AFC East: Brandon Moore

Mark SanchezWilliam Perlman/USA TODAY Sports
Score: New England Patriots 49, New York Jets 19
Date: Nov. 22, 2012. Site: MetLife Stadium

The people have spoken. The voters picked the Butt Fumble as the New York Jets' most memorable play. My take? Give yourselves a round of applause.

"Memorable" doesn't mean the best, it means something that will be remembered. If the objective was to determine the best play, it would've been Joe Namath-to-Don Maynard in the 1968 AFL Championship Game or Ken O'Brien-to-Wesley Walker in the 1986 classic against the Miami Dolphins. Those were tremendous plays displaying great skill and poise under pressure. We could probably add a few more to a great-play list. Truth be told, the franchise's most iconic image is that of Namath, flashing the No. 1 sign as he trots off the field at Super Bowl III -- a picture that transcends a simple photo caption.

But like I said, we're talking memorable plays here, folks.

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The Butt Fumble will be talked about for years, decades probably. It will have a permanent place in blooper lore. Who knows? Maybe some day you will see it featured on an ESPN Films "30 for 30" documentary. The play contained the necessary ingredients to endure the test of time. You had a big-name player (Mark Sanchez), a slapstick moment (Sanchez crashing into the buttocks of guard Brandon Moore), a significant outcome (a fumble recovery for a touchdown), a national stage (Thanksgiving night, 2012) and two bitter rivals, the Jets and the New England Patriots.

The ramifications of the Butt Fumble were significant. It fueled an epic meltdown in the second quarter, which led to an embarrassing loss, which all but ruined the Jets' playoff hopes and led to the demise of general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

Oh, did we mention the hilarity of the play?

In many ways, the legend of the Butt Fumble was enhanced by the social-media landscape. It blew up on Twitter and YouTube, and ESPN contributed by playing it over and over and over. It topped the "Not Top 10" list for 40 consecutive weeks before it was mercifully retired. Of course, the fans voted, so don't place all the blame on us. The point is, if Namath had run into Randy Rasmussen's rear end in 1968, the fallout wouldn't have been anything close to the Butt Fumble.

I was there for the other two nominees, Dan Marino's fake spike in 1994 and Jumbo Elliott's improbable touchdown catch in 2000. The impact of Marino's play can't be overstated because it shattered the psychologically fragile Jets, who never won again that season, costing Pete Carroll his job. I was happy for Carroll when he won the Super Bowl last February at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the fake spike occurred in the old Giants Stadium. Elliott's touchdown was a terrific moment, no doubt, but I don't consider it an all-timer.

Anyway, the fans got it right. It had to be the Butt Fumble. Anything else would've been a butt ... well, you know.

Moving day for Brandon Moore

November, 1, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Brandon Moore was known as the guy who always kept his composure, even in the most emotional of moments, but the former Jets offensive guard didn’t even get through the first few sentences of his retirement news conference without needing to pause.

“For a guy that was undrafted and came in through the back door to be escorted out the front door at the end of your career is a great accomplishment,” Moore started, and then he needed a moment.

Among the reporters in the room sat Moore’s wife and coach Rex Ryan, who watched with red eyes.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Moore
Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsBrandon Moore, who announced his retirement in August, will make it official Friday.
“Some of my best years were here playing for Rex,” Moore said. “All you want to do is win. We didn’t quite finish it but we were going to die trying. I just want to tell him, 'Thank you.'”

The Jets brought Moore back to the facility to formally retire. Moore spent the day with his old teammates, and Ryan took a moment after practice to tell his current team just what Moore meant to the team.

“In my opinion he’ll go down as the best guard in the history of the Jet franchise,” Ryan said.

Moore played right guard for the Jets for 10 years, He was signed by the team as an undrafted free agent in 2002 and had a streak of 142 straight starts at one point. The Jets decided not to bring him back after last season. During the offseason, he briefly agreed to play for Dallas before deciding he didn’t want to keep playing.

