AFC East: Greg McElroy

Ex-Jets QB McElroy retires at 25

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
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Former New York Jets quarterback Greg McElroy, best known in Jets Nation as the guy that started ahead of Tim Tebow when Mark Sanchez was benched, announced his retirement Friday on Twitter.

[+] EnlargeGreg McElroy
AP Photo/Kathy WillensPlaying in two games for his NFL career, QB Greg McElroy had one touchdown, one interception and one fumble -- all with the Jets.
McElroy, only 25, spent last season on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad and is currently under contract to the Bengals.

"At this time, I would like to announce my retirement from the NFL," McElroy tweeted. "Thank you to Marvin Lewis, the Brown family and the entire Cincinnati Bengals' organization. The fans make this decision especially difficult, as you have provided so much joy throughout my career. Playing in the NFL was my lifelong dream; therefore, I must also thank the New York Jets for providing me with my original opportunity. The future is bright, and exciting things are on the horizon! God bless to all."

McElroy, who led Alabama to a 14-0 record and the BCS championship as a junior, was a seventh-round pick of the Jets in 2011. He was thrown into the three-ring, quarterback circus in 2012, when they had Sanchez and Tebow. McElroy's shot was fleeting. On Dec. 2, he replaced an ineffective Sanchez and helped the Jets to a come-from-behind win against the Arizona Cardinals in quite possibly the ugliest game ever played.

Three weeks later, the Jets' quarterback controversy exploded when Sanchez was benched and McElroy -- not Tebow -- was named to start against the San Diego Chargers. McElroy was battered in the loss, as he was sacked 11 times. He suffered a concussion, but it wasn't diagnosed until a few days later, prompting Rex Ryan to replace him with Sanchez for the finale. McElroy, perhaps knowing he'd never get another chance to prove himself, wasn't forthcoming with regard to the concussion symptoms.

He lost his third-string job last summer to Matt Simms. As a member of the Bengals' practice squad, McElroy received a shout out from the coaching staff for preparing a detailed scouting report on the Jets, which they used in Week 8 -- a 49-9 win by the Bengals.

His final NFL statistics: Two games, 19-for-31, 214 yards, one touchdown, one interception.

McElroy, who posted one of the highest Wonderlic scores in history, is exceptionally bright and has talked about a career in TV or politics. His transition to the "real world" should be seamless. Like he said, the future is bright.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rookie quarterback Matt McGloin is expected to start Sunday for the Oakland Raiders, but the dangerously mobile Terrelle Pryor could play, too. The New York Jets say they'll be ready for both.

"We have two game plans," defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said. "One for their Greg McElroy and one for Terrelle Pryor."

McElroy?

"Doesn't [McGloin] look like McElroy to you?" Thurman asked. "He looks just like McElroy to me."

McElroy is, of course, the former Jets quarterback, currently on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad. Asked if he believes McElroy and McGloin are similar because of their physical appearance (both have red hair) or because of their playing ability, Thurman cracked, "No, this kid [McGloin] is pretty good."

Meaning McElroy isn't?

"Well, one's starting and one's not," Thurman said. "Just speaking the facts."

McGloin, undrafted out of Penn State, has started the last three games. His numbers in those starts aren't bad -- 55-for-94, 712 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions and a 87.7 passer rating. He began as the No. 4 quarterback in training camp and worked his way up the depth chart, much like the Jets' Matt Simms -- except McGloin is, you know, starting.

Pryor won the job out of the preseason, but he hurt his knee Nov. 17 at MetLife Stadium against the New York Giants. He's healthy and could be used in a situational role -- e.g., in a read-option package. The Raiders' top two running backs, Darren McFadden (ankle) and Rashad Jennings (concussions), might not play, so Pryor could be a key for the Raiders. The man is explosive. Pryor has rushed for 504 yards, including a 93-yard touchdown.

McElroy can't do that.

