AFC East: Titans-Jets 092709

Calls and Effect: AFC East penalty tracker

October, 3, 2009
While their divisional rivals were mostly disciplined in Week 3, the Buffalo Bills shot to the top of the AFC East penalty tracker with Sunday's sloppy loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The Bills committed 14 penalties. A dozen of them were accepted for 116 yards.

Through three games, they've sustained 242 yards in penalties, 82 yards more than the division's No. 2 transgressors, the New York Jets.
AFC East team-by-team penalties
Team Players Flagged Total Flags Accepted Yards
Buffalo Bills 22 33 28 242
New York Jets 17 25 21 160
New England Patriots 15 19 19 154
Miami Dolphins 12 17 15 86

The Bills aren't good enough to give away that many yards. Particularly troubling is that they've been whistled for six majors (sorry for the hockey term): two unsportsmanlike conducts, two facemasks, one roughing the passer and one unnecessary roughness. The rest of the division combined has been called for seven such penalties.

Penalties are even more costly when you're shorthanded. The Bills have suffered heavy losses because of injuries. They will go into Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins in Land Shark Stadium minus at least four starters from their defense.

But maybe their flags will decrease without left tackle Demetrius Bell in the lineup. He's out because of a groin injury. Bell has been flagged six times, twice as often as anybody else in the AFC East.
AFC East Penalty Tracker
Player Team Pos. Flagged* Yards
Demetrius Bell Bills LT 6 20
Will Allen Dolphins CB 3 16
Tom Brady Patriots QB 3 15
Eric Wood Bills LG 3 15
Damien Woody Jets RT 3 12
Kawika Mitchell Bills LB 2 30
Jairus Byrd Bills S 2 28
D'Brickashaw Ferguson Jets LT 2 20
Mark Sanchez Jets QB 2 20
Vince Wilfork Patriots DT 2 20
Shawn Nelson Bills TE 2 16
Vernon Carey Dolphins RT 2 15
Alan Faneca Kets LG 2 15
Nic Harris Bills LB 2 15
Brian Hartline Dolphins WR 2 15
*Includes declined and offsetting penalties

The Jets deserve a commendation for last week's three-penalty performance in beating the Tennessee Titans. The Jets went into Week 3 having been flagged the most in the division.

But the Jets must be concerned with where the penalties are occurring. Nine of their 21 accepted penalties have been committed by their veteran offensive line.

The Miami Dolphins had a disorderly week by their standards. They committed seven penalties, but only one went for 10 yards. Twelve of their 15 accepted penalties have been for 5 yards or less.

Ryan still flying in approval ratings

September, 29, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

Don't forget, sports fans, to take part in SportsNation's weekly NFL head coach approval ratings.

As you might expect, New York Jets rookie head coach Rex Ryan continues to generate a favorable response, while Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron is clawing to stay in the double digits.

As of early Tuesday evening, Ryan is ranked third, tied with Mike Singletary, with an approval rating of 93 percent for getting his team out to a 3-0 start. The pair in front of him: Sean Payton and John Harbaugh.

Bill Belichick was second among AFC East coaches and 14th overall at 67 percent after Sunday's significant victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

A rugged schedule has Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano at 0-3. What's worse, he just lost his starting quarterback, Chad Pennington, for the year. Sparano ranked 24th in the approval ratings at 35 percent.

Jauron might be back on the hot seat after his team's depressing 1-2 start. He is tied with Raheem Morris for 29th in the league approval ratings at 12 percent. They rank higher than only Jim Zorn and Eric Mangini.

How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

September, 29, 2009

NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted by's Tim Graham


1. Chad Pennington, Dolphins: All the guy wanted to do was stay healthy for consecutive seasons, something he hadn't done since 2002-03. Sadly, Pennington didn't get his wish. Last year's Comeback Player of the Year and runner-up to Peyton Manning for league MVP probably is done for the season because of another injury to his throwing shoulder.

Pennington faces a potentially career-threatening situation. His right shoulder has been operated on twice already and likely will need to undergo the knife again. He will be 34 years old before the start of next season.

