Archive for October, 2012

TWO MAN DEEP:Sanchez Double Dose of Special K

Friday, October 26th, 2012


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 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. ( 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.


Thursday, October 25th, 2012


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. ( Photo).

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


  • 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? ( Photo).


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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?


Sunday, October 21st, 2012


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. ( 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


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. ( 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


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? ( 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 “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.”

TEBOW AT RUNNING BACK: “It’s a possibility”

Thursday, October 18th, 2012


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — There’s a chance we could be seeing Mark Sanchez handing the ball off to Tim Tebow at Gillette Stadium this Sunday.

Back-up running backs Bilal Powell (dislocated shoulder) and Joe McKnight (high ankle sprain) have been held out of practice all week and will not practice on Thursday either, according to Rex Ryan. While he maintained that the two backs will not practice, he withheld any notion that either won’t be playing Sunday. Channeling his inner Bill Belichick, Ryan shared with the media that he has a thought on the status of his banged-up backs, but neglected sharing it.

Rex Ryan wouldn't rule out the possibility of using Tim Tebow at RB this Sunday. ( Photo).

Yes, it’s definitely Patriots Week at the Jets’ Atlantic Health facility.

If Powell and McKnight can’t go by Sunday the only true back-up running back the Jets have is undrafted rookie Jonathan Grimes, who signed with the team prior to the start of the season. Ryan acknowledged that Grimes will be active Sunday, but did not commit in saying he would be the team’s third-down back. The newly-acquired Lex Hilliard has been a great fill-in for the oft-injured John Conner — who was recently let go by way of injury settlement — but has not been asked to do much more than block on offense.

This is where Tebow comes in.

Ryan said “it’s a possibility” Tebow could be used in the running back role in select situations. but didn’t want to speak on contingency plans at the running back position.

“Playing quarterback he knows all the positions. So you can plug him at running back, you can plug him in at tight end. His skill set would be based more on power. He’s not going to be a blazer compared to other running backs, but he’s got power,” Ryan said of Tebow’s running qualities.

Think Toby Gerhart on the Minnesota Vikings — but more hulkish and less elusive.

Remember, Tebow playing running back is only a possibility — an option of utilizing a play-maker in a position where they need a player who knows the offense and who will be mistake-free. Regardless, just another wrinkle opposing teams have to prepare for and another reason to look forward to Sunday’s must-see match-up.


Monday, October 15th, 2012


[Removes foot from mouth].

One thing that can be said sure regarding the New York Jets through the first six weeks of the season: when at their best, they look damn good. On Sunday against the Colts they looked damn good in a three phases of the game.

Everything that had been wrong with the Jets — run-blocking, turnovers, communication on offense, the presence of a pass rush, the presence of a running game, red zone ineptitude, you name it — was cured for at least one afternoon. Highlighted by the career-performance by Shonn Greene, the Jets put a complete game together — the type of game that had not been seen since Week 1.

Hell, the Jets would’ve just been happy with a lead. They hadn’t held a lead in their three-game home stand in nine quarters, until Mark Sanchez found Stephen Hill for a five-yard touchdown a minute into the second quarter.

Greene (32 rush, 161 yards, 3 TDs) finally lived up to the bell cow label since becoming the veteran in the Jets backfield. According to ESPN New York, he gained 101 of 161 yards between the tackles on Sunday — a huge testament to the interior offensive play of Nick Mangold, Matt Slauson, Brandon Moore and Vlad Ducasse. Even Joe McKnight reaped the benefits of a prosperous offensive line, gaining 71 yards on three carries before leaving with an ankle injury.

Late last week, our Chris Nimbley asked where the pass rush was. It was easy to spot Sunday as first-round picks Quinton Coples (1.5 sacks) and Muhammed Wilkerson (5 tackles, 1 strip-sack) had multiple impact plays as did Aaron Maybin (1/2 sack, 2 QB hits). But credit Mike DeVito as an unsung facilitator for their success. Sliding over to the middle with injuries to Sione Po’uha and Kenrick Ellis, DeVito absorbed multiple blockers giving one-on-ones for the guys outside.