“I just wasn’t willing to commit all the things that go into being the Brandon Moore, the player I thought I was in my head,” Moore said. “That means film, working out, pills, treatment, stretching, doctors, surgeries, offseason, all those things. There was no point in doing it. The game deserves more respect than that.”

He’s had a few offers from teams since, he said, but isn’t interested.

“I’m done, I’ve lost a few pounds I couldn’t play anyway,” Moore said.

The 6-foot-3 Moore was listed at 305 pounds when he played for the Jets, and he has worked to lose weight since he stopped playing.

“You see some guys who have put on weight and they’re not healthy,” Moore said. “You don’t see a lot of 70-plus-year-old 300-plus-pound men walking around. I remember Pete Kendall used to say that all the time, and I used to laugh then, but you need to lead a decent life -- a healthy, comfortable life. You need to get the weight down and that’s something I’m trying to do.”

Austin Howard stood in the back of the room as Moore spoke. Earlier, Howard told ESPNNewYork.com that Moore had taught him how to prepare and maintain his health for the duration of a 16-game season during the one season they played together on the line.

“At that time it was my third year in the league, but that one year being with him, I learned more in that one year with him than I had in my entire three years,” Howard said.

“Brandon was a great teammate,” wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said. “He was everything you look for in an older guy coming into the league. You look at him like, ‘OK, when I’m a vet that’s how I want to conduct myself.”

Willie Colon, who didn’t play with Moore but said he has learned how much Moore meant to Nick Mangold and the other longtime linemen, said it’s extremely unusual for a player to be with one team for an entire 10-year career.

“It speaks volumes about the love he had for the organization and the organization respected him and his loyalty,” Colon said.

Moore said he wakes up without pain, a blessing after a career so long, and has made it to a few games this season. He said he had the time of his life and loved being a Jet.

“Now that I’m done playing, I root for the Jets even more than I did when I was running out the tunnel Sundays,” Moore said.
Moore
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Former New York Jets guard Brandon Moore, who announced his retirement in August after spurning a free-agent offer from the Dallas Cowboys, will make it official Friday. He will be at the Jets' facility for a retirement news conference.

On Sunday, Moore will lead the Jets' player walk from the team bus, through the parking lot and into MetLife Stadium, where the Jets face the New Orleans Saints.

Moore was one of the most durable linemen in Jets history. He spent 10 seasons with the Jets, working his way up from a practice-squad defensive lineman. He ended up starting the final 137 games of his career. The Jets didn't offer him a contract last offseason. He became a free agent and gave serious consideration to playing for the Cowboys. Initially, he accepted their offer, but decided he didn't want to leave his family in New Jersey.

Turkey Day fiasco shaped Jets franchise

September, 10, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- They happened in a span of 52 seconds, three calamitous plays that changed the season and probably changed the franchise.

Boom! Boom!! Boom!!!

You've heard of the Minute Waltz? This was the Minute Faults, three mistakes that bordered on mind-boggling.

[+] EnlargeShane Vereen
AP Photo/Julio CortezShane Vereen's 83-yard score gave the Pats a 14-0 lead with 9:43 left in the second quarter.
It was 7-0 last Thanksgiving night, the New York Jets trailing the New England Patriots, when the madness started. Suddenly, it was 28-0, because for only the third time in modern football history, a team scored three touchdowns in a 52-second span.

"Un-[bleeping]-believable," Jets coach Rex Ryan muttered on the sideline after the third touchdown, his reaction easy to decipher for a nation of television viewers.

The Jets and Patriots meet Thursday night for the first time since the Thanksgiving debacle and, even though the Jets refused to look back -- "It's very hazy," tackle Austin Howard said with a straight face -- it's impossible not to reflect on that ill-fated night. The Jets are who they are now, in part, because of what happened in those 52 seconds.

