Archive for December, 2012

Kerry Rhodes’ ‘Hollywood’ Return to New York

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Called the “Hollywood type” and a “selfish-ass guy” by Rex Ryan in his 2011 book, Play Like You Mean It, Kerry Rhodes lived up to those labels — in all the right ways.

He ’selfishly’ picked off Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez twice and forced a fumble on running back Khalil Bell in his first game against the team that drafted him in the fourth round. He did so in a ‘Hollywood’-like way, intercepting Sanchez’s first pass on their very first play from scrimmage — a play, he said, was all too predictable.

“I knew exactly what the play was going to be. They run it a lot. As soon as they motioned down I knew the play. He threw the ball a little high and I jumped it,” Rhodes said.

Ex-Jet Kerry Rhodes gave Rex Ryan & Tony Sparano problems all afternoon. ( Photo).

Not bad for a guy who Ryan benched for a portion of time in the 2009 season in which he tweeted “a lot of teams would love to have me as their problem”, according to the Star Ledger.

When asked if there was any extra motivation to play well on Sunday, Rhodes took the high road.

“For me to come back and play well, it was good. Rex came up to me after the game and told me I played a hell of a game. There wasn’t an edge [though]. It was just an opportunity for me to come here and play well in front of friends and family,” he said after the game.

Familiarity with the organization is what gave the All-Pro safety an edge on Sanchez.

“The second [interception] they tried to run a pump so I kind of knew that one too. I tried to bait him into it a little bit and he threw it.”

Asked to comment on the first return for Rhodes since his book was published earlier in the week, Ryan dodged the question saying only “he is on one of the best defenses in the NFL”. Rhodes was traded to the Cardinals following the 2009 season for a fourth and sixth round pick.

Despite his great individual play, Rhodes didn’t call it a good return to New York.

“We didn’t get the win, so it wasn’t a good way to return.”

If he didn’t sound it, he certainly played like a Jet — or former one — on Sunday.

McElroy’s Moxie Ignites Offense, Fans & Controversy

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It looks like we have a third party entering the great debate over who should be the Jets starting quarterback.

Months of people clamoring over who should be the starting quarterback in New York — Mark Sanchez, a California golden boy who’s seen his production dip after two trips to the AFC Championship, or Tim Tebow, the polarizing, unorthodox quarterback who has all the unmeasurables — it may be the team’s 2011 seventh round pick with a championship pedigree that is the answer.

Greg McElroy came off the bench to deafening cheers of “MC-EL-ROY! MC-EL-ROY!” at the 4:48 mark in the third quarter to make his NFL debut, marched a, to that point, stagnant offense down the field for what would be the game-winning 1-yard bootleg option touchdown to a wide open Jeff Cumberland.

In a no-lose situation, with little expectations following another dismal performance by Mark Sanchez, McElroy ignited the offense with on-field moxie and in return awoke a dormant Jets fan base sans their fan spokesman, Fireman Ed, for the first time.

Greg McElroy has the pedigree, the brains, and "coachability" that suits a Rex Ryan/Tony Sparano offense well. ( Photo).

“Well, you can definitely tell that the stadium was happy about [the change at quarterback],” safety Yeremiah Bell said.

The boos that were hanging over MetLife Stadium like the heavy fog that rolled in Sunday morning were soon replaced with gleaming cheers as sunshine broke through the overcast clouds. Divine intervention? Or did the Jets finally find themselves on the good side of Lady Luck?

With a heavy dose of Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell, it’s what McElroy didn’t do that made the difference in the game and is, perhaps, the difference between himself and the man he replaced. Since last season, Sanchez has 31 interceptions and 20 fumbles. Too often those turnovers have come when he has tried to force the ball or make a big play. McElroy, who describeD himself as the “nerdy”-type, comes from a different school of thought.

“I think one of the things I really try to do is just play the game by the numbers. If it’s first and 10, we want it to be second and five. If it’s second and five, we want it to be third and manageable, so that’s two or three,” he said after the game. “If you keep it like that, you’re going to keep yourself sustaining long drives and things like that, minimize turnovers and explosive plays are essentially what wins the game. And that’s always been my train of thought.”

