AFC East: Quinton Coples

Study: Jets healthiest team in NFL

January, 10, 2014
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The New York Jets faced many challenges in 2013 -- a turnover-prone rookie at quarterback, seven new starters on defense, etc. One thing they didn't have to confront: A spate of injuries.

They were the healthiest team in the league, according to a study by Dallas Morning News football writer Rick Gosselin. The Jets lost a league-low 20 games by starters due to injury, including only five on defense. That, too, was the league-low.

The study doesn't reflect Mark Sanchez's season-ending shoulder surgery in the preseason. That would've been another 16 games lost if you operate under the presumption he would've been the opening-day starter. As you know, Rex Ryan never named a starting quarterback. Still hasn't.

The Jets got hit at wide receiver, where they lost Santonio Holmes (five games) and Stephen Hill (four). But, all things considered, they were extraordinarily fortunate when it came to injuries. Good thing, too, because they probably didn't have enough depth in certain areas.

On defense, they lost cornerback Dee Milliner and outside linebacker Quinton Coples for three and two games, respectively, providing continuity that allowed the coaches to integrate seven new starters. General manager John Idzik needs to fortify the team's depth in his second offseason because, honestly, what are the chances to staying this healthy in 2014?

In case you're wondering, the most injury-prone team was the New York Giants, which lost a league-high 91 games by starters, including 26 on the offensive line.

Green Day: Film review of Sunday's win

December, 24, 2013
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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.

Jets aim to be spoilers in Week 17

December, 23, 2013
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This time around, the New York Jets get to be spoilers.

In Week 17 back in 2011, the Jets went to Miami needing a win to have any shot of making the playoffs. In a game remembered more for Santonio Holmes' antics, the Jets lost 19-17 and were eliminated from postseason contention

This Sunday, the Jets will visit Miami with the chance to knock the Dolphins out of the race -- the 'Fins cannot make the playoffs if they lose.

[+] EnlargeMiami's Olivier Vernon
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsOlivier Vernon and the Dolphins' defense chased Geno Smith from the game in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Jets linebacker Quinton Coples is excited about getting the chance to derail Miami's season.

"It would be great," Coples said on a conference call Monday. "They’re a divisional opponent. That would be a great opportunity for us to go down there and win. That would knock them out of the playoffs. But our main priority is just to go down and win, it’s not so much to focus on knocking them out, but it definitely would be a little pleasing for us. Let the result be the result."

The Jets entered their bye week at 5-4 and controlled their own playoff destiny, but a horrible stretch after that finished their postseason hopes.

Had the Jets won just once following the break in a trio of games against Baltimore, Buffalo and Miami, they'd be entering Week 17 with a chance to make the playoffs. Instead, by going 0-3 in those games, the Jets put themselves in a hole and were officially eliminated in Week 15.

If the Jets are going to beat the Dolphins, they'll need to play much better than the last time these two teams played. On Dec. 1, the Jets lost 23-3, at home. Quarterback Geno Smith was benched at halftime, as the offense totaled just 177 total yards. The normally stout Jets' rushing defense also yielded 125 yards to the Dolphins, who racked up 453 total yards.

"We’re facing a divisional (opponent), so it means everything as far as bragging rights goes," Smith said Monday. "It just means a lot as far as going into the offseason with something positive to look at and then obviously facing a division opponent, we want to definitely have those bragging rights. They got us the first time, so we want to make it even and then it’s obviously better to be 8-8 than 7-9."

Jets coach Rex Ryan, amid constant discussion of his future with the team, stressed Monday that all the focus is going on the Dolphins. The Jets have now missed the playoffs for three straight years.

"I think the entire organization is committed on trying to find a way to beat Miami. That's the commitment all of us has had to each other. We're working on Miami. That's where the focus is. One hundred percent of the focus," Ryan said. "There's nothing past Miami. It's all about getting ready to play Miami."

Jets' defense stifles Brees, Saints

November, 3, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Drew Brees was clearly uncomfortable with the New York Jets' defense Sunday. During the first quarter, the Saints' offense used up all three timeouts and was called for two delay-of-game penalties. One penalty came directly after a timeout. More telling, the veteran quarterback threw two interceptions and at least two more balls that were ripe for the picking.

“I look to the start of the game,” Brees said. “We had to use a timeout early, the delay of game, the lack of tempo and rhythm. It just took a little while.”

