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Jets Waive Aaron Maybin; Sign RB Kahlil Bell

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The mayhem has come to an end for the New York Jets. For now at least.

The Jets announced they have waived linebacker Aaron Maybin on Tuesday amid a three-game losing streak. Dubbed at the start of the season as their top pass-rushing threat, Maybin failed to produce a sack in eight games in 2012.

He earned that label coming into this season after reviving his career with the Jets — providing a team-high six sacks and four forced fumbles in thirteen games in Green and White. A former 11th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft from Penn State, Maybin was cut from the Buffalo Bills before initially joining the Jets on August 17, 2011.

Aaron Maybin won't be creating any "mayhem" for the Jets. The team waived him on Tuesday and signed RB Kahlil Bell.

His performance in 2011 earned a pay raise from the Jets to the tune of one-year, $1.015 million contract with a $325,000 signing bonus and a $75,000 roster bonus.

His one tackle in 119 defensive snaps this season is a bit misleading as he ranks fourth on the team with nine quarterback hits. The team chose to go in the direction of Maybin’s training camp roommate, Ricky Sapp, for their designated speed rusher. Sapp was activated to his first NFL game for last week’s 28-7 loss in Seattle in favor of Maybin, who was made inactive.

By being waived, and not cut or released, the possibility of Maybin returning for a cheaper price once clearing waivers is there.

The move makes room for running back Kahlil Bell, who was signed from the Chicago Bears Tuesday after working out for the Jets as NFL Network’s Jason La Confora reported. Bell, a fourth year back from UCLA, has played in two games this year gaining 33 total yards. La Confora also reported that Steve Slaton was also being worked out at the team’s Florham Park facilities. Slaton has spent time with offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s schemes when the two were together in Miami.

Bell offers insurance to a depleted Jets backfield that features beat-up back-ups Bilal Powell (concussion) and Joe McKnight (high-ankle sprain). Bell could see playing time in Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

EXTRAS: Jets have placed DB Isaiah Trufant on injured reserve with a left knee injury Tuesday. Trufant injured his knee on the first play of Sunday’s loss against the Seahawks.

He was originally signed to the Jets practice squad (12/08/10) before joining the club’s active roster (12/30/10). He has seen action in 23 regular season games, mostly on special teams, racking up 21 special teams tackles.  In his only start as a Jet (vs. NE, 10/21/12), Trufant collected six tackles, including two for a loss.

PREVIEW: NY JETS (3-5) @ SEAHAWKS (5-4)

Friday, November 9th, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Think Rex Ryan and company spent the last two weeks sleepless over Seattle? The Jets are hoping to be Jet-lagged free on Sunday where a time zone cautious coaching staff is focusing on east coast time management on their furthest trip west on the season.

“I think by staying on the east coast time, even though you’re out there west, I think that helps [the change in time zone].  It hasn’t been that big of an issue in the past. In fact, it’s been a good thing. I know we played poorly when we went to Oakland one time, but other than that, I thought we’ve been pretty successful going out there,” Ryan said Thursday.

The Jets are 3-2 including the playoffs against west coast teams on the road since 2009.

Despite Antonio Cromartie confidently stating that his 3-5 team will definitely make the playoffs on NFL Network Thursday, the Jets have a long road ahead that starts against a Seahawks team that is undefeated at home in one of the toughest places to play in the league.

Coming off their bye week the Jets are looking to end a two-game losing skid that saw their perfect 2-0 divisional record even out at .500 following losses to New England and Miami. The bye week is usually reserved for a self-evaluation period and with theirs coming smack in the middle of the season mistakes are still correctable.

“There are some things that you see about yourself. Again, some of the things, it’s really disappointing. We’re turning the ball over. We’re fumbling the ball away. The red zone turnovers have really been costly, obviously, because you’re taking points off of your board and, in some cases, putting them on the other team’s board. On defense, things are really not to our standards with our red zone defense and our third-down defense.  Our run defense is not where we want it to be. It’s improving, but it’s not where we want it to be. Those are areas that (we have to improve in) and on special teams, where we normally lay our hat that hey this is how we build our football team, (we need to improve). We have to get back to who we say we are,” Ryan said on Monday.

A silver-lining amid the growing list of Ryan’s disappointments are the recent improvement on run defense an offense. According to Ryan, over the last 100 attempts his defense is allowing 3.1 yards per carry and the offense is gaining 4.3 yards.

The silver-lining for Mark Sanchez may be growing thinner by the week as he continues his sporadic play that has followed him through the first three years of his career. After two strong performances against Indianapolis and New England, Sanchez laid a goose egg at home against Miami — perhaps proving former coach Pete Carroll’s doubts as Sanchez left USC early for NFL fame and fortune.

“I felt it was the right decision no matter what, no matter what anybody said.  When you make a decision like that, there’s no turning back. I think the most important thing I heard during that process is I have to live it out to be the right decision for me, no matter what. He wasn’t the only one saying don’t go. There were plenty of people, my parents included,” Sanchez said on Wednesday.

Currently ranked 10th in the AFC playoff picture, the Jets need to continue to tune out the naysayers to right the ship against the Seahawks on Sunday.

