AFC East: Ed Reed

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This is the final of three plays nominated as the most memorable play in team history. Earlier this week we featured Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino's fake spike play against the New York Jets in 1994 and Hall of Fame coach Don Shula's "Hook and Lateral" play call in the divisional playoffs in 1982. Please vote for your choice as the Dolphins’ most memorable play.

Score: Dolphins 22, Ravens 16 (OT)
Date: Dec. 16, 2007 Site: Dolphin Stadium

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Which is the most memorable play in Dolphins' history?

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    79%
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    16%
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    5%

Discuss (Total votes: 33,173)

At a time when no one should have cared about this game, the Miami Dolphins were in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Miami, a proud franchise with two Super Bowl titles and the undefeated 1972 team, was on the verge of also becoming the first NFL team to finish 0-16. No team had accomplished the feat since the NFL expanded to 16 games in 1978.

The Dolphins were brutal in 2007. They averaged a measly 16.7 points per game and allowed 27.3 points per game. Cam Cameron was an awful choice as head coach and was fired after one season. The Dolphins also went through three starting quarterbacks in 2007 and lost their first 13 games -- often in blowout fashion.

Enter Week 15, where the Dolphins were again underdogs against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens were by no means world-beaters this season. They were 4-9 entering this contest. But Baltimore at least had talent, such a 1,000-yard rusher Willis McGahee and 1,000-yard receiver Derrick Mason on offense and future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed on defense. Even in a down year, Baltimore was expected to win this game.

But in this game the Dolphins showed a resilience they had not shown all season. The Ravens jumped out to a 13-3 lead at halftime, and the Dolphins unexpectedly rallied in the second half behind quarterback Cleo Lemon (315 yards, one touchdown) and the game was tied 16-16 at the end of regulation.

In overtime, Lemon sent shockwaves throughout the NFL when he connected with receiver Greg Camarillo for a 64-yard touchdown throw to beat Baltimore and deliver Miami’s only win of the season. Lemon and Camarillo are two forgotten names when you think of the history of the Dolphins. But they prevented Miami from experiencing one of the most embarrassing chapters in franchise history.

Ironically, after the Dolphins narrowly avoided history, the Detroit Lions set the record a year later by going 0-16 in 2008.
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With first-round pick Calvin Pryor now officially official, having signed his four-year, $8.56 million contract, this is a good time to analyze how the New York Jets might deploy their safeties. It's an interesting question because they have three players they consider starting-caliber safeties -- Pryor, Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen.

Pryor
Obviously, we're not talking about the Seattle Seahawks' safety group here, so it shouldn't take long for Pryor to find a place in the starting lineup.

Like Landry and Allen, Pryor is a natural "box" safety, but scouts say his coverage skills are good enough to where he can be used in zone coverage -- i.e. the deep middle -- although no one is calling him a young Ed Reed. Landry, whose coverage skills are extremely limited, offers value in a quarterback-type role -- a heady player who can make sure everyone is lined up properly. Allen is unusal because he has the athleticism to play man-to-man coverage against top tight ends (ask Rob Gronkowski), yet he's a bit shaky in zones because his instincts and reaction skills need work.

So you have three strong-safety types with different strengths and weaknesses. Don't be surprised if Rex Ryan goes back to a three-safety package on certain passing downs, which he did quite often last season. There were many times in which the Jets preferred a third safety (Jaiquawn Jarrett) over a fourth corner in dime situations. Unfortunately, we don't have a breakdown of how often they used a three-safety package, but the snap distribution over the first nine games (before Reed signed) illustrates how much they relied on three safeties as part of the weekly game plan:

Landry -- 620 snaps/99 percent

Allen -- 397/64 percent

Jarrett -- 234/37 percent

When Reed signed, Ryan dropped Allen like a bad habit, using a Reed-Landry tandem for a few games. Finally realizing Reed, 35, no longer was the impact player he remembered from Baltimore, Ryan scaled back Reed's playing time, opting for a late-season platoon system that included Allen. It occurred too late to dramatically change the snap distribution over the final seven games, which clearly shows a reliance on two safeties:

Landry -- 461/97 percent

Reed -- 368/78 percent

Allen -- 137/29 percent

Jarrett -- 43/9 percent

Looking ahead, Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman probably will do a lot of mixing and matching, letting personnel and game situations dictate the lineup. For instance, when the Jets face an athletic, pass-catching tight end, Allen probably will have a greater role in the game plan. Landry's role could shrink as Pryor gets comfortable with the defense from a cerebral standpoint. In the end, you will see a lot of Pryor and a playing-time breakdown that resembles the first nine games from 2013, with three players in contributing roles.
Is Dawan Landry in trouble?