They actually went into the game with a 4-6 record, coming off a road victory, thinking they had a chance to get back into playoff contention. The 49-19 loss, which included the infamous Butt Fumble, made them a laughingstock. Owner Woody Johnson was disgusted by the performance, according to sources, some of whom believe he made up his mind that night to fire general manager Mike Tannenbaum and start a rebuilding process with a new front office.

"It was the beginning of difficult times," retired special-teams coach Mike Westhoff said Tuesday. "In reality, was it the beginning of the end? I'm not sure if I believe that. But in the big picture, yeah, it probably was."

It's probably an eerie coincidence, but three players directly involved in the three touchdowns are out of football. Linebacker Bart Scott and guard Brandon Moore are retired, and running back Joe McKnight is looking for a job after being released in training camp. A fourth, quarterback Mark Sanchez, is injured and could be finished with the Jets.

[+] EnlargeSteve Gregory
William Perlman/USA TODAY SportsForty-three seconds later, Steve Gregory scooped up the "Butt Fumble" and raced 32 yards for a score.
Could it be some kind of karmic justice?

Scott was supposed to cover running back Shane Vereen on a wheel route, but he didn't get to his spot on time and Vereen took a short pass and went for an 83-yard touchdown. There was 9:43 left on the second-quarter clock.

It would be Scott's final game versus the Patriots, against whom he enjoyed perhaps the highlight of his career. After the Jets' stunning win over them in the 2010 playoffs, Scott delivered his famous "Can't Wait!" rant.

Forty-three seconds after Tom Brady-to-Vereen, Sanchez aborted a running play after turning the wrong way on the handoff. He tried to run, the right move, but he ran into Moore's backside, hitting it with such force that Sanchez lost the football. It took a fortuitous bounce for the Pats' Steve Gregory, who made the scoop and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown.

The Butt Fumble was born, becoming part of the sports lexicon.

"It wears thin," Westhoff said of the seemingly endless references to the Butt Fumble. "I don't want to hear about it anymore."

On the ensuing kickoff, McKnight, a home-run threat, was blasted by Devin McCourty. The ball came flying out and hung in the air, as if being held up by an invisible string. Julian Edelman grabbed it on the run and sprinted 22 yards for another touchdown.

[+] EnlargeJulian Edelman
Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesOnly nine seconds elapsed before the Pats' next touchdown, as Julian Edelman plucked a fumble out of the air and raced to pay dirt.
There was 8:51 on the clock. Patriots 28, Jets 0. It was so embarrassing that the Jets' most famous fan, Fireman Ed, couldn't take it anymore and left the building. For good.

Sanchez later referred to his fumble disaster as a "car crash," meaning the randomness of it. There were three car crashes in 52 seconds or, as Westhoff called them, "crazy negative plays." The probability of three fluke plays occurring in rapid-fire succession is incalculable. That each unit -- offense, defense, special teams -- was responsible for giving up a touchdown was fitting, because it was a true team meltdown.

This week, the Jets have made it a point to avoid any references to last Thanksgiving. But there's some relevancy because it's another short week. Obviously, they need to be better prepared, mentally and physical, than the last time.

"We don't even think about that one," wide receiver Stephen Hill said. "We haven't even talked about it. It hasn't been brought up at all. We're just ready for 2013 and ready to get it kicked off with the Patriots."

There are 57,600 seconds in a 16-game season. For the Jets, 52 seconds of epic failure will remain timeless.
Mark SanchezWilliam Perlman/US PresswireMark Sanchez hopes to put a miserable 2012 season behind him this coming fall.
New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez's lowest moment happened on Thanksgiving night last season against the rival New England Patriots.

In a nationally televised game, Sanchez attempted to hand off the ball to a running back who wasn't there and panicked. Instead of sliding or taking a knee, Sanchez made it worse by deciding to become the running back. He ran directly into the large backside of starting guard Brandon Moore and fumbled the football, which was returned for a touchdown by Patriots safety Steve Gregory.

The play is infamously known as the "butt fumble." But it also serves as a watershed mark in Sanchez's NFL career.