WHEN: Sunday, November 11, 2012 @ 4:05 pm EST (Can be seen on CBS or heard on ESPN Radio).

WHERE: Seattle, WA / CenturyLink Field (capacity: 67,000).

SERIES HISTORY: 18th meeting / Seahawks lead all-time 9-8-0.

LAST MEETING: Seahawks, 13, Jets, 3, CenturyLink Field (12/21/08).

NOTABLE: New York has won eight of the last 10 contests against Seattle.

HEAD COACHES:

  • JETS — Rex Ryan / Fourth Season with Jets / 35-27 (including postseason).
  • SEAHAWKS — Pete Carroll / Third Season with Seahawks / 20-23 with Seattle & 54-56 overall as an NFL head coach (including postseason).

Is Tim Tebow Week 10's X-Factor in the Jets Insider's Preview article? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

INJURY REPORT:

  • JETS — OUT – Kenrick Ellis, Joe McKnight. QUESTIONABLE – Bart Scott, Brandon Moore, Nick Mangold, Eric Smith,Bilal Powell, Sione Po’uha. PROBABLE – Mark Sanchez, Matt Slauson, Calvin Pace, Mike DeVito, Clyde Gates, Damon Harrison, Jeff Cumberland, Jeremy Kerley,LaRon Landry.
  • SEAHAWKS — OUT – James Carpenter, K.J. Wright. DOUBTFUL – Greg Scruggs. QUESTIONABLE – Clinton McDonald. PROBABLE – Doug Baldwin, Red Bryant, Kam Chancellor, Braylon Edwards, Jason Jones, Marshawn Lynch, John Moffitt, Richard Sherman, Max Unger.

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Jets WRs vs. Aggressive Seahawks’ CBs — Listed at 6′3″ and 6′4″, respectively, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner play a very physical man cover scheme and love to jam receivers at the line. A lanky Stephen Hill has proven to have a tough time handling man press coverage. The 5′9″ Jeremy Kerley has been explosive at times, but against bigger defensive backs will he have as much success as recent history has shown?
  • Muhammad Wilkerson vs. Russell Wilson — The Jets top edge setter will have his hands full on Sunday containing the Seahawks rookie QB to stay in the pocket. The 5′11″ Wilson has made his mark by passing outside the pocket on designed rollouts, bootlegs and play-action passes. Wilkerson is leading the team in eight tackles for loss — putting him on track to break Bart Scott’s team-best 18.5 tackles for loss in 2010.
  • Ex-Jets vs. Former Team — Leon Washington and Braylon Edwards will be sporting chips on their shoulders as they welcome their former team to their new home. Washington is itching to return a kick against the team that didn’t want to pay him while Edwards hopes to remind nostalgic Jets fan of his 2010 success with Sanchez. In what might be a tough game for Jets fans, watching the mini-matchups may be the most fun they have all Sunday evening.

X-FACTORS:

  • Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets – Perhaps the biggest playmaker on the Jets, Cromartie has adopted the role of Darrelle Revis — yet teams are still throwing in his direction. Ryan’s defense has fared well against rookie QBs this season — with a 1:8 TD:INT ratio in three games against Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck. That certainly sounds like a good situation for an opportunistic Cromartie to yet again come through.
  • Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks – A fairly obvious choice, but here’s my thinking: Carroll loves to run the ball and will definitely look to Marshawn Lynch to carry the load. But if Wilson can sneak a few deep balls over an aggressive Jets defense coupled with a few more plays on his feet that will prove to be a difference maker.

THE PICK: It’s a tough game for the Jets to win, who’ve shown inconsistencies scoring on offense, against the Seahawks who have given up 15.5 points per game at home playing offensive-minded teams such as Dallas, Green Bay and New England. The Jets are not offensive-minded. SEAHAWKS 27 – NY JETS 14.

SECRET’S OUT: Keep Wilson in the Pocket

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

A MORNING SHOW CHAT & A PRACTICE SQUAD CALL-UP LEAVES NO QUESTION TO HOW JETS ARE PREPARING FOR THE SEAHAWKS’ MOBILE QB.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It’s no secret at this point. And it didn’t take Antonio Cromartie letting the cat out of the bag on NFL AM for everyone to already know.

The Jets cornerback appeared on the NFL Network’s morning show and while his “definitive” stance on the 3-5 team making the playoffs stole headlines it was his game analysis that’s worthy of note.

“He’s a guy who can extend a play,” Cromartie said to NFL Network when talking about Seattle’s rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.  ”When you have a quarterback who can extend the play and get outside the pocket and make plays with his legs and his arms, it’s kind of hard to defend. The biggest thing for us is to try and keep him in the pocket, and make him make throws that he can’t see over [the offensive line].”

When it comes to stopping the Seahawks’ aerial attack, it starts with keeping the short-in-stature Wilson behind (and below) his offensive line. Listed at a generous five-feet 11-inches, Wilson has found success through the air when rolling out of the pocket on designed rollouts, bootlegs and play-actions — where he doesn’t have to look over his tall offensive line. With no starting Seahawk lineman under six-foot-four, the passing lanes are much more visible outside the pocket for the dwarfed Wilson.