The addition of safety Calvin Pryor, drafted 18th overall, has fueled speculation about Landry's future with the New York Jets. The website overthecap.com, which does great work on contract and cap-related trends in the NFL, includes Landry on a list of 10 veteran players that could be impacted by the draft -- a kind of way of mentioning players whose jobs could be in jeopardy.

Landry
Frankly, I think it would be a mistake to cut Landry. His 2014 salary isn't outrageous ($1.5 million) and, even though he's 31 and doesn't make a lot of big plays, he still has value because of his intangibles. He's the quarterback of the secondary, responsible for making pre-snap checks and getting the players lined up properly. Pryor might have a bright future, but he's certainly not ready to have that on his plate. Neither is third-year safety Antonio Allen, still learning the nuances of the position after playing a quasi-linebacker role in college.

Could you imagine a starting secondary of Pryor, Allen, second-year cornerback Dee Milliner and veteran corner Dimitri Patterson, who is new to the Rex Ryan system? There would be communication breakdowns galore. If they were to cut Landry, they'd have to sign someone with a strong grasp of the system. Ed Reed, you ask? Actually, Reed's free-safety skill set would pair nicely with Pryor, and he obviously knows Ryan's defense. But the future Hall of Famer will be 36 in September and the Jets have been there, done that.

It certainly sounds as if Allen will have a role on defense, if not a starting role. He's at his best in man-to-man coverage, relying on his athletic ability instead of sitting back in a zone and trying to read offenses.

"Antonio Allen is doing a tremendous job and I think he’ll be ready to do some interesting things for us this year," Ryan said after picking Pryor. "His big thing was the position change from what he did in college to the NFL. We knew that would take a little time, and I think actually he’s sped that process up a little faster than maybe anticipated. I really look forward to seeing what he does."

Free-agency primer: Jets

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
11:00
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Key free agents: RT Austin Howard, PK Nick Folk (franchise player), TE Jeff Cumberland, LB Calvin Pace, RG Willie Colon, S Ed Reed.

Where they stand: The Jets are trying to re-sign Howard before he hits the open market. He's not a household name, but he's a massive blocker with surprising athleticism. Howard has two years of starting experience and he's only getting better. They've expressed an interest in re-signing Cumberland and Pace, although it's unclear if deals will get done by Tuesday. Pace produced a career-high 10 sacks last season, playing for the minimum salary, but he's 33 -- and the Jets won't throw significant money at a player that old. The Jets are rebuilding at tight end, so Cumberland's role is undefined, which could affect negotiations. Colon and Reed are fallback options. In Reed's case, way, way back. Colon is recovering from biceps surgery and won't be healthy until the spring.

What to expect: With an anticipated $30 million in cap space, the Jets could be aggressive buyers if they so choose. They need a wide receiver (or two), a tight end and a veteran quarterback to push Geno Smith. There aren't any true No. 1 receivers on the market, so they'd better be careful not to overpay for the second-rate talent. Emmanuel Sanders and Golden Tate could be on the radar. They're likely to have interest in QBs Josh McCown and Michael Vick, who'd be ideal because he already knows Marty Mornhinweg's system from their days together in Philadelphia. If they strike out with free agents, the Jets could retain former starter Mark Sanchez, contingent on his health and a massive pay cut. The Jets could have 12 draft choices (counting possible compensatory picks), so they don't have to overpay to fix every need in free agency.

The New York Jets haven't doled out a lucrative, multi-year contract for a safety since Kerry Rhodes signed a five-year, $33.5 million deal in 2008 -- a contract then-coach Eric Mangini, speaking to a friend years later, called one of his biggest regrets. But that's besides the point; the message here is that since 2009, in Rex Ryan's cornerback-centric system, the organization hasn't paid premium prices at the safety position.

