New York Jets: Green Day

Green Day: Our look back at 2013

January, 1, 2014
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Happy New Year.

Before we start reporting on 2014, let's take a look back at the 10 most significant moments for the New York Jets in 2013:

January 18 -- John Idzik, son of a former Jets assistant coach, is named general manager, replacing Mike Tannenbaum.

April 21 -- After months of speculation, the Jets trade star cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Buccaneers for two draft picks, including the 13th selection in 2013.

April 25 -- The Jets open the three-day draft by selecting cornerback Dee Milliner (ninth overall) and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (13th), followed by quarterback Geno Smith on Day 2 in the second round.

April 29 -- After one disastrous and controversial season, the Jets release quarterback Tim Tebow.

Aug. 24 -- Quarterback Mark Sanchez is inserted into the fourth quarter of a preseason game and suffers a season-ending shoulder injury, prompting a bizarre postgame news conference in which Rex Ryan cradles the Snoopy MetLife trophy and turns sideways during a heated exchange with a reporter.

Sept. 8 -- Tampa Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David hands the Jets a gift win, shoving Smith out of bounds to draw a penalty and setting up an improbable field goal by Nick Folk.

Oct. 7 -- The Jets stun the Atlanta Falcons on "Monday Night Football," as Smith rallies the team in the final two minutes to set up another game winner by Folk.

Oct. 20 -- PushGate. Helped by an unprecedented call, a penalty on the New England Patriots for pushing while trying to block a field goal, the Jets pull a huge upset at home.

Dec. 1 -- The season hits rock bottom, as the Jets fall to the Miami Dolphins, 23-3, for their third straight defeat. The slumping Smith is benched at halftime.

Dec. 29 -- Delivering payback, the Jets eliminate the Dolphins, 20-7, in the final game, but the big news comes afterward. Owner Woody Johnson announces that Ryan will return for a sixth season, prompting a massive celebration in the locker room.

ICYMI: In a season-ending news conference, Smith received pats on the back from his bosses, but not a commitment. ... Ryan and Idzik refused to discuss the coach's contract situation, but Ryan said he'd be "comfortable" as a lame duck. ... It's learned that guard Willie Colon, a free agent-to-be, tore a biceps in the finale and will have surgery.

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.

Green Day: Possible Rex-placements

December, 18, 2013
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'Tis the season for Christmas lists. And lists of head-coaching candidates.

If Rex Ryan is fired at the end of the season, the New York Jets are sure to have the following names on their radar:

1. Darrell Bevell, Seattle Seahawks, offensive coordinator: After five straight defensive-minded head coaches, the Jets figure to pick an offensive guy to oversee the rebuilding of that side of the ball. Bevell is an obvious candidate because he worked with general manager John Idzik, a former Seahawks executive. Bevell's stock has soared with Russell Wilson's rise to stardom.

2. Ken Whisenhunt, San Diego Chargers, offensive coordinator: Whisenhunt was the Arizona Cardinals' coach from 2007 to 2012, working alongside then-general manager Rod Graves, now Idzik's right-hand man in the Jets' front office. He was only 45-51 in Arizona, but he won an NFC Championship. Whisenhunt, who won a Super Bowl ring as the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator, has helped revive Philip Rivers' career in San Diego. He's a former Jets player and assistant coach.

3. Greg Roman, San Francisco 49ers, offensive coordinator: Spies say Idzik spent time with Roman at the scouting combine last February. They've never worked together, but Roman is a rising name in the coaching ranks. It helps having Jim Harbaugh as a mentor. Roman grew up in the Atlantic City area.

Smith
4. Lovie Smith, former Chicago Bears coach: Another name from Idzik's past. Smith was a Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant coach when Idzik worked in the front office. He had a long run as the Bears' coach (81-63, with one NFC Championship), but he's a defensive-minded coach who has been criticized for not being able to develop an offense.

5. Bill O'Brien, Penn State: Owner Woody Johnson looks down the Turnpike and sees how a former college coach, Chip Kelly, has revived the Philadelphia Eagles with his cutting-edge offense. O'Brien is from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, having spent five years as a New England Patriots assistant.

ICYMI: The Jets worked out several free agents Tuesday, including CB Brandon Burton (Minnesota Vikings/Buffalo Bills), C Nick McDonald (Green Bay Packers/Patriots), OL Ryan Miller (Cleveland Browns) and CB DeMarcus Van Dyke (Oakland Raiders/Steelers). ... Former Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff offers his take on the blocked punt and criticizes the lack of talent on special teams. ... Our weekly film breakdown.