Antonio Cromartie not only said the Jets would make the playoffs, but shed some light on how to stop QB Russell Wilson. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

To keep Wilson inside the pocket will take a healthy balance of edge containment and execution of gap assignments in the middle by the Jets front seven. It also doesn’t hurt to have speed on the outside either.

That’s where Ricky Sapp comes in. The Clemson product was signed to the active roster Thursday, while safety Antonio Allen — who was waived on Tuesday — took Sapp’s place on the practice squad with Eric Smith coming back from a knee injury. A pass-rushing specialist on the outside, Sapp had an impressive camp before suffering a high ankle sprain and missing the preseason. With speed being one of his biggest tools, Sapp could provide a big play or, better yet, prevent a big play from happening.

“The way he has been practicing, he has been a handful for us to block. The young man is a guy that just keeps going. We’ll watch him chase the passer [this week],” Rex Ryan said.

He’s not the only one who can have an impact on Wilson’s pocket presence, as Muhammed Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace have got to carry the load. But Sapp’s first NFL game could be one where he’s put in the position to succeed.

For the whole story on Ricky Sapp and his road to the NFL, read my piece on him from July 31st.

Corralling Carroll’s thoughts on Sanchez

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

SANCHEZ’S COLLEGE COACH SAID HE WASN’T READY FOR THE NFL PRIOR TO THE 2009 DRAFT. FOUR YEARS LATER, DID CARROLL HAVE A POINT?

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mark Sanchez was riding high at a 400-yard/5 TD, Heisman-like game for the USC Trojans in 2009 as he led them to a Rose Bowl victory. It was his first, and only year, as a starter for Southern Cal — as he chose to leave the college game for the NFL Draft.

Pete Carroll, Sanchez’s then-collegiate coach and current head coach of this week’s opponent — the Seattle Seahawks, expressed his doubts about Sanchez’s transition to the NFL — something Carroll had first-hand experience in. As a coach of the Jets in 1994 and the Patriots in 1997, the success Carroll had in college translated to nothing more than mediocrity in the NFL.

Questioning the young Mission Viejo QB’s game experience and maturity, Carroll advised Sanchez to stay the extra year — trading the top-5 dollars for professional longevity.

Sanchez disagreed, respectfully.

In the early goings, Sanchez looked to have the last laugh on the topic. He was drafted fifth overall to be the franchise quarterback in New York and led his team to back-to-back AFC Championship games. All the while Carroll began to look like a bitter coach who was going to say or do anything to retain his top offensive player.

Oh, how quickly perception can change in a few years.

Mark Sanchez was publically questioned by then-head coach Pete Carroll for his decision to leave USC early. Did Carroll have a point? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

By most accounts Sanchez has regressed in the two years since the last AFC Championship game appearance leading many to re-examine Carroll’s pre-NFL advice for his former quarterback. Carroll did retreat on his comments made before the 2009 NFL Draft, saying that Sanchez has since proved him wrong, however the proof may be in the pudding that Carroll was on to something.

Sanchez has seen an increase in turnovers and a decrease in completion percentage and QB rating since 2010. Anonymous sources, team personnel, players and media alike all have, at one point or another, publicly questioned his mental make-up in handling the pressure of being a quarterback under New York’s bright lights.

What exactly would have an extra year at USC done for Sanchez? The positives are quite obvious:

  • Southern Cal is the professional football team in the Los Angeles area, getting another year in a major media spotlight could have done wonders for his demeanor on camera and in front of the microphone.
  • It could have been bigger sample size to see how Sanchez responds to adversity. It’s easy to be upbeat and confident when things are going well, but how about when times are tough? Sometimes, as Sanchez has shown, simply saying the right thing isn’t enough. It’s how you say it.
  • Sanchez’s 59 interceptions and 15 lost fumbles are both areas that could be improved with better amateur-level seasoning.

Sanchez, however, chose to take the big pay day — signing a 5-year deal worth upwards of $50 million ($28 million guaranteed), easily the highest contract in Jets history. On top of that he received a three-year extension that jumped his five-year salary the seventh highest for QB in the NFL at $58 million.

His decision paid off, literally.

His decision to leave USC early was calculated business decision. Put simply, Sanchez was the second-best QB on the board in 2009 — his only first-round competition at quarterback was Matthew Stafford and Josh Freeman. To wait for 2010 to enter the draft would most likely see a slip in his stock with healthy competition for college-dominant quarterbacks like Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy.

With hindsight at 20/20 Sanchez could have easily been the first quarterback taken given improvement on an impressive junior campaign — giving opportunity to fine tune of some the rough spots of his game that continues to plague him.

As Sanchez-supporters hold on to his two trips to an AFC title game with a tiger-like grip, memories of those teams are fading fast in the distance — with the future offering a bleaker outlook. Now facing the Carroll-coached Seahawks in Seattle, where they are 4-0 and giving up 15.5 points per game, the former coach of Sanchez is looking forward to proving just how right he was four years ago.