It should take a hard look at changing the philosophy now that Jairus Byrd appears headed for the open market.

Byrd
The Buffalo Bills declined to use the franchise tag on Byrd (the deadline was 4 p.m. Monday), meaning he will become an unrestricted free agent March 11. That's assuming he doesn't re-sign with the Bills, which appears highly unlikely.

Byrd will demand serious coin -- he reportedly rejected a deal that would have paid him $30 million for the first three years -- but he's so good that the Jets should investigate. Byrd is a younger version of Ed Reed, sans the dynamic return ability. He's a ball hawk with uncanny instincts, a presence in the deep middle. The Jets like to play a lot of single-high safety looks, and Byrd would be a terrific scheme fit. Their problems against the deep ball would disappear with him patrolling center field.

Obviously, the Jets are doing something right on defense (five straight years in the top 11), but they've done so with a glaring lack of production at safety. Since 2009, the Jets' safeties have combined for only 16 interceptions. (We're not including six by Dwight Lowery, a safety/cornerback hybrid who played mostly in sub packages.) Since 2009, when Byrd entered the league as a second-round pick, the soon-to-be-former Bills star has 22 interceptions. By the way, that includes six against the Jets.

So will the Jets pursue Byrd? My gut tells me no. It sounds like they will entrust the position again to Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen & Co., perhaps adding a player in the draft. Clearly, they have bigger needs on offense, but they have enough salary-cap room to plug those needs and make a big splurge on defense. Maybe a look at the list below will change their mind.

Safety interceptions since 2009:

Ed Reed, Eric Smith, Kerry Rhodes -- 3
LaRon Landry, Jim Leonhard -- 2
Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen, Brodney Pool -- 1
Good news for the New York Jets: The Seattle Seahawks delivered an emphatic reminder that great defense still matters in the offensive-minded NFL.

Bad news for the Jets: Their defense, the foundation of the team, isn’t close to that of the Seahawks.

While the Jets have the potential to be dominant on the defensive line, they don’t have enough playmakers on the second and third levels to accomplish what the Seahawks did in Super Bowl XLVIII.

[+] EnlargeDemario Davis
AP Photo/Damian StrohmeyerDemario Davis is one of the young players the Jets can build around on defense.
They can stop the run with anyone, and they have the power rushers to generate a decent-to-occasionally-strong pass rush, but there are no proven difference-makers at linebacker or in the secondary -- not yet, anyway. The Jets produced only 15 takeaways last season, continuing a trend under Rex Ryan. For all their defensive success in recent years, they've created only 130 turnovers since 2009, 15th in the league.

It’s all about the turnovers, as the Seahawks proved Sunday night -- and all season, really. They rattled the great Peyton Manning with an incredible amount of speed and intensity, relying on personnel over scheme. Their game plan was simple, but brilliant. It was them saying, “No tricks necessary; our guys are better than your guys.” They recorded only one sack (an overrated statistic), but they forced Manning to move in the pocket and they bashed his receivers when they caught the ball. The defense finished with four turnovers and a touchdown, a great day’s work.

It’s also all about pass defense in the current NFL, so you need a stable of pass-rushers and “space” players in the back seven -- exceptional athletes who can drop, cover and make plays on the ball against offenses that spread the field. The Jets finished 22nd in pass defense. The Seahawks are built for speed; it’s always been the Pete Carroll philosophy. That’s why he doesn’t carry linebackers north of 250 pounds.

In contrast, Ryan built his front seven based on strength and power, the necessary attributes of a 3-4 scheme, although he has tweaked his philosophy to adapt to the new NFL. That was apparent in 2012, when he used a third-round pick on Demario Davis, a run-and-hit linebacker. In the not-so-old days, a linebacker like Davis -- 239 pounds -- wouldn’t have been a scheme fit.

Davis didn’t wow anyone in his first season as a starter, but he’s an ascending player, one of their building blocks. He and cornerback Dee Milliner -- the December Milliner, not the early Milliner -- have the athleticism to thrive in a fast-flow defense. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie can do it, too, as long as his troublesome hip isn’t an issue.