[+] EnlargeDrew Brees
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsThe Jets sacked Drew Brees twice and kept him under pressure all day.
It actually never really arrived. The Jets decisively won the game 26-20, and on the Saints’ last drive -- a two-minute drill that would have won the game, and the type of moment Brees excels at mastering -- the defense clamped down.

“The guy’s sick, he makes great throws,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “I will say this, was I confident in our guys? Absolutely, absolutely I was confident in our guys to get it done. But a little nervous? Yes.”

The Jets' defense pushed Brees back to a fourth down at the Saints’ 10-yard line. On that last-ditch attempt, Jets linebacker Quinton Coples got to the quarterback.

“We knew he was having trouble seeing over the line,” defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson said. “It showed. It seemed like the first couple of series he was looking over the offensive line. Then [Muhammad Wilkerson], Q, those guys just kept getting back there. I got back there a few times, but we all put our work in today.”

Coples also got to Brees on another big fourth down play, an end-around attempt with 7:54 left in the fourth quarter.

“I was thinking he was going to put it away and throw the ball,” Coples said. “But when he handed it off my eyes just got big because I knew I was going to run right through him.”

To be fair, the Saints lost leading running back Darren Sproles on the first offensive series of the game to a concussion. It put a wrench into the team’s game plan.

But the Jets took advantage after a poor showing the week before in Cincinnati. DeMario Davis and Antonio Cromartie got interceptions, and the Jets converted both those takeaways into points. Wilkerson and Calvin Pace were each credited with a sack.

“We knew we had to bounce back from last week,” Wilkerson said. “Ready to get going for this game.”

Double Coverage: Steelers at Jets

October, 11, 2013
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Ben Roethlisberger and Geno SmithUSA TODAY SportsBen Roethlisberger and the 0-4 Steelers take on Geno Smith and the surprising Jets.

Things you didn't expect to see in the standings when the NFL released the schedule last April: The New York Jets at 3-2, the Pittsburgh Steelers at 0-4.

The rebuilding Jets were supposed to struggle under a coach who already was being called a lame duck, and the Steelers ... well, they were supposed to be the Steelers, a model of consistency.

The two teams meet up Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Steelers are off to their worst start since 1968, the year of the Jets' only Super Bowl season. If the Steelers lose this game, they're pretty much done in terms of playoff aspirations. The Jets played a similarly desperate team Monday night, and that didn't seem to faze them, as they stunned the Atlanta Falcons on the road. The Steelers should be well-rested coming off a bye week.

ESPN.com Jets team reporter Rich Cimini and Steelers reporter Scott Brown break down the matchup:

Cimini: Scott, I look down the Steelers' roster and I still see a lot of those familiar names -- Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley, etc. It's hard to imagine how the Steelers could be this bad. I'm sure you could write 5,000 words on why they're 0-4, but how 'bout a few thoughts on what has gone wrong?

Brown: Rich, I think I have written triple that amount on everything that has gone wrong. Turnovers have been the biggest problem for the Steelers, and that is on both sides of the ball. The Steelers have committed 11 of them with six coming in the last two games by Roethlisberger alone, and they are still without a takeaway, which is unbelievable when you think about it.

Playing from behind has a lot to do with the Steelers' turnover problem, especially on defense. The defense is at its best when it puts opposing quarterbacks in obvious passing situations and forces them into the kind of mistakes that lead to turnovers. Would you believe the Steelers have had exactly two leads this season and those were 2-0 and 3-0 in the season opener against the Titans and in the second game at Cincinnati, respectively?

Rich, this defense usually confuses and frustrates rookie quarterbacks, but Geno Smith has hardly played like a first-year signal-caller. Has his play surprised you, and is it sustainable?

Cimini: I was surprised by how well he played Monday night in Atlanta because he had been a turnover machine -- 11 in his first four games. All of a sudden, something clicked. I don't know if it was a one-game thing or the start of a trend.

I know the Steelers' defense isn't what it used to be, but Dick LeBeau will have had two weeks to cook up something to confuse the kid. How Smith responds to new looks from the defense will decide this game. The Jets leaned a bit more on the running game last week, taking some pressure off Smith, and I suspect they'll take a similar approach on Sunday. Blitz pick-up will be a key, as will the receivers' ability to gain separation. I remember the Steelers were very aggressive last season in Week 2 with the Jets' wideouts. While on the subject of quarterback play, how would you assess Big Ben's play to this point?

