AFC East: Tony Richardson

Video: One take on how labor talks went

June, 16, 2011
6/16/11
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Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic give their take on the sudden chaos once attorneys returned to the NFL labor negotiations.

A look at AFC East union player reps

March, 3, 2011
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With the NFL's collective bargaining agreement hours from expiring, I thought it would be a good time to provide a rundown of the NFL Players Association representatives for each AFC East team.

These players essentially are the shop stewards, the 32 liaisons who are in closest contact with union executives and the ones responsible for keeping their teammates abreast on all developments.

Three of the four AFC East representatives are free agents, but that's not uncommon. In these cases, union responsibilities often are maintained until players have new teams or retire. Teams cannot sign or trade players until a new CBA is negotiated.

Buffalo Bills

Representative: Safety George Wilson. He's the only AFC East rep under contract, having re-signed Tuesday. Wilson is known as one of the hardest-working and classiest players in the game. The two-time captain entered the NFL in 2004 as a receiver and switched positions to stick around.

Alternates: Outside linebacker Chris Kelsay, punter Brian Moorman.

Miami Dolphins

Representative: Running back Ricky Williams. A running joke in the Dolphins' locker room is that Williams is a good choice because nobody has met with the commissioner more often than he has. Williams just completed his 10th season and is a free agent.

Alternates: Quarterback Chad Pennington, receiver Brandon Marshall, long-snapper John Denney.

New England Patriots

Representative: Left tackle Matt Light. He's one of the Patriots' most charitable and entertaining players. Light just finished his 10th NFL season and was chosen for his third Pro Bowl. He also is a free agent.

Alternates: Quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Alge Crumpler.

New York Jets

Representative: Fullback Tony Richardson. He has played 16 NFL seasons and also sits on the NFLPA's 11-man executive committee. He recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post about the looming lockout.

Alternates: Right guard Brandon Moore, safety Jim Leonhard.

Jets trying to tackle busy 2011 offseason

January, 28, 2011
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David HarrisAlan Maglaque/US PresswireFree-agent linebacker David Harris has led the Jets in tackles each of the past two seasons.
New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum held a news conference Friday to wrap up the 2010 season and address several issues moving forward.

Some highlights with my thoughts:

The Jets probably won't re-sign any of their players before the collective bargaining agreement expires March 4. This probably is the most prudent approach. The Jets would benefit from knowing the new salary cap structure rather than simply guessing on whether or not their players will fit under it. Teams also would prefer to know how free agency will be determined under the next CBA. Right now, we can't say for sure who will be restricted or unrestricted or what veteran minimum salaries will be.

Tannenbaum hopes to keep all three free-agent receivers: Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Brad Smith. I'm skeptical the Jets can pull it off. All are coming off big years, and it will be difficult to match all offers from other teams. But if the Jets can pull it off, the happiest man in the organization will be Mark Sanchez. Tannenbaum declined to speculate on whether or not the Jets would be interested in a post-prison Plaxico Burress.

Free-agent inside linebacker David Harris "remains a top priority for us." Harris, to me, is the most important free agent for the Jets. It's much easier to find a receiver in free agency than a stud linebacker such as Harris. He has led the Jets in tackles each of the past two seasons and makes all the on-field defensive calls. I highly doubt the Jets let him get away.

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Icon SMIMark Sanchez has the second most starts in the AFC East, but who will he be throwing to next season?
Brian Schottenheimer will be back as offensive coordinator. I realize some Jets fans are disgusted with Schottenheimer's play-calling in the AFC Championship Game, but he's a gem. Deep back-to-back runs into the postseason with a raw quarterback is a major accomplishment. And let's not forget he had the Jets humming with Brett Favre at quarterback until Favre's right arm started falling apart in 2008.

Sanchez will get "a couple of opinions" on his injured throwing shoulder before deciding if he'll have surgery. The Jets don't want to cut on their quarterback unless they have to. But the sooner they make a decision, the better so Sanchez can begin the rehab process. One of the overlooked traits Sanchez has developed in his two years is toughness. He has taken quite a few shots in the pocket and on the run, but he stays on the field.

Tannenbaum expects LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor to be on the 2011 roster. Tomlinson and Taylor are under contract, but the Jets could release them. Tomlinson lost effectiveness as the season wore on, but he can be a quality backup for Shonn Greene and adds value in the passing game as a receiver and in blitz protection. Taylor clearly is nearing the end of the line, and he knows it. But he wasn't a liability and provided leadership Tannenbaum said was "really hard to quantify."

First-round draft choice Kyle Wilson's future is "one of our paramount objectives for the offseason." The day the Jets drafted Wilson 29th overall, head coach Rex Ryan declared Wilson would be their nickelback and a great punt returner. Even with Darrelle Revis absent all summer because of a contract dispute, Wilson couldn't seize the opportunity and fell behind Drew Coleman on the depth chart. Tannenbaum cited inconsistency as Wilson's biggest problem.

Right tackle Damien Woody and fullback Tony Richardson probably won't be back. Tannenbaum didn't make those statements, but that's what I read between the lines. Woody turned 33 during the season and recently underwent Achilles surgery. He also missed games with a knee injury. Wayne Hunter or Vladimir Ducasse could take over for him. The Jets cut Richardson before the season and brought him back. They also have fullback John Conner waiting in the wings.

Vernon Gholston sounds like a goner. The sixth overall pick in 2008 was a healthy scratch in the playoffs. Tannenbaum diplomatically said the Jets "are going to see if there's anything else to try, but he has been given his share of opportunities, and it could be time to move on." Move over Mike Mamula.