Unlike the Seahawks, who have the best safety tandem in the league, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, the Jets are suspect at the position. Dawan Landry is a good quarterback, orchestrating the back end, but he doesn’t make plays. There’s a lot to like about Antonio Allen, who has improved considerably, but he’s still not a finished product. What does it say that graybeard Ed Reed, a midseason pickup, tied for the team lead with three interceptions?

Look, this isn’t a hatchet job on the Jets' defense. Clearly, they're better on defense than they were a year ago at this time. Their foundation is better than two-thirds of the teams, but they're still a few players away from Seattle's best. General manager John Idzik's first draft was solid, but he needs to find some of those fourth- and fifth-round gems, like his former colleagues have done in Seattle.

But, hey, it took the Seahawks four years to get to this point. Rome wasn't built in one offseason.

NFLN survey/respected player: Jets

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
10:00
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Our NFL Nation network of team reporters polled 320 players across the league -- 10 from each team -- to produce a confidential survey that covered eight probing questions/hot topics. Next up ...

Question: Which player do you respect the most?

Winner: Peyton Manning, quarterback, Denver Broncos.

Our take: Manning was a landslide winner with 86 votes (26.8 percent), accumulating more than three times the number of votes as the second-place finishers, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (24 each). The Manning-Brady dynamic is interesting. Brady has three Super Bowl rings to Manning's one, yet it's clear which quarterback is more popular among his peers. It makes for interesting discussion fodder, especially with a Manning-Brady showdown in the AFC Championship Game.

I can tell you this: Manning received the most votes (three) among the 10 Jets players who participated in the survey. Two players voted for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Five other players, including Peterson, received one vote apiece.

Only two Jets received votes from their peers around the league: safety Ed Reed (five) and linebacker David Harris (one). Obviously, Reed drew attention for his stellar years with the Baltimore Ravens, not his seven-game, hired-gun gig with the Jets. Players weren't allowed to vote for teammates. A total of 78 players received votes in this category.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Ed Reed didn't rule out retirement, but he gave every indication Monday that he'd like to play another season. He'd like it to be with the New York Jets.

"I know I'm going to be ready to play football next year," Reed said.

Reed
The future Hall-of-Fame safety, who underwent hip surgery last April while a free agent, said he expects to be better in 2014 after having a full offseason to rest and rehab his hip. He was scheduled for an MRI exam on Monday, which he termed as "total maintenance."

Reed, who played seven games with the Jets after being released by the Houston Texans, received heavy criticism for his play. Frankly, he looked old and too slow for an every-down role. In recent weeks, his playing time was reduced and he came more productive, finishing with three interceptions -- tied for the team lead.

Not shy at firing back at critics, Reed scoffed when asked if New York saw the "real" Reed this season.

"The real Ed Reed?" he asked, increduously. "I'm in my 12th year, I know how to play this game. I've played this game a certain way for a long time. The real Ed Reed was here. My expectations for myself are higher than y'all could ever be. The standard has been set high, but like I said, I said that standard."

Rex Ryan's affinity for Reed is well-documented, but it's hard to imagine them re-signing him. He will be 36 next season, and they have reliable veteran Dawan Landry, part-time starter Antonio Allen and other young safeties.

"I came close to retiring three, four years ago, so there's always that possibility," he said. "That's something I've always evaluated after every season since my first year. It's a violent sport. The sport is changing a lot and organizations are changing. It's just a different game."

Green Day: Film review of Sunday's win

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
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One last look back at the New York Jets' 24-13 win over the Cleveland Browns:

Geno Smith delivered his best performance in two months -- easily. What impressed me the most was the poise he demonstrated on third down. As expected, the Browns came after him, rushing five or more on eight of his 12 dropbacks. They sent a couple of corner blitzes, probably going to school on the Jets-Panthers tape from the previous week. But Smith, afforded terrific pass protection, was unflappable.

He completed 9 of 12 passes on third down, including three conversions on third-and-10 or greater. To me, Smith's best play came on a third-and-12 to Jeremy Kerley. It came against a Cover 2 look, with Kerley beating linebacker D'Qwell Jackson into the soft middle for 22 yards. It was significant because, in a similar situation four weeks ago against the Miami Dolphins, Smith was intercepted by linebacker Dannell Ellerbe on a throw to the slot receiver.

