you’re a little more focused, on the practice field you’re going a little bit harder, you go in the weight room and you’re lifting a little bit more.  I think it could be the best thing that happens to us all year.”

Thank you Tim, everyone needed some encouraging words.

Time for Jets Draft Choices to Shine

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

The NFL Draft is an interesting time of year for every team.  Whether players are drafted for immediate impact or are drafted on potential, the time it takes for a drafted player to have an every game impact varies.

But first, a quick laundry list of impacted areas as a result of the Darrelle Revis injury: Corners guarding better receivers than they are used to (Cromartie guarding No. 1’s, Kyle Wilson guarding No. 2’s), safeties having to pay attention to the side of the field Revis would normally be, defensive linemen having to put more pressure on quarterbacks who can now throw sideline to sideline without fear, getting the defense off the field on third down, the offense having to be more efficient with longer drives to keep defense fresh, offense being ready win a shootout against certain teams, Rex Ryan’s defensive schemes, and I am sure there are plenty more points to add to this list.

Many parts of this New York Jets team will be magnified from here on.  A lot will be learned about the quality of personnel on this football team.  In an odd comparison, Revis was a giant makeup kit.  The team will be ‘au naturel’ the rest of the way.

Which brings us back to the drafts since Ryan has been Head Coach (post Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene—2010 and forward).  The effectiveness of Jets’ management and their personnel decisions thus far will be dissected like the frog in your high school science class.  It is not all about when everything is at their best, but how effective plans B, C and D are when something goes wrong (ala 2008 Patriots with Matt Cassel).

Every draft choice may vary in terms of development time, but these Jets draft picks need to have a major impact for the team right now.

Where the light shines brightest: Kyle Wilson—First Round, 29th Overall in 2010.

Sometimes the obvious has to be stated.  Wilson will play as the No. 2 cornerback behind Antonio Cromartie who fills the void at No. 1 left by Revis.  Wilson had an interception in the opener against Buffalo, but hasn’t created much noise since then.  “I just feel like I’m going to go out there and I’m going to continue to do my job,” said Wilson.  “Each year has gotten slower and I think that’s because of knowing what to look for and just having that experience. There’s nothing like being out there on the field.”

First it was Austin Howard, now Kyle Wilson must thrive in the 'next man up' role for the Jets.

Wilson will see Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham this coming Sunday and plenty of Kevin Walter when the Jets face the Houston Texans.  Without judging too early, the date to circle is October 21st when the Jets go to New England.  Let Wilson get acclimated to his role before deciding if he is good enough for the Jets to move forward with him in that position.  A re-evaluation after the Patriots game seems appropriate.

Spotlight No. 2: Bilal Powell—Fourth Round, 126th Overall in 2011.

Heading into this season, talks of ‘ground and pound’ smothered Jets camp as new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano made us feel like Thomas Jones and Tony Richardson were going to be in the backfield.  Through three weeks, the Jets’ running game has been one of the more disappointing—or misleading—part of the season.

After carrying the ball 27 times for 94 yards in the opener, Greene has had 30 carries for 63 yards combined in the past two games (under three YPC for the season thus far).  His three and four yards of plodding leaves fans and coaches wanting more from that position.  But the game against the Miami Dolphins showed us all a little more Powell then we expected to see by the third week of the season.

Powell rushed 10 times for 45 yards (4.5 YPC) and caught two passes for 24 yards.  Yes, he had a dropped pass or two that caused some head-scratching, but realizing the upgrade in speed was easy.  The lack of success from McKnight makes Powell being placed as the second RB an easy decision.  Don’t be surprised to see more of a 50/50 split between Greene and Powell in the coming weeks, and perhaps further down the road, closer to 60/40 in favor of Powell.

Twin Spotlight No. 3 and No. 4: Muhammed Wilkerson—First Round, 30th Overall in 2011.  Quinton Coples—First Round, 16th Overall in 2012.