Your 2010 All-AFC East team revealed

January, 26, 2011
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Vince Wilfork and Kyle WilliamsGetty Images, US PresswireThere was enough room on the All-AFC East team for nose tackles Vince Wilfork and Kyle Williams.
Reader input didn't make compiling the 2010 All-AFC East team a simple process.

Despite your tremendous response to help me assemble the quintessential roster, I had to make an executive decision, break a deadlock, defend one of my no-brainer selections and throw out some ballots because of shenanigans.

In the end, we have an All-AFC East squad everybody should be satisfied with.

We began the process a week ago, when I chose 10 players I believed were automatic. The other 17 positions were for you to vote upon. You didn't disappoint.

There were some great races, most notably at left tackle and nose tackle.

As with any voting process on the AFC East blog, I always can be convinced to move from a stance. My instructions were to vote for one nose tackle for a 3-4 scheme with emphasis that New England Patriots keystone Vince Wilfork and Buffalo Bills standout Kyle Williams must be considered nose tackles because that's how each team identifies him.

But enough readers made the case that Wilfork and Williams played elsewhere along the line so frequently that they should be eligible for some quasi position. I do appreciate the point.

The Patriots' official game-by-game player participation record says Wilfork started eight games at defensive end. Williams started every game at nose tackle (12) or defensive tackle (four).

I decided to add Wilfork and Williams as "defensive tackles" on a defensive front with New York Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis, who received an avalanche of votes. But I didn't want to slight the No. 2 defensive end, Kendall Langford of the Miami Dolphins. Langford received a healthy number of votes. Too many to dismiss.

That left me with a dilemma: How can I honor four defensive linemen and still maintain a 3-4 alignment? I took the easy way out. I added a 12th defender. I'm not thrilled with my final decision, but it's an appropriate way to give proper credit where it's due.

On the other side of scrimmage, Dolphins left tackle Jake Long and Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson finished in a tie, forcing me to make the call. Each was selected to be a Pro Bowl starter. Long was voted All-Pro.

I chose Long. He played hurt for much of the season. He slipped on plays here or there, but he mostly remained dominant.

A few readers took me to task for my coronation of Dolphins punter Brandon Fields without allowing a vote because Jets punter Steve Weatherford had a great season. Weatherford tied an NFL record with 42 punts inside the 20-yard line. He was impressive.

But I found Fields more remarkable this year. He ranked fourth with a 46.2-yard average (3.6 yards longer than Weatherford). Fields' net average of 37.8 yards was only 0.3 yards shorter than Weatherford's, but the Dolphins were atrocious on special-teams protection and coverage. They fired their special-teams coordinator after Week 4. Fields had two punts blocked and one returned for a touchdown.

The Jets have venerable special-teams coach Mike Westhoff and sensational coverage men, as illustrated by four Jets receiving at least two votes for the special-teams position on the All-AFC East team.

And it's not often a punter is MVP of a game, but Fields certainly was against the Jets in Week 14.

There were some surprises in the balloting.

Bills receiver Steve Johnson ran away with one of the two available spots, but I didn't expect Santonio Holmes to take the other one so handily over teammate Braylon Edwards or Patriots star Wes Welker.

I assumed Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski would win, but in a close race, especially with the possibility of splitting votes with teammate Aaron Hernandez. Gronkowski crushed everyone else. He had four times as many votes as his closest competition, Dustin Keller of the Jets.

Bills linebacker Arthur Moats finished a distant second to Calvin Pace. But I found it amusing that almost every time a vote came in for him, the reader stipulated it was because Moats injured Brett Favre.

Patriots rookie Devin McCourty had six times as many votes as Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis for the position opposite Jets star Darrelle Revis. Antonio Cromartie wasn't remotely in the race.

The most balanced voting happened at the safety positions. Patriots strong safety Brandon Meriweather edged out Jim Leonhard of the Jets, with Donte Whitner of the Bills closely behind in third.

Bills free safety Jairus Byrd, a Pro Bowler as a rookie in 2009, accumulated just 14 more votes than Patrick Chung of the Patriots.

The special-teams race was fun to track. Thirteen players received at least one vote, with Jets hitter Eric Smith barely beating teammate James Ihedigbo and Bills fullback Corey McIntyre.

Rapid Reaction: Steelers 24, Jets 19

January, 23, 2011
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PITTSBURGH -- The New York Jets' season concluded Sunday night at Heinz Field with a 24-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.

What it means: For the second straight season, the Jets reached the precipice and failed to advance to the Super Bowl. The Steelers amassed a 24-0 lead, and the Jets chipped away, but couldn't make up their deficit. The Steelers are going for the third time in six years.

Hero: Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall was a brahma bull. He ran 27 times for 121 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for more yards against New York than any other back since Rex Ryan took over the Jets in 2009. Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte rushed for 113 yards on Dec. 13.

Goats: The Jets' run offense and run defense didn't show up until it was too late. They were flat and flat-footed. The Jets had 1 yard rushing on five carries in the first half, while their defense missed countless tackles.

Admirable effort: Nobody can hang the loss on Mark Sanchez. He did just about all he could without a run game to help them avoid third-and-long situations. Sanchez played better than Ben Roethlisberger. Sanchez completed 20 of his 33 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Roethlisberger was 10-of-19 for 133 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions.