ICYMI: Finally, there was some much-needed good news for the Jets' offense: WR Jeremy Kerley, sidelined three games with a dislocated elbow, was cleared to play. For the first time since Week 4, the offense will be whole. Is that a good thing? ... S Ed Reed, defending himself against his growing legion of critics, claimed he's the same player he always was. He actually said he wants to play two more years. ... Rookie CB Dee Milliner, coming off another in-game benching, will be back in the starting lineup. The question is, does he have the eye of the Tiger? ... Frustrated by Geno Smith's struggles? Come on, you ain't seen nothing. Here's our list of the 10 most frustrating quarterbacks in Jets history.
Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets:

1. The Re-X factor: The top storyline for the second half of the season, which begins Sunday, will be the future of head coach Rex Ryan. Owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik have to make a decision: Extend his contract or fire him. Naturally, the No. 1 factor will be the team's record, but there's another factor that should (and will) loom large in the evaluation -- the development of rookie quarterback Geno Smith.

If Smith makes strides and finishes with his arrow pointing up, it would be a huge boost for Ryan and his coaching staff. It would mean he's developing under Marty Mornhinweg & Co., and what sense would it make to start over next year with a new staff? My sense is that a 7-9 record, with an ascending Smith, would be good enough to earn Ryan another year. Statistically, Smith's second quarter was slightly better than the first, but he'll need more than baby steps over the final eight games to nail down the job for 2014. If he regresses, it won't bode well for Ryan.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesWill the Jets use another early draft pick to select a QB if rookie Geno Smith continues to struggle the rest of the season?
"If I put on my GM hat, I would tie Rex, Marty and Geno together," said ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, one of the smart people around football. "The Marty-Geno mix is really good, and I think Marty is good for Rex. The Jets' ceiling, if they acquire more talent, is higher because of Marty's aggressive approach. I wouldn't want to start over with a new guy next year. They should maintain continuity. They're wildly inconsistent, but it looks better and has a better feel than last year. It's a better product."

I agree. But Smith needs to keep going in the right direction.

2. Quarterbacking 101: Dilfer said Smith is operating an offensive system more complex than what the Jets used in Mark Sanchez's rookie year in 2009. In '09, they scaled it back to help Sanchez. It was heavy play-action and they moved the pocket, halving the field and cutting down his reads. With Smith, "It's pure dropback, with complex read progressions," Dilfer said. "Marty is throwing a lot of good stuff at him. It's baptism by fire. Talking to great coaches and great quarterbacks, and knowing my own experience, that's the best way to get the best out of a young quarterback. It speeds them up to the graduate level."

I get it, but I think there should be times when Mornhinweg dials it back a little to help Smith through rough patches.

3. Where the Hill is Stephen? Second-year WR Stephen Hill has become an afterthought in the Jets' offense, raising questions about him. Consider the last five games: 23 targets and only 10 receptions, including five when the team was in an obvious catch-up/passing mode. Save for two big games against the Buffalo Bills, Hill has been a disappointment in his first two seasons. In fact, one-third of his career yardage total (and three of his four TDs) has come in the two Buffalo games.

I asked Mornhinweg about Hill's lack of production, and all he said was, "That's my responsibility. I have to do a better job there." Meaning? "Get him the ball a little bit."

Here's the part that stings the Jets: They drafted Hill in the second round (43rd overall) after trading up, passing up WR Alshon Jeffery, who has become a solid receiver with the Chicago Bears. Jeffery has 57 catches, 928 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons; Hill has 44, 592 and four. The Jets knew Hill would be a project when they drafted him, but it has to be troubling that a receiver off the street -- David Nelson -- has produced better numbers over the past month.

4. Re-visiting Revis Island: Some in the media (including me) have fallen into the trap of trying to imagine the Jets' defense if they had kept CB Darrelle Revis, perhaps conveniently forgetting that he's coming back from major knee surgery. He's still not the Revis of old, and he admitted it the other day on his weekly radio spot in Tampa. Revis, explaining why the Buccaneers haven't used him in the press-man style that made him famous, said his surgically repaired knee has been the main factor.

“Earlier in the year, I didn’t have the explosion to play press; the receiver would just run the [vertical] 9-route on me and I didn’t have the stamina to do that play in and play out, especially playing press," Revis said.

If he were with the Jets, this would be a significant issue, considering their system is predicated on man-to-man coverage.

5. Ivory's payback: Chris Ivory downplayed Sunday's matchup against the New Orleans Saints, his former team, but I suspect he will be highly motivated to prove a point. Back in training camp, Ivory admitted to me that his three-year run in New Orleans was difficult at times because of their crowded backfield.

"I never felt lost, but I didn't like the situation at times," Ivory said. "At the same time, you have to understand there are phases you have to go through, being undrafted. They had guys they drafted, guys they had confidence in. Me, just coming in, I had to build their confidence and it took a little more time."