Progress? Yes, but keep in mind the Browns were ranked 27th in third-down defense.

Other takeaways from the game:

1. The Marty Bunch: Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did a nice job of using bunch formations to create separation for the receivers. A good example was Smith's 6-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson. They had three tight ends on the field -- unusual for third-and-6 -- with Nelson lined up in a bunch to the right. He got a free release and ran a post route through bracket coverage. Smith anticipated Nelson's break, winding up before Nelson turned for the ball -- just like you draw it up. Later, Nelson had a 15-yard reception out of another bunch formation.

2. Welcome back, wideouts: This may have been the best game for the wide-receiving corps, which produced 11 catches, 123 yards and two touchdowns. It had better numbers against the Cincinnati Bengals (15 for 130), but that was a blowout loss. The Browns used a lot of "off" coverage, playing into the Jets' hands. Everybody knows you have to play aggressive press coverage against the Jets' wideouts.

3. Tone's time almost up: It was a disappointing day for Santonio Holmes, who had as many drops (two) as receptions. On the positive side, he did a nice job of shielding cornerback Buster Skrine in the end zone on Smith's 17-yard touchdown scramble. Curiously, Holmes didn't partake in the celebration. Smith was mobbed by seven teammates, but Holmes, nearby, didn't join in, looking like he was sulking.

4. Reed responds in backup role: Safety Ed Reed, replaced by Antonio Allen in the base defense, played his best game as a Jet. In fact, the much-maligned safety group allowed only one completion in five targets, recorded an interception (Reed) and broke up two passes -- a solid performance. Then again, what do we writers know about football, right, Ed?

5. Flawless protection: Kudos to the offensive line -- no sacks, no quarterback hits. I've been critical of rookie left guard Brian Winters, but this was one of his better games. He had a key block on Bilal Powell's 39-yard run.

6. Defensive hiccup: The Jets were gashed on Edwin Baker's 5-yard touchdown run. It happened with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (shoulder) temporarily out of the game. His replacement, Leger Douzable, was double-teamed. Outside linebacker Quinton Coples fell victim to a trap block, creating a crease for Baker. Afterward, Rex Ryan took responsibility, saying he should've used the goal-line defense instead of the base.

7. Not so special: Special-teams mistakes have cost the Jets 10 points in the last two games. There was the blocked punt in Carolina, and the failed fake punt against the Browns. Josh Bush, a safety, took the direct snap and uncorked a Tebow-esque pass into the ground, missing a wide-open Isaiah Trufant. They will say it should've worked because he was open, but I didn't see the point in resorting to trickeration against a hapless team like the Browns. The Jets also allowed a 50-yard kickoff return at a critical point in the game, but it was a treat to see Saalim Hakim turn on the jets and track down Fozzy Whittaker. Dude can fly.

Rapid Reaction: New York Jets

December, 22, 2013
12/22/13
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Jets' 24-13 win over the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: The Jets (7-8) still have a chance to finish .500, which would be a nice accomplishment for a team predicted to be a laughingstock. They got off to a slow start against the Browns (4-11), committing sloppy mistakes, but they developed nice balance on offense. The Jets finished 6-2 at home. Hey, it's something. The Browns dropped their sixth in a row.

Stock watch: This might have been Rex Ryan's final home game. After three straight seasons out of the playoffs, Ryan could be fired at the end of the season. He referenced his uncertain status Saturday night in a team meeting, according to a Fox Sports report. He probably did it for motivational purposes. If owner Woody Johnson and GM John Idzik are leaning toward making a change, the decision could get tougher with a strong finish.

Geno delivers -- finally: Quarterback Geno Smith (20-for-36, 214 yards) played his best game since Week 5, throwing two touchdowns to David Nelson, running for one and -- get this -- managing to avoid a turnover for only the third time. For a change, Smith validated the praise his coaches have lavished upon him, providing a glimmer of hope for the future. Recognizing single coverage, he called an audible on his 6-yard scoring pass to Nelson, a heady play by the rookie. Smith was money on third down and did a nice job of finding his checkdown options. He got a boost from Chris Ivory, who rushed for 109 yards.