This is the play that will define Sanchez if he's unable to revive his career, which many believe is already over. But he has a guaranteed salary of $8.25 million, so Sanchez is getting one final chance to silence the critics and start for the Jets in 2013.

"As far as the emotional side, my heart and soul is into this, and I was just excited to see a bunch of guys on the team again and get ready to get going," Sanchez said on a conference call this week to kick off New York’s offseason program. "That’s really where my head is at. I’m fired up about this year, and I hope it’s a good one."

Few quarterbacks have received more opportunities the past few years than Sanchez. His NFL career has been a roller-coaster ride.

Sanchez struggled as a rookie in 2009 and threw more interceptions (20) than touchdowns (12). But the Jets stuck with Sanchez, and he got better during the playoffs, leading the Jets to his first AFC title game. Sanchez maintained that momentum in 2010 and led New York to another AFC title game. But Sanchez hit rock bottom in 2012 when he recorded the league's lowest Total Quarterback Rating (23.4) and was eventually benched for third-string backup Greg McElroy.

As a result, this is the first summer since Sanchez’s rookie year when he will not be handed the starting job. Sanchez must earn it by beating out veteran free agent David Garrard.

Sanchez will be playing for his third offensive coordinator in three years. He’s struggled under former offensive coordinators Brian Schottenheimer and Tony Sparano. Now, it’s the job of new Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to get Sanchez’s career headed in the right direction.

“I’m not sure that [Sanchez] needs to be ‘fixed,’” Mornhinweg recently said to reporters. “Mark has a lot of strengths, and he’s played at a high level. It’s our job to get him to play at a high level on a consistent basis. We would certainly like competition at all spots and certainly [the quarterback] spot, the competition just makes everybody better.”

One of Sanchez’s biggest strengths is his boundless optimism. Even when much has gone wrong around him, Sanchez has always accepted blame and seen the best in every situation.

Sanchez, who is the favorite, is approaching this summer’s quarterback battle with Garrard the same way.

“I know Mr. [John] Idzik and Rex [Ryan] are big on competition, and that was really the theme heading into this year. I completely understand that,” Sanchez said. “I think it will bring out the best in everybody on the team, and everybody has to compete for their spot, so I totally respect that. I’m just concerned with preparing to play well for this team and doing everything that I possibly can, everything in my control to be the best quarterback on the roster and go play well.”

New York went 6-10 in 2012 and cut many veterans to get under the salary cap. The Jets made a few bargain-basement signings in free agency and aim to get younger in the draft with first-year general manager John Idzik calling the shots. But this is a rebuilding team that looks at least a year or two away from contending for the playoffs again.

But you can't tell that to Sanchez. This fifth season with the Jets is the most important of his career. Sanchez will prove, once and for all, whether he's a capable NFL starter or a career backup who never could match the hype of being a top-five pick.

This year Sanchez is not looking back on all his mistakes, such as the "butt fumble." He is only looking forward.

“Once you watch all that film, there’s nothing else to do except try and improve and trying to understand how you got in that position and what led to that, how to avoid some of those pitfalls if possible,” Sanchez said. “Go back and really get after the fundamentals like you do every offseason. ... It’s a whole new year and I’m excited to see the kind of team that we have when it’s all said and done and we line up on opening day.”
Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC East: Morning take: Cole adds a boost on special teams but not much in the secondary. New England still needs more depth in the defensive backfield.
Morning take: Moore might be taking the route of Dustin Keller in switching allegiances from the Jets to the rival Dolphins. The difference is that Miami has money to spend this year on free agents.
  • A long-term contract won't be an issue if the Jets trade Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Morning take: This looks like the most likely destination for Revis. But the Jets would prefer to get top draft picks for this year, to help the team immediately.
Morning take: Maybe in the second round. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith appears to be the most likely target in the first round. If Buffalo can’t get Smith, signal-callers like Manuel, Ryan Nassib and Mike Glennon are targets in the second round.
» NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Welcome to Eight in the Box, an NFL Nation feature that will appear each Friday during the offseason. This week's topic: Who should be the primary target (including trades) for each team when free agency begins?