It’s no secret that the Jets have not had success rushing the passer this season, with or without blitzing.  Wilkerson is coming off his best game of the season against Miami, recording nine tackles with six of them being solo.  But even so, Wilkerson has only one tackle for loss this season and has only five tackles in the previous two games combined.  Putting pressure on the quarterback in a 3-4 scheme is tough without blitzing and Ryan mentioned today that the defense plans to be more aggressive without Revis, but the porous run defense has been alarming. The sack numbers are not there for the defense as a whole, but the individual tackle for loss numbers tell the same story—the defensive linemen aren’t beating their men.  Another deflating quality that we saw against Pittsburgh is that when the Jets have been getting pressure, they haven’t been bringing down their opponent.  The defensive tackling as a whole has been an issue.

Rookie defensive end Quinton Coples must start making an impact for the Jets.

The same goes for Coples.  Coples has been almost silent this season, recording only four tackles in three games.  He had a strong preseason, but as we know with the well-documented offensive preseason struggles resulting in a 45-point outburst against Buffalo, the preseason really doesn’t matter.  It is too the point where you sometimes forget Coples is even on the field at times. Ryan hasn’t played Coples against some of the bigger offensive lines because of his size and if that’s the case, finding positions where Coples can be successful on the field will be a challenge that Ryan has to answer.

It doesn’t seem as if the Jets will ease Wilson into his role.  As mentioned before, Ryan mentioned the coaches might have to be more aggressive with their calls to create pressure with Revis out.  Sounds like Wilson will not babied into his role.  He won’t be on an island, but if more blitzes are being called he won’t have a ton of help.

Wildcard: Joe McKnight—Fourth Round, 112th Overall in 2010.

The news out of Jets practice today was that the former running back will be concentrating on his defensive efforts from this point forward.  McKnight wore the defensive green jersey today in his first practice doing defensive drills with the defensive back group.

“We’ll do that this week with Joe McKnight,” Ryan said on him playing corner.  “He’ll have a role on offense, but we’re also teaching him how to play corner.  Not quite a full-time capacity, but he’s going to be over there a ton in the meetings and everything else.”

“He has the necessary skills to be able to play corner.  He’s got the speed, the size, the athleticism, the ball skills.  Everything you look for in a corner.  So, I don’t think there’s any reason not to think that Joe McKnight couldn’t be a corner.”

McKnight weighed in on the situation that unfolded today.  “Yeah, I was surprised, but it was a decision to make the team better.  I’m all for it.”  McKnight continued, “I have the athleticism, I just have to work on my technique.  There’s a lot of athleticism in the cornerbacks in this league, you have to have the technique take over.”

“This is how I found out, Rex walked into the room and said I was traded, I got traded to the defense.  Ever since then, I’ve just been working on the defense.  I’m not doing a lot of stuff, just keeping it small and really simple for me, so I can go out there and just play.  I just want to play, I’m tired of watching from the sideline.”

Antonio Cromartie chimed in on his secondary teammate, saying, “Right now we are just trying to make sure he knows the basic stuff of our defense.  It seems, the way he plays corner, it comes to him naturally.”

Get used to seeing Joe McKnight on the defensive side of the ball.

Ryan continued, saying “It’s just going to take time, obviously, but I think with Dennis Thurman and Jimmy O’Neil over there, I think we got great teachers of the game.  It’ll be interesting.  I would not bet against Joe McKnight becoming a good corner.”

To what capacity McKnight will be used has not been said, but if any play-making ability comes out of this experiment, what else could you really ask for?  The McKnight experiment is not there to replace Revis, but to close the gap on his absence.  If a McKnight play in the secondary, special teams or offense can swing a game in the Jets favor, it may wind up being the spark that propels the Jets into a playoff spot.  Do not expect McKnight to have an immediate defensive impact.

A true grade of the job management has done evaluating talent will reveal itself throughout this 2012 season.

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.”