Better late than never: Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner played his best game, by far, recording his first interception and holding the dangerous Josh Gordon to six catches for 97 yards on 16 targets. It helped that Gordon dropped three passes, including two in the end zone. But give Milliner credit. The first-round pick showed closing speed and made plays on the ball, continuing to show improvement in the latter stage of the season. Interestingly, Milliner -- not Antonio Cromartie -- was assigned to Gordon on every play. That never would've happened if Cromartie were playing well.

Pine time for Reed: It's not often that a future Hall of Famer is benched, but that's what happened to safety Ed Reed, who was replaced in the base defense by Antonio Allen. Reed, who played 84 percent of the defensive snaps in his first five games, was limited to the sub package on passing downs. (He did make an interception near the end of the game.) This is how he should've been used from the outset, not as an every-down player. Ryan is a Reed apologist, but give him credit for making this move, albeit too late.

What's ahead: The Jets close the season in the spoiler role, facing the Miami Dolphins on the road.
One last look back at the New York Jets' 30-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers:

I heard this expression a long time ago (I think it came from Bill Parcells), and it applies to one element of the game: How many times do you need to get hit in the face with a skunk before you realize it stinks?

The Jets got hit with a cornerback blitz on their sixth play from scrimmage, but they did little to stop it -- so the Panthers used it over and over. The Panthers aren't known for exotic blitzes, but they kept sending Captain Munnerlyn off the corner. Why not?

[+] EnlargeCaptain Munnerlyn and Geno Smith
Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCTCaptain Munnerlyn and the Panthers used cornerback blitzes to get at Jets QB Geno Smith.
On the Panthers' first sack, Munnerlyn was unblocked on a front-side blitz and tackled Geno Smith. On their third sack, Munnerlyn came on a back-side blitz. Running back Bilal Powell picked him up, but it allowed linebacker Luke Kuechly to loop around left tackle -- unblocked -- for the sack out of a six-man rush. On the fourth sack, Munnerlyn came from the back side again. The Jets emptied the backfield, so there was no one to block him.

If Munnerlyn had a few more chances, he might have finished with three or four sacks. It wasn't a well-coordinated effort by the Jets, but a lot of those problems can be attributed to Smith's inexperience. He simply needs to do a better job of recognizing pressure and finding his hot reads.

The Panthers sent extra pressure twice as often as they usually do, surprising the Jets. Against five or more rushers, Smith was only 6-for-12, plus four sacks. He averaged only 2.9 yards per dropback, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Panthers did a nice job with their game plan, attacking a Jets weakness.

Other takeaways:

1. Another Geno hiccup: Smith, explaining his interception, admitted he should've checked down to another receiver instead of forcing the ball into a tight window to Santonio Holmes. The tape reveals that Smith had three wide-open check-down options --Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland and Powell. This was another example of poor field vision by the rookie. He also got caught up in the moment. The Panthers had just converted a blocked punt into a touchdown, and Smith wanted to reclaim the momentum by taking a risk on third down. Sometimes the quarterback has to know when to fold and wait for the next hand. Instead, he turned Munnerlyn into a hero. It was Smith's fifth pick-six of the season, tying Joe Namath for the team's single-season mark.

2. Bad Geno, good Geno: Earlier, Smith provided a glimpse of good and bad on back-to-back plays. Throwing on the run, he misfired badly on a deep ball to a wide-open Saalim Hakim, sailing a pass about 4 yards out of bounds -- a blown opportunity. On the next play, Smith did a great job of moving in the pocket against a five-man rush, throwing a strike to Cumberland for a 35-yard gain. Such is life with a rookie quarterback.

3. The nightmare screen: This was on linebacker David Harris. The Jets were in man-to-man coverage and Harris got caught peeking into the backfield, biting on Cam Newton's fake screen to the left. That drew him out of position just enough to allow DeAngelo Williams to catch the screen-right and get around the corner. Incredibly, he turned a routine play into a 72-yard touchdown. Safety Ed Reed also fell for the fake and arrived late, taking a bad angle. Cornerback Dee Milliner, who strikes me as a finesse tackler, couldn't get off the block of receiver Brandon LaFell. Milliner looked like he wanted to slow-dance with LaFell.