Pivotal play: The last points the Steelers put on the board came on cornerback Ike Taylor's blindside strip sack of Sanchez near the end of the first half. Cornerback William Gay scooped it up and ran 19 yards into the end zone. The play proved to be the difference.

Bridesmaid revisited: Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson (10 seasons), fullback Tony Richardson (16 seasons) and pass-rusher Jason Taylor (14 seasons) each failed once again to reach his first Super Bowl.

Injury of note: Even more impressive about Mendenhall's evening was that all but the first series was without Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, who went down with a left ankle injury and didn't return.

What's next: The Jets have an interesting offseason ahead. They have several free agents to address, including receivers Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith, defensive end Shaun Ellis, linebacker David Harris and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

Is Tom Brady making Rex Ryan see things?

January, 12, 2011
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Rex Ryan is Don Quixote.

Tom Brady is his windmill.

Ryan has gotten worked up over perceived Brady transgressions other people haven't noticed.

The New York Jets' quixotic head coach most recently has chided Brady for gesturing at opposing sidelines after the New England Patriots score a touchdown.

"Just being Brady being Brady," Ryan groused at his Monday news conference. "I don't like seeing that. Nobody does. No Jet fan likes to see that. I know he can’t wait to do it."

Brady has no idea what Ryan's talking about.

"I don't remember ever pointing," Brady said Wednesday on a conference call with Jets reporters. "I'm sure there are 50,000 cameras on the game. I'm sure if there was a problem doing that then they would show that."

New York Post reporter Mark Hale spoke with several Jets on Tuesday about Brady's so-called "antics," to use Ryan's word. Star cornerback Darrelle Revis, safety Eric Smith, linebacker David Harris, defensive tackle Sione Pouha and fullback Tony Richardson couldn't come up with an example.

Only defensive end Shaun Ellis said he has seen something, but added "It wasn't too much."

This wouldn't be the first time Ryan invented a reason to be angry with Brady and the Patriots.

Right after the Patriots defeated his club 45-3 in Week 13, Ryan suggested the Patriots ran up the score on them.

"Probably," Ryan said. "I mean, I don't think he was necessarily trying to rub it in, but this is the same team that took a bunch of shots on us and they had paybacks. I mean, let's face it: We kicked their butt at our place. So you know they're trying to come back.

"So trust me. We will remember this. There is no question about that."

The problem with Ryan's theory is the Patriots didn't run up the score. Although Brady didn't come out of the game, he threw only four passes, one on the first play of the quarter for a touchdown to Aaron Hernandez to make the score 38-3.

Brady's second throw came with 12:46 to play, and then the Patriots shut it down while milking the play clock. His other two fourth-quarter passes were on third-and-4 and third-and-7 deep in their own territory. Both throws were incomplete, although one was erased when the Jets were flagged for 12 men on the field.

So Brady's two fourth-quarter completions -- for a grand total of 8 yards and a touchdown -- came with more than 12 minutes to play.

Jets were Super chic two years ago, too

October, 27, 2010
10/27/10
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Brett Favre and Eric ManginiAP Photo/Julie JacobsonThe 2008 Jets lost four of their last five games and missed the playoffs. Brett Favre and Eric Mangini were gone after the season.
A bye week isn't merely time for a team to unplug and refresh itself for the rest of the season. The break provides an opportunity to self-scout, take inventory, contemplate.

The New York Jets are coming out of their bye week with a 5-1 record. They're atop the AFC East, have won five straight and are getting healthier by the day.

There's ample reason to be optimistic about January and February.

Pensive players who've been around a couple years, however, know the dangers of early success. They couldn't help but reflect on 2008, when the Jets were the toast of the NFL at 8-3, crumbled down the homestretch and failed to make the playoffs despite a league-high seven Pro Bowlers.

"That 8-3 is a big one that's still fresh on the minds of many guys in the locker room who don't want to repeat that debacle," Jets center Nick Mangold said Tuesday afternoon.

A debacle it was, and then some.

Those Jets became chic Super Bowl favorites by winning five games in a row. They scored 56 points on the Arizona Cardinals (who eventually won the NFC) and posted back-to-back victories over the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans, who went into their game 10-0.

The Jets proceeded to lose four of their final five games. Brett Favre threw two touchdown passes and nine interceptions in that span. Their hopes essentially were extinguished before the Miami Dolphins kicked off in the regular-season finale at the Meadowlands.

"It was a horrible feeling from where we were after beating New England and Tennessee," Mangold said. "We were on top of the league. We were doing great things."

The Jets have undergone significant upheaval since their 2008 collapse. They fired head coach Eric Mangini and replaced him with Rex Ryan. They parted with Favre and traded up to draft Mark Sanchez. They've added key components on both sides of scrimmage and special teams.

But a good chunk of that devastated '08 team remains, and many of them make up the leadership core, including four-fifths of the offensive line, fullback Tony Richardson and cornerback Darrelle Revis.

"I just take 2008 as a learning experience," Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace said. "You take the good and the bad from it and continue to move on.

"What it means is you need to handle your business when you can."

AccuScore's forecast, a computerized projection based on performances and the strength of future opponents, gives the Jets an 81.2 percent chance to make the playoffs.

Since the NFL went to its current playoff format in 1990, teams that begin a season 5-1 make the playoffs 83.6 percent of the time.

"With our focus being that Super Bowl champion, we've been more in the moment," Pace said. "Every game is more about us and not going out there and not doing stupid things with penalties. We feel like we can be our own worst enemies at times as far as making mistakes.