Buffalo Bills: Buffalo has quite a bit of money to spend in free agency and few of its own players should be top priorities, with the exception of franchised safety Jairus Byrd and guard Andy Levitre, who should be the most sought-after free agent at his position. Bringing Levitre back should be a focus, and Buffalo could use more pieces on defense, but the Bills really need to add offensive weapons (especially if they plan to select a quarterback early in the 2013 draft). There are a lot of tight ends on the market and in the upcoming draft class, but free-agent wideout Greg Jennings would be my No. 1 target. Jennings is an established receiver who could legitimize the passing attack. The presence of Jennings would also allow Steve Johnson to see more favorable coverage matchups.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have a lot of money to work with and should be one of the most active teams in free agency. On defense, cornerback and an edge pass-rusher are areas of need, but this offseason needs to be all about building around second-year franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill. That would put Jennings in play here, too, but Steelers wideout Mike Wallace is younger and his fantastic speed would complement Davone Bess and Brian Hartline, who has reportedly agreed to a five-year contract to stay in Miami. Wallace also would allow Tannehill to show off his big arm downfield and help create room for Miami’s running game. And with Anthony Fasano also a free agent, Miami needs to address the tight end spot as well.

New England Patriots: The Patriots have plenty of cap room to be aggressive in free agency and improve an already-stacked roster, but they also have major contributors of their own whose contracts are up. The Tom Brady/Bill Belichick window could be closing in the near future, so expect the Pats to go all-in to upgrade their roster, which could possibly include trading backup quarterback Ryan Mallett for more draft picks that could further improve New England’s young core. The Pats’ roster could look much different next season, but former New England standout defensive lineman Richard Seymour would be a great guy to pursue. Seymour is familiar with how Belichick does things and the defense as a whole. He is getting on in age, but maybe the Patriots can get him at a slight discount. Because of the defensive tackles they presently have on the roster, New England would not have to play Seymour a high number of snaps, which could appeal to the veteran and allow him to stay fresh throughout the season. Seymour’s interior pass-rush skills would help a defense that lacks consistent interior push.

New York Jets: Considering their salary-cap situation, it is possible the Jets will be without cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie next season, which opens up yet another hole on a roster that needs a lot of work. On offense, the Jets needs to improve at the skill positions, and bringing back stalwart guard Brandon Moore also would be wise for this run-first team. Quarterback is a massive need, but there isn't an obvious name to meet that need right now. However, Rex Ryan's brother, Rob, coached outside linebacker Victor Butler in Dallas. Although Butler was a backup to DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer in Dallas' 3-4 scheme, he was very productive when called upon. Butler is young, the arrow is pointing up and the Jets' pass rush desperately needs a boost from the outside linebacker position. With the Jets' cap constraints, Butler would be the perfect option to fill that need at a reasonable price.

AFC East Stock Watch

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
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Let's take a look at whose stock is up and down in the AFC East.

Falling

1. New York Jets offensive line: The Jets' offensive line didn't bother showing up in Week 16. This embattled group allowed 11 sacks to the San Diego Chargers. It is mind-boggling how a group with three Pro Bowlers from the 2011 season (center Nick Mangold, guard Brandon Moore and left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson) can be so inconsistent -- but it's been that way for at least two years. Former third-string quarterback Greg McElroy took a pounding in his first career start. The good news is things can’t get much worse in the regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills.

2. Chan Gailey, Bills coach: Gailey's stock continues to drop as Buffalo is sputtering down the stretch. The Bills lost to the Miami Dolphins, 24-10, to fall to 5-10 on the season. Buffalo had playoff aspirations, but poor coaching and quarterback play are the two biggest reasons things never came to fruition. Gailey is still under contract for next season, so the Bills would have to pay two head coaches if Gailey is let go. However, Gailey is 15-32 in three seasons in Buffalo and has little in his corner to make a case for staying.