4. Another cold Winters: Left guard Brian Winters might be a good player some day, but he's having a nightmare of a rookie season. He surrendered one sack, allowed a pressure that contributed to another sack and committed a costly holding penalty in the fourth quarter. Vladimir Ducasse is John Hannah compared to this.

5. Odds and ends: Rex Ryan took the blame on Mike Tolbert's 1-yard touchdown run. Anticipating a run up the middle, he used what he called a "sell-the-farm" defense. He used six linemen, including four between the inside shoulders of the two offensive tackles. That left a gap on the outside shoulder of the two tackles. The Panthers ran directly into that gap on the left side. Quinton Coples slanted in and was buried. Linebacker DeMario Davis was blocked by a pulling guard, allowing Tolbert to walk into the end zone. ... The Jets' blitz didn't bother Newton at all. Against five or more rushers, he was 7-for-10, averaging 11.9 yards per dropback. He was sacked only once. ... Cornerback Darrin Walls played only one defensive snap and missed a key tackle.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The New York Jets trail the Carolina Panthers at halftime, 16-6. A few thoughts:

1. Competitive Jets: Considering their recent performances on the road, the Jets had to be mildly satisfied to be down only 10 points. In their previous three away contests, they were outscored by a 4-to-1 margin. If they can keep it close, the Jets will be able to keep running the ball. Surprisingly, they ran for 93 yards against the league's top-rated rush defense, confusing the Panthers with a few nice misdirection plays.

2. Killer play: Really, the Jets should be down by only three points, but they suffered a major breakdown with 3:42 left in the half -- a 72-yard touchdown to DeAngelo Williams on a screen pass. The Jets were fooled badly by Cam Newton, who faked a throw to his left and threw right. The defense looked ridiculously slow as it chased Williams. David Harris trailed the entire way. Ed Reed, who bit on the fake, arrived late and took a bad angle. Dee Milliner couldn't get off a downfield block. Talk about embarrassing. The Panthers entered the game with the fewest plays of 20-plus yards in the league.

3. Bad karma: Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who tweaked the Panthers' secondary by saying it's the "weakest link" of the defense, was forced to eat humble pie, dropping the first pass thrown to him. Hey, it's hard to catch a football with a foot in your mouth. Holmes got an earful from safety Mike Mitchell. Holmes had no catches on two targets.

4. Bad in the red zone: Neither team played well offensively in the red zone, settling for field goals until the big Williams touchdown. Geno Smith didn't commit any turnovers, but he passed for only 59 yards against the secondary that Holmes insulted.

Jets injury report: Reed's day of rest

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
6:58
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Ed Reed missed practice on Thursday after coach Rex Ryan approached him and said he thought the extra rest would help the New York Jets safety on Sundays.

Reed
“Ed’s on top of everything,” Ryan said. “He’s still leading the meetings with DBs. He’s there sharp. You just try to back him off where he’s not on his legs the whole time.”

Those days off of practice for veteran players – in the past for LaDainian Tomlinson and LaRon Landry – are a staple of Ryan’s maintenance plan, and he sometimes likens it to having players on a pitch count.

“Sometimes you’ve got to give Nolan Ryan a break,” Reed said with a smile.

Reed actually said he didn’t like the idea of sitting out a practice, just because he is used to getting those reps, but that he understood the reasoning behind it.

“Personally I don’t really get into it as much,” Reed said. “I know it’s needed, you have to be smart when you get into the latter part of your years or you've had injuries or anything.”

JETS

Did not participate: WR Stephen Hill (knee), S Ed Reed (not injury related).
Limited participation: CB Antonio Cromartie (hip, concussion), WR Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), TE Kellen Winslow (knee).
Full participation: LB DeMario Davis (thumb), DT Kenrick Ellis (back), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow), LB Garrett McIntyre (knee), WR David Nelson (ribs), WR Greg Salas (finger), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (wrist).

PANTHERS

Did not participate: LB Jordan Senn (hamstring, illness), RB Jonathan Stewart (knee)
Limited participation: TE Greg Olsen (foot)
Full participation: T Nate Chandler (elbow), DT Dwan Edwards (not injury related), T Jordan Gross (not injury related), G Chris Scott (knee), G Travelle Wharton (not injury related).