"We just have to maintain and keep it going. You can go out and win five in a row and then lose two or three and basically wipe all that out."

When the Jets were 8-3 two years ago, AccuScore's forecast gave the Jets an 80.3 percent chance to make the playoffs.

Since 1990, all the other teams that started a season 8-3 made the playoffs 93.1 percent of the time.

That underscores the reality that -- every now and again -- the pitcher connects for a home run, the hockey goon scores a goal, the long-shot prizefighter lands a knockout punch.

"It really hit home there's nothing guaranteed in the NFL no matter where you're at until the end of the season and everything's panned out," Mangold said.

That lesson was reinforced last year, but in the opposite manner.

Ryan publicly declared his team mathematically eliminated from the playoff race after a Week 15 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, but the Jets actually possessed a minuscule chance.

"We thought we were done," Pace said. "By the grace of God we found out some good news that we were still in it."

All the AFC teams the Jets needed to lose did, and with the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals benching their best players over the final two weeks, the Jets crashed the tournament.

The Jets had to feel like a team of destiny. They went on the road to upset the Bengals in the first round and the San Diego Chargers in the second round. In Lucas Oil Stadium, the Jets led the Colts in the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game before their unlikely run concluded.

The way the Jets defied the percentages last year, they must be careful not to feel they're owed anything this time around. The young players, especially, need to be warned of the pratfalls.

Everybody in the Jets' locker room needs to be mindful of 2008.

"Guys who were here and can talk about it are able to let everyone else know 'Hey, we've got to keep fighting,'" Mangold said. "Even though things are going well now doesn't mean they have to go well later."

Role players outshine stars in Jets victory

October, 12, 2010
10/12/10
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Shonn GreeneJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesJohn Conner paved the way for Shonn Greene's 23-yard score in the fourth quarter.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rex Ryan gathered his players in the New York Jets locker room Monday night and delivered a prophetic pregame speech.

He said the Jets were going to beat the Minnesota Vikings. He just didn't have any idea how it would unfold.

Ryan knew somehow the Jets were going to get it done.

In the days leading up to a showdown that provided more storylines than a season's worth of the WWE and "Grey's Anatomy" combined, there were all sorts of leading characters and themes to choose from.

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre returned to the Meadowlands under duress to play his old team. Randy Moss made his first Vikings appearance after the New England Patriots traded him. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis played for the first time since Moss scorched him. Jets receiver Santonio Holmes came back after a four-game suspension.

Any of those players -- or the handful of other future Hall of Famers -- would be the likely hero.

Of all of the newsprint and bandwidth dedicated to previewing Monday night's game, I didn't see Nick Folk's name mentioned much. Or Dwight Lowery's. Or John Conner's. Or Brad Smith's. Maybe Shonn Greene's here or there ...

Yet all of them played crucial roles in a 29-20 Jets victory Monday night.

The game was delayed 45 minutes because of lightning and it was finished off by players who offered little pregame crackle. Not one of the Jets' points was scored by a star.

"Those aren't the people that you would think would ice the game," Jets right tackle Damien Woody said. "That's why football is the ultimate team sport. Anybody can make a big-time play."

The Jets delivered the sort of resourceful performance great teams find a way to pull out. Their offense encountered trouble scoring touchdowns, and their defense had to hang on at the end like a staggered prizefighter hoping to hear the final bell against a desperate slugger.

[+] EnlargeDwight Lowery
AP Photo/Seth WenigDwight Lowery sealed a victory for the Jets by intercepting a Brett Favre pass and returning it 26 yards for a touchdown.
But the Jets got it done against a team that's reeling but was talented enough to come within a couple plays of the Super Bowl eight months ago.

"I love the resolve of this football team," Jets fullback Tony Richardson said. "Just keep fighting, keep fighting and whoever makes the play makes the play.

"That's the making of a team. It doesn't matter who gets the glory, just that you get the job done. That's when you know your team is growing together."

Folk turned into points what Mark Sanchez, LaDainian Tomlinson, Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller and Holmes couldn't, making all five of his field-goal attempts, including one from 53 yards away.

All of Folk's field goals came in succession, with the Jets unable to score a touchdown despite getting inside the Vikings' red zone four times. One of Folk's field goals came three plays after Smith returned a kickoff 86 yards to the Vikings' 19-yard line in the third quarter.

"It could have gotten really frustrating," Richardson said, "with field goal, field goal, field goal ... We kept getting down there and couldn't put it in. We just dusted ourselves off and kept going until we popped that run."

Greene, the backup running back, darted 23 yards for the offense's only touchdown behind a nasty block from Conner, the rookie backup fullback, in the fourth quarter.

If you were to draw up a list of the 10 Jets defenders most likely to score a back-breaking touchdown Monday night, Lowery's name wouldn't have been on it. The reserve defensive back returned a Favre interception 26 yards for a decisive score with 90 seconds to play.

"I really can't describe it," Lowery said of his first NFL touchdown. "I haven't ever been in that situation before. It's all really so new."

Most of the Jets' stars, meanwhile, didn't shine as brightly as the players beneath them on the depth chart. They didn't have to, and that's the point.

Tomlinson was an exception. He came 6 yards short of recording his second straight 100-yard game, something he hadn't accomplished since 2007.

In rainy conditions that made throwing difficult at times, Sanchez completed less than half of his passes and posted a 59.9 passer rating, his first sub-100 score in four weeks. Holmes was targeted nine times but caught just three balls for 41 yards. Keller caught two passes for 14 yards and had his touchdown streak snapped at three games.