The Jets traded a fourth-round pick for Ivory, one of only six player trades last offseason involving a fourth-round pick or higher, according to ESPN's John Clayton. The Jets had two of the six -- the Ivory and Revis trades.

6. Revolving door: Because of injuries, it has been difficult to build continuity on offense. In fact, the Jets have used 28 different players, tied with the Bucs for most in the league.

7. Go wide, young man: The Jets aren't known as a perimeter running team, but maybe they should think about it more often. When they run around left end, they average 6.78 yards per carry, the fifth-best mark in the league, according to NFL stats. When they go right end, it's 5.59 yards. Imagine if they had a real perimeter threat.

8. McElroy's intel: Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report spent a week with Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who allowed behind-the-scenes access as he prepared for last week's game against the Jets. The story reveals that former Jets QB Greg McElroy, a member of the Bengals' practice squad, was a big help. McElroy typed up a tip sheet and gave it to QB Andy Dalton. Gruden also picked his brain on the Jets in a meeting.

"His insight is very helpful," Gruden told Pompei in the middle of the week. "He has a pulse on their defense, what hurts them."

I'd say the Bengals hurt them, all right.

9. Good news/bad news: The Jets are one of only 11 teams since 2001 to have a minus-12 turnover margin or worse through eight games. That's bad. Of those 11 teams, they're the only one to have a .500 record. That's good. It indicates what they could be if Smith stops giving it away.

10. Feeling old: The first time I saw Nick Toon was Nov. 27, 1992, the day his dad, Al, retired from the NFL at the too-young age of 29. Nick was only 4, but he was at the news conference, and I remember seeing him afterward in the parking lot at the Jets' old Hofstra training facility. He hopped into a mini-van, and the family drove off. It always struck me that Al's wife, Jane, was behind the wheel. Al, still suffering from post-concussion syndrome, wasn't fit to drive. Now, Nick is a grown-up wide receiver, and he'll be playing Sunday for the Saints at MetLife Stadium. I'll be in the press box, wondering how 21 years flew by in a minute.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Dennis Thurman isn't worried about Greg McElroy.

The New York Jets defensive coordinator said it's "overrated" that McElroy, a former Jet quarterback currently on the Bengals' practice squad, can provide precious intel to Cincinnati in preparation for Sunday's game between the teams.

McElroy
"Don't give that too much credit," Thurman said. "I left Dallas after eight years and went and played in St. Louis and couldn't remember jack. Don't put too much stock in that. It's overrated. It really is."

It's common knowledge that teams will ask players to provide information on their former teams, and McElroy, who started for the Jets last season, would have plenty to share. McElroy spent two-plus years with the Jets before being released, and knows the schemes and audible calls the Jets used on both sides of the ball.

Thurman said good offenses and good defenses made adjustments with their play calls, especially when they know they're going to be playing against someone who's been around their system.

He used the example of a play called "Red 88," saying it may have meant one thing when McElroy was with the Jets, but any alteration by the Jets would leave the Bengals expecting a different play.

"One word change or one color or one number and all of a sudden what Greg McElroy told you don't mean jack," Thurman said. "It's overrated."

Thurman added that it's very difficult to accurately predict what teams are going to do before every snap, even with inside information.

"Football is a game where if they hit you at the right time with the right call, there's a weakness in every defense, and there's times when they might hit you at the right time," Thurman said. "To anticipate something or believe you know something, it's a good guess. It'd be a good guess on his part."

Green Day: Greg McBrain has Jets intel

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
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Remember Greg McElroy? Sure, you do. Until two months ago, he was one of the names of the New York Jets' quarterback carousel. He's a guy who started ahead of Tim Tebow last season when Mark Sanchez was benched. Ah, fun times.

A short time before he gave McElroy a pink slip, Rex Ryan referred to him as the "smartest guy in the building." Coming out of Alabama, he almost aced the Wonderlic test, scoring a 48 out of a possible 50. This week, that brain will be working against Ryan & Co.

McElroy is a member of the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad and, although he won't be in uniform Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, he will impact the game by what he contributes before Sunday. He will be an invaluable resouce for the Bengals, a virtual scout with intimate knowledge of the Jets' schemes and personnel.