Halftime Report: Jets up 20-3

December, 8, 2013
12/08/13
2:44
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets, up 20-3 at halftime, managed more first-half offense than they've had in a month with an offensive touchdown, a defensive touchdown and two field goals against the visiting Oakland Raiders.

The last time the Jets scored this many points in a first half was Week 9 against the Saints.

That’s not to say it’s been pretty. Jets quarterback Geno Smith has benefitted from the return of WR Jeremy Kerley, who scored with 3:17 left in the first quarter with a 25-yard reception, while the Raiders struggled to figure out who they were going to use at quarterback.

Best defense is offense: Ed Reed had an interception in the second half to give the Jets the ball at Oakland’s 4 yard line, and the Jets had to settle for a field goal after Santonio Holmes dropped a third-down pass in the end zone. Jets safety Antonio Allen blocked a punt for a touchdown with 3:55 left in the second quarter, giving the Jets a 20-3 lead.

Back after this: The Raiders had their top three running backs on the inactive list. That meant they used FB Marcel Reece to run the ball, and substituted quarterback Matt McGloin with backup Terrelle Pryor, who ran a few option plays en route to a field goal before getting swapped back out for McGloin after an interception.

More time for Kerley: The Jets offense has been led by Kerley, with 3 catches for 35 yards and a touchdown, and TE Kellen Winslow Jr. and Holmes, who both have 45 yards on 2 catches at the half. All three are playing more snaps than they have in recent weeks, with Winslow in on 10 plays, Holmes on 21 and Kerley in on 14. There may be more time to go around since Stephen Hill was declared inactive before the game.

Two-minute drill: Dennis Thurman

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
8:00
AM ET
Our weekly Q & A is with New York Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman:

Ed Reed has been relatively quiet in his three games with the Jets. Why?

DT: They haven’t really attacked him. They haven’t gone his way, which is what we saw when he was in Houston, when you watched and evaluated the tape. The mental part of it, the professionalism that he’s brought to the room, first of all, to the meeting room, to our practices, the ability to study tape, he’s taken some of your young guys from one level to the next. As far as the games are concerned, we’re making fewer mental mistakes back there than we were earlier in the year. So, when you look at what he’s done to this point, it’s been a plus for us. It may not show up on the field, per se, but where we want to go and what we’re trying to accomplish, it’s been a plus.

Are you surprised the secondary has struggled so much?

[+] EnlargeDennis Thurman
AP Photo/David DrapkinDefensive coordinator Dennis Thurman on the struggles of the secondary: When you look at it, realistically, there are three new starters back there. And so, it takes time to gel."
DT: It is what it is. I mean, are we playing up to our talent level? Probably not, but at the same time, we’re probably younger back there than we’ve been, with the exception of Dawan (Landry) and then we picked up Ed, and there's Cro (Antonio Cromartie). But other than that, you look at the ages of those guys and their actual number in terms of playing time, none of them have really played. So, the expectation that they’re going to play at a certain level, yeah, we had a higher expectation, but at the same time we had to be realistic, that the cohesiveness of that group was going to be missing.

When you look at it, realistically, there are three new starters back there. And so, it takes time to gel, whereas before we were playing with more experienced guys. You’re talking about Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith, even when we had Lito Sheppard and when the other guy that’s down in Tampa (Darrelle Revis), you had experienced guys that understood how to play in the National Football League. Right now, we’ve got a bunch of young guys back there that we’re trying to pull together.

How would you evaluate Dee Milliner's performance last week against the Miami Dolphins?

DT: You take away that one play in the game (a missed tackle on Mike Wallace's 28-yard touchdown) and he actually played a really good game. But you can’t take that one play away and it affects his overall performance, and it affects the overall perception of him. But, really, he was playing well. He had pass breakups, he actually was tackling pretty well and he misses that one tackle and it goes for a touchdown. For a defensive back, a young defensive back, it’s out there for everybody to see. There are other young players that are playing other positions that make mistakes, but because it’s in the trenches or it’s not as out there, you think they’re playing well. (But) they may be making more mistakes than he’s making, it’s just that his mistakes are that they’re out there and they’re glaring.

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