“It’ll be cool. The people I love the most I love to beat the most,” Carroll said.

While Jets fans begin to ask the question if it was right taking a chance on the quarterback from USC, Sanchez has $58 million answers to the very same question. It’s not, however, a question he must answer himself, rather one he must answer to the fans who are so emotionally invested in his success and failure.

TWO MAN DEEP:Sanchez Double Dose of Special K

Friday, October 26th, 2012

THE IMPACT OF JEREMY KERLEY & DUSTIN KELLER IS EVIDENT IN MARK SANCHEZ’S IMPROVED PASSING NUMBERS.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Mark Sanchez was voted the second most overrated NFL player in a recent SI player roll and ranked third in ESPN’s latest article breaking down the league’s worst contracts.

No matter your position on the Jets much-maligned fourth-year starter, it’s hard to deny these two cold hard facts.

  • His 2012 lackluster numbers (53.2 completion %, 9:7 TD:INT ratio, 74.6 QB rating, 207.6 pass YPG) match his floundering career numbers (55 completion %, 8:7.25 TD:INT ratio, 73.4 QB rating, 197.4 pass YPG).
  • On a team that came in to the season with unproven playmakers, Sanchez has been without all his top targets together. Through seven games, Sanchez has played with Keller, Kerley and Santonio Holmes once — Week 1 vs Buffalo.

With Kerley’s emergence in Holmes’ absence and Keller now fully healthy after a hamstring injury, Sanchez’s 53.2 completion percentage may rise in the coming weeks given how he’s performed thus far with them playing.

In three games with Kerley and Keller both playing, Sanchez is completing 66% of his passes, has a 2:1 TD-INT ratio and 107.5 QB rating. Conversely, in four games without both targets he’s completing 43.4% of his passes, has a 1:2 TD-INT ratio and a 54.8 QB rating.

If it’s true that numbers never lie, then the continuity built between the three is instrumental to the success of Sanchez. Part of that continuity is the trust Sanchez has in those two — particularly Keller — to deliver when called upon.

“[Keller is] one of my best friends off the field, one of the best guys to play with [and] a great teammate. He studies his butt off and he makes big catches for us always. He’s been my guy for four years and we just have to keep feeding him,” Sanchez said.

Since 2010 Keller has been targeted in 22.7% of Sanchez’s 1,136 attempts with 22.4% of his passes being completed to the tight end from Purdue. His three-year totals (259 targets, 143 receptions, 69.2 reception % *courtesy KFFL.com) with Sanchez has shown that Keller is his most trusted and productive playmaker.

“I think Dustin is that, like where [Wes] Welker has been there for all those years with [Tom] Brady. It’s a match-up problem. There’s consistency there. That’s what I think we have with him. He is that guy. He has been successful with Mark for a number of years [and] was our top receiver last year, so getting him back clearly makes a difference,” Rex Ryan said Friday.

The return of Dustin Keller has been one of the big reasons for Mark Sanchez's recent success. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Ryan would elaborate on Keller saying it’s his combination of size and speed that is hard defend. He referenced defense’s playing in “quarters” — putting two guys on his assignment; one to chip him at the line and the other to follow him in coverage.

The extra attention that will now have to be devoted to Keller opens up the field for Kerley, who’s felt like he’s been wide open all season.

In seven games this season Kerley has already surpassed his 14-game totals of last year regarding yards and touchdowns. His 62.5 reception percentage leads the team and he’s seen the number of his targets increase two-fold since Week 5 versus Indianapolis — a promotion Kerley has made hard for defender’s to ignore.

“I’d say more engaged than last year. I definitely feel my role is getting a little bigger — being asked to do a little bit more. So, I’m definitely stepping up more in that aspect. … [Mark and I are] getting better communication and [I'm] squeezing the ball when it’s around me. Anytime the ball is in my area I try to do a lot of emphasis on attacking the ball and going to get it, that’s what I built on,” Kerley said.

Mark seconded their improved communication, but went in to detail on how Kerley has avoided the sophomore slump.

“His recognition of defenses has gotten better. That’s one of the first things you see with an improving receiver, he knows what specific routes [he has to run]. He always has known what route to run against a specific coverage, but if you can’t see it right away, you have to play slower and then you don’t run as fast. You’re thinking too much. Now, the game is really coming to him. He’s trying to be one of the fastest mental players out there,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez won’t entertain the question of the difficulties working without his number one receiver, instead crediting those who have stepped up in Holmes’ absence.

“That’s not right for the guys that we have. I think they’re all capable of being in that role and they’ve all shown it from time to time. I think it’s an explosive group. I think they’ve shown that. The reason the ball is going around is because all of them have the ability to get open.”

A group that starts with Keller and Kerley.

INJURY REPORT: Next Man Up

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

THE JETS EVER-GROWING INJURY REPORT ALLOWS FOR GROWTH OF YOUNG TALENT.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Thursday’s injury report for the New York Jets featured 16 players — six that did not practice and four who are limited.

That’s not even counting the likes of Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes, Josh Mauga, Josh Baker or John Conner, who either have been placed on season-ending IR or reached an injury settlement.

