New York Jets: Dawan Landry

New York Jets cap breakdown: Defense

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
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A breakdown of the New York Jets' salary cap, position by position on defense:

Cornerback

Total cap charge: $20.8 million

Percentage of total cap: 16.0

Players under contract: 6

Highest cap charge: Antonio Cromartie, $14.98 million

Our take: The Jets won't have Cromartie at that number. He'll either take a pay cut or get cut, perhaps re-signing later at a lower number. ... Imagine what the overall number would look like if Darrelle Revis were still on the roster.

Linebacker

Total cap charge: $12.16 million

Percentage of total cap: 9.4

Players under contract: 6

Highest cap charge: David Harris, $7.0 million

Our take: Only three starters are under contract, which means the total will grow when they re-sign Calvin Pace or a veteran replacement. ... The front office finally got this position under control after years of bloated cap numbers.

Defensive line:

Total cap charge: $7.41

Percentage of total cap: 5.7

Players under contract: 7

Highest cap charge: Sheldon Richardson, $2.29 million

Our take: They're all young pups, but one of these days -- 2015 or 2016 -- this will be the high-rent district on the team. Maybe it will start this year if Muhammad Wilkerson gets a long-term extension.

Safety:

Total cap charge: $3.56 million

Percentage of total cap: 2.7

Players under contract: 6

Highest cap charge: Dawan Landry, $1.83 million

Our take: Welcome to the discount aisle. The Jets take the thrifty approach when it comes to building the safety position.

Roster evaluation: Top 25 players, 16 to 20

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
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It's early February, post-Super Bowl, which means every team not named the Seattle Seahawks is doing the same thing -- planning for 2014. The Seahawks are busy celebrating, but you can bet they'll be returning to the grind real soon.

Part of planning is evaluating what you have. Toward that end, we've ranked the top 25 players on the New York Jets' roster -- based on performance, potential, positional value and salary-cap status. Here's 16 to 20:

16. Dawan Landry, safety, (cap charge: $1.8 million): If Landry were a pitcher in baseball, he'd be described as an innings eater. He played a lot of football last season (98 percent of the defensive snaps), but he didn't make many big plays. Still, he has value because of his intangibles, namely his ability to quarterback the secondary.

17. Calvin Pace, outside linebacker, (cap charge: Free agent): This will be an interesting negotiation. Pace is coming off a 10-sack season, a career high, but he's 33 years old. You can bet he'll be looking for a lot more than the $1 million he made last season on a one-year deal. The Jets are thin at the position, helping Pace's leverage.

18. Bilal Powell, running back, (cap charge: $1.5 million): He qualified for an esclator, increasing his cap number in the final year of his rookie contract. Powell doesn't have star potential, but he proved last season he can be a solid complementary back. He finished with 969 yards from scrimmage.

19. Jeff Cumberland, tight end, (cap charge: Free agent): He has made considerable improvement since breaking into the league as an undrafted wide receiver. The question is, what is Cumberland's ceiling? If another team sees him as a legitimate No. 1 tight end, the Jets probably will lose him.

20. Santonio Holmes, wide receiver, (cap charge: $10.75 million): You can't be the 20th-best player on the team and have a huge cap number, which is why his days with the Jets are numbered. After two disappointing, injury-plagued seasons, Holmes is a certain cap casualty. He was terrific in 2010, but it has been all downhill since then.

Previously:

21. Mark Sanchez, quarterback

22. Antonio Allen, safety

23. Nick Folk, placekicker

24. Willie Colon, guard

25. Stephen Hill, wide receiver

Jets' D is good, but not near Seattle's best

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
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Good news for the New York Jets: The Seattle Seahawks delivered an emphatic reminder that great defense still matters in the offensive-minded NFL.

Bad news for the Jets: Their defense, the foundation of the team, isn’t close to that of the Seahawks.

While the Jets have the potential to be dominant on the defensive line, they don’t have enough playmakers on the second and third levels to accomplish what the Seahawks did in Super Bowl XLVIII.

[+] EnlargeDemario Davis
AP Photo/Damian StrohmeyerDemario Davis is one of the young players the Jets can build around on defense.
They can stop the run with anyone, and they have the power rushers to generate a decent-to-occasionally-strong pass rush, but there are no proven difference-makers at linebacker or in the secondary -- not yet, anyway. The Jets produced only 15 takeaways last season, continuing a trend under Rex Ryan. For all their defensive success in recent years, they've created only 130 turnovers since 2009, 15th in the league.

It’s all about the turnovers, as the Seahawks proved Sunday night -- and all season, really. They rattled the great Peyton Manning with an incredible amount of speed and intensity, relying on personnel over scheme. Their game plan was simple, but brilliant. It was them saying, “No tricks necessary; our guys are better than your guys.” They recorded only one sack (an overrated statistic), but they forced Manning to move in the pocket and they bashed his receivers when they caught the ball. The defense finished with four turnovers and a touchdown, a great day’s work.