3. Tim Tebow, Jets quarterback: Tebow's sterling reputation took a hit when he reportedly asked New York's coaches not to play in the Wildcat package. This was Tebow's way of lashing out at being passed over for McElroy last week. Some think Tebow quit on the team, while others think the Jets quit on Tebow first. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both. Maybe Tebow should be happy he didn’t take the 11 sacks New York’s offensive line allowed Sunday.

Rising

1. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins surpassed most people's expectations by improving to 7-8 with a victory Sunday over the Bills. For example, the AFC East blog projected Miami to finish 6-10. We will be one game off if the Dolphins lose Sunday against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. But there will be a lot of optimism heading into the offseason for the Dolphins. They have a good rookie prospect at quarterback and a first-year head coach who has done a solid job. The key will be managing Miami’s immense cap space and plethora of draft picks next year.

2. C.J. Spiller, Bills tailback: Miami’s stout front seven rarely allows 100-yard rushers. But Spiller sliced and diced the Dolphins with 138 rushing yards on 22 carries. He’s proven his ability to be a franchise back this year and currently has 1,185 rushing yards on the season. What’s even more amazing is Spiller didn’t get as many opportunities as he should have. The Bills need to make sure to build their offense around Spiller from the start next season.

3. Reggie Bush, Dolphins tailback: Bush recorded three touchdowns and a 107 total yards in a win over Buffalo. He is a dual threat who continues to make his case to return to Miami. Bush, a pending free agent, needs just 40 rushing yards Sunday to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. The Dolphins reportedly are interested in re-signing Bush, but at a price that’s affordable to the team.

Video: Brandon Moore on Sparano, Tebow

August, 2, 2012
8/02/12
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Hannah Storm catches up with Brandon Moore at Jets camp to discuss what he’s learned from last season, getting adjusted to Tony Sparano, and the addition of Tim Tebow.

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 37-40

February, 13, 2012
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We mentioned Sunday that we are ranking the top-40 players in the AFC East. Let's begin "Walker's Fab 40" with Nos. 37-40.

No. 40: Kyle Arrington, CB

Arrington
Arrington
Team: New England Patriots

2011 stats: 88 tackles, seven interceptions

Analysis: Our Fab 40 in the AFC East begins with the NFL interception leader. Arrington made strides this past season by creating much-needed turnovers for the Patriots' defense. But too often Arrington and New England gave up chunks of passing yards. The Patriots were 31st in total defense and 31st in pass defense. Despite his stats, Arrington was not a shutdown corner. But his playmaking ability and good hands were enough to come in a No. 40.

No. 39: Kevin Burnett, LB

Burnett
Burnett
Team: Miami Dolphins

2011 stats: 105 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one interception

Analysis: Burnett’s 2011 season followed the same path as Miami's. Like the Dolphins, Burnett started slow. He was one of the team's big free-agent additions and had trouble finding his role as Miami started 0-7. But Burnett started to show around midseason why the Dolphins acquired him. He was one of the team's biggest impact players on defense and finished with 105 tackles. Miami also went 6-3 down the stretch. There is a lot to like about Miami's defense entering next season and Burnett is one of the reasons.

No. 38: Brian Moorman, P

Moorman
Moorman
Team: Buffalo Bills

2011 stats: 48.2 yards per punt, 20 inside 20

Analysis: There were a couple of seasons recently when a strong case could be made that Moorman was the best player on Buffalo's roster. That is no longer the case. But Moorman remains one of the top punters in the AFC. He averaged 48.2 yards per punt and had another consistent season. Moorman and a healthy place kicker Rian Lindell provides a solid pair for Buffalo's special teams.

No. 37: Brandon Moore, G

Moore
Moore
Team: New York Jets

2011 Stats: 16 starts

Analysis: The Jets surprisingly had three offensive linemen make the Pro Bowl this year. I didn't think New York's performance in the trenches earned that, but Moore was one of those three players to get the call to Hawaii. Moore and center Nick Mangold are two of New York's best run blockers. But Moore needs to be more consistent overall and especially in pass protection.