His college coach, Nick Saban, instilled him with that mentality — a man who McElroy thinks is very comparable to his professional coach, Rex Ryan.

“Coach Ryan, obviously him and Coach Saban have a lot of similarities and I’m very very grateful to play for a coach in the NFL that is so similar to what I’ve been used to and what I’ve grown up in,” he said.

While under Saban, he led a run-heavy offense at Alabama on their way to National Title. In a Ryan-Tony Sparano offensive scheme that’s predicated on ball control, defensive success and sound special teams a game manager who minimizes mistakes is necessary. McElroy doesn’t shy away from the game manager label. Instead he embraces it.]

“I think [my strength is] just managing the game. I think it’s often overused to a certain extent, but it’s so important and it’s something that I take great pride in. It’s something that I would like to continue to try to do well,” he said.

With McEloy’s emergence — albeit two drives — Ryan now finds himself in the middle of tricky love triangle. After standing up in front of the podium week after week declaring his “belief in Mark Sanchez giving this team the best opportunity to win games”, the Jets head coach had a different answer when asked if he still feels the same way.

“We’ll address that going forward.”

Asked how tough it would by psychologically to come in at quarterback after being benched, Sanchez flatly replied “I’m used to playing, so I think that would be easier” while not offering a comment on if he’ll be disappointed if he’s not the starter at Jacksonville next Sunday.

And let’s not forget about Tebow, the man everyone thought would be the Jets starter by now. Nursing a pair of broken ribs, Ryan said he “absolutely could have played, but it was a coach’s decision”. Tebow’s missed the last two games and prior to that was being fazed out of the offense. Traveling to play in his hometown next week there’s a possibility Tebow could be demoted to the third string quarterback at the birthplace of Tebowmania.

After talking all training camp about the importance of competition and teammates driving themselves to raise the expectations bar, Ryan may have — yet again — bit off more than he can chew.

Let the great debate begin. Again.

Jets bench Sanchez; McElroy leads Jets past Cardinals 7-6

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Mark Sanchez era in a New York Jets uniform may have come to an end on Sunday.

It took three interceptions, two missed field goals, a 21.4 QB rating, a 47.6 completion percentage for Jets fans to finally get their wish of having the Jets back-up quarterback replace a slumping Sanchez.

The only problem was, Tim Tebow was made inactive prior to the game with a pair of broken ribs.

QB Greg McElroy celebrates throwing the game winning TD with TE Konrad Reuland as the Jets beat the Cards 7-6 ( Photo)

Greg McElroy, the team’s third string quarterback who was made active just hours before kick-off, at the 4:48 mark in the third quarter, entered the game as Sanchez — hat on, helmet to the side — grabbed the clipboard. And on his first professional drive he led the Jets on a 10-play, 69 yard game-winning drive that was capped by a play-action bootleg rollout to the right side where McElroy found a wide open Jeff Cumberland in the endzone for a one-yard score which gave the Jets a 7-3 lead.

“To tell you the truth, it was a bit of a floater. It was a run reverse option and I almost didn’t want to throw it, but I had to just let it go. Jeff (Cumberland) did a great job of selling the run and Brandon Moore did a fantastic job getting in up front and trying to skirt the edge. It was just great execution,” McElroy said.

He would leave victorious after managing the Jets offense on two long drives where a combined 13:48 was elapsed in the second half, making for a shining outcome on a muddy game 7-6.

Rex Ryan tossed aside thoughts of the bigger picture and went with a win-now mentality, sending in the game-manager McElroy in attempt to earn a ball-control victory. After a first-half where the Jets were stagnant like the heavy fog that surrounded MetLife Stadium, the offense rallied about their new quarterback.

“It was just something I sensed, something I felt. When you’ve been around the league long enough, you get that sort of feeling where you say ‘I’ve seen enough’. Again I have confidence in Mark. I confidence in Tim. I confidence in Greg. But at that stage of the game I just thought it was time to make that move,” Ryan said after the game.