Brown: It has been fine other than the turnovers, and I think it will get better with tight end Heath Miller back and running back Le'Veon Bell giving the Steelers a legitimate threat in the ground game. Roethlisberger is on pace to throw for almost 5,000 yards this season, which would obliterate his career-high of 4,328 yards (2009). But Roethlisberger is also averaging just over 40 pass attempts per game. That number is way too high, especially given how leaky the Steelers' offensive line has been through the first quarter of the season.

The emergence of Bell should restore balance to the Steelers' offense. My question for you is, will such balance have to wait a week? The Jets’ defensive line looks awfully physical and it is hard to envision the Steelers having much luck running the ball against it.

Cimini: You're right, Scott, the Jets have been very good against the run. They've faced some good backs -- Chris Johnson, C.J. Spiller, Doug Martin -- and they're allowing only 76.2 yards per game and 3.0 per carry. I'd be surprised if the Steelers have much success on the ground.

The Jets' front seven is much improved from last season. They added more athleticism at nose tackle (Damon Harrison), tackle (Sheldon Richardson), weak inside linebacker (DeMario Davis) and rush linebacker (Quinton Coples). They're no longer vulnerable on the perimeter, as they were last season. I think they will make the Steelers one-dimensional, which should allow the Jets to get good pressure on Roethlisberger. Speaking of pressure ... four sacks for the mighty Steelers? What happened to that defense?

Brown: Man, depends on who you ask. The easy answer is to say that age has finally collared a once fearsome defense, but that is not entirely accurate. Defensive end Brett Keisel, strong safety Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor are among the most tenured Steelers, and they have played well this season.

Age has caught up with the Steelers a little bit, and the defense needs to get more out of younger players such as cornerback Cortez Allen and outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. Jones, the Steelers' No. 1 pick last April, is going to be really good, but he has not made much of an impact as a pass-rusher. The Steelers desperately need Jones to emerge opposite Woodley, who has three of the team's four sacks.

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, while linebacker Quinton Coples (ankle) also didn't go.

Milliner has not practiced since straining his hamstring on Sept. 25, and has missed the last two games. He did some individual work during the portion open to the media on Wednesday. It's too early in the week to know whether he has a chance to return Sunday against Pittsburgh.

Coples missed practice as he continues to work his way back after suffering a hairline fracture in his right ankle and undergoing surgery. Jets coach Rex Ryan didn't seem concerned about Coples' absence.

Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett was a surprise non-participant in practice as he sat out with a knee issue. He rode the stationary bike during the portion open to the media.

Offensive lineman Oday Aboushi (knee) returned to practice in a limited capacity. He hasn't played yet this season.

Here's the full injury report:

JETS


Did not practice
LB Quinton Coples (ankle)
DL Kenrick Ellis (personal reason)
WR Clyde Gates (knee)
RB Mike Goodson (illness)
WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring)
DB Jaiquawn Jarrett (knee)
DB Dee Milliner (hamstring)
TE Kellen Winslow (knee)

Limited practice
OL Oday Aboushi (knee)
RB Chris Ivory (hamstring)
DB Darrin Walls (shoulder)

Full practice

DB Antonio Allen (finger)
OL Willie Colon (knee)
DB Antonio Cromartie (hip)
DL Sheldon Richardson (shoulder)

STEELERS

Out
WR Markus Wheaton (finger)

Limited practice
S Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith (hip)

Full practice
OG Ramon Foster (pectoral)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (right finger)
The NFL is reviewing the play in which Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker was injured, to see if New York Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson and LB Quinton Coples should be fined, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Locker was injured with 11:19 left in the third quarter of a 38-13 win against the Jets on Sunday. Locker had just thrown an incomplete pass to Nate Washington when he was hit by Wilkerson, and Coples followed up by hitting Locker as he fell. Locker ended up on his back clutching his right hip.

Neither Coples nor Wilkerson received a penalty on the play, but Schefter reports the NFL believes Wilkerson led with his helmet to Locker’s chest, and Coples hit Locker after the ball was gone.

Locker was immediately taken to a local hospital with a hip injury and spent the night there.

Sunday notes: Jets follow Big Blueprint

September, 29, 2013
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Week 4 notes on the New York Jets:

1. Green with envy: The Giants won their last two Super Bowls, in large part, because of a franchise quarterback and a dominant defensive line. Clearly, that defensive line is eroding before our eyes. For a change, the best D-line in town belongs to the Jets, whose front three/four is emerging as a premier unit. I'm not saying they'll be playing a home game next February, but it's hard not to be optimistic about the early returns.

