AFC East: Kenny Phillips

Rapid Reaction: Jets 17, Giants 3

August, 29, 2011
WHAT IT MEANS: So the New York Jets captured the Snoopy trophy as the winner of the first annual MetLife Bowl against the New York Giants. Yawn. Based on the way his team played, Rex Ryan should punt the trophy. Forget about the final score, 17-3; the Jets’ starters were badly outplayed in the first half, out gained 209 to 61. The offense was a disaster and the Jets made dumb penalties. Basically, they played like they didn’t give a hoot about the preseason.

WOE IS O: Mark Sanchez & Co. was brutal. Can you say “regression”? In seven possessions, the Jets’ starting offense punted five times, lost a fumble (Sanchez) and, somehow, saved face with a touchdown -- a 17-yard pass to Santonio Holmes. They probably wouldn’t have scored the touchdown if it weren’t for Antonio Cromartie, who set up the offense at the Giants’ 35 with a 70-yard kickoff return.

Sanchez (8-for-16, 64 yards) was off his game from the outset, appearing indecisive as he made his reads. But this mess wasn’t all his fault. The pass protection was shoddy and his receivers, namely Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, couldn’t gain separation against the Giants’ cornerbacks. That could be something to watch, as Burress and Mason -- 34 and 37, respectively -- aren’t the fastest guys around.

The starters won’t play in Thursday night’s finale against the Eagles, which means the No. 1 offense scored only three touchdowns in 5 1/2 quarters for the preseason. Blech!

DUMB & DUMBER: The Jets were undisciplined, committing five major penalties. The biggest blunder came from rookie defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who was ejected in the third quarter after taking a swing at running back Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs swung back, so he, too, was tossed. Wilkerson, whom the Jets are counting on to be a starter, deserves an earful from Ryan. That is unacceptable behavior.

But Wilkerson wasn’t the only guilty Jet. Right taclke Wayne Hunter (unsportsmanlike conduct), safety Brodney Pool (chop block on a punt), safety Emanuel Cook (facemask) and cornerback Donald Strickland (unnecessary roughness) all committed 15-yard penalties. Shame on them.

All told, the Jets had seven penalties for 79 yards, including a holding call on wide receiver Courtney Smith that nullified a touchdown run by backup quarterback Greg McElroy.

THE PLAX EFFECT: Burress doesn’t need to touch the ball to have an impact on the game. You saw that on Holmes’ touchdown reception. Burress lined up in the right slot, with Holmes on the outside, against the Giants’ three-by-two coverage. Safety Kenny Phillips rolled toward Burress, leaving Holmes in man-to-man against cornerback Corey Webster. Phillips tried to get back, but it was too late. Holmes ran a post route and got open in the back of the end zone.

Aside from that contribution, Burress’ anticipated matchup against his old team turned out to be a big zero -- as in zero catches. Burress, coming off his sensational debut against the Bengals, was targeted four times. In fact, Sanchez completed only four passes to his wideouts.

OPPORTUNISTIC D: For a team with a very good defense, the Jets made an alarmingly low number of interceptions last season (12). So far, they seem to be reversing the trend. Safety Jim Leonhard and linebacker David Harris intercepted two of Manning's passes, giving the Jets six picks in three games (two by Leonhard). Leonhard’s interception was set up by Harris, who came on an inside blitz and slammed Manning.

BEND BUT DON’T BREAK: Aside from the interceptions, the Jets’ No. 1 defense did some nice things in one half of play, holding the Giants to 2-for-8 on third down and 0-for-1 in the red zone. But -- and this is a big "but" -- they were pushed around between the 20s. The Jets allowed 209 total yards in the first half, uncharacteristic for a Rex Ryan-coached defense. Their conventional pass rush was nowhere to be found and there were a couple of missed tackles in the open field, including a big one by linebacker Bart Scott.

THE NEW BRAD: The Jets finally unveiled their 2011 version of the Wildcat, with rookie wide receiver Jeremy Kerley -- no surprise -- taking the direct snap and playing the role of Brad Smith. The Jets ran it four times, resulting in 39 yards. Kerley ran twice for 13 yards, handed off to Joe McKnight for eight and threw a pass -- yes, a pass! -- to Matt Mulligan for 18. That will give the Cowboys a little extra to think about as they prepare for the season opener.

Rex knows Jets are NFL's hot destination

March, 23, 2011
NEW ORLEANS -- Florham Park, N.J., is the NFL's version of Ellis Island.

At the base of Rex Ryan's statue of liberty -- the one where he's proudly holding up a goddamn snack -- the motto reads: "Give me your inspired, your core contributors, your huddled players, yearning to be free agents."

The New York Jets head coach will take them all.

"I'd like to have every player in the league want to play for the Jets," Ryan said Tuesday at the NFL owners meeting in New Orleans. "We're on the right path because I think a lot of players do want to play for the Jets. And the great thing is the players we have want to play for the Jets. That's important to me."

In November, a Sports Illustrated poll of 279 anonymous NFL players asked "For which other coach would you like to play?" A whopping 21 percent chose Ryan. Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was a distant second at 12 percent. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was third at 9 percent. Former Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher was at 8 percent and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick at 7 percent.

Speaking even more to Ryan's personal allure as a fun and charismatic boss, he was the only coach among the top seven not to have been to the Super Bowl -- yet.

"I'm letting every player in the league know that if you want to win a Super Bowl," Ryan said, "you should probably come to the Jets."

The Jets reaching back-to-back AFC Championship Games and being featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks" last summer are the dominant forces to boosting the Jets' profile as a hot destination.

"I wanted to show our facilities off, show how we take care of our players and what kind of organization we have with our owner, Woody Johnson, and our GM, Mike Tannenbaum," Ryan said of the entertaining shows. "I think that helped us. I also think you're in the best market in the world, and oh by the way, we have a heck of a football team and have a good time playing, too."

Even a couple players from the cross-town rival New York Giants -- safeties Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips -- wished out loud that coach Tom Coughlin could be more like Rex.

"It's good to hear players want to come play for us," Ryan said. "There's no denying that."

There's a big problem. The NFL's immigration department is prohibiting arrivals until a new collective bargaining agreement can be struck. Free agency and player trades aren't allowed.

The Jets can't re-sign their own free agents, either. Receivers Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith and cornerback Antonio Cromartie are the most notable they must address once a new CBA is in place.

That leaves Ryan and his roster in limbo and places a serious crimp in his plans for a second straight offseason. The Jets faced restrictions last year under the "final eight plan," a wrinkle of the uncapped season.

Clubs that reached the divisional playoff round weren't allowed to sign unrestricted free agents unless they dropped one of the same salary value. The Jets parted ways with reliable kicker Jay Feely to make room for outside linebacker Jason Taylor.

The Jets were able to get involved with players such as running back LaDainian Tomlinson and safety Brodney Pool, who technically weren't unrestricted free agents because they were released from their previous teams.

"They can want to play for you, but you couldn't do anything about it anyway," Ryan said.

Ryan will keep his torch burning.