Sione Po’uha has missed significant time thus far with a low back injury that’s grown from a lingering tweak to a full blown injury. During training camp, Po’uha and Ryan both downplayed the injury with Ryan saying he “overlooked the severity back in August” and that it was “worse than he [originally] thought”.

Despite the re-injured back, Ryan is “encouraged” by Po’uha’s rehabilitation — citing noticeable increases in his strength and weight numbers.

Clyde Gates (shoulder) has moved to a full participant after missing last week’s game against the Patriots. Ryan also noted his pleasure in adding a healthy wideout back in the mix.

When the topic changed to Bart Scott (toe), however, Ryan was not as optimistic. Ryan mentioned the idea of sitting him out this week and giving the 11-year veteran two weeks (including next week’s bye) to rest his ailing toe. Scott has played 119 consecutive games.

In the face of injury-laden adversity, Jeremy Kerley (above) is leading the Jets youth infusion. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Facing injury-laden adversity, Jeremy Kerley (above) is leading the Jets youth infusion. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

“I guess there’s a chance he’ll play. That injury is a tough one. The toe could’ve kept him out the last weeks. It really could’ve. He’s that kind of guy, who’s going to push all the way. Normally, I’d like to keep him out there. If he can’t change direction in space like he normally can [that's an issue]. Obviously, if he’s healthy he’ll be out there. Is he going to be 100% this week? No.”

Acknowledging the notion that injuries have hurt this team early on, it only reaffirmed the importance of the old adage “next man up”.

“There’s no excuse. We feel good about our football team. We felt good going in to the year about the depth we have. Now it’s being test but, again, these things happen. Every team will go through something injury wise. This league, it’s the only job with 100% injury rate. That’s why we say only might men play this game,” Ryan said.

With more opportunities for playing time, young players like Demario Davis, Antonio Allen, Isaiah Trufant and Lex Hilliard have stepped in nicely.

“The young man [Trufant] is playing outstanding for us right now. We thought that was the best match-up we had. He’s been doing a terrific job for us.  And he’s such a competitive young man that we thought that gave us our best chance. I think going against Wes Welker, that’s about as tough as it gets. I thought he really competed well.”

“I thought Demario, for the most part, played pretty well.”

“[Lex] has done a tremendous job for us, stepping in, not just as a fullback, but even on special teams. He starts on I think four of our special teams and he’s been a really good addition.”

But it all starts with Jeremy Kerley, who was in Ryan’s doghouse during the summer for his struggles picking up the new offense early, the top offensive play-maker since the string of injuries began.

“When I was down on him, challenging him, I wanted to see that he would get our offense down mentally. He’s a smart kid but I was disappointed with him that I’d see mental mistakes and that’s not him. I was just down on the fact that he wasn’t out there and I think that’s it. But Jeremy, that’s exactly what we expect, I think all of us did.  Going into last year, the way he took off at the end of last season and now the way he’s approaching it now, I think is the guy that we expected.”

Even with the plethora of injuries, Ryan has confidently stated the noticeable difference in his team’s play since the injury — evidence of his team’s response to adversity.

“I know we’re a better team. We had to improve as a football team and we did. I see us getting better. We have a ways to go to get to where we want to get to, but you see it. We’re making strides. It’s not by luck, or anything else, it’s by design. The way guys have approached how they are in the classroom, how they are on the practice field, you see it carrying over.”

MORNING AFTER REPORT: On the one hand…

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. — With a blue chip road victory in their sights after scoring 13 unanswered fourth quarter points against the New England Patriots, the Jets lost sight of who they were as they let the win — and the division lead — slip away in overtime.

The result was something similar to witnessing someone gasping for air after getting sucker-punched in the gut.

On the one hand … the Jets looked be the better team on the day — putting together four drives of 10+ plays while the defense forced punts on six of the Patriots’ 10 drives. Jeremy Kerley and Dustin Keller proved to be an effective and reliable tandem for Mark Sanchez — who, after three games, has a career QB rating 104.8 in Foxborough. The defense kept Tom Brady and his plethora of weapons in check — for the most part.

On the other hand … the Jets looked to be the team that everyone thought they were — inconsistent, costly miscues on both sides of the ball, the inability to stop teams on third down and lacking the tenacity to go for the jugular when victory is in sight. Sanchez, while effective, had two costly miscues — his interception on a vastly underthrown ball to Stephen Hill and his inability to tuck the ball in overtime that caused the game-ending fumble. The coaching staff failed to show any gusto when it mattered, looking scared — or worse, confused on how to use their personnel.  And, late in the game, the Jets defense couldn’t stop Brady and the Patriots when it mattered most — as he easily worked his way down the field with under two minutes left in regulation.

Look at it this way: The Jets had more total yards, higher time of possession, more passing yards, more completions, a higher yards per completion average, less punts and the same amount of first downs and third down efficiency rating.

And still lost. Simply gut-wrenching.

While the Jets did enough things to leave with a victory, it’s what the didn’t — or couldn’t — do that forced them to leave instead with a loss.