AFC East in the Pro Bowl

January, 29, 2012
1/29/12
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The 2012 Pro Bowl will take place Sunday at 7 p.m.

Here is a list of players to watch from the AFC East:

Miami Dolphins
New York Jets

No Buffalo Bills made the Pro Bowl. The New England Patriots led the AFC with eight Pro Bowl players. But the Patriots will be playing in the Super Bowl Feb. 5, and none of their players will participate.

Rapid Reaction: Texans 20, Jets 16

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
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Thoughts from the Jets' 20-16 loss to the Texans in a preseason version of "Monday Night Football."

WHAT IT MEANS: Seven months after their crushing loss to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, the Jets began another Super Bowl quest Monday night. Rex Ryan’s cast of characters hasn’t changed much since then and, despite a loss to the Texans, there were enough positives to make it a successful preseason opener. They should’ve pulled it out, but rookie reciever Michael Campbell dropped a potential touchdown pass in the final minute.

ON THE MARK: After some spotty practice performances, quarterback Mark Sanchez (6-for-7, 43 yards) stepped up in prime time and was on point with every pass. His lone incompletion was a drop by backup tight end Matt Mulligan. With two starters missing from the offensive line, the Jets kept it conservative, calling only quick throws for Sanchez. But give him credit for his accuracy; that’s an area he’s working to improve. Sanchez was pulled after one quarter and, no, he didn’t want to fight Ryan to get back on the field.

KEY INJURY: The Jets lost backup center Rob Turner (lower leg) to a potentially serious injury. This injury won’t grab big headlines, but it’s costly because of Turner’s versatility. He can play center, guard, tight end and blocks in the wedge on kickoff returns. Turner, who started for the injured Nick Mangold, was carted off in the first quarter and replaced by third-stringer Robby Felix. Luckily for the Jets, Mangold should be back to practice this week.

THIN LINE: Just the other day, Ryan boasted that the Jets’ top seven offensive linemen are the best in the league. It’s not looking that way now. Not only is Turner out, but second-year lineman Vladimir Ducasse was awful.

Ducasse, who started for injured lineman Brandon Moore, allowed a sack at right guard and another at right tackle. The first sack came on the play in which Turner was injured; Ducasse’s failure to hold off defensive end J.J. Watt put Turner in a vulnerable position. Ducasse also got some work at left guard, where -- hooray -- he didn’t allow a sack.

If Turner’s injury is long term, the Jets will have to sign an experienced backup center. It’s a thin market. In fact, the best available center might be former Giant Shaun O’Hara.

THE PLAXICO VOID: The biggest story of the game -- Plaxico Burress -- wasn’t at the game. He was home, nursing an ankle injury and schmoozing with ESPN’s Mike Tirico in a phone interview during the fourth quarter. (In case you’re wondering, Burress reiterated that he expects to practice full on Wednesday.) Without Burress, the other new receiver, Derrick Mason, was in a prominent role. Mason caught all three passes thrown to him for 21 yards -- a solid debut, considering his lack of practice time with Sanchez.

THE ROOKIES: It was a nice start for the Jets’ draft class, especially nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (one batted pass), QB Greg McElroy (208 yards passing) and WR/KR Jeremy Kerley (32.5 average on kickoff returns). Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson started the game, but didn’t have any wow moments -- although he did have an offsides penalty. Running back Bilal Powell (nine carries, 25 yards) also played well and could push Joe McKnight for the No. 3 tailback job. McKnight left with a possible concussion.

KID QB: With backup QB Mark Brunell (finger) sitting out, McElroy played the second, third and fourth quarters, leading the offense to three field goals and a touchdown (2-yard scoring pass to Patrick Turner). McElroy lost a fumble on a strip sack, but he kept his composure and demonstrated some of the attributes that led the Jets to draft him in the seventh round -- smarts, poise and accuracy. Too bad he doesn’t have a gun.