And then there is Antonio Cromartie. He doesn’t have to take a single snap on offense, to be one of the team’s best scoring weapons. His interception in the second quarter quickly turned into seven points for the offense. This season, the Jets have scored following eight of their takeaways, with seven touchdowns. Entering the game, their 71.4 touchdown percentage after a takeaway led the NFL. He nearly added 12 points of his own after questionable a personal foul penalty on Aaron Maybin and another on a pass interference call on himself.

As they showed on Sunday, the Jets can easily dispose of lesser teams. The question will be how they respond the remaining tough teams on their schedule — starting with New England this week. That aside, take the time to soak up the successes of a well-earned team victory against the Colts.

The War Machine was up and running Sunday -- for a career high 32 att/161 yds/3 TDs. ( Photo).


  • After completing 11-of-18 passes (61.1%) for 82 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a rating of 109.0,  Sanchez posted his 14th game with a passer rating of 100+. The Jets have posted an 11-3 record in games in which Sanchez has a 100+ quarterback rating.
  • Sanchez spread the wealth finding seven different receivers. Colts corner Jerraud Powers said they wanted the Jets to beat them with his arm, however Sanchez played mistake-free football with his limited attempts.
  • OVER THE HILL: Stephen, back after missing two games with a hamstring injury, scored a 5-yard touchdown in his return, adding 2 other receptions for 18 yards. Jason, signed a week earlier, caught a 5-yard touchdown and made the most of his only opportunity on the afternoon.


  • Greene posted career highs with 161 yards rushing and 32 carries and matched his career best with three rushing touchdowns. The 161 yards rushing were the most by a Jet since Thomas Jones ran for 210 yards vs. BUF (10/18/09).
  • With his 61-yard run in third quarter, McKnight registered the longest run of career, surpassing his previous long of 18 yards set vs. BUF (01/02/11). The play was also the longest run by the Jets since Jones ran 71 yards for a touchdown vs. BUF (10/18/09).
  • The 252 yards rushing marked the eighth time under Rex Ryan that the Jets have rushed for 200+ yards in a game. The Jets are 7-1 in those contests.


  • Under Ryan, the Jets have now faced four rookie quarterbacks.  In those games, the quarterbacks have combined to complete less than 50 percent of their passes, throwing six interceptions and just one touchdown with a quarterback rating below 50. The Jets have won all four games. Allowing under 300 total yards and under 50 rushing yards, the Jets defense forced four turnovers and registered four sacks, all set or matched season highs for the unit.

Name                     Date       Result     Att      Cmp      Pct       Yds       TD        Int        Sk       Rate

Josh Freeman      12/13/09       L         33        14       42.4      93         0          3          3        12.1

Colt McCoy          11/14/10       L         31        18       58.1     205        1          0          3        88.8

Ryan Tannehill     09/23/12       L         36        16       44.4     196        0          1          0        50.2

Andrew Luck       10/14/12       L         44        22       50.0     280        0          2          4        51.3

Totals                                   (0-4)     144       70       48.6     774        1          6         10       49.9

  • Ellis Lankster registered the first interception of his career when he picked off a Luck pass intended for Donnie Avery in the end zone.


  • The Jets nearly righted all their wrongs Sunday — except for their rush defense. Using only 17 carries split between Vick Ballard, Mwelde Moore and Delone Carter is not an accurate test to earn a grade. Not a negative grade, just was not enough there to garner a grade.


  • The special teams unit was highlighted during game introductions after their stellar play last week (highlighted by McKnight’s 100-yard kick return for TD) and kept it going on Sunday. Mike Westhoff’s unit continues to be a viable crutch for the Jets offense as they struggle to find consistency.
  • Lining up in punt formation, Tim Tebow took the snap and passed 23 yards to Nick Bellore to convert on fourth-and-11. It was the third successful fake punt the Jets have run this season, the first by passing. The other two successful fake punts occurred at MIA (9/23/12) and vs. HOU (10/08/12).