PASSING OFFENSE: B-

  • In his past three games at NE (including postseason), Sanchez has passed for 688 yards with 6 TDs, 1 INT and a 104.8 rating. He completed six passes for 20 or more yards — three of which went to Kerley.

First Quarter:                 Sanchez to Jeremy Kerley                            24 yds

First Quarter:                 Sanchez to Jeremy Kerley                            26 yds

Second Quarter:           Sanchez to Jeremy Kerley                            22 yds

Third Quarter:               Sanchez to Dustin Keller                               23 yds

Fourth Quarter:            Sanchez to Stephen Hill                                 21 yds

Fourth Quarter:            Sanchez to Dustin Keller                               21 yds

  • Kerley and Keller were a complimentary one-two punch combination for Sanchez against the Patriots. Chaz Schilens, however, was not complimentary to anyone. Targeted a handful of times, he ended the game with zero receptions.
  • The offensive line allowed four sacks and gave up a costly safety courtesy of Vince Wilfork.

Is it time to start questioning the play-calling abilities of Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

RUSHING OFFENSE: C

  • An average grade for an average performance on the ground. The net rushing totals barely eclipsed the 100-yard mark, despite Shonn Greene getting his fourth touchdown in two games. Credit Greene’s hard-nosed running style and his tenacity in the game. No play signified Greene’s toughness more than a colossal collision between himself and Brandon Spikes — who both left the field for a short time before returning.
  • The level of play that we’ve seen from Matt Slauson continues to drop. It was his inability to block Wilfork that allowed for the safety to occur.
  • Tim Tebow at running back. What a success that turned out to be. I’m convinced this coaching staff has no idea how to utilize him in the right way, but that will be addressed in the coaching section.

PASSING DEFENSE: D

  • The secondary played well … just not when it mattered the most. With  :32 remaining, the defense allowed Brady to go 54 yards down the field and set-up the game-tying field goal. He was able to pick up big chunks (completions of 12, 15 and 20 yards) and able to do so quickly.
  • Antonio Cromartie played a solid game, but came up short on what would have been two game-changing interceptions. He’s been able to be a difference maker the last few weeks, but it may be a lot to ask for him to keep up on a weekly basis.
  • LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell got burnt regularly by the Patriots duel-headed tight end monster. ‘Nuff said.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C+

  • Yes, they did give up 131 yards on the ground at 4.1 yards per clip, but allowed only six plays that gained 8+ yards — keeping the Patriots running backs out of the second level and open space.
  • Credit Demario Davis for some of that run stopping ability, posting six tackles as he continues to see his role expand on defense — particularly in nickel packages.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D

  • The return by Devin McCourty was the second-longest in Patriots history with his 104-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The longest came on 9/8/07 against the Jets when Ellis Hobbs returned a kick 108 yards. Mike Westhoff wasn’t happy then, and I’m sure he wasn’t happy after last night — where it was a clear miscue by Davis failing to stay in his lane on the coverage unit.
  • Nick Folk was good on all four field goals last night, bringing his season total up a perfect 11-for-11.
  • Two big penalties by Nick Bellore and Antonio Allen really hurt the positional battle against the Patriots, which proved to be a difference maker in a close contest.
  • Lex Hilliard continues to be a gritty, effective player for Rex Ryan. His blocking ability on offense and his strip on McCourty late in the game proved that.

COACHING: F

  • F is not paying homage to the amount of F-bombs that was coming out of Ryan’s mouth last night. Too many questionable calls to warrant a higher grade from the staff. Him and Tony Sparano were supposed to be one-in-the-same as far as philosophies. But as offensive play-calling goes they both seem to be very inconsistent at recognizing how to utilize their personnel.
  • Third & one from the three-yard line: Sparano elected to go empty backfield, shotgun formation. That is, with a quarterback who’s struggled throwing the ball and having (arguably) the best two short yardage runners in the league (Tebow and Greene) on the sideline.
  • Second & ten from their own 40-yard line in overtime: Ryan and Sparano elected to pass in what was known by everyone as four-down territory. Sanchez dropped back to pass and was strip-sacked by Rob Ninkovich ending the game. With plenty of time and an extra two downs to gain 10 yards, why feel the need to pass?

JETS LOSE IN GUT-WRENCHING FASHION; 29-26 in OT

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

MARK SANCHEZ AND THE NEW YORK JETS FUMBLE A WIN & DIVISIONAL LEAD WITH OVERTIME LOSS AGAINST RIVALED PATRIOTS.

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. — The New York Jets let one slip away on Sunday night.

Mark Sanchez, with his 11 career fourth quarter comebacks, nearly made it a dozen after scoring a baker’s dozen in unanswered points during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Unfortunately for the Jets, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were looking for their 35th come-from-behind victory — and found it in overtime following Stephen Gostkowski’s 48-yard field goal.

“We knew it was going to be a dog fight. It stinks being on this end of it. The guys, they kept fighting. We just fell a little short today,” Rex Ryan said in his post-game press conference.

The Jets had a chance to respond, but couldn’t answer adversity’s call. Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham combined on a 15-yard sack, with Ninkovich forcing and recovering the Sanchez fumble — giving the Patriots possession and ending the game  with a 29-26 victory for New England (4-3).