Green Day: Cam Newton is 'scary'

December, 13, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan once said Cam Newton can throw a strawberry through a battleship. He made that comment in 2011, shortly before Newton was drafted No. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers. His opinion of the quarterback hasn't changed.

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Newton
"This guy's a scary athlete," the New York Jets' coach said Thursday. "And when you meet him, he's scary because it's like, 'Oh, my gosh.' I just remember that when we were in the preseason. I'm like, 'Who's going to tackle that guy?' He's about as good looking an athlete at quarterback as I've ever seen, and he can throw. He's got a bazooka for an arm. The kid's just ridiculous. It's Calvin Pace back there."

In terms of size, he meant. Newton is 6-foot-5, 245 pounds. Pace is 6-foot-4, 265 pounds. But he's a linebacker.

If Ryan's gushing seems a bit excessive, it's probably because he's coming off a game in which his defense struggled at times against Matt McGloin of the Oakland Raiders. Matt McGloin! The undrafted rookie passed for 245 yards and made linebacker David Harris look silly with an open-field move on a long scramble. Now Ryan's defense has to deal with Newton, a more athletic version of Ben Roethlisberger.

Ryan has a right to be worried. Newton has the ability to sink the Jets' battleship.

ICYMI: For a change, Santonio Holmes was in a good mood Thursday, making an effort to give more than the usual short answers in his weekly Q & A with reporters. Then, out of the blue, he created a headline, saying the Panthers' secondary is the "weakest link" on their defense. He's right, but you shouldn't say that about your opponent, especially when all secondaries seem to cause problems for your team. ... CB Antonio Cromartie (concussion) said he's feeling better and hopes to play Sunday, but he still hasn't been cleared. If he can't play, he will be replaced by Ellis Lankster -- a surprising choice. Cromartie also admitted that he played last Sunday while feeling the effects of the concussion. ... Check out the Week 15 edition of "Gang Green Report."

Green Day: Hard to predict Rex's future

December, 11, 2013
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'Tis the season for speculation about Rex Ryan's job.

For the next 19 days, there will be stories on whether he should be fired or retained, folks like me offering opinions and analysis on what the New York Jets could and should do with their head coach. I'm on record as saying he should be brought back next year if they finish 7-9 or better, playing respectable ball over the final three games. If you polled 100 executives from around the league, I bet at least 95 would deem 7-9 a successful coaching job, considering the roster.

Owner Woody Johnson, in a pregame interview Sunday with ESPN New York 98.7 FM, said he was "pretty happy" with the direction of the franchise, sounding very much like a patient boss mindful of the big picture. But Johnson has been known to change his mind. Late in the 2005 season, he told reporters he loved Herm Edwards. A few weeks later, he traded him to Kansas City.

Johnson can be swayed, and the man who could do the swaying is general manager John Idzik -- the wild card in this entire process. No one knows what Idzik is thinking. He's a poker player, rarely revealing much publicly. He's a first-time GM, so there's no track record that we can study as we try to forecast his plan. When he speaks to reporters, which isn't often, he always speaks highly of Ryan. He sounds like he genuinely likes him, but does that mean he wants to remain joined at his hip? Former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith probably thought he was well-liked by his new GM, Phil Emery, but he was fired after a 10-6 season in 2012.

There's no way of knowing Idzik's thoughts. Heck, it might not matter if Ryan's performance is hailed a success. Maybe Idzik decided last January, soon after being hired, that he'd fire Ryan after the season, regardless of the outcome. Maybe he's waiting to see how the season plays out before making a decision. Maybe he's already concluded to keep Ryan because he loves his passion and defensive acumen. We probably won't know until Dec. 30, the day after the season.

In the meantime, let the speculation continue.

ICYMI: The Jets worked out several free agents Tuesday, including WR Danny Coale (a former Cowboys draft pick) and QB Nathan Enderle (Arena League, CFL, former Bears draft pick). ... We break down the tape of the Jets' win over the Raiders, highlighting some surprisingly good and bad performances. ... The Jets inched up to No. 21 in the latest ESPN.com Power Rankings. ... A look at the various playoff scenarios.

Green Day: Defense is wearing down

December, 10, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' defense is sucking wind as it heads for the finish line. What else are we to believe?

The Jets have allowed 836 total yards in the past two games, the highest back-to-back total in the Rex Ryan era. The number alone is cause for concern, but it's downright alarming when you consider the quality of the opposition -- the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. Both teams would consider it a compliment to be called average on offense.