  • Players get credit when the coaches make good moves and the same goes the other way. The big thing I take from this game is that the Jets were finally able to get over the hump. The route by San Francisco aside, the Jets have been a few plays away from being 5-1. This week the Jets execution was on point. Perhaps the offense is finally grasping Tony Sparano’s system.
  • The Jets were penalized 8 times for 110 yards. They proved to be harmless, but definitely an area where the coaching staff must keep an eye on with the youth infusion.

* Stats and information provided by the Jets media relations staff.

PREVIEW: Colts (2-2) vs NY Jets (2-3)

Friday, October 12th, 2012


After an up-and-down five weeks — a period in which many pundits predicted the rise of New York’s prodigal back-up quarterback, Tim Tebow as the starter — Mark Sanchez is still the man for the New York Jets. The fourth year starter is in the middle of a career-worst four-game stretch, amidst a complete overhaul of offensive weapons due to injury and at the epicenter of an epic quarterback controversy.

It could be argued that luck has not been on the Jets’ side. The likes of Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller, Stephen Hill, Sione Po’uha — and now safety Eric Smith, who injured his knee in practice Wednesday — all missing at least one game this season. That’s not even including the ever-growing daily injury report that’s beginning to look more and more like a dictionary than a rundown sheet. Now, more than ever, the Jets are living by the mantra “next man up”.

“There’s no doubt. We’re a little beat up.  Again, no excuses. We feel good about our depth,” Rex Ryan said Thursday.

On Sunday no one will argue what side Andrew Luck will be on as his 2-2 Colts come to MetLife Stadium fresh off a landmark victory over the Green Bay Packers for the top pick in this year’s draft.  And unlike the Jets, there is no perceived quarterback controversy in Indianapolis.

Sanchez’s 48.4 completion percentage ranks last in the league, prompting more calls for Tebow to take over. The Jets rank 30th in the NFL with 293.4 yards per game. With fans clamoring for more Tebow, is this the week Tebowmania breaks loose in New Jersey? Ryan remains insistent that if or when Tebow is in at quarterback it will be because he called for it, not anyone else.

“One thing I know about the public, the public wants to win just like we do and I understand that. But the decision of playing Tebow, that’s going to be my decision.  It’s not going to be the public’s decision or anybody else’s. It’s on me,” Ryan said.

Despite the Colts living up to their team name, coming in to the season as the youngest average team in the NFL, their old workhorse Reggie Wayne continues to carry the load. Wayne, who turns 35 next month, continues to prove he’s far from finished. He caught 13 passes for a career-high 212 yards against the Packers, and his 506 yards rank third in the league.

WHEN: Sunday, October 14, 2012 @ 1 pm EST (Can be seen on CBS or heard on ESPN Radio).

WHERE: East Rutherford, New Jersey / MetLife Stadium (capacity: 82,500)

SERIES HISTORY: 67th meeting / Colts lead, 40-26-0

LAST MEETING: Jets 17 — Colt 16, Lucas Oil Field (01/08/11) (AFC Wild Card)

Will Jeremy Kerley be able to follow-up his 90-yard performance from Monday night? ( Photo).

Will Jeremy Kerley be able to follow-up his 90-yard performance from Monday night? ( Photo).

NOTABLE: Since the conferences were realigned in 2002, New York and Indianapolis have split their six match-ups. The two teams have faced off in the playoffs three times since 2003, with New York winning two-of-the-three contests. The last time the two teams met during the regular season, New York scored 19 unanswered points to snap Indianapolis’ 23-gam regular season winning streak.