Following a costly fumble by defensive back and return man Devin McCourty, who had already returned a kick 104 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, the Jets nearly won it in regulation. With two minutes remaining , Lex Hilliard made the strip on McCourty while rookie Antonio Allen recovered the ball for the Jets at the New England 18-yard line. Back-to-back plays of ineffective runs followed by a 10-yard sack by Dont’a Hightower forced the Jets to settle for a field goal — and the tie at 26 apiece.

The loss sucked the life out of a Jets (3-4) team that — despite offensive deficiencies in the middle quarters — found a rhythm late against the Patriots 26th ranked passing defense.

It wasn't all his fault, however Mark Sanchez takes the brunt of the loss following his game-ending fumble in overtime at Foxborough Sunday evening. The Jets lost in OT, 29-26. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

“I thought we had the momentum [at the end of the game]. I thought early we had a great drive and then we kind of lost a little bit of the momentum. And I think we got it back at the end and had some great drives,” Tim Tebow said after the game.

Sanchez (28-of-41/348 yards/ 1 TD/ 1 INT) was able to pick a part the defense with a 14-play 92-yard drive where seven minutes elapsed in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t anything spectacular, Sanchez completed check down and slant routes at a 5-yard clip before finding Dustin Keller (7 rec/93 yards/1 TD) on a 7-yard crossing route over the middle of the end zone. He went 9-of-10 on that drive. The touchdown cut New York’s deficit to three at 23-20.

After a first half in which it appeared that New England had taken control of the game — the 104-yard kick return for touchdown and a head’s up safety play — the Jets chipped away at the lead as their defense began to settle in against a potent Patriot offense. They converted on a pair of field goals from Folk (54 and 21 yards) on either end of half time to cut the Patriot’s lead to three, 16-13.

“It was a big kick. We needed it. We go out there and make it to put pressure on them,” Folk said.

Pressure situations, however, are where Brady made his name. He answered right back with a 15-play, 83-yard drive capped by Rob Gronkowski’s second touchdown of the day. Brady benefited from a call reversal by the officials after they found tight end Aaron Hernandez’s knee and elbow were down at the 2-yard line before fumbling the ball. Had the play been upheld, the Jets would have had the ball at their own 20-yard line.

“Going down the field they made some big plays against us [on that drive]. The call was turned over, so you’ve just got to get them stopped. It’s unfortunate,” Ryan said.

Unfortunately for the Jets, they again failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities.

With the Jets driving against the Patriots questionable secondary late in the first half after completions of 22 and 38 yards to Jeremy Kerley (7 rec, 120 yards) and Keller, Sanchez missed a wide open Stephen Hill for an easy touchdown. Hill beat cornerback Kyle Arrington on a double move on the right side of the field and was wide open for what seemed like an eternity. Sanchez, finding his rookie target late, lofted up an underthrown ball that Alfonzo Denard picked off at the 2-yard line.

“It was just a catch i should have caught, other than that, that is it. [My teammates] still have faith in me and I still have faith in them,” Hill said.

Backed up deep in their own territory at the 12-yard line with 13:10 remaining in the half, a botched hand-off to Greene led to a loose ball in the end zone. With Vince Wilfork in hot pursuit of the ball and Sanchez, the Jets quarterback kicked the ball out of bounds, giving the Patriots a safety – and effectively taking out the chance of a defensive touchdown in the process.

The Jets gained 71 of their 168 first half yards on their opening drive of the game – an 11 play drive that ate up six minutes. Mixing in a healthy amount of runs against the Patriots fourth-ranked rush defense, the Jets were effective passing out of the three tight end jumbo set. Greene capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run – his fourth in two games.

Brady extended his stretch of 38-straight games with a touchdown to 39 in the first quarter after finding Gronkowski on a 17-yard score on a corner fade route. LaRon Landry, who was burned by the Patriots All-Pro tight end on that drive, had the coverage with Gronkowski making a great play on the ball.

MARCUS DOWTIN: The Hybrid’s Gassed Up

Friday, October 19th, 2012

AFTER BEING ACTIVATED TO THE 53-MAN ROSTER, A CONFIDENT DOWTIN SAYS JETS CAN “KICK THE PATRIOTS ASS”

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Finally.

The first thought to cross Marcus Dowtin’s mind when Jets head coach Rex Ryan pulled him up to the team’s active roster this week. The undrafted free agent hybrid defensive player has – what he calls – a God-given talent and he’s ready to show everyone in Jets Nation what they’ve been missing in their first six games.

“Once I get that shot [to play in the game] I believe Jets Nation will see what I can do,” he said.

And just what is it that Dowtin can do?

“I can hit. I like hitting. I’m one of the hardest hitters. All the other stuff comes with the game; I’m pretty much a hitter though.”

His kinship to cracking helmets aside, Dowtin is far more than just a hard hitting player. At 6-2, 230 pounds is a genetic freak. His hawk-like wingspan of 77 inches compliments his 4.5 40-yard speed. That combination of size and speed makes him a valuable asset on both sides of the ball.

