Notes and observations on the Jets and the NFL:
1. Tubby Tim? When the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, they asked him to bulk up to 250 pounds -- about 10 pounds heavier than his Denver weight and 14 pounds heavier than his draft weight in 2010. The idea was to help him withstand the pounding that would come with all those carries they had planned for him (Ha!). But it may have backfired. Two opposing scouts, after studying him on tape, said Tebow (247 pounds as of Thursday) looks like he's lost some of the mobility that made him a prolific running QB.
Tebow told me he doesn't think the added weight has slowed him down at all, but the eyes tell a different story: He doesn't look nearly as spry as he did last year with the Broncos. He has 38 yards on nine carries (4.2 average), including a 22-yard run. Take away that run, and he'd be at 2.0 per carry. Food for thought.
2. Getting to know you: Not to make excuses for the putrid start by the offense, but there has been no continuity. Of the 14 skill-position players on the current offense, six weren't on the roster at the start of training camp -- TE Konrad Reuland, WR Clyde Gates, OT/TE Jason Smith, RB Jonathan Grimes, FB Lex Hilliard and WR Jason Hill. With Santonio Holmes down, the longest-tenured wideout is Jeremy Kerley, a fifth-round pick in 2011. Said Kerley: "I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing." Funny man, that Kerley. QB Mark Sanchez should organize a mixer on the players' off day, so they can get to know each other. Too bad they couldn't have a "Jets West" during the season.
3. Houston, we have the same problem you did: If the injury-plagued Jets need inspiration, they can look across the field Monday night. The Texans were devastated by injuries last season and still made the playoffs. QB Matt Schaub, RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson were on the field together for only 45 of the team’s 1,046 plays, and they lost OLB/DE Mario Williams to a season-ending injury in the fifth game. Their secret? Quality depth and good crisis management by coach Gary Kubiak, who warned his team at the start of the season that adversity was inevitable. "If you talk about those things, then when they happen, I don't think they get so shocked about it and they find a way to work through it," he said.
4. Sack-dancing fool: Mark Gastineau and Wesley Walker will be inducted in the Jets' Ring of Honor on Monday night at halftime. Both are deserving of the honor, although Gastineau was one of the biggest "me" players in team history. During the 1987 strike, he was one of the first players to cross the picket line. I was there the day his striking teammates threw eggs at his car when he drove into the facility for practice.
A quarter-century later, Gastineau acknowledged that the sacrifice of others has allowed him to live a decent life. He said his NFL pension, which sounds like his primary source of income, is a "blessing from the Lord." Recalling the strike, he said, "Now I see what the players were fighting for. I'm getting the benefits from what they did. That's a big plus." A little more gratitude wouldn't have hurt.
5. The original diva: The best Gastineau story occurred during training camp, 1989, during a scrimmage at Lafayette College. In the middle of the scrimmage, Gastineau’s Hollywood girlfriend, Brigitte Nielsen, pulled up to the sideline in a white stretch limo. She got out, wearing a revealing mini-skirt, and gave the sweaty Gastineau a big embrace as teammates and spectators watched in amazement. (Imagine the fuss in today’s Twitter age if Eva Longoria did that to Sanchez.) Coach Joe Walton was overheard muttering to himself, “Oh, my nerves.” Walton once told me that Gastineau used to call him at all hours of the night for the most trivial matters. He was an overgrown child who happened to be really good at sacking the quarterback.
6. A hard lesson: The coaches have been telling NT Kenrick Ellis for more than a year that he has to play with a lower pad level. Maybe the message finally got through last Sunday, when he suffered the ultimate indignity for a defensive lineman: He was driven back eight yards by two blockers (mostly 49ers LT Joe Staley) and pancaked. Ellis played “angry” after that, according to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Rex Ryan, looking for a silver lining, pulled a clip of the play and showed it to the offense as an example of textbook blocking technique.
7. The loudest silence: I was stunned by the lack of defiance in the Jets’ locker room in response to Carlos Rogers’ “quit” comments. Telling. Very telling.
8. Classic matchup: I don't know about you, but I'll be watching Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning on Sunday afternoon. It doesn't get any better. Their rivalry has a Bird-Magic feel to it, although I doubt it'll make Broadway anytime soon. Counting the playoffs, Brady leads the rivalry, 8-4, but Manning has won four of the last six. In last week's win over the Raiders, Manning was a dink-and-dunk passer. It'll be interesting to see if that continues.
9. Move over, Johnny U: The Saints' Drew Brees will break Johnny Unitas' record of 47 straight games with a TD pass if he throws one Sunday night against the Chargers. No one noticed, but the longest TD streak of Sanchez's career ended last week against the 49ers. He made it to nine games. Big whoop.
10. (Not) Hog Heaven: This is hard to believe, but the Redskins have dropped seven straight home games, the longest active streak in the NFL and their longest since 1994. That has to be driving Danny Boy crazy. But here's an upset pick: I bet it ends Sunday against the Falcons.