McElroy was exposed to Marty Mornhinweg's offense for only five months, but believe me, he knew it cold. Mornhinweg may have to change his audibles, because you can bet McElroy will be sharing his intel with the Bengals' defense. He also spent four months with Geno Smith, so he knows his strengths and weaknesses. I'm telling you, McElroy has a chance to be a general manager some day -- if he's not in politics or working college games for ESPN.

The Jets might be preparing for the Bengals' No.1 red-headed quarterback, Andy Dalton, but the other red head -- McElroy -- is preparing for them.

ICYMI: Tough times for Bill Belichick. First, he lost to the Jets. Second, he admitted he botched a rule interpretation on the controversial field goal push play. On Tuesday, he decided to fire back at the Jets. ... Four fans from Sunday's game, including the Long Island lout who slugged a woman, were charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct. That includes the woman who was struck. ... We analyzed the game tape. Yes, we study tape here at ESPN.com. ... See where the Jets landed in the current ESPN.com power poll.

A wild ride: Nine QBs in 18 months

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
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Does the Jets' quarterback situation make your head spin? Welcome to the club.

The last 18 months have been like a ride on the Coney Island Cyclone. We're talking about nine quarterbacks, three free-agent signings, three cuts, two trades, one retirement and one contract extension. Pop a dramamine, and relive the madness:

UNDER GM MIKE TANNENBAUM

March 12, 2012: The Jets profess their faith in Mark Sanchez, rewarding a mediocre season with a three-year contract extension -- a total package of five years, $58 million.

March 16: They sign former Lions backup Drew Stanton to serve as Sanchez's primary backup, giving him a $500,000 signing bonus.

March 22: Stunning the NFL, the Jets trade for Tim Tebow and name him the No. 2 backup. Hello, quarterback controversy. Stanton immediately requests his release.

March 24: Stanton is traded to the Colts. He makes a half-million bucks for a week of doing nothing.

2012 season: Pick a day, any day. Dysfunction reigns throughout the season.

UNDER GM JOHN IDZIK

March 12, 2013: On the one-year anniversary of their commitment to Sanchez, the Jets sign veteran David Garrard to compete with Sanchez for the starting job. Team officials are blown away by his workout, downplaying (or ignoring) his chronic knee condition. Privately, they say he has a good chance to win the job.

April 27: They draft Geno Smith in the second round, changing the landscape of the position. Idzik, with a straight face, calls it an open competition with six QBs -- Smith, Sanchez, Tebow, Garrard, Greg McElroy and neophyte Matt Simms.

April 30: After showing up for two weeks of off-season workouts, Tebow finally gets his release -- a foregone conclusion.

May 15: Unable to make it through a month of OTAs, Garrard announces his retirement, citing chronic knee pain -- an unexpected snag in Idzik's grand plan.

Aug. 9: Smith sprains an ankle in his first preseason game. Another snag.

Aug. 24: Sanchez suffers a significant shoulder injury because of Rex Ryan's controversial decision to play him in the fourth quarter behind the second-team line -- yet another snag in the plan. This time, it's a $715,000 mistake. Read on.

Aug. 28: The Jets sign Packers castoff Graham Harrell, giving them five quarterbacks. The depth chart is growing at a time when most teams are cutting down.

Aug. 31: McElroy is waived with an injury. Simms, their best quarterback in the preseason, makes the 53-man roster.

Sept. 1: The Jets quietly fly the well-traveled Brady Quinn into town for a workout.

Sept. 2: With Sanchez expected to miss a few weeks, the Jets sign Quinn to a one-year deal, probably for the $715,000 veteran minimum. Harrell is released. Quinn is expected to open the season as the No. 2 quarterback, essentially filling Tebow's role. That's interesting because Quinn wasn't good enough to beat out Tebow in 2011 with the Broncos.

This can only happen to the Jets.

Greg McElroy finally free to go

September, 2, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- For the second time in three days, quarterback Greg McElroy was released by the New York Jets. This time, he's really gone.

The Jets waived McElroy from their injured-reserve list after negotiating an injury settlement, meaning McElroy is free to sign with another team. That team appears to be the Bengals, who reportedly want him for their practice squad.

This was all about a technicality and a formality. On Saturday, the Jets waived him with an injury. Once he cleared waivers, his rights reverted to the Jets' injured reserve list. Evidently, the negotiation of an injury settlement was only a formality, as McElroy already was en route to Cincinnati.