Revis looked like he didn't belong on the field. The All-Pro gimped around and didn't do a very good job covering Percy Harvin in the slot. Harvin scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Antonio Cromartie had an overall successful game against Moss, but he still gave up a 37-yard strike in the end zone that gave Favre and the Vikings life in the third quarter.

But as the veterans in the Jets' locker room can attest -- guys like Woody, who won two Super Bowls with the Patriots, or Richardson, who's in his 16th season -- nights like Monday suggest a coming of age.

"We feel good because this was one where we had to dig and it took the whole game," Greene said. "It took everybody we had. It was one of those games where we got tested, and we came out on top."

Jets start season more sloppy than super

September, 14, 2010
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Mark SanchezWilliam Perlman/US PresswireJets quarterback Mark Sanchez mustered just 74 passing yards against the Baltimore Ravens.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- So many yellow flags. They were strewn all over. They doomed the New York Jets in a 10-9 loss on Monday night.

There have been red flags with the Jets, too.

Not of the challenge variety, mind you. But maybe that's what they need, to be challenged a little more when it comes to discipline.

In the preseason, head coach Rex Ryan made a fiery speech to his players for exhibiting a lack of leadership and what he called "jackass" behavior. The scene was one of the most memorable from the "Hard Knocks" series, with Ryan's final words "now let's go eat a goddamn snack!"

Ryan was incensed partly because his players were eating McDonald's cheeseburgers during warmups for a public practice at Hofstra University.

Ryan addressed his team again Monday night. The Baltimore Ravens had eaten their lunch and wiped their mouths with the many yellow handkerchiefs lying around. The Ravens won by only a point, but the reason they won was troubling.

"That's not who we are," Ryan said. "That's not how we play. We pride ourselves on being one of the least penalized defenses in the league. Today was a joke."

Focus was a problem beyond penalties. Running back Shonn Greene fumbled twice, losing one. On their final offensive play -- fourth-and-10 from their own 31-yard line and with 41 seconds left -- tight end Dustin Keller made a catch near the sideline, no defender near him. With a clear look at the marker, he went out of bounds obviously short of the first down.

"That was Ripley's," Ryan said.

The Jets committed 15 penalties, 14 of which the Ravens accepted for 125 yards. They had nine penalties in the second quarter alone.

The Jets helped the Ravens set a franchise record with six first downs via penalty. The record was tied by halftime.

"It cost us the game really," Jets outside linebacker Jason Taylor said. "We played pretty darn well in a lot of situations. Maybe you can attribute it to a lack of discipline, but penalties that give up first downs are bad. We need to clean it up for sure."

The sheer number of penalties was bad enough. The situations were even more wretched.

Penalties gave the Ravens first downs on four plays that were third-and-9 or longer. A defensive holding call on rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson turned an incomplete pass on third-and-28 into a Ravens first down.

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie was flagged four times for 43 yards, including a 28-yard pass interference on a third-and-9 incompletion.

"It's just inexcusable," said Taylor, who jumped offsides to turn a third-and-3 into a second-and-1. "We did more to give it away than we did to get beat. You can't blame anybody but yourselves. You have to look in the mirror and say: 'We did it to ourselves.' We lost the game 10-9 and had plenty of chances to win and shot ourselves in the foot."

Receiver Braylon Edwards wiped out a pair of plays that would have done the Jets a world of good. He was called for an illegal shift on a beautiful 33-yard strike from Mark Sanchez to Keller down the right sideline in the second quarter.

On a nifty up-the-middle maneuver to block a field goal, Edwards ran into Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff. The penalty gave the Ravens a first down on a drive that eventually ended with the game's only touchdown.

Another third-down penalty, of course, helped. On third-and-10, Wilson was charged with pass interference in the end zone to set up Willis McGahee's 1-yard touchdown run.

I asked linebacker Bart Scott what all the penalties said about the Jets.

"I don't know," Scott said. "You tell me."

Undisciplined? Unprepared?

"If that's what you want to say," he said. "Whatever you want to say."

That was the first impression the Jets made for 2010.

You have to wonder if the happy-funtime atmosphere Ryan condones is negatively impacting them. Ryan already has had to talk to his players at least twice about unprofessionalism and sloppiness.

[+] EnlargeKris Jenkins
John Munson/US PresswireNew York Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a knee injury.
The Jets have made several offseason moves that reduced their leadership presence in the locker room, parting with running back Thomas Jones, guard Alan Faneca and kicker Jay Feely, all character veterans. They also jerked fullback Tony Richardson around, cutting him and then re-signing him a week before the season.

More questions were raised this week about how the Jets conduct themselves. They created a stir Saturday with the way they treated Ines Sainz at practice and in the locker room.

Sainz wasn't taken seriously partly because she doesn't take her job seriously. She's promoted on the TV Azteca website as a reporter and a model and is known for showing up to events such as the Super Bowl media day and convincing players to do things like let her measure their muscles or give her a ride on their shoulder pads.

Nevertheless, the club was embarrassed. Jets owner Woody Johnson apologized to Sainz for the team's misbehavior and vowed his team would act with more class henceforth. The Association for Women in Sports Media has gotten involved. The NFL is investigating.

From an outsider's perspective, my own included, it would appear the Jets are running a loose ship.

Taylor scoffed at that idea.

"Hell, no," Taylor said. "Everyone's entitled to their opinion, I guess. But they're not on the ship."