2. Terrell Owens, Bills: For the first time in 186 games, Owens failed to catch a pass in Sunday's lopsided loss to the New Orleans Saints. Fans went gaga over the Bills' decision to sign Owens. They gobbled up tickets. A crazed horde famously turned out at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where one lunatic dressed up as a popcorn box to welcome Owens.

Yet through three games, Owens ranks fifth on the team with five receptions for 98 yards and one touchdown. Running back Fred Jackson has three times as many catches. Tight end Derek Schouman didn't play Sunday and is out for the season, but he has almost double Owens' total.

3. Thomas Jones, Jets: In Week 1, the numbers looked appropriate for last year's AFC rushing leader. Jones ran 20 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns. But 77 of those yards were gained on two fourth-quarter plays. Extract them, and he averaged 1.7 yards per attempt.

His next outings haven't been much better. Jones carried 14 times each of the past two games, gaining 54 and 20 yards.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Fred Taylor gives New England's rushing attack a much-needed jolt.


1. Fred Taylor, Patriots: Finally, the Patriots effectively ran the ball. After a couple of weeks in which quarterback Tom Brady aired it out 100 times, the Patriots insisted upon running against the Atlanta Falcons.

Laurence Maroney, the starter in Weeks 2 and 3, left the game with a thigh injury in the second quarter. Taylor carried the load by rushing for more yards in the first half than any Patriots back had gained in each of the first two games. Taylor finished with 105 yards and a touchdown.

2. Mark Sanchez, Jets: One solid game could be happenstance. Two solid games might be coincidence. But three in a row establishes a standard. I guess Jets fans should expect the rookie to perform well every week.

In a 24-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans, Sanchez demonstrated some youthful exuberance that needs to be reigned in a tad, but he once again played more like a four-year pro than a 22-year-old. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Sanchez also scored on a spectacular -- albeit reckless -- 14-yard run.

3. Brandon McGowan, Patriots: When the Patriots signed him as a free agent, he appeared to be a depth player and special-teamer. McGowan not only has been starting, but he also has been a factor.

With Sunday's game tied at 10, McGowan forced Falcons back Michael Turner to cough up the ball on the Patriots' 31-yard line. It was a key play that prevented the Falcons from asserting themselves. They didn't score again. McGowan also was a significant reason why future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez was limited to one catch for 16 yards.

Clowney benched for whiney tweet

September, 28, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

While the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins have policies that dissuade tweeting, the New York Jets encourage their players to express themselves, going so far as to hire a social-networking consultant for Twitter, Facebook and the like.

Apparently, the Jets do have their limitations.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan on Monday revealed the reason receiver David Clowney was scratched Sunday was for tweets detrimental to the team.

Clowney had complained over a lack of passes being thrown his way. Mark Sanchez targeted Clowney a grand total of one time through the first two games.

About 90 minutes after the Jets beat the Patriots at the Meadowlands in Week 2, Clowney tweeted: "1 play in the 1st Half, 4 plays in the 2nd half,.... A bit disappointed about my playing time but very happy and satisfied about the win."

Ryan found out about it and called Clowney into his office.

"I was upset with him for a couple of reasons," Ryan said. "One of them is you'll hear things if a guy's unhappy or whatever. I'm not a big Twitter guy, but you hear different things.

"To me, this is about our team and understanding this is about our team. No individual is bigger than the team."

Columns as they see 'em

September, 28, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

A look back at the AFC East's first four-game weekend through the eyes of the columnists who wrote about them.

New York Jets 24, Tennessee Titans 17
New England Patriots 26, Atlanta Falcons 10
New Orleans Saints 27, Buffalo Bills 7
San Diego Chargers 23, Miami Dolphins 13

Pennington, Wilfork top AFC East injury rundown

September, 27, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

A rundown of Sunday's notable injuries in the AFC East:

Wrap-up: Jets 24, Titans 17

September, 27, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

The New York Jets further established themselves as a team on the make, beating its third respectable opponent to start the season.

In yet another impressive display, the Jets handled the Tennessee Titans 24-17 at the Meadowlands.

So far, the Jets have knocked off a playoff contender, the prohibitive favorite to win the AFC East and last year's top AFC playoff seed.