The Jets' top-ranked rush defense no longer is top ranked. After allowing 275 yards to the Dolphins and Raiders, they dropped to second in yards-per-game, behind the Carolina Panthers, this week's opponent.

Fatigue has to be a factor. Because of the offensive struggles, the defense has spent an inordinate amount of time on the field -- a total of 860 plays, 11th most in the league. The Jets have eight starters that play a majority of the snaps, and the wear and tear could be taking a toll. Even defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, the best player on the team, was unusually quiet against the Raiders.

The Jets allowed a fourth-string running back, Marcel Reece, run down their throat for a 63-yard touchdown.

"That run, it's embarrassing," Rex Ryan said. "It rips your heart out if you give up a run of that distance."

Ryan downplayed the recent struggles against the run, claiming their problems against the Raiders stemmed from gap integrity -- easily correctable, he said. Defensive-line coach Karl Dunbar apparently is more concerned.

"Coach Dunbar is a little hot at us right now," defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. "Most definitely, we'll get that corrected."

Frankly, I think it's more than alignment issues and technical hiccups. The defense, under a tremendous amount of stress from Day 1, looks gassed. If that's true, it could be a long final three weeks.

ICYMI: Even though he played the entire game, cornerback Antonio Cromartie was diagnosed with a concussion afterward. ... QB Geno Smith was scolded by his coaches for failing to run out of bounds on a long scramble, initiating contact with a defender. Maybe it's time to re-hire Joe Girardi for sliding lessons. ... An analysis of the offensive and defensive playing time from Sunday's win. ... Former Jets tight end Hayden Smith returned to his roots, playing rugby. Good luck, mate.

Green Day: Jets ready for McElroy 'twin'

December, 6, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rookie quarterback Matt McGloin is expected to start Sunday for the Oakland Raiders, but the dangerously mobile Terrelle Pryor could play, too. The New York Jets say they'll be ready for both.

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

McElroy?

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

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

Meaning McElroy isn't?

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

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

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

McElroy can't do that.

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

Green Day: Chilly start for rookie Winters

December, 4, 2013
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The New York Jets have a Geno Smith situation unfolding at left guard.

If you haven't noticed, rookie Brian Winters is struggling, really struggling. Even though he has started only eight games, Winters tops all guards in the NFL with nine sacks allowed, according to ProFootballFocus.com. For an interior lineman, nine sacks is the equivalent of 19 interceptions for a quarterback, but at least Smith can say he's played every game.

If Rex Ryan wants to do what's in the best interest of the team, as he always says, he'd bench Winters -- if, in fact, he has that power. Look, we know Vladimir Ducasse isn't the second coming of Larry Allen, but he would be an upgrade at the position. For those keeping track, he allowed two sacks in four games before being benched in favor of Winters.

We know why Ducasse isn't playing: He's in the final year of his contract and he'll be playing elsewhere next season. Winters was John Idzik's third-round pick, and the first-year general manager is calling the shots here, folks. Winters is part of the future, so Idzik wants him on the field even if he's hurting the present. Similar politics are playing out at the quarterback position, where Smith has done nothing over the last few weeks to justify his starting role.

Idzik preaches competition, but the playing field isn't always level.

ICYMI: As expected, the Jets placed KR Josh Cribbs (shoulder) on season-ending injured reserve. To replace him, the Jets signed return specialist Darius Reynaud, most recently of the Tennessee Titans. They killed two birds with one signing, as Reynaud can return punts and kickoffs. ... The Jets worked out several players Tuesday, including Reynaud and CB DeQuan Menzie (Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs). ... The Jets dropped only one spot in the ESPN.com Power Rankings, slipping to No. 23. ... Our film review of the Jets' nightmare loss to the Miami Dolphins. Warning: Contains graphic descriptions of botched plays; for mature audiences only.

Green Day: (Ed) Reed it and weep

December, 3, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- I'm on record as saying Ed Reed was a good signing for the New York Jets. I was wrong. More importantly, so were the Jets.

The future Hall of Famer has made zero impact in three games. Truth be told, Reed could be hurting the defense. He was directly involved in the longest pass play in each of the last two games, misplaying the ball on Joe Flacco's 66-yard touchdown bomb in Baltimore and missing a tackle on Brian Hartline's 31-yard catch and run Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

Coach Rex Ryan sounded so convincing the day he introduced Reed, challenging opponents to throw it deep on the Jets' beleaguered secondary. With Reed at safety, they've allowed six touchdown passes, all longer than 26 yards. It's not like they've faced a Murderer's Row of quarterbacks; they got torched by the Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill and the Buffalo Bills' EJ Manuel.

