New York Jets: John Griffin

Jets lose another running back

August, 10, 2013
DETROIT -- The New York Jets' already-thin backfield took another hit Friday, as backup RB John Griffin suffered a season-ending broken leg in the 26-17 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Griffin, backing up Bilal Powell, was yanked to the ground in the third quarter on a horse-collar tackle by LB Travis Lewis. Griffin was carted to the locker room, where an X-ray confirmed the fracture.

[+] EnlargeJohn Griffin
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsJohn Griffin's season ended in the preseason opener.
He was on the roster bubble, but at least he was an able body. The Jets are hurting at the position. Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Joe McKnight (head) didn't travel to the game, and Mike Goodson still hasn't reported to camp because of undisclosed personal reasons. Ivory is expected to practice for the first time Sunday.

The Jets' running attack was non-existent, as they ran for only 37 yards on 16 carries.

INJURY REPORT: Aside from Griffin, QB Geno Smith (ankle) and OLB Garrett McIntyre (knee) left with injuries. Smith's injury doesn't appear serious. He said he told the trainers that he wants to practice next week and play next Saturday against the Jaguars.

UNHAPPY REX: A subdued Rex Ryan bemoaned a rash of mistakes -- 11 penalties, two turnovers, a poor rushing attack and sloppy play by the second-team defense.

"We have to improve a great deal," he said.

It was a particularly sloppy day for the offensive line. RG Willie Colon was called for holding and a false start and LG Stephen Peterman, a former Lion, was flagged for holding. Backup OT Oday Aboushi was guilty of a false start.

Ryan singled out only two players for exceptional performances -- WR Ben Obomanu (team-high four catches) and S Jaiquawn Jarrett (five tackles, one QB hit). Ryan said Jarrett will move up to the first team in practice next week, replacing Antonio Allen.

SPECIAL K: It was a nice debut for TE Kellen Winslow, trying to resurrect his career after a lost 2012. He caught two passes for 30 yards, including a 24-yard reception that helped set up the first touchdown. He caught a short pass and broke a tackle, displaying some of the old Winslow.

He was cut by the Seahawks last preseason and played only one game with the Patriots.

"That was their loss," he said of the Seahawks. "I'm going to do some things this year."

ODDS AND ENDS: Rookie CB Dee Milliner received mixed reviews. "At times, I thought he played really well," Ryan said. But there was a missed tackle in the open field, a 27-yard completion against him and a couple of mentor errors. ... DT Sheldon Richardson, who was credited with three tackles, said he didn't make as many plays as he had hoped. ... Rookie WR Zach Rogers had a bad drop in the open field, but he came back to score on an 11-yard pass from Greg McElroy. ... McElroy, one of the stars of last week's scrimmage, delivered another fine outing. He replaced the injured Smith in the third quarter and was 11-for-19, 145 yards and a touchdown. ... Nick Folk made a 51-yard FG. ... Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples recorded sacks. Coples cleaned up after LB Antwan Barnes made the key pressure.

Rapid Reaction: Lions 26, Jets 17

August, 9, 2013

DETROIT -- The New York Jets opened the preseason Friday night with a 26-17 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Despite a killer interception, Mark Sanchez won the night over Geno Smith in the ballyhooed quarterback competition. Smith left in the third quarter after rolling his ankle. It doesn't appear serious, but he can't afford to miss any practice time.

What it means: As it stands now, Sanchez will be the opening-day starter. He gave as many points to the Lions as he produced for the Jets -- seven -- but he showed greater command than Smith, who delivered a nondescript performance in his NFL debut. Smith is doomed if he misses any practice time; it's almost impossible for a rookie to play catch-up in training camp.

Sanchez's night: It was the worst possible start for Sanchez, who threw a pick-six on the Jets' first series. Under pressure on a screen pass, he didn't put enough air under the pass and it was intercepted by rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. Sanchez has a maddening tendency to turn a safe pass into a calamity. In fact, he almost had another screen intercepted.

To Sanchez's credit, he responded to the disastrous start to finish 10-for-13 for 125 yards with a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jeff Cumberland. It culminated a seven-play, 80-yard drive, much of which came in the hurry-up offense. It was typical Sanchez -- some good, some ugly. Some things don't change.

Geno's night: Unlike Sanchez, Smith didn't make any horrible mistakes, but he also didn't bring any spark to the offense. The former West Virginia star, who got two series behind the starting offensive line, generated only one first down on his first three drives -- a 15-yard pass to Clyde Gates on his first play. Simply put, Smith didn't look ready to take over the team. He finished 6-for-7 for 47 yards. Smith came out on the first series of the third quarter, when he turned his right ankle on an open-field scramble.

Greg McElroy came in and did a nice job against the Lions' third-stringers, going 11-for-19 for 145 yards and an 11-yard TD pass to Zach Rogers.

Big-play tight ends: Dustin Keller is gone, but Cumberland and Kellen Winslow displayed playmaking ability. Winslow made a nice catch and run for 24 yards. Cumberland scored his touchdown on a deep seam, showing his ability to get vertical. It's too soon to say the Jets have two weapons at tight end, but it was a good start.