McElroy missed the past three preseason games with a sprained knee, aggravating it in practice a few days before the preseason finale. It's not believed to be a severe injury.

The ever-changing depth chart at quarterback looks like this:

1. Geno Smith
2. Mark Sanchez (injured)
3. Brady Quinn
4. Matt Simms

New York Jets cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
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Most significant move: It wasn't a surprise, but the New York Jets waived Greg McElroy, their only quarterback not named Mark Sanchez who has started a game in the NFL. Granted, McElroy has only one career start, but the move is significant because it underscores the lack of experience at the position. If Sanchez (shoulder) doesn't dress for the season opener, it leaves the position to Geno Smith, Matt Simms and Graham Harrell, who have a combined total of four career pass attempts -- all by Harrell. The former Packers backup made the final cut despite having spent only three days with the Jets. McElroy was waived with an injury, so he wouldn't have been ready for Week 1 anyway. Still, this is a precarious situation to say the least.

Not much depth on offense: Aside from quarterback, the Jets are perilously thin at a few spots. They have only five receivers, one of whom (Santonio Holmes) is a question mark because of his surgically repaired foot. The group includes a rookie free agent, Ryan Spadola. They also don't have an experienced backup at tackle. Jason Smith was supposed to be that guy, but he was atrocious in the final preseason game. Vladimir Ducasse can play some tackle, but that's not his best spot. Rookie OT Oday Aboushi (fifth-round pick) isn't ready to play. They have low numbers in the backfield -- only four backs, although Mike Goodson will be eligible to return from his suspension in Week 5.

What's ahead: The Jets need help on offense. You can't go into a season with Aboushi as your No. 3 tackle, so look for them to address this over the next 24 hours. Anybody up for a Wayne Hunter reunion? The wide-receiver situation is interesting. Right now, the Jets have only three healthy and experienced receivers. They're either confident Holmes will return for the opener or they have plans to add a veteran. The quarterback situation bears watching, too. If Sanchez is sidelined a few weeks, it might behoove New York to import an experienced backup. A couple of former Marty Mornhinweg-ites are available -- Vince Young and Trent Edwards.

Jets cuts: QB Greg McElroy (injured), RB Mossis Madu (injured), WR Michael Campbell, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, WR Ben Obomanu, WR Zach Rogers, TE Chris Pantale, C Erik Cook, OT J.B. Shugarts, OT Jason Smith, DL Junior Aumavae, DL Lanier Coleman, DL Tevita Finau, DL Antonio Garay, LB Troy Davis, LB JoJo Dickson, LB Jacquies Smith, DB Royce Adams, DB Mike Edwards, DB Rontez Miles, PK Dan Carpenter.

Placed on reserve/suspended: RB Mike Goodson.
The New York Jets announced their final cuts, paring the roster to 53. Keep in mind, this doesn't mean the roster is final. There will be moving parts as the weekend continues. The 22 cuts:

QB — Greg McElroy (with an injury).

RB — Mossis Madu (with an injury).

WR — Michael Campbell, Mohamed Massaquoi, Ben Obomanu, Zach Rogers.

TE — Chris Pantale.

OL — Erik Cook, J.B. Shugarts, Jason Smith.

DL — Junior Aumavae, Lanier Coleman, Tevita Finau, Antonio Garay.

LB — Troy Davis, JoJo Dickson, Jacquies Smith.

DB — Royce Adams, Mike Edwards, Rontez Miles.

K -- Dan Carpenter.

Running back Mike Goodson was moved to the reserve/suspended list and thus will not count against the 53-man roster limit, the Jets noted in a press release.
Add another chair to the Jets' quarterback room.

The Jets have agreed to terms with former Packers backup Graham Harrell, FoxSports reported early Wednesday morning. Harrell, released last Saturday by the Packers, will report Wednesday to the Jets, the report said.

Harrell
This means the Jets have five quarterbacks on the roster, back where they were in the spring. It probably means Greg McElroy, out the past two games with knee and ankle injuries, isn't healthy enough to play Thursday night against the Eagles. McElroy, the No. 3 quarterback for two years, could be on the bubble. The Jets also don't know if Mark Sanchez (shoulder) will be ready for opening day.

Rex Ryan refused to reveal his QB plans for Thursday night, let alone Week 1. Barring a change, Matt Simms is expected to start against the Eagles. Sanchez is out and Geno Smith probably won't play.