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Wilkerson
William Perlman/The Star-Ledger/USA TODAY SportsWith the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL.
"They've got one of the best defensive lines in the NFL," said ESPN analyst Damien Woody, a former Jet. "You don't think the Giants would trade for the Jets' defensive line? The Giants would kill for the Jets' defensive line right now."

The Jets' front should be good because they picked a lineman in each of the past three first rounds -- Muhammad Wilkerson (2011), Quinton Coples (2012) and Sheldon Richardson (2013). Because of salary-cap restrictions, it's rare for a team to invest that much into one position group. Finances eventually could cause the break up of the group, so enjoy it while you can. Damon Harrison, undrafted in 2012, is the low-cost guy of the bunch.

You probably won't see another eight-sack performance anytime soon, but the front's ability to generate pressure seems to have affected Rex Ryan's play calling. This season was supposed to mark the return of Blitzing Rex, but check out the numbers: The Jets have used five or more rushers on only 34.9 percent of the pass plays, the league average, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

2. Naming rights: It's premature to bestow a nickname on the defensive line, but Twitter follower @travisppisani raises an interesting quirk: The line is led by the three "sons" -- WilkerSON, HarriSON and RichardSON. I'll take that a step further. How 'bout "My Three Sons" as a potential nickname? I guess Ryan would be Fred MacMurray, right? I haven't figured out how to get Coples in there, but give me time. That linebacker/line hybrid position is a challenge.

3. Premature celebration: Richardson said he's motivated by people who questioned his ability to play the run. He's doing well, and not shy about sharing his feelings.

"I've been playing the run most definitely exceptionally well," he said. "I made sure I'm sound in that because of my knocks coming into the NFL, which I didn't understand."

Based on overall performance, Richardson is the seventh-rated 3-4 end in the league, according to ProFootballFocus. His grade would be higher if he tackled Fred Jackson last Sunday instead of celebration before the whistle -- "a rookie mistake," he said. "Won't happen again." By the way, the man he replaced, Mike Devito (Kansas City Chiefs), is fourth in the ratings.

4. The Buc stops in 2014: Unless rookie QB Mike Glennon is some sort of savior, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) appear headed to a top-10 draft pick -- or maybe higher. Naturally, the Jets will be second-guessed for not demanding the Bucs' 2014 first-round pick in the Darrelle Revis trade.

Before the trade, there were reports saying the Bucs were offering the '14 choice, not their '13 first rounder -- and the Jets were balking. It would be a second-guess on my part if I criticized the outcome because I wrote at the time that the smart play would be take the immediate and known quantity -- the Bucs' No.1 this year (13th overall). They did, using it to select Richardson, who looks like the real deal.

Remember, the Jets will get the Bucs' third rounder as part of the deal, meaning they will have at least three picks in the top 70 if the Bucs continue to tank.

5. Bay Watch: A divorce between the Bucs and demoted QB Josh Freeman seems inevitable. Who could've imagined that Mark Sanchez and Freeman -- the second and third-drafted quarterbacks in 2009, respectively -- would be on the outs after five years? They both showed real positive strides in 2010. Of the 11 quarterbacks drafted in '09, only one still has a starting job -- the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford, chosen No. 1 overall.

Freeman will be a free agent after the season. Sanchez is signed through 2016, but likely will be traded or released.

6. Nick the Quick: The Jets return to the scene of their 2012 lowpoint -- Nashville, where they committed five turnovers and were eliminated from playoff contention last Week 15 with a 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans. I asked C Nick Mangold what he remembered most about that night, and he replied without hesitation: "I short-armed that snap at the end." They had a chance to pull out a victory in the final minute, but Sanchez failed to handle a low, but catchable shotgun snap from Mangold. The Titans recovered.

Mangold has appeared in roughly 7,000 plays in his career and, by his count, he has botched only three snaps -- one in 2006 (Chad Pennington at quarterback), last December in Nashville and last week (a premature snap to Geno Smith).

"You don't forget them," he said. "I know all of them, biblically."

7. Evil twins: The Jets should be wary of Titans CB Jason McCourty. He and his twin brother, New England Patriots S Devin McCourty, have turned into Jets killers over the last two seasons.