Sanchez was 10-21 for 97 yards O TDs, 3 INTs and was sacked three times. The fourth year starter went 1-5 for 2 yards and a sack in the second half before being benched for McElroy.

“It just wasn’t my day. I didn’t throw it well, didn’t see the first play very well. It’s unfortunate, but I’m really happy for the team and I’m happy for Greg,” Sanchez sad.

It was, however, a good day for the Jets rushing attack as Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell combined for 162 yards (Greene with 106 yards and Powell 58). With the offensive line dominating, the Jets were able to ride their running game to ease their passing woes.

The third-year player from Alabama not only sparked a sputtering offense with the help of the ground game, but bailed out a defense that pitched a near-perfect game.

In the first half rookie Ryan Lindley and the Cardinals offense could only muster two first downs, had four three-and-outs, an interception and a fourth down stop. After watching Tom Brady and Patriots pick a part his defense on third downs last Thursday, Rex Ryan’s defense did not allow a third down conversion forcing the Cardinals to go 0-15 on the afternoon.

“That was so important to bounce back,” Mike DeVito said,”and put that Jets defense back out there. You know we’ve had some rough ones this year, but today really showed (we can play well) and built our confidence back up and showed that we know that we can we go out there and play in this system, play the way we know we can play (and that) we can be a scary defense

Ex-Jet Kerry Rhodes had a scripted Hollywood ending in his first game against his former team. Rhodes, who was called “a selfish-ass guy” by Ryan in his autobiography, picked off Sanchez twice while forcing a fumble on running back Khalil Bell. No play, however, was bigger than the first offensive possession for the Jets, which saw Sanchez drop back to pass and lobbed a ball over the flailing arms of a defensive lineman — which made for an easy interception and tough hole to dig out of.

Former kicker Jay Feely accounted for the Cardinals’ only points on the afternoon after connecting from 35 and 48 yards. The Jets kicker, on the other hand, struck the upright twice — a missed 46-yarder that hit the right upright in the first quarter and then a 52-yard attempt that met the left upright in the second quarter.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL: Tidbits from MetLife

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Tim Tebow has been inactivated for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. The back-up quarterback has been battling broken ribs since the team traveled out to Seattle on Week 10.

Rex Ryan was holding out hope that Tebow could still fulfill his duties as the special team’s personal protector, but was less optimistic about Tebow playing a full game at quarterback — perhaps to the dismay of Jets fans.

Tim Tebow was made inactive for Sunday's game vs. the Cardinals. ( Photo).

“I think with Tim, some of the things that he can do, specifically in the Wildcat and as a personal protector, you’re not going out there and asking him to throw it 50 times a game. If that was the case, I’m not sure he could do that, but in a limited role like he’s in, I really don’t even know where to start with that, but I think if he had to take 50 snaps and get hit every snap, I’m not sure if that’s the smartest thing,” Ryan said Friday.

Ryan stood firm on his stance of not dressing three quarterbacks — a rarity, according to him, by football coaching standards.

“I don’t know any team in this league that goes with three quarterbacks. I don’t even know if it’s done in the league,”

With Tebow inactive, Ryan doesn’t have to worry about bucking his trend. Sunday marks the first time he’s been inactive since joining the Jets and second-straight game without playing. Third-string quarterback Greg McElroy becomes active — assuming the duties of the back-up role.

Prior to the start of the game, McElroy was seen on the field working Jets quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh in pads — a sight that’s rarely been seen this season.

Without Tebow the Jets will be running short on their ‘Wildcat package’.  Rex said that the Wildcat is ‘part of what we do’, but  that they’d ‘obviously be out of that’

Should they decide to run any wrinkles of the Wildcat package, Joe McKnight has been known to take the direct snap, while Jeremy Kerley is the team’s emergency back-up quarterback.

“Jeremy Kerley never takes a snap at quarterback, but that’s a guy who was a former quarterback in high school (and) recruited that way. He can throw the football, but obviously it’s not a situation you’d want to be in,” he said.