Another injured running back: John Griffin was carted off with a lower-leg injury. It didn't look good. Already down Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson and Joe McKnight, the Jets can't afford another injury in the backfield. Ivory (hamstring) is expected to return Sunday.

New-look defense: The Jets opened with seven new starters in the post-Darrelle Revis era. All things considered, the defense held up fairly well. Most of the starters played most of the first half, an unusually long stint for the first game, and allowed 10 points. Cornerback Darrin Walls, an early substitution for starter Antonio Cromartie, got beat on a 15-yard scoring pass. One player who jumped out was nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, who deflected a pass and held the point of attack. Safety Dawan Landry got beat once in coverage. Keep in mind that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played only two series.

The rookies: It was a so-so debut for top pick Dee Milliner, who started at corner in the base defense. He didn't have to cover all-world receiver Calvin Johnson -- Cromartie drew that assignment -- so that made life easier for Milliner. He had a nice pass breakup in the end zone, but he missed an open-field tackle and allowed a 27-yard reception. Milliner gets some slack, though, because he missed a lot of time and is rusty. It was a relatively quiet night for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

The Q report: Former first-round pick Quinton Coples, making the transition to outside linebacker, flashed good and bad on his first two plays. He deflected a pass on an outside rush, but he failed to set the edge on an outside run by Reggie Bush. Coples didn't move well in space. This will be an interesting position change.

What's ahead: The Jets return to Cortland, for four days of practice. They break camp Thursday and return to Florham Park, N.Y., where they will prepare for next Saturday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Best camp battles: Running back

July, 31, 2013
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Quick takeaways on the Jets' running back competition:

Who is involved: The better question might be, who isn't involved? The Jets have five backs vying for playing time: Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight, John Griffin and Mike Goodson, who didn't report to camp for an undisclosed reason. The team won't say when or if he will return, but that is the hope.

[+] EnlargeChris Ivory
Rich Barnes/USA TODAY SportsChris Ivory joined the Jets after three seasons with the Saints.
What are the stakes: Let's be honest, the Jets don't have a true No. 1 back. Not one running back has a 1,000-yard season on his career résumé, and that hasn't happened to the Jets since 1994. In all likelihood, it will be backfield-by-committee. That could change if someone separates from the pack, but don't bet on it. Privately, the staff is hoping that Ivory, acquired in an offseason trade with the Saints, can be a 15-carry-a-game runner. But he has never played a full season, so it's a bold projection.

How the job will be won: It might not be "won," per se, but roles will be defined. Chances are, Ivory will emerge as the lead back. The Jets want to have a physical running game, and Ivory is a big, physical back with the ability to make yards after contact. The Jets say he has natural hands, but he has no track record as a pass catcher, meaning he's not an every-down back. Goodson has the skill set to be the third-down back -- he's the most explosive of the group -- but his mysterious absence is hurting his chances.

Powell has value because he can play on any down. McKnight remains an enigma, physically talented but inconsistent. Griffin, taking advantage of increased reps, has opened eyes with his vision and cutback ability. He's on the bubble.

Projected winner: If healthy, Ivory will be the lead back. Powell will be the No. 2, spelling Ivory in the base offense. Powell also is the leading candidate to be the third-down back until Goodson returns -- if he returns.

Positional analysis: Running back

February, 5, 2013
This is part two in a nine-part analysis of the Jets -- a position-by-position breakdown as we head toward the scouting combine and free agency:


2012 depth chart: Shonn Greene (starter), Lex Hilliard (starter), Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight, John Griffin.

Overview: Greene slipped past the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year, delivering the kind of season you've come to expect from him -- solid between-the-tackles production but very little explosiveness. He broke only two runs of 20+ yards. You can win with a player like Greene as long as he's paired with a speed back, but that wasn't the case with Powell, an inside slasher. McKnight has home-run ability, but he's wildly inconsistent from a fundamentals and focus standpoint.

Free agents: Greene, Hilliard.

2013 personnel preview: Greene is as good as gone. Despite his limitations, he'll draw moderate to heavy interest in a mediocre free-agent class. Plus, he's not a fit in Marty Mornhinweg's West-Coast system. The Jets need a versatile back with outside speed and pass-catching ability. Free agent Reggie (Hot Sauce) Bush would be ideal for the Jets, but there's little chance they'd be able to afford him. They probably will rely on the draft to find a No. 1 or No. 1a back that can be paired with Powell. Eddie Lacy (Alabama) and Montee Ball (Wisconsin) will be intriguing in the second round.

Salary-cap situation: You can't blame the running backs for the team's cap situation, as Powell and McKnight are counting a combined $1.4 million on the cap. In fact, the Jets haven't made a significant investment since 2007, when they traded for Thomas Jones and gave him a four-year deal with $12 million guaranteed. They've taken the cheap approach, and don't expect that to change.