  • COLTS — Bruce Arians / Interim head coach / 1-0
  • JETS – Rex Ryan / fourth season / 34-25 (including playoffs)


  • COLTSOUT LB Pat Angerer (foot), RB Donald Brown (knee), LB Robert Mathis (knee), DT Fili Moala (knee), G Joe Reitz (knee), DT Martin Tevaseu (ankel)- . DOUBTFUL – CB Vontae Davis (ankle). PROBABLE – LB Dwight Freeney (ankle), RB Mewelde Moore (ankle), C Samson Satele (knee).
  • JETS OUT - CB Darrelle Revis (knee). DOUBTFUL - RB John Conner (hamstring), DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), DT Sione Po’uha (back), S Eric Smith (knee). QUESTIONABLE - C Nick Mangold (ankle). PROBABLE – LB Nick Bellore (shoulder), CB Aaron Berry (ribs), CB Antonio Cromartie (shoulder), TE Jeff Cumberland (ribs), LB David Harris (hamstring), WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), T Austin Howard (back), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), WR Jeremy Kerley (illness, finger), S LaRon Landry (heel), G Brandon Moore (hip), LB Calvin Pace (toe), G Matt Slauson (knee), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring).


  • Dwight Freeney vs. Austin Howard – According to Pro Football Focus, the right side of the Jets offensive line has had serious problems stopping defenders. Heading in to Monday night’s game Howard had given up an astounding 17 quarterback disruptions, while his linemate Brandon Moore had six disruptions against him. The problem for the Colts has been getting Freeney on the field. He made his season debut last week against Green Bay. He recorded two tackles and a sack in his first game back after nursing an ankle injury. Even though he came up limping a bit after the Green Bay game, Freeney has been a full participant in practice this week and is expected to play Sunday.
  • Dustin Keller vs. Antoine Bethea — The Colts have shut down every tight end they’ve played to this point. In four games they’ve allowed a total of seven receptions, 80 yards and touchdown to tight ends that has included the likes of Kyle Rudolph and Marcedes Lewis. That’s bad news for Keller, who’s looking to play for the first time since a Week 1 hamstring injury. Keller’s been sorely missed, who’s established himself as Sanchez’s go-to target the past three seasons. He said he expects to be a go for Sunday, so expect Sanchez to break in his new toy early.
  • Antonio Cromartie vs. Reggie Wayne — The marquee match-up this week. Cromartie is coming off a stellar performance against All-Pro WR Andre Johnson, but so is Wayne. At nearly 35, Wayne is enjoying the best start to his sure-fire Hall of Fame career. His 36 receptions and 506 yards are both the most he’s amassed in the first four games of the season. Ryan said the key to stopping Wayne is keeping hands on him as much as possible. “It’s kind of hard to get your hands on him. They put him in the slot, they put him in a lot of bunches, they put him in what we call snugs, which is a two-man bunch. They don’t want you to get your hands on him, and that’s something that obviously, we’re going to try to do.  They’re not just going to let [Cromartie] go out there and ‘D him up’ from the line of scrimmage.  They’re going to move him.”


  • Vick Ballard, RB, Colts – Are you asking yourself who the heck this guy is? You should. This year’s fifth round draft pick out of Mississippi State has only averaged 10.5 yards per game. But with Donald Brown ruled out after having surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee. The Jets rank 31st in the NFL against the run, giving up 172 yards per game on the ground. The teeth of the Jets defense already missing Po’uha and Kenrick Ellis, they are nursing injuries to inside linebackers David Harris and Bart Scott.
  • Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets – At this point, why wouldn’t he be the Jets x-factor? He’s the only big-play threat the team has (aside from Joe McKnight, but it seems he never gets enough touches). The fifth round pick has proven to be an early diamond in the rough for GM Mike Tannenbaum and has been one of the few players on offense to step in Holmes’ absence.

THE PICK: After playing such Super Bowl contenders as San Francisco and Houston, Indianapolis will be a greeted with a warm welcome by the Gang Green faithful. They may prove to be a bigger task than anticipated, however, with the team playing for their head coach Chuck Pagano, who recently underwent treatment for Leukemia. I believe the Jets do just enough of on offense to hold on to the victory. Jets 27 — Colts 23.