In the same episode of Ryan's "goddamn snack" speech, Taylor showed up late for two practices. Each time, Taylor's coaches laughed off his tardiness.

Last year at Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick kicked four players off the premises for showing up a few minutes late to a team meeting on a wintry day when the roads were treacherous. Three of them were Pro Bowlers: Randy Moss, Adalius Thomas and Derrick Burgess.

The Jets have a short week to get ready for the Patriots this Sunday.

We'll see who has the most fun.

Tony Richardson back with the Jets

September, 7, 2010
9/07/10
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Darrelle Revis and Tony Richardson were on the New York Jets practice field Tuesday.

Now we can get back to harping on Mark Sanchez as the club's most glaring question.

Two days after releasing Richardson to make room for some waiver-wire pickups, the Jets brought back their venerable fullback, perhaps the biggest voice in the locker room. Their decision to drop him Sunday disgusted many of his teammates.

"It was jaw-dropping," said tight end Dustin Keller, whose locker stall is adjacent to Richardson's. "I couldn't believe it. He's our top veteran on offense. If we become the Super Bowl team we want to be, to do it without him would be tough.

"T-Rich has been a mentor to so many guys on this team, especially myself."

Buffalo's backfield more than a trio

September, 6, 2010
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When considering the Buffalo Bills' backfield, three notable names can be rattled off.

They actually have a fourth, and new head coach Chan Gailey clearly values him.

Fullback Corey McIntyre is the forgotten man. You won't see many of his jerseys in Ralph Wilson Stadium. You won't draft him for your fantasy team. He had 12 touches last year. He has zero career touchdowns.

But the Bills appreciate his role as a lead blocker for their name guys.

Two NFL sources tell me the Bills have signed McIntyre to a two-year contract extension that will make him well-paid by fullback standards. His base salary for 2011 will be $950,000 and for 2012 will be $900,000.

For comparison sake, three-time Pro Bowl fullback Tony Richardson was scheduled to make $855,000 this year before the New York Jets cut him Sunday. The main reason he was released was he cost too much. Baltimore Ravens fullback Ray Rice, last year's Pro Bowler, will make a base salary of $470,000 this year and $550,000 next year.

McIntyre has helped the other running backs look good. He joined the Bills in 2008, the season Marshawn Lynch went to the Pro Bowl. He contributed to another 1,000-yard campaign last year with Fred Jackson.

In the preseason, he was the lead blocker on two of rookie C.J. Spiller's three rushing touchdowns.

Jets continue to whack veteran leaders

September, 5, 2010
9/05/10
9:11
PM ET
From the starting lineup of their regular-season finale, the New York Jets have lopped 77 seasons of experience.

No wonder head coach Rex Ryan was bemoaning a lack of leadership in the latest episode of "Hard Knocks."

On Sunday, the Jets released veteran fullback Tony Richardson -- a day after he survived the cutdown deadline for the 53-man roster.

Richardson is trying to play a 16th NFL season. He was outplayed by rookie John Conner, but it was clear watching "Hard Knocks" the Jets coaching staff viewed Richardson as highly important to the 2010 cause. He was considered perhaps the most prominent leader in the locker room.

"Each season, there are difficult choices when constructing the 53-man roster, and this year is no exception," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said in a statement. "We appreciate Tony's contributions and leadership over the past two seasons and have nothing but the highest respect for him as a person and as a player."

The Jets also waived running back Chauncey Washington and receiver David Clowney. The dismissals cleared way for three waiver pickups: receiver Patrick Turner from the Miami Dolphins, tackle Patrick Brown from the Minnesota Vikings and defensive tackle Marcus Dixon from the Dallas Cowboys.

Richardson joined a long list of veterans who aren't around from a roster that was good enough to get the Jets to the AFC Championship Game, among them running back Thomas Jones (10 seasons), guard Alan Faneca (12 seasons), defensive end Marques Douglas (nine seasons), kicker Jay Feely (nine seasons) and long snapper James Dearth (nine seasons).

In fact, of the 10 most experienced players on the Jets' final roster last year, including injured reserve, only three remain: right tackle Damien Woody, nose tackle Kris Jenkins and defensive end Shaun Ellis.

Granted, the Jets did add veterans via free agency. Quarterback Mark Brunell is entering his 18th season, running back LaDainian Tomlinson his 10th and pass-rusher Jason Taylor his 14th. But all of them were signed with the intention to be backups.

You have to wonder whether the Jets have over-tinkered their roster.

New York Jets cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
9/04/10
6:25
PM ET
Check here for a full list of roster moves.

Biggest surprise: The Jets' roster was about as set as you could get heading into training camp. Only a couple reserve roles and special-teams spots were available. So there weren't any surprises, unless you want to count the development from earlier in the week. Backup quarterback Kellen Clemens avoided being released by restructuring his contract to remain on the roster behind Mark Sanchez and Mark Brunell. That meant the Jets cut Kevin O'Connell, which wasn't a surprise regardless of what Clemens did.

No-brainers: With the Jets keeping two fullbacks (Tony Richardson, John Conner) on the 53-man roster, there was no room for Jason Davis despite a strong summer. Linebacker Brashton Satele never got on the field, resulting in the memorable "Hard Knocks" quote from special teams coach Mike Westhoff: "Let him open up his freakin' pizza shop in the Bronx and leave me alone."