Ryan, loyal to a fault, believes Reed can do no wrong, quickly dismissing the notion of cutting the safety's playing time.

"He's going to be starting unless he's injured," said Ryan, who coached Reed during their years together in Baltimore. "I think Ed gives us the best shot."

Reed, 35, looked old and slow on the Hartline play. Then again, he is old and slow.

"If you look at it from a statistical standpoint, I can understand the question," Ryan said. "We all saw him miss the tackle on Hartline's touchdown. But Ed did his job, I don't think there's any doubt."

Does that mean Tannehill would've thrown for 400 yards instead of 331 if it weren't for Reed patrolling the deep middle?

I didn't think Reed would be an every-down player when they signed him, but he has played 87 percent of the defensive snaps in three games, reducing safety Antonio Allen to an afterthought. Ryan said he wanted to play Allen more than nine snaps against the Dolphins, but he claimed they had to alter their game plan. What Ryan should do is create a platoon system with Reed and Allen, but that will never happen.

Reed is an all-time great, but he's like Willie Mays on the 1973 New York Mets. You appreciate and respect what they've done, but it's sad when we see what they can no longer do.

ICYMI: Despite a horrendous slump, Geno Smith remains the Jets' starting quarterback. His passer rating for the last three games is 40.7 -- that's combined, not an average. Peyton Manning over the same span -- 282.7 ... Matt Simms supports the quarterback decision: "Geno is the man." Simms is just happy to have a job. ... KR Josh Cribbs suffered an apparent season-ending injury to his shoulder/pectoral area. This is a tough blow for the Jets. Cribbs sparked the kickoff-return unit, returned punts and played in the Wildcat package. Antonio Cromartie did a nice job on kickoffs Sunday, averaging 31.5 yards, but he's their top cornerback and the risk is too great to play him on special teams. They might have to sign a kickoff returner.

Green Day: Miami + December = Trouble?

November, 29, 2013
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Two records worth pondering as the New York Jets prepare to face the Miami Dolphins Sunday at MetLife Stadium:

1. For some reason, the Jets have struggled against the Dolphins under Rex Ryan -- a 3-5 record. You can explain a losing record against a team like the New England Patriots, but the Dolphins? They haven't registered a winning season since 2008. Nevertheless, they've caused serious problems for the Jets, winning with different coaches (Joe Philbin and Tony Sparano) and different quarterbacks (Chad Henne, Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill).

2. Sunday is Dec. 1. The final month on the calendar hasn't been friendly to the Jets. Under Ryan, they're 10-10 after Dec. 1, including 6-9 over the past three seasons. They ended the past two seasons on three-game losing streaks. For whatever reason, they haven't mastered the art of finishing. In 2011 and 2012, the late skids were due largely to inept offense. Considering the way they've played the past two weeks, this could have the makings of another frosty December.

ICYMI: The Jets practiced Thanksgiving, but there was no media access. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie (hip) missed practice for the second straight day, according to the official injury report. He's iffy for Sunday. Receiver Santonio Holmes (hamstring) also sat out, but he expected to play. ... Statistically, the run defense rivals that of the celebrated 2000 Baltimore Ravens. ... What's going on with receiver Stephen Hill?

Green Day: Pondering a what-if at QB

November, 27, 2013
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Mark Sanchez made a comment Tuesday at an event in Morristown, N.J., that got me thinking. The New York Jets' injured starter said it's "tearing me up" to be hurt because he believes he'd be thriving in Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense.

Interesting thought: Would the Jets be better than 5-6 if they had Sanchez at quarterback?

SportsNation

Would the Jets be better than 5-6 if they had Mark Sanchez at QB?

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Discuss (Total votes: 1,907)

My feeling is yes, there's little doubt they'd be better than 5-6. Even though he endured his share of slumps in four seasons, Sanchez never played back-to-back games with passer ratings below 23. He never went four straight games without a touchdown pass. He never went three straight games with single-digit completions, not even in the Ground & Pound heyday.

Rookie Geno Smith has done all that, and then some.

"I've been there," Sanchez said. "I've totally experienced what he's going through."

Let's not paint Sanchez as a fallen super hero, because we all know he was a liability at times, but he'd be better than 5-6. How much better? I find it hard to believe he'd have more than six wins, not with this ragtag supporting cast. It's a moot point, of course, because of that fateful night in August, but it's a fun question to debate.