In Week 2, Devin recovered a fumble and returned it 44 yards. In two meetings last season, Devin scored on a 104-yard kickoff return and, in the Butt Fumble Game, he forced a fumble on a kickoff return -- and the fumble was returned for a touchdown. Jason upheld the family tradition by recording two interceptions in last December's game in Nashville.

The McCourty brothers grew up in Nyack, N.Y., and both attended Rutgers. Maybe this is some sort of payback after being ignored in the '09 draft by one of their local teams.

8. Perspective, please: The Buffalo Bills are a dangerous team in one respect, and one respect only: The Jets usually play so well against the Bills that it creates a false sense of confidence about the team, internally and externally. It happened early last season, and it could be happening now, coming off last week's win. The same people who predicted a 4-12 season are now talking about playoff possibilities. It's a long season, folks. Relax.

9. Johnny on the spot: One thing I've noticed about GM John Idzik: He likes to be near the action -- or maybe I should say the "competition." It was apparent in training camp, where he was on the practice field, lurking near positional drills. In last Sunday's win, he was on the Jets' sideline in the fourth quarter, behind the bench. In fact, there was a TV shot of him, congratulating Santonio Holmes after his game-winning touchdown. I'd like to say Idzik is a Jerry Jones wannabe, but that wouldn't be accurate. Idzik isn't exactly a spotlight guy.

10. The wild, wild East: Things are moving pretty fast in the AFC East -- literally. The Bills average one play every 29.3 seconds (first in the NFL), followed by the New England Patriots (36.9, seventh), Miami Dolphins (37.2, ninth) and Jets (37.7, 11th), according to ESPN Stats. Who knew?

Rex to defense: Get the ball!

September, 25, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' defense was feeling pretty good about itself after its eight-sack demolition of Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, but the postgame celebration was shattered by a challenge from coach Rex Ryan.

"Rex got on the defense about creating turnovers," defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said Wednesday.

The Jets are ranked third in total defense, doing a lot of nice things, but they've struggled with takeaways -- only two in three games, none in the past two. To be recognized as an elite defense, they need to do a better job of forcing turnovers. Sacks are great. Three-and-outs are nice. But you need game-changing plays.

"That's been a big emphasis this week," rush linebacker Quinton Coples said.

It should be.

The Jets face the Tennessee Titans, who have yet to commit a turnover. Obviously, Jake Locker has done a terrific job of protecting the football -- one of three starting quarterbacks with no interceptions -- but he'll face a defense that's starting to mature.

A defense that prides itself on making life miserable for quarterbacks. The Jets have caused problems for the Bucs' Josh Freeman (benched Wednesday), the Patriots' Tom Brady and, of course, Manuel, who combined completed only 47 percent of their passes against the Jets and were sacked 12 times.

"We go into every game with the same intention -- stop the quarterback," linebacker DeMario Davis said.

If a quarterback can't solve the Jets' scheme, nose tackle Damon Harrison said, he's "like a deer in the headlights."

Quite simply, the Jets have to do a better job of getting their hands on the football. In fact, they've had only six pass break-ups. That's surprisingly low, considering the improved pass rush. In theory, the quarterbacks -- under increased pressure -- should be making bad decisions with the ball. But that hasn't happened yet.

Upon Further Review: Jets Week 3

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
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An examination of four hot issues from the New York Jets' 27-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills:

1. Broadway Geno: A week ago in this space, we wondered how Geno Smith would respond to his awful fourth quarter in New England. The answer: The way the Jets had hoped. He became the first rookie in Jets history to pass for 300 yards and two touchdowns in a game. Not even Joe Namath did that in 1965, when the AFL was a wide-open passing league. In some ways, Smith's performance was Namath-esque, because he threw a couple of interceptions (that makes a total of six). But he also demonstrated the ability to attack downfield, as the Jets unleashed a seldom-seen vertical passing game. Smith averaged 11.4 yards per attempt. You can win a lot of football games with that number. He made one big play in crunch time, the 69-yard touchdown strike to Santonio Holmes, and that was enough.