Harrell, who served as Aaron Rodgers' backup for three seasons, lost his job to Vince Young. He has only 32 regular-season snaps on his record, but Harrell has been prolific in the preseason -- 208 career attempts. He's familiar with the West Coast offense, which should help his transition.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets should be flagged 5 yards for delay of name.

A coy Rex Ryan refused Tuesday to announce his starting quarterback for Thursday night's preseason finale against the Eagles, claiming, "We're not ready to tell you that. There's a lot that goes into that."

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesRex Ryan is keeping his starting quarterback for the fourth and final preseason game a secret.
Wait, there's more: Ryan said there's "a possibility" he may not reveal his opening-day starter until game day, Sept. 8, against the Bucs.

From all indications, Matt Simms -- battling Greg McElroy for the No. 3 job -- will start Thursday night. Mark Sanchez (shoulder) has been ruled out and rookie Geno Smith is expected to get the night off. Smith could use the work, but the injury risk is a factor because he might have to start Week 1 if Sanchez isn't ready.

Ryan, usually tightlipped this season, declined to discuss the pros and cons of using Smith, who has played a total of only four quarters in the preseason.

"I'm not going to get into the downsides or the upsides or whatever," Ryan said. "I think, as a team, we'll look at where we are as a team and make those decisions then."

It's highly unusual for a team to withhold its quarterback choice for the final preseason game. What competitive advantage is there to gain? Eagles coach Chip Kelly, for instance, announced that backup Nick Foles will start. The Jets are being ridiculously paranoid. Unless there's a trade in the works that would affect the quarterback depth chart, there's no reason to hold off until Thursday.

Ryan has dragged out the so-called quarterback competition long enough, but he won't acknowledge the obvious, that Sanchez is No. 1. Maybe they think the stall tactic will have some sort of profound impact on the Bucs' preparation for the opener.

For Thursday night, the Jets may have only one quarterback -- Simms. McElroy, hampered by knee and ankle injuries, practiced Tuesday, but he's not a lock to play. Ryan he's hopeful that McElroy, injured the opener, can return. If not, it'll be the Simms show -- and he's put on a good one in the preseason. He's 11-for-15 for 193 yards and a touchdown, a 137.5 passer rating.
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Observations from the press box after the New York Jets' 26-17 loss to the Detroit Lions in the preseason opener:

1. A Rex-storm: I think people are getting carried away with Rex Ryan's admission that he missed plays on offense -- including a lot of Geno Smith -- because he was too busy with the defense on the sideline. Granted, it was highly unusual for a head coach to admit such a thing; most coaches would've talked around it by saying, "I need to watch the tape." But let's remember one thing: It was a preseason game. If it had been the regular season, yes, he'd deserve criticism.

Presumably, Ryan is using the preseason to fix a defense that has seven new starters. When the real games start, he'll be in head-coach mode, managing the entire game -- at least he'd better be. He took a heavy-handed approach with the defense in 2009 and 2010, and that didn't stop the Jets from making the playoffs, did it?

2. MartyBall: It serves no purpose to question play calling in the preseason -- coaches are in an experimental mode -- but it's worth noting that the Jets called 42 pass plays and only 16 runs against the Lions. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is known as a pass-happy coach, a style that usually doesn't marry well with defensive-minded head coaches. Just saying.

[+] EnlargeJeff Cumberland
AP Photo/Scott BoehmJeff Cumberland scored in the first quarter. Last season, the Jets' offense didn't produce a TD until the fourth preseason game.
3. Off the Mark: I watched Mark Sanchez's pick-6 over and over, and I still can't believe he made that throw. Rookie fullback Tommy Bohanon has to do a better job of leaking out of the backfield, but he was on his knees -- knocked over by ex-Jet C.J. Mosley -- when Sanchez lobbed the pass. Sanchez, backpedaling in the face of pressure, panicked.

But let's give credit where it's due: On the 26-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland, Sanchez made a fantastic read. He recognized 3-by-2 coverage on the weak side, knowing the Lions had no deep help on the strong side, where Cumberland ran a seam route. Sanchez showed nice anticipation, releasing the ball a split-second before Cumberland broke away from the linebacker. As I noted Friday night, Sanchez has moved into the lead for the starting job.