CROMARTIE’S CORNER: Stepping up in Revis’ Absence

Thursday, October 11th, 2012


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — With Revis Island closed for renovations that has meant Cromartie’s Corner is on shutdown status. For the Jets, that’s exactly what they need from their big-mouth, bigger play-making cornerback/wide receiver.

Just to recap, Antonio Cromartie believes he’s the best remaining cornerback in the NFL and the team’s best remaining receiving threat — now that Holmes is out for the season.

“I’m focused on being the best corner I can be right now and that is about it. Whenever I get that chance and when my number is being called to play on offense, I will go out there and handle the play,” Cromartie said after Monday night’s game.

At the time when he made these proclamations, he looked more like Miss Cleo than Nostradamus. But now? He may be on to something with all his bravado. And Rex Ryan is buying what the All-Pro Cro has been selling.

“I think when he made those comments, it was because he believes it. And quite honestly he has the athletic ability to be the best corner in the league. We’ve always said he has the most ability than anyone I’ve ever seen at that position. Him and Deion. He’s starting to play that way,” Ryan said Thursday.

Fellow corner Kyle Wilson said it’s nothing new for the guys in this locker room.

“I know what he’s capable of. I know that everybody here knows what kind of athlete he is and what he’s can do on the field. Maybe other people don’t know, but we do,” Wilson said.

Is Antonio Cromartie really the best corner in the NFL? He thinks so. And so does his head coach. ( Photo).

Add wide receivers Brian Hartline and Andre Johnson to the list of players who know what he’s capable of.

Since the season-ending ACL tear for Revis, Cromartie has been nothing short of spectacular. Against the Dolphins he held Hartline to one reception on nine targets — a week later Hartline amassed 200+ receiving yards. And against Johnson, Cromartie didn’t allow a single reception when covering the All-Pro WR — jumping his route for an interception that would sent up the Jets only offensive touchdown on the evening.

“That’s pretty impressive. I’m happy we have Cro, to say the least,” Ryan said.

The job doesn’t get any easier for Cromartie, who draws the tough match-up of Reggie Wayne this week against the Colts — who’s of the notion that age is only a number after a 200-yard performance in their home victory over the Packers last Sunday.

“It’s going to be tough. I think it would be easier if they just sat [Wayne] down where he’s usually been, but recently [the Colts] have been moving him around a lot. It’s hard to get your hands on him. They put him in the slot, bunch sets, snugs or two-man bunches. They don’t want you to get your hands on him,” Ryan said.

Despite the occasional mental lapse, Cromartie has been — by most accounts — the second-best corner in the league. Second only to Revis, of course.

In 2011, Cromartie had the fourth best burnt percentage of all corners with 41.6% — getting burnt only 37 times out of a possible 89 attempts.  [NOTE: Burn percentage tracks how a defensive player performs in defending passes in which he is targeted. A "burn" occurs when a targeted defensive player allows a completed pass, according to StatsPass.] Revis was second with 40.4%. In fact, since joining the Jets he has the third best burnt percentage in that time with 43%, to Revis’ 38.7%. His nine interceptions in that time ranks third in the league — trailing only Devin McCourty and Jason Allen, but only Cromartie ranks in the top three of both statistics since 2010.

On the other side of the ball, Cromartie continues to catch the eye of Ryan. When asked to comment on the remarks by FA WR Terrell Owens that the Jets are more desperate than he is in regards to having Cromartie play receiver, Ryan laughed it off.

“Let’s face it, he was the second best receiver on our team [on Monday]. After he went deep I was like, ‘Shoot, he might’ve sold himself short’.”

Cromartie continues to work with wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal during practice as he did Thursday afternoon. However Ryan still states that he will be used in “emergency” situations, much like how Joe McKnight has been used as cornerback.

“I’m just here to help out as much as possible whenever my number is called on the offensive side of the ball, but my main focus is to be the best corner in the NFL right now,” he said.

No matter what side of the ball he’s on, we know Cromartie will feel confident about it.