WHAT A COMEBACK: Eight months removed from breaking his shin in a freak practice collision, safety Jim Leonhard was back on the field, back in the Jets’ starting lineup. It was a welcomed sight for the defense, which relies on Leonhard to make calls on the field.

INJURY WATCH: Linebacker Bart Scott hurt his left ankle/leg on the first play of the game. The replay looked bad, but he returned on the second series. He watched most of the second half with a huge wrap on his leg. Stay tuned.

INACTIVES: QB Mark Brunell, WR Plaxico Burress, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, LB Brandon Long, G Trevor Canfield. The Texans played without RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson, their offensive stars.

Video: Jets report to team facilities

July, 26, 2011
7/26/11
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Jets chairman & CEO Woody Johnson, tight end Dustin Keller and guard Brandon Moore talk about being back in business.

Best of NFL: AFC East players

June, 28, 2011
6/28/11
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Best of NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

As part of the Best of the NFL Week on ESPN.com, here are five bests for the AFC East:

Best hands, Davone Bess: Just to get a rise out of everybody, I could have gone with New York Jets receiver Braylon Edwards here. After all, he dropped only one ball last season on 98 targets and 53 receptions. But I couldn't bring myself to do it based on his track record. So I'm going with Bess, the Miami Dolphins' slot receiver, who drops one on occasion, but that's expected given his volume. The past two seasons, Bess has dropped 10 passes -- but on 233 targets and 155 receptions.

[+] EnlargeMeat
Kirby Lee/US PRESSWIREJets offensive lineman Brandon Moore, a.k.a. Meat.
Best celebrator, Steve Johnson: The flamboyant receiver endeared himself to Buffalo Bills fans with his breakout 2010 season. He caught 82 passes for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. But his signature moment -- well, his positive signature moment -- came in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He caught eight passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns. He further showed up the self-proclaimed "Batman and Robin" duo of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. Johnson scored a TD and triumphantly lifted his jersey to reveal a T-shirt with a line from the Joker: "Why so serious?"

Best trash talker, Channing Crowder: Not many players would get into a verbal sparring match with an NFL coach, but the Dolphins linebacker gleefully engaged Rex Ryan two summers ago. Crowder's diatribes are enthralling, although sometimes dotted with malapropisms. After he accused Baltimore Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain of spitting in his face, Crowder went on a rant that invoked Anne Frank when trying to mock officials for being blind. He meant Helen Keller.

Best nickname, Meat: That's what the Jets call right guard Brandon Moore. Why is it the best nickname? I don't know. Because it makes me laugh when I hear it, I guess. Maybe because it reminds me of the dialogue between Crash Davis and Nuke LaLoosh in "Bull Durham."

Best intimidator, Darrelle Revis: He's not a snarling, frothing menace on the other side of scrimmage. But when it comes to eliminating top receivers, Revis is the best in the business -- and the opposition knows it. He causes dread in coaches, quarterbacks and receivers the week they play the Jets.

Vollmer lands on NFL All-Underrated team

June, 11, 2011
6/11/11
12:40
PM ET
ESPN.com's eight divisional bloggers were asked to name who we thought was the most underrated player on each team we cover. Our pieces ran Friday at noon, followed by senior writer John Clayton's league-wide All-Underrated squad.

None of the players I selected -- Buffalo Bills receiver Roscoe Parrish, Miami Dolphins defensive end Kendall Langford, New England Patriots linebacker Gary Guyton or New York Jets right guard Brandon Moore -- made Clayton's roster.

But Clayton did include one AFC East representative: Patriots right tackle Sebastian Vollmer.

I briefly considered Vollmer for my divisional piece, but I eliminated him because he was honored as a second-team All-Pro last year. In fact, I bypassed any player who had been selected All-Pro or for a Pro Bowl -- Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams, for example.

While Vollmer and Williams still might be thought of as underrated, being recognized among a handful of players at their positions does indicate they're highly thought of.

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