What's next: Aside from convincing cornerback Darrelle Revis to end his holdout and figuring out who they'll dump once receiver Santonio Holmes' four-game suspension is up, there's not much to address. General manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan will comb the waiver wire to see if they can improve the bottom of the roster. They also could bring back receiver Laveranues Coles after the season opener to avoid guaranteeing his salary for the year.

Rex Ryan implores Jets to show leadership

September, 1, 2010
9/01/10
11:40
PM ET
Rex Ryan is the face of the New York Jets and the star of the HBO series "Hard Knocks."

The head coach apparently is wary of not only being in front as a leader, but also alone.

In the latest episode of "Hard Knocks," an exasperated Ryan scolds his team for a growing lack of professionalism and a dearth of demonstrable leadership.

Previous scenes showed offensive coaches bemoaning a lack of confidence, veteran pass-rusher Jason Taylor showing up late multiple times and defensive players groping into a McDonald's bag for cheeseburgers during warmups for a practice at Hofstra University.

Ryan's speech to his players the night before playing the Washington Redskins:
"You guys know me, that I'm about as positive a guy as there is. I believe our team is better than every [expletive] team in the league. I believe our players are better than any players in the league, right? Those are true statements. That's how I believe.

"But the team's only going so far if I'm the only guy that leads. The team is only going so far. I'm not a great leader, OK? I'm not a great leader. I can't lead myself, this whole group of men. We ain't going to win, guys, if it's about me.

"I'm sitting back for us, waiting for us to understand the team that we said we're going to be. What the hell are we waiting on? What are we waiting on? Do you want it or not? Do you understand there's a price to pay?

"Can we have fun? You're damn right. I demand that we have fun. Now there's a difference between having fun and being a jackass. Our defense was a jackass when we went to Hofstra, eating a bunch of [expletive] cheeseburgers before we go stretch and all that. That's being a jackass.

"You can be a world champion, but not like this. We won't win it. We'll sit back and say 'Why didn't we do it?' We didn't do it because 'Where were our [expletive] priorities?' How about our offense? When are we going to put it together? Can we not run the ball down their throats every snap? Can we not throw it any time we want to [expletive] throw it?

"Let's make sure we play like the [expletive] New York Jets and not some slap [expletive] team. That's what I want to see tomorrow. Do we understand what I want to [expletive] see tomorrow?"

Earlier in the show, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer admits his players aren't showing much assertiveness. Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh and running backs coach Anthony Lynn agree.

"We have some really talented guys," Cavanaugh says. "But none of them motivate vocally the group. So they all kind of look to each other like 'Yeah, we're pretty talented. Somebody's going to make a play here,' instead of saying 'I'll take this [expletive] game over.' "

Other highlights on this episode (there's only one more):
  • Nose tackle Kris Jenkins telling the rest of the defense versus Washington they needed to force a turnover because Mark Sanchez needed more work.
  • Ryan's man crush on rookie fullback John Conner and the possibility veteran Tony Richardson will be released.
  • A close look at how much rookie left guard Vladimir Ducasse is struggling and concerns that position will get Sanchez hurt.
  • Ryan telling former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden that Santonio Holmes might be the best player on the field.
  • How backup quarterback Kellen Clemens avoided being cut.
  • Releasing receiver Laveranues Coles and reserve quarterback Kevin O'Connell.
  • Flabbergasted general manager Mike Tannenbaum trying to decipher where Tim Cowlishaw's infamous report about Darrelle Revis was coming from.
  • Ryan on the first three games against the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins: "We open the season with three of our toughest games right out of the gate. But the great thing is if we end up kicking ass, that's going to send a frickin' message to the rest of the league. 'Oh, [expletive]!' "

Camp Confidential: New York Jets

August, 18, 2010
8/18/10
1:30
PM ET
ESPN.com NFL Power Ranking (pre-camp): 7

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- There's a healthy chance you're already sick of the New York Jets.

You're sick of their loudmouth coach, sick of their hotshot quarterback, sick of their trash-talking defense, sick of their wheeler-dealer general manager, sick of hearing about their HBO series, sick of their delirious fans.

Get used to it all. They're not going away.

Every team wants to kiss the Lombardi Trophy, but the Jets have drawn the disdain of 31 other teams and their fans by being so cocksure about their plans.

Whether the Jets win a championship or crash and burn on their approach, they'll remain the NFL's most fascinating team in 2010. Win or lose, they're going to be a season-long story.

"That's our own expectations," Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said on the first day of training camp at SUNY Cortland. "That's why we feed off of it. It's our own mentality, that Super Bowl-champion mentality. That's what we want, and that's what we're striving for. ... Now, we need to do it every day and prove it."

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireThe Jets are hoping Mark Sanchez has matured as a quarterback heading into his second season.
1. Can Sanchez handle the pressure? There's a lot of skepticism surrounding the man at the controls. Sanchez threw 20 interceptions last year as a rookie. He fumbled 10 times and lost three of them. He was so befuddled at one point, the Jets had to give him a color-coded wristband to help him comprehend the plays.

The Jets hope he matured considerably over the offseason. To help him along as a passer, they added receivers Santonio Holmes and Laveranues Coles and out-of-the-backfield target LaDainian Tomlinson.

Sanchez still has to make the right calls and decisions. Coaches and teammates note his indefatigable work ethic.

And there's no disputing how impressive he appeared down the 2009 homestretch. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer corralled him in time to salvage the season. Although Sanchez had more than 20 attempts in only three games after Thanksgiving, the Jets won six of those eight outings, two of them on the road in the playoffs.