Rex Ryan's defense didn't have an epic afternoon, but it did enough without two regular contributors in their secondary: right cornerback Lito Sheppard and nickel back Donald Strickland.

Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez managed the game like a seasoned veteran again, showing that his first two games weren't flukes. The first time maybe. The second time, perhaps coincidental. Three times in a row is looking typical.

Sanchez was 17 of 30 for 171 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also scored the game's first touchdown, contorting himself over the goal line after a slick 14-yard scramble.

But if there's something to be concerned about, it's the Jets' run game.

Leon Washington ran 12 times for 46 yards. Thomas Jones had 14 carries for 20 yards.

Take away two nice runs at the end of the the season-opening victory over the Houston Texans and Jets fans might be howling for rookie Shonn Greene to get his chance.

Early AFC East games competitive at half

September, 27, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

Both early AFC East games are tight through two quarters.

In a pair of games that will prove educational, the New England Patriots are ahead of the Atlanta Falcons by a field goal, while the New York Jets are ahead of the Tennessee Titans by four after taking a two-touchdown lead in the opening minutes.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn't having as good of a game as Matt Ryan, who's playing in the area for the first time since leaving Boston College.

Brady hasn't utilized Wes Welker proxy Julian Edelman like last week and is 10 of 18 for 87 yards. Brady twice tried to go long distance to Randy Moss but couldn't connect even though Moss had gotten behind the secondary.

Ryan is 11 of 16 for 135 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions.

But the Patriots have gotten their running game ignited compared to the first two weeks. Fred Taylor has seven carries for 54 yards and the first Patriots touchdown. That's already the best game by a Patriots back this year -- seven more yards than Taylor's team-high total in last week's loss to the Jets and 22 yards more than Laurence Maroney's team-high output in the season opener.

The Jets exploded to a 14-0 lead with a great effort by Mark Sanchez for his first NFL rushing touchdown and converted a fumble on the ensuing kickoff into another score, this time a Sanchez toss to tight end Ben Hartsock.

Jets' secondary shorthanded for Titans

September, 27, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

A couple of interesting notes on the New York Jets' inactives for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans at the Meadowlands.

As expected cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland are both out. Dwight Lowery will start for Sheppard at right cornerback, while Drew Coleman will handle the nickel back duties.

We'll see if the lack of two regular defensive backs will temper the Jets' defensive aggression against veteran quarterback Kerry Collins.

Receiver David Clowney has been dropped from the game roster even though he wasn't on the injury report Friday. That's bad news for a one-time candidate to be the No. 2 target after Jerricho Cotchery.

There's no doubt that's Chansi Stuckey's job. Clowney didn't have a catch and was targeted once through the first two games.

Erik Ainge regains his status as the third quarterback after Kevin O'Connell had the ceremonial captaincy versus his old team.

Tennessee Titans
New York Jets
  • Quarterback Erik Ainge (third)
  • Quarterback Kevin O’Connell
  • Guard Matt Slauson
  • Receiver David Clowney
  • Defensive end Ropati Pitoitua
  • Linebacker Jamaal Westerman
  • Cornerback Lito Sheppard
  • Cornerback Donald Strickland

AFC East Week 3 injury report

September, 25, 2009
A collection of injury reports for games involving AFC East teams:

Tennessee Titans at New York Jets, 1 p.m. Sunday
Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. Sunday
New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills, 4:05 p.m. Sunday
Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers, 4:15 p.m. Sunday

AFC East: Final Word

September, 25, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

Five nuggets of knowledge about this weekend’s games:

Fred Jackson has one more game to himself. The Buffalo Bills gave Jackson a vote of confidence that he could be a one-man show out of the backfield when they trimmed Dominic Rhodes on roster cutdown day. Jackson has thrived. With Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch serving the last of his three-game suspension for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, Jackson has one more chance to show he can be The Man.
David Butler II/US Presswire
Fred Jackson has the Bills' backfield all to himself for another week.

Jackson ranks fifth in rushing with 220 yards and is coming off a 163-yard game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also has 11 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Lynch might not get the same percentage of touches as last year when he comes back.