4. The new Geno: Rookie QB Geno Smith played almost exclusively in the shotgun at West Virginia, so there was some question as to how he'd respond to playing under center in a traditional offense. There were no noticeable hiccups in the game. In fact, he was 3-for-3 for 27 yards under center and 3-for-4 for 20 yards from shotgun.

5. Rough debut: RG Willie Colon was a solid player for many years with the Steelers, but he got off to a shaky start in his Jets debut. He was called for two penalties, and that's noteworthy because he was the Steelers' most penalized offensive player last season -- 12 penalties. That's a crazy amount for an interior lineman. Colon also allowed the pressure that caused Smith to have a pass batted at the line.

6. Uh-oh, Oday: I think OT Oday Aboushi, a fifth-round pick from Virginia, is on the roster bubble. Aboushi got beat by rookie DE Devin Taylor on a strip sack of Greg McElroy, and he also was flagged for two penalties (one declined). The Jets are looking for a backup swing tackle. Aboushi is a candidate for the job, but so is J.B. Shugarts, a first-year player from Ohio State. Shugarts played 36 snaps in the game, more than any offensive lineman.

7. Big Mac under attack: You have to admire McElroy's moxie, but, man, he takes a lot of hits. He was sacked three times and absorbed what appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet hit on one play -- it wasn't called. McElroy said he was fine after the game, but he also said he was fine after last December's beatdown inflicted by the Chargers, and that turned out to be a concusssion. Either way, it looks like he has locked up the No. 3 job. He made nice improv play on his 9-yard touchdown pass to Zach Rogers.

8. J.J. is dy-no-mite: The coaches went into the game buzzing about former Eagles S Jaiquawn Jarrett, eager to see him in a game setting after impressive work on the practice field and in the classroom. He responded nicely and has leap frogged Antonio Allen on the depth chart, according to Ryan. Jarrett was a second-round pick in 2011, so you know the physical talent is there.

9. Silver-lining playbook: Looking for a positive from the game? The Jets scored two offensive touchdowns. A year ago, they didn't score one until the fourth preseason game -- and that came from the third-team offense.

10. Calling all runners: The Jets lost RB John Griffin (broken leg) for the season, testing their backfield depth, but they expect Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Joe McKnight (head) to practice Sunday. For Ivory, it would his first full practice of camp.

Rapid Reaction: Lions 26, Jets 17

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
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DETROIT -- The New York Jets opened the preseason Friday night with a 26-17 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Despite a killer interception, Mark Sanchez won the night over Geno Smith in the ballyhooed quarterback competition. Smith left in the third quarter after rolling his ankle. It doesn't appear serious, but he can't afford to miss any practice time.

What it means: As it stands now, Sanchez will be the opening-day starter. He gave as many points to the Lions as he produced for the Jets -- seven -- but he showed greater command than Smith, who delivered a nondescript performance in his NFL debut. Smith is doomed if he misses any practice time; it's almost impossible for a rookie to play catch-up in training camp.

Sanchez's night: It was the worst possible start for Sanchez, who threw a pick-six on the Jets' first series. Under pressure on a screen pass, he didn't put enough air under the pass and it was intercepted by rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. Sanchez has a maddening tendency to turn a safe pass into a calamity. In fact, he almost had another screen intercepted.

To Sanchez's credit, he responded to the disastrous start to finish 10-for-13 for 125 yards with a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jeff Cumberland. It culminated a seven-play, 80-yard drive, much of which came in the hurry-up offense. It was typical Sanchez -- some good, some ugly. Some things don't change.

Geno's night: Unlike Sanchez, Smith didn't make any horrible mistakes, but he also didn't bring any spark to the offense. The former West Virginia star, who got two series behind the starting offensive line, generated only one first down on his first three drives -- a 15-yard pass to Clyde Gates on his first play. Simply put, Smith didn't look ready to take over the team. He finished 6-for-7 for 47 yards. Smith came out on the first series of the third quarter, when he turned his right ankle on an open-field scramble.

Greg McElroy came in and did a nice job against the Lions' third-stringers, going 11-for-19 for 145 yards and an 11-yard TD pass to Zach Rogers.

Big-play tight ends: Dustin Keller is gone, but Cumberland and Kellen Winslow displayed playmaking ability. Winslow made a nice catch and run for 24 yards. Cumberland scored his touchdown on a deep seam, showing his ability to get vertical. It's too soon to say the Jets have two weapons at tight end, but it was a good start.