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Wilkerson
Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesMuhammad Wilkerson sacked EJ Manuel twice in Sunday's win over the Bills.
2. Paging Rex, spill on Aisle 3: Rex Ryan has a lot of stuff to clean up. The Jets have committed 34 penalties, including a franchise-record 20 Sunday, and they're minus-six in turnover margin -- but they're off to a 2-1 start. Go figure. Tom Coughlin would love to have these problems at 2-1. Of course, the Jets won't keep winning if these issues persist. Ryan needs to figure out a way to tidy up the mess; expect a heavy emphasis in practice this week on penalty prevention. It was a team breakdown, as the offense was responsible for 11 penalties, the defense nine. The worst offenders were CB Kyle Wilson (four for 49 yards) and G Vladimir Ducasse (four for 35). If it weren't for one declined penalty and one offsetting, the Jets would've tied the league record at 22. Ryan contributed to the meltdown with an ill-advised replay challenge on a potential first-down spot. Note to Ryan: There's only a 40 percent success rate on those type of challenges this season. Ryan had no challenges remaining in the fourth quarter, and he could've used one on a possible fumble by EJ Manuel.

3. Get the quarterback: Essentially, that was Ryan's message to the team in the Saturday night meeting. The defense heeded his message, recording eight sacks. The last time the Jets made eight sacks in a game was 1988, when the quarterback was Matt Simms' dad, Phil. Fortunately, Matt wasn't around to see that beatdown; it was three months before he was born. The Jets haven't been a big sack team under Ryan, who usually has to manufacture pressure with clever schemes, but the trend is turning. With Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Sheldon Richardson rushing the passer -- first-round picks from 2011 to 2013 -- Ryan has the horses up front to frighten quarterbacks. Manuel, who came into the game with a growing reputation for being calm under pressure, was hit 16 times and rattled by the pressure. Wilkerson recorded the first multisack game of his career.

4. From third-string to lifesaver: Before training camp, Bilal Powell was projected as the No. 3 running back, behind Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson. It changed quickly when Ivory hurt his hamstring and Goodson didn't show because of off-the-field issues. Powell ran with the opportunity, won the starting job and saved the Jets Sunday with a career day -- 149 rushing yards, including 109 in the second half. His day began on the bench, as Ivory got the start. He lasted only four plays before he injured his "good" hamstring, setting it up for Powell. He's the most underrated player on the team, a steady, if not flashy runner who grinds out the yards. With Ivory likely to miss time, Powell will be a very important player over the next few weeks.

Coples uncertain for Sunday vs. Bills

September, 18, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets linebacker Quinton Coples was an official practice participant Wednesday, but was limited in his return from a hairline fracture in his right ankle after individual workouts during Monday's session.

Coples, who has not played since suffering the injury in the second preseason game Aug. 17, wasn't sure about seeing the field this weekend against the Buffalo Bills.

[+] EnlargeQuinton Coples
AP Photo/Joe RobbinsJets LB Quinton Coples hasn't played since suffering a hairline ankle fracture Aug. 17.
"It's a trainer's and coach's decision," Coples said. "Whatever they tell me, I'll prepare for."

Jets coach Rex Ryan was just as uncertain about Coples' returning for Sunday's AFC East clash, noting that it's been just more than a month since Coples underwent surgery. The original timeline had Coples, the team's first-round pick in 2012, missing three to four weeks with the fracture.

Ryan indicated that Coples likely would be on a limited snap count if he's able to go against the Bills.

"Would it be full-time and all that? I wouldn't think so," Ryan said. "That's impressive that this kid was out there today even in a limited capacity."

Coples said he's taking it day by day, and he feels good thus far. He did more on Wednesday than he did Monday, when he was seen doing agility drills during the portion of practice open to the media. He constantly referred to the trainers and coaches having the final say in what happens.

"I'm just going by what they give me. At the end of the day, I think they know me more than I know myself," Coples said about his status for Sunday. "They've been dealing with this a lot more than I have -- it's my first injury, so I'm playing it by ear."

Coples is moving to a new position this season, from defensive lineman to outside linebacker. He said he doesn't believe he's missed much being sidelined these past two weeks, and that he has time to catch up.

He's looking forward to getting back on the field to help bolster an already stingy Jets defense.

"It's always a pleasure to go out there and play with my brothers," Coples said. "End of the day, I'm excited as well."

Still not there: Wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot) said he's still not 100 percent as he works himself back from the Lisfranc fracture and the corresponding surgery.

Holmes played a season-high 66 snaps against the Patriots last Thursday after playing 45 against the Buccaneers in the opener. He said he came out of the game fine. He has four catches for 64 yards on the season.

"I think based on [Jeremy] Kerley's injury, we had to go with what we had," Holmes said. "We had many opportunities, with the defense forcing a lot of three-and-outs on the Patriots, that there was a chance I'd play a lot. We just had to play with what we had to give ourselves a chance to win the ballgame."