Where would the Jets be with Sanchez?

ICYMI: Sanchez, sans corn rows, said Tuesday he wants to remain a Jet in 2014: "I don't want to go anywhere else, that's for sure." ... Backup linebacker Troy Davis, who suffered a chest contusion when drilled on a punt return by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw, was placed on season-ending injured reserve. On Monday, a league source indicated that Davis, who spent Sunday night in a Baltimore hospital, was day-to-day. Sanchez was once deemed day-to-day, and he, too, ended up on IR. ... Not surprisingly, the Jets fell to No. 22 in the ESPN.com power rankings. ... Our weekly film review of the weekly debacle.

Green Day: Jets will ride out the storm

November, 26, 2013
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Rex Ryan let Geno Smith twist in the wind for 24 hours, but there was never much doubt that he'd stick with his struggling rookie for Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. It was the right call. It was the only call.

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Let us not lose sight of what this season is about: It's about Smith, trying to find out if he's the guy you want to build your franchise around. So far, the answer is no, but there's a lot of football to be played. They've gone this far with him, so it wouldn't make much sense to bail out at this point.

It's a delicate decision because they have to weigh short term versus long term. A gray area developed over the first two months of the season, when the Jets surprised everyone by jumping into playoff contention. Suddenly, long term became an afterthought. After upsetting the New Orleans Saints to improve to 5-4, a go-for-it mentality developed, reinforced by the signing of aging safety Ed Reed. It was a win-now move.

Since then, the Jets haven't been winning now. They've been losing, two in a row. The temptation is to try Matt Simms, figuring he can't be any worse than Smith, but the organization doesn't see him as part of its future. And, yes, he can be worse. They might as well ride it out with Smith unless he reaches the point where he can't function at the position. For now, they're not going to make a panic move by succumbing to the whims of the fan base. The plan is to stay the course and find out about Smith. It might not be the popular choice, but it's the best choice.

Naturally, it sends mixed signals. The Jets want to win now while developing a young quarterback. In the real world, that's called having your cake and eating, too.

ICYMI: Ryan, perhaps trying to douse the flames of a quarterback controversy, named Smith the starter for Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, adding that he saw two areas of improvement in Baltimore. ... Ryan preached team unity during a team meeting. It means he's concerned about fracturing in the locker room. ... Troy Davis took a scary shot to the chest, getting blown up by Courtney Upshaw on punt coverage, but he was released from a Baltimore hospital after spending a night for observation. ... Our weekly playing-time breakdown.

Green Day: Is Rex Ryan's chip gone?

November, 21, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It's interesting how Rex Ryan's feelings about the Baltimore Ravens have changed over the years.

In 2008, his final year in Baltimore, Ryan worked under John Harbaugh after being passed over for the head-coaching job. The following year, he was hired by the New York Jets, mentioning at various times that he was stung by the Ravens' snub. This is what he told Sports Illustrated's Peter King in May 2011:

"Coaching in Baltimore 10 years and then not getting the job, that's a thing that drives me. As much as I respect the people in the Ravens' organization, they never thought I could do the job, and that's a major chip on my shoulder.''

On Sunday, the Jets play in Baltimore. Ryan was asked Wednesday if there's added incentive because Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti didn't hire him. His updated response:

"No, not really. Steve’s one of the reasons I got this job. ... I certainly didn’t take it personally, too bad, when it happened. No, you know what? All I did was say, ‘I’ll do the best job I possibly can and I’m going to take it out on the league.’ That was my approach, so that was kind of what I did. I was given this unbelievable opportunity, and so that’s behind me, but I have no hard feelings whatsoever with that organization. I mean, none whatsoever. Shoot, I spent 10 great years there, but hey, I understand the business."

Maybe time has healed the old wounds. Maybe Ryan has mellowed. Maybe he doesn't want to provide bulletin-board fodder before the game. Maybe he doesn't want to upset his current bosses.

Ryan is 0-2 against the Ravens and, no matter what he says or doesn't say, he wants this game badly -- for many reasons.

ICYMI: Tough week for Geno Smith. He got hit hard by the Bills' Marcell Dareus, in more ways than one, and now he has to go on the road to face the defending Super Bowl champs. ... WR Santonio Holmes didn't practice Wednesday. Should the Jets be worried? ... WR Stephen Hill will have a smaller role, he confirmed. Ryan, who rarely criticizes players, criticized Hill. ... The Jets signed former Patriots LB Jermaine Cunningham. ... NFL Nation buzz: An analysis of the Jets' simmering quarterback controversy.