When asked what exactly his position has been with the team to this point he couldn’t come up with just one response.

“I can do everything. I can play linebacker. I can play safety. I can play running back. I can play receiver. It doesn’t matter. I grew up playing all these different positions and, I mean, shoot, I just like playing football. It really doesn’t matter what I play.”

Throughout the first six weeks, Dowtin has played opposite the Jets first unit offense and defense for the scout team – a testimony to the coach’s acknowledging use in his versatility. This week alone, he’s been playing the roles of running back Stevan Ridley and tight end Aaron Hernandez on the scout team.

The defense will have a fresh, confident face in the huddle on Sunday vs. the Patriots. His name is Marcus Dowtin. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

“I’m on offense playing running back against the number one defense and I’m playing defense against the number one [unit] during practice. It’s all about how preparation meets opportunity. I’ve been doing that since I got here – playing running back/receiver on scout team. Up until now it’s been nothing but helping the team get prepared for Sundays,” Dowtin said.

Ryan expects Dowtin to see time on special teams this week against the Patriots, but he may see time on defense against an up-tempo offense that likes to stretch the field – vertically and laterally – with their big tight ends. If given the opportunity he’s looking forward to showing the Patriots what he really likes to do.

“Shoot, if I get in the game. I’m going to get somebody. Any chance I have to get in there I’m going to do what I do,” he said.

The self-confidence spills over when speaking out on his team’s chances in Foxborough this Sunday – becoming the first player on either side of the ball to make a bold prediction on this battle for first place.

“It’s not about them. It’s about us and our preparation. And if we prepare to the best of our abilities? Shoot, we’ll kick their ass.”

A linebacker. A safety. A running back. A wide receiver. He is blessed with size, speed, strength, coverage abilities and a growing confidence in himself and his talents.

Oh, and did he mention he likes to hit … a lot?

“I can really hit.”

PATRIOTS WEEK:”It’s a Huge Game”

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

BART SCOTT BREAKS SILENCE TO SPEAK ON PATRIOTS WEEK.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — When does Rex Ryan start thinking about the New England Patriots?

“I never stop not thinking about the Patriots,” he said Tuesday.

And nor should he stop. Since Ryan has been in New York, “That Team Up North” has won the AFC East every year. For a coach that’s as bragadocious as Ryan has proven to be in the past, it undoubtedly eats him up inside.

“That’s the one you have to beat for sure. You think about them, you even build your roster sometimes in trying to compete, trying to beat this team. You’re always thinking about them,” he said.

And by you he means I.

“We’re one of the teams that can beat him. We’ve proven that. We’ll see if we’re the better team on Sunday,” he said.

More than any other rivalry with the Jets, Patriots Week just has a different feel to it — where the mind games often outweigh those that are actually played on the field.

Take, for example, Ryan’s brash introduction to the Patriots as Jets head coach. He made it very clear he wasn’t going to “kiss Belichick’s rings”; coming out and beating Belichick in the home introduction to the rivalry — a 28-14 win.

Or the way Ryan glowing gushes over the Patriots personnel. It’s not that he has a man-crush on Tom Brady or a bromance brewing with Belichick. It’s reverse bulletin-board material — flatter your opponent enough and they may actually buy the hype.

This week was no different, with an unprovoked Rex devoting a lengthy amount of words (704 to be exact) to discuss the Patriots before fielding questions from the media.

Shaun Ellis stepped up with 4 sacks in their AFC Divisional face-off. Who will step up this Sunday? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

The players even get into the mental jabbing before physically beating.

Leading up to the AFC Divisonal round game in Foxboro during the 2010 campaign, Patriots WR Wes Welker making a tongue-in-cheek remark as he mentioned either “feet” or “toes” 11 times in an interview following a leaked video of an alleged Ryan making foot fetish remarks to his wife. Welker was benched for the first offensive possession of that same AFC Divisional game for said remarks.

And let’s not forget when cornerback Antonio Cromartie called Tom Brady an “a**hole” — easily making it’s way on to the back pages of the papers while climbing to the top of every sports cast. Following the game, Bart Scott’s candid thoughts on the Patriots defense quickly earned a cult-like following with his “this team couldn’t stop a nose bleed” and “can’t wait” catch phrases.

The recently muted but usually outspoken linebacker even broke his silence with reporters Thursday to speak on the game. Although a subdued Scott was more textbook this time around.

“It’s a huge game, a divisional game, and you want to try to be 3-0 in the division.” he said.

Joe McKnight, who’s been nursing a high ankle sprain, looked spritely darting away from reporters and shouting, “I’m playing! For first place? I’m playing!”

There is no love lost between these two teams and they certainly don’t mind spilling some of each other’s bad blood on the gridiron, but for many players involved in the rivalry it’s a return to the college atmosphere.

“I love the rivalry games,” Marcus Dowtin, who will dive headfirst into the rivalry in his first NFL game, told John Holt of NYJets.com. “It actually kind of brings you back to your college days and you get kind of excited, with a chip on your shoulder. So I like the idea of the rivalry.”