I'm eager to see if Wes Welker and Julian Edelman both play Sunday. It might be the only way to prove they're not the same person. Reports say Welker should play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. He missed the last game because of a knee injury. Edelman didn't play in the season opener, perhaps because of an ankle injury, but the Welker lookalike recorded game-highs with eight catches for 98 yards in Sunday's defeat to the New York Jets.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady seemed to suggest afterward Edelman would have played in Week 1 if healthy and that it wasn't an either-or decision between Welker and the rookie. Welker and Edelman simultaneously on the field? The Falcons will be seeing double.

The Miami Dolphins face another grueling tight end matchup. They couldn't contain Tony Gonzalez in Week 1 and were trampled by Dallas Clark in Week 2. They combined for a dozen receptions for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Now the Dolphins get to face San Diego Chargers star Antonio Gates. The Dolphins went into their first two games fully cognizant of the threats Gonzalez and Clark posed. The Dolphins devised a game plan to stop them. They failed anyway.

Where are the Jets' heads? It would be understandable after their first two performances that the Jets would be feeling invincible these days. They're 2-0 and coming off an emotionally charged triumph over the Patriots. The defense has been phenomenal. Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has been unflappable.

But the Jets need to keep their start in perspective. Next up is a wounded opponent. The Tennessee Titans are 0-2 but much better than their record suggests. If the Jets can put the Titans away and get to 3-0, then people are going to start mentioning them as a Super Bowl contender. Whether that's legitimate or not is moot. That kind of talk will intensify.

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will have Week 3 off -- relatively speaking. I know this is going to come off a slap in the face to Justin Gage, but after shutting down Andre Johnson and Randy Moss in consecutive games, Revis can shut it down Sunday by comparison. Revis kept Johnson and Moss -- two of the three or four most dangerous receivers in the NFL -- to eight catches for 59 yards. Gage is the best receiver Tennessee has, with nine catches.

Jets hurting in the secondary

September, 24, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

There might be a negligible chance New York Jets nickel back Donald Strickland could suit up Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

But New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is being realistic.

"I don’t think Strickland is going to be able to play this week," Ryan said at his Thursday news conference. "I’m not declaring him out right now, but I don’t think there’s any way he’s playing this week."

Neither Strickland (ankle) nor right cornerback Lito Sheppard (quadriceps) practiced for a second straight day. Both were hurt in Sunday's 16-9 victory over the New England Patriots at the Meadowlands.

The Titans aren't a prolific downfield passing team. When throwing 11 yards or longer down field, Titans quarterback Kerry Collins is 10 of 21 for 188 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Running back Chris Johnson leads them with 10 receptions. Receiver Justin Gage has nine catches for 105 yards.

Ryan said if Sheppard can't play, then second-year pro Dwight Lowery will start for him opposite Pro Bowl left cornerback Darrelle Revis. Lowery started the first 10 games of his rookie season before the Jets signed Ty Law off the street.

Lowery would be Strickland's replacement if Sheppard can play. If both Strickland and Sheppard are unavailable, then Drew Coleman will be the nickel back.

If Jets lose to Titans, then Pats win is muffled

September, 24, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

ESPN analyst Herm Edwards will be impressed with Sunday's victory over the New England Patriots if the New York Jets can follow up with another strong performance at the Meadowlands against the Tennessee Titans.

"You need to see how they control their emotions after a big win like that," Edwards told me over the phone. "Now they're playing a team, Tennessee, that's desperate for a win. Jeff Fisher doesn't want to go 0-3.

"When you're a good team and play a game like that against New England, you know you're a good team when the following week you win again. Then that [New England] win becomes real big."

Victories in September need to be kept in perspective. A loss to the Titans on Sunday would mute what they accomplished against the Patriots. It won't resonate anymore. There won't be separation in the standings.

"If they beat New England and they don't beat Tennessee, then guess what: 'We're 2-1, and if New England wins, they're 2-1, and if Buffalo wins, they're 2-1,' " said Edwards, who took the Jets to the playoffs three of his five seasons there.

"That's what you've got to control as a football coach. You've got to temper it. You say 'Yeah, boys, that's one game. That's a big game, but you really want to beat New England in November in December.'

"Then you know what's happening. You're going to win the division."