Green Day: Jets eating Cro at cornerback

November, 20, 2013
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One of the reasons why the New York Jets felt comfortable trading Darrelle Revis was the emergence last season of Antonio Cromartie as a legitimate No. 1 cornerback. He made the Pro Bowl, deservedly so.

Cromartie
That Cromartie is gone, and you wonder if the Jets would've pulled the trigger on the blockbuster deal if they knew then what they know now. Fans and media types are beating up Dee Milliner for his struggles, but he's a rookie. It's Cromartie who should be criticized.

Cromartie was burned by rookie wide receiver Marquise Goodwin in last Sunday's loss to the Buffalo Bills, a 43-yard touchdown in which Cromartie choked on Goodwin's dust. You've seen that movie before. Cromartie has allowed five touchdowns and 20.5 yards per reception, the second-highest average among corners, according to ProFootballFocus.com. A year ago, his numbers were five touchdowns and 12.8.

The timing couldn't be worse for the Jets, battling for a playoff spot, and Cromartie, who is playing for a contract. He's signed for 2014, but there's no way he will play for the Jets under his current deal. His cap number is $15 million, including a $5 million roster bonus and a $4.3 million base salary. Unless Cromartie agrees to a pay cut, the Jets should try to shop him in the offseason, hoping to find a suitor that would extend his deal. If there's no market, they'd have to cut him. It would make no sense to extend Cromartie, not after his performance this season.

Imagine losing the likes of Revis and Cromartie in back-to-back offseasons.

On Sunday, Cromartie faces another challenge, Torrey Smith of the Baltimore Ravens. Smith's numbers have declined in recent weeks, but he's still a vertical threat. His targets average 15.1 yards, the fifth-highest in the league, per ESPN Stats.

Maybe the old Cromartie will make an appearance.

ICYMI: The Jets made one roster move Tuesday, placing tight end Konrad Reuland on season-ending injured reserve with a mysterious knee injury. In essence, he became expendable with the return of Kellen Winslow and the early-season arrival of Zach Sudfeld. Along with Jeff Cumberland, it was four's a crowd at tight end. ... The team didn't work out any free agents Tuesday ... Kudos to defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. He spent Tuesday evening in Elizabeth, N.J., handing out Thanksgiving dinners to 200 families. Wilkerson grew up in the Elizabeth/Linden area. ... Our film review of the Buffalo debacle. ... The Jets dropped to 16th in the ESPN.com power rankings. ... Backup quarterback Matt Simms knows why he's the most popular guy in town.

Green Day: Breaking out Buddy Ryan drills

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
6:00
AM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- How do you attack the New York Jets' defense? Go deep.

The Jets have allowed 18 pass plays of more than 30 yards, and Rex Ryan is fed up. This week, it will be a major point of emphasis in practice.

"We're pulling in the old Buddy Ryan drills this week," said Ryan, referring to his father and some of his coaching tricks.

That means they will devote a day (i.e. Deep Ball Friday) to defending the long ball. Ryan said they will have competitive drills on downfield passes. In Sunday's loss to the Buffalo Bills, not known as a vertical passing team, the Jets allowed four long completions, including two touchdowns. The presence of future Hall-of-Fame safety Ed Reed had little impact, as rookie EJ Manuel passes for 245 yards (mostly into the wind) even though he didn't have his top two receivers.

Ryan said he may make schematic changes, even hinting that he will play more Cover-2 if necessary. That would be radical, all right, because the Jets usually don't play a two-deep look at safety.

"It's frustrating to me," Ryan said, adding: "I'm confident we'll fix it. I don't think there's any doubt, when it comes to defense."

Surprisingly, Reed played almost the entire game in his Jets debut despite having practiced for only two days. He played 59 of 67 defensive snaps, replacing Antonio Allen, who got on the field for only three plays. Ryan said they had planned to use different packages, but they didn't vary it much because the Bills used more two tight-end sets than they had anticipated. Ryan called Reed a "Hall-of-Fame communicator," claiming he can galvanize the secondary even though he just arrived on the scene.

Right now, the Jets could use a Hall-of-Fame playmaker more than the communicator.

ICYMI: Geno Smith will start "this game," according to Ryan, but he hinted that Matt Simms could start to get work in the bullpen. ... Get ready to take a seat, Stephen Hill. Your scholarship is about to expire. ... Kellen Winslow said he's not upset with his lack of playing time. Do we believe him? Not really.

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