Quinton Coples back in positional drills

September, 18, 2013
9/18/13
1:47
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jets outside linebacker Quinton Coples (ankle) participated in positional drills during the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday.

Coples
This activity is the most he's done since suffering a hairline fracture to his right ankle Aug. 17. He did work off to the side on Monday.

Coples' return could be a good sign for Sunday's game against Buffalo, although we'll get a better idea of his status when the official injury report is released Thursday.

Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (concussion), who missed Thursday's game against the Patriots, was not present during the early portion of practice but eventually came out and did individual work off to the side. Kerley was at practice Monday in a red noncontact jersey.

Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) was at practice and participating in the defensive lineman drills. Wilkerson injured his right ankle against the Patriots on Thursday but did individual work Monday.

Tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) appeared to be practicing despite this being his usual day off. Winslow is on a program where he doesn't practice on Wednesdays to help him get through the week, but his schedule may have been altered due to the team practicing Monday.

Simms is No. 2 QB again; Amendola out

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
7:32
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New York Jets decided once again to dress Matt Simms ahead of veteran Brady Quinn as the No. 2 quarterback.

Quinn was inactive for Thursday night's game against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. He has been with the Jets for two weeks, save for his 48-hour period in free-agent limbo last weekend, but the Jets evidently feel more comfortable with Simms as the No. 2 (for now) even though he has no NFL experience.

With wide receiver/punt returner Jeremy Kerley sidelined with a concussion, the Jets activated wide receiver Ben Obomanu, who re-signed Tuesday. Obomanu will be the fifth receiver.

No surprises among the Jets' inactives: quarterback Mark Sanchez, guard Will Campbell, tackle Ben Ijalana, tackle Oday Aboushi and linebacker Quinton Coples.

For the Patriots, the news (if you can call it that) is that wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin) is inactive. That was expected, as he was listed as doubtful. Their other inactives are running back Brandon Bolden, tight end Zach Sudfeld, linebacker Steve Beauharnais, guard Will Svitek, tight end Rob Gronkowski and defensive tackle Chris Jones.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, whom the Jets drafted to ostensibly replace Darrelle Revis, proclaimed himself ready to face Revis' new team -- the Bucs -- Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

"I feel great," Milliner said Monday after practice. "I'm back on the field. I'm back doing everything 100 percent, so I feel good."

Milliner, selected ninth overall, missed the last two preseason games with a calf injury. He was seen leaving MetLife Stadium last Thursday night in a walking boot, fueling speculation that he could he hurt worse than initially thought. No doubt, he will be targeted by the Bucs. Milliner fell behind in training camp after missing the first few days because of a contract dispute, and he missed two weeks of practice with the calf.

The Jets will be down one, possibly two starters on defense. Rex Ryan acknowledged the obvious, that outside linebacker Quinton Coples (fractured ankle) won't play. Sources say he could miss the first month. Nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (back), sidelined for three preseason games, was a non-participant in practice during the 30-minute window for the media.

Analysis: Impact of Coples injury

August, 18, 2013
8/18/13
12:37
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Quinton Coples suffered a hairline fracture in his right ankle and will miss three to four weeks, ESPNNewYork.com reported Saturday night. The good news is, he won't need surgery, according to a source. The impact of his absence:

1. Out two games? Based on the timetable, Coples probably will miss the first two regular-season games -- the opener against the Bucs and, four days later, the Thursday night game in New England.

2. Stunting progress: Coples is learning a new position -- outside linebacker -- and will lose valuable practice time. It was clear, in the first two games, that he's still not comfortable on the edge in a two-point stance. At times, he takes wrong angles and fails to set the edge. He's still get familiar with the concept of playing in space. Make no mistake, this injury is a big setback in his development.

3. Replacement plan: Fortunately for the Jets, they have an experienced backup, Antwan Barnes. The problem is, Barnes, who plays in the sub packages, could be overworked as an every-down player. Other outside 'backers such as Garrett McIntyre and Ricky Sapp could be part of the replacement plan.

4. Inside job: The Jets will miss Coples' ability as an interior rusher. When they go to a four-man line in nickel, he lines up inside with Muhammad Wilkerson, forming an athletic inside tandem. This could be a factor against the Patriots, because you have to figure the Jets will be in nickel much of the game, facing Tom Brady & Co.

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