Another injured running back: John Griffin was carted off with a lower-leg injury. It didn't look good. Already down Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson and Joe McKnight, the Jets can't afford another injury in the backfield. Ivory (hamstring) is expected to return Sunday.

New-look defense: The Jets opened with seven new starters in the post-Darrelle Revis era. All things considered, the defense held up fairly well. Most of the starters played most of the first half, an unusually long stint for the first game, and allowed 10 points. Cornerback Darrin Walls, an early substitution for starter Antonio Cromartie, got beat on a 15-yard scoring pass. One player who jumped out was nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, who deflected a pass and held the point of attack. Safety Dawan Landry got beat once in coverage. Keep in mind that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played only two series.

The rookies: It was a so-so debut for top pick Dee Milliner, who started at corner in the base defense. He didn't have to cover all-world receiver Calvin Johnson -- Cromartie drew that assignment -- so that made life easier for Milliner. He had a nice pass breakup in the end zone, but he missed an open-field tackle and allowed a 27-yard reception. Milliner gets some slack, though, because he missed a lot of time and is rusty. It was a relatively quiet night for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

The Q report: Former first-round pick Quinton Coples, making the transition to outside linebacker, flashed good and bad on his first two plays. He deflected a pass on an outside rush, but he failed to set the edge on an outside run by Reggie Bush. Coples didn't move well in space. This will be an interesting position change.

What's ahead: The Jets return to Cortland, for four days of practice. They break camp Thursday and return to Florham Park, N.Y., where they will prepare for next Saturday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After a long holiday weekend, the final week of organized team activities begins for most teams on Tuesday. It’s only May, but the pressure is certainly on New York Jets embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez.

It’s important for Sanchez to finish strong in the final week of OTAs. He had a three-interception performance in practice last week that raised some eyebrows. An anonymous Jets teammate also told CBSSports.com that “80 or 90” percent of the locker room thinks Sanchez is out of chances and it’s time to hand over the job to someone else. These are all signs that New York’s incumbent is losing momentum in the four-way quarterback competition.

The biggest issue for Sanchez is he hasn’t been able to separate himself from the likes of rookie Geno Smith and backups Greg McElroy and Matt Simms. Sanchez has a huge advantage over his competition in playing time and experience. He is supposed to look much better than his unproven competitors this time of year, but that hasn’t been the case.

If Sanchez cannot create separation now, the more likely it is for New York’s coaching staff to go in another direction in September. If Sanchez and Smith are on equal footing, why wouldn’t the Jets start anew and give their rookie second-round pick a chance? We already know what kind of quarterback Sanchez is entering his fifth season. His struggles in OTAs and camps would provide more reason for the Jets to turn the page.

If Sanchez is truly "The Sanchize," it is time to show why he's the incumbent. Staying within the pack of inexperienced quarterbacks is not good enough for a player who has 62 career starts and once led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games.

The only Jets practice open to the media this week will be on Thursday. So we won't get a peek at how Sanchez is progressing this week until then.

Jets are backbiting already?

May, 23, 2013
5/23/13
3:00
PM ET
Cue the circus music and get out the clown suits. The zany New York Jets are at it again.

This time, the annual backbiting is occurring earlier than usual.

One anonymous Jets player told Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com that “80 to 90 percent” of the locker room does not want quarterback Mark Sanchez under center. That's a strong statement, especially considering Sanchez is in a four-way quarterback competition.

"Everyone on the team likes Mark personally,” the Jets player said. “But there's a general feeling among some of the players that maybe it's time to give someone else a chance."

Anonymous backbiting in the media has been prevalent the past two seasons in New York, despite attempts by head coach Rex Ryan to control the locker room. This cannot make Sanchez feel too good. It also probably didn’t help that Sanchez had an awful practice on Wednesday.

Sanchez threw three interceptions in team drills when players were in shorts and there was no contact. That’s not a good sign for a quarterback trying to inspire confidence in his teammates and the coaching staff. The other options are rookie quarterback Geno Smith, Greg McElroy or Matt Simms.

However, just as big as the quarterback issue is New York's locker-room issue. Jets first-year general manager John Idzik came to New York to try to clean up the mess left behind by former general manager Mike Tannenbaum. It remains a work in progress.

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