Sanchez will need to shoulder much more responsibility this year. How he handles being the leading man of a Super Bowl contender will determine the Jets' fate.

2. How will Darrelle Revis' holdout affect the season? There's a belief among the Jets their defense will take care of itself. As nose tackle Kris Jenkins pointed out before training camp began, fans swooned when he suffered a season-ending knee injury six games into last season, but the Jets still finished with the NFL's top-rated total defense, scoring defense and pass defense.

Revis, of course, played an integral part. Maybe the most integral part.

All he did was establish himself as the preeminent shutdown cornerback. Revis was so good at shutting down the other team's top receivers, the Jets never had to worry about double-covering. That, in effect, gave them an extra defender to use however they wanted.

The Jets have cornerback depth to help them cope if Revis holds out into the season. They traded for cornerback Antonio Cromartie, a sensational cover corner (though not nearly the run defender Revis is). Dwight Lowery and first-round draft pick Kyle Wilson are capable.

But none of them are as good as Revis is. His return would provide invaluable peace of mind.

[+] EnlargeSantonio Holmes
AP Photo/Bill KostrounSantonio Holmes was just one of the Jets' high-profile offseason acquisitions.
3. Did the Jets ruin a good thing with too many roster moves? The Jets came within a half of the Super Bowl, taking a lead into the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts -- in Lucas Oil Stadium, no less. It was a young team on the make, the type of roster you'd like to keep as intact as possible.

Or so you would think. Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum got rid of a few starters with big voices in the locker room. Gone were the lead running back on the NFL's top ground attack (Thomas Jones), a perennial Pro Bowl left guard (Alan Faneca), a starting safety (Kerry Rhodes) and a respected kicker (Jay Feely).

The Jets made some high-profile acquisitions, too. But perhaps the two biggest moves, Holmes and Cromartie, were poaching other teams' misfits. They also signed Tomlinson and outside linebacker Jason Taylor, classy veterans but with question marks about what they have left.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Other than references to his nickname, not much was written or said about Kentucky fullback John Conner when the Jets drafted him in the fifth round. The Jets had re-signed Tony Richardson for a 17th season, and they wouldn't bring him back if he wasn't going to keep his job, right?

Richardson might be on the bubble. Ryan has been diplomatic in speaking about Richardson's value to the Jets as a locker-room leader, but there's no doubt Ryan loves The Terminator. Conner has been a thumper in camp. Conner will make the team, and keeping two fullbacks is a luxury.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Revis' holdout is a shame on multiple levels. Both sides are standing by principles that are fully understandable. Revis is the NFL's best defender and wants to be paid as such. The Jets, meanwhile, have a signed contract that lasts three more years and refuse to consider as any kind of standard the Oakland Raiders' ridiculous deal with Nnamdi Asomugha, the league's highest-paid cornerback.

Unless they can reach a compromise or the Jets win the Super Bowl without him, both sides will forever regret this dispute. The Jets have a chance to win their first championship in four decades, and Revis might never get this kind of shot to win a title regardless of where he finishes his career.

OBSERVATION DECK
Vernon Gholston
William Perlman/The Star Ledger/US PresswireNew York is comfortable with Vernon Gholston at defensive end in passing situations.

  • An overlooked roster maneuver that could prove significant is the decision not to bring back trusty long-snapper James Dearth. The Jets brought in youngster Tanner Purdum, who has been inconsistent. Jets kicker Nick Folk doesn't need his rhythm disrupted.
  • I'm not saying Braylon Edwards' problems with drops have been solved, but he displayed great hands in the practices I saw. Maybe receivers coach Henry Ellard has helped him figure it out.
  • Undrafted rookie tight end Jeff Cumberland looks like the total package at times. He's 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds at his Illinois pro day. He does make an occasional mental error, but he popped out in team drills.
  • Shonn Greene will have to catch a few passes to keep defenses honest. Greene has terrible hands, something he and Ryan have joked about. But if he's going to be the featured back, he'll need to grab one here or there.
  • I'm hesitant to believe Ryan's glowing comments on Vernon Gholston two training camps in a row, but I will say Gholston seems to have a role he can handle as a defensive end on passing downs. He can just chase the quarterbacks. But after two years at outside linebacker, he is versatile enough to drop into coverage if the Jets want to get tricky.
  • It's fun to listen to backup quarterback Mark Brunell bark out the signals. He's a master of the hard count, a skill Sanchez is trying to learn. When Brunell walks to the line of scrimmage, there's a good chance the equipment managers will commit a false start.
  • Overheard from a fan along the rail at SUNY Cortland: "Check out No. 58 in his sweatpants. You know Shonn Greene's going to run him over. Guy's got no shot." Sweatpants in the sweltering heat aside, Jets fans need to remember No. 58 is starting outside linebacker Bryan Thomas. He swapped out of his usual No. 99 for Taylor.
  • I predict the second-most important defensive acquisition -- behind Cromartie -- won't be Taylor, but safety Brodney Pool. The free-agent pickup from Cleveland is dangerous on a blitz and will get his hands on some passes.
  • The New England Patriots didn't make a mistake when they dumped quarterback Kevin O'Connell last year, 16 months after drafting him in the third round. The Detroit Lions claimed him on waivers and traded him to the Jets. They kept him on the roster as their fourth quarterback. He would appear to be in line for a promotion to third string, but O'Connell has looked no better this summer than he did when he was fresh out of San Diego State.

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