It’s also all about pass defense in the current NFL, so you need a stable of pass-rushers and “space” players in the back seven -- exceptional athletes who can drop, cover and make plays on the ball against offenses that spread the field. The Jets finished 22nd in pass defense. The Seahawks are built for speed; it’s always been the Pete Carroll philosophy. That’s why he doesn’t carry linebackers north of 250 pounds.

In contrast, Ryan built his front seven based on strength and power, the necessary attributes of a 3-4 scheme, although he has tweaked his philosophy to adapt to the new NFL. That was apparent in 2012, when he used a third-round pick on Demario Davis, a run-and-hit linebacker. In the not-so-old days, a linebacker like Davis -- 239 pounds -- wouldn’t have been a scheme fit.

Davis didn’t wow anyone in his first season as a starter, but he’s an ascending player, one of their building blocks. He and cornerback Dee Milliner -- the December Milliner, not the early Milliner -- have the athleticism to thrive in a fast-flow defense. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie can do it, too, as long as his troublesome hip isn’t an issue.

Unlike the Seahawks, who have the best safety tandem in the league, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, the Jets are suspect at the position. Dawan Landry is a good quarterback, orchestrating the back end, but he doesn’t make plays. There’s a lot to like about Antonio Allen, who has improved considerably, but he’s still not a finished product. What does it say that graybeard Ed Reed, a midseason pickup, tied for the team lead with three interceptions?

Look, this isn’t a hatchet job on the Jets' defense. Clearly, they're better on defense than they were a year ago at this time. Their foundation is better than two-thirds of the teams, but they're still a few players away from Seattle's best. General manager John Idzik's first draft was solid, but he needs to find some of those fourth- and fifth-round gems, like his former colleagues have done in Seattle.

But, hey, it took the Seahawks four years to get to this point. Rome wasn't built in one offseason.

Reed wants to play another year -- probably

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Ed Reed didn't rule out retirement, but he gave every indication Monday that he'd like to play another season. He'd like it to be with the New York Jets.

"I know I'm going to be ready to play football next year," Reed said.

Reed
The future Hall-of-Fame safety, who underwent hip surgery last April while a free agent, said he expects to be better in 2014 after having a full offseason to rest and rehab his hip. He was scheduled for an MRI exam on Monday, which he termed as "total maintenance."

Reed, who played seven games with the Jets after being released by the Houston Texans, received heavy criticism for his play. Frankly, he looked old and too slow for an every-down role. In recent weeks, his playing time was reduced and he came more productive, finishing with three interceptions -- tied for the team lead.

Not shy at firing back at critics, Reed scoffed when asked if New York saw the "real" Reed this season.

"The real Ed Reed?" he asked, increduously. "I'm in my 12th year, I know how to play this game. I've played this game a certain way for a long time. The real Ed Reed was here. My expectations for myself are higher than y'all could ever be. The standard has been set high, but like I said, I said that standard."

Rex Ryan's affinity for Reed is well-documented, but it's hard to imagine them re-signing him. He will be 36 next season, and they have reliable veteran Dawan Landry, part-time starter Antonio Allen and other young safeties.

"I came close to retiring three, four years ago, so there's always that possibility," he said. "That's something I've always evaluated after every season since my first year. It's a violent sport. The sport is changing a lot and organizations are changing. It's just a different game."

Reed's potential impact on playing time

November, 15, 2013
11/15/13
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Newly signed safety Ed Reed will have a "defined role" Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, said New York Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, adding: "We’re going to use him in situations where we feel like he can help us be successful."

Reed
Presumably, that means passing situations where he can do what he does best -- play the deep middle in a single-high safety look. Of course, it wouldn't be at all surprising if Reed plays a significant amount of snaps. That would mean more bench time for Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett, who have been sharing the No. 2 safety spot.

Here's a breakdown of how the Jets have divided the playing time at safety through nine games:

Dawan Landry -- 620/626 snaps (99 percent)

Antonio Allen -- 397/626 snaps (63 percent)

Jaiquawn Jarrett -- 234/626 snaps (37 percent)

Josh Bush -- 47/626 snaps (8 percent)

Film review: Rex outsmarts Payton, Brees

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
3:30
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One last look back at the New York Jets' 26-20 upset of the New Orleans Saints:

Rex outsmarts Payton: The game was billed as Ryan vs. Ryan, but it never was going to be Rex against Rob, the Saints' defensive coordinator. It was really a chess match between Rex and Saints coach Sean Payton, one of the brightest offensive minds in the game. The outcome: Checkmate, Ryan.

Drew Brees put up his fantasy numbers, throwing for 382 yards (the most against the Jets in the Ryan era), but he was rattled at key moments in the game. He was confused by the Jets' different looks, forcing him into rare mistakes -- taking two delay penalties and burning three timeouts in the first quarter. On the first timeout, he was befuddled by a 2-4-5 alignment. When he came out of the timeout, it was a 3-3-5 look by the Jets -- and a delay of game penalty.

This wasn't a blitz-heavy game plan by Ryan. In fact, the Jets sent five or more rushers on only 19 percent of Brees' 53 dropbacks, slightly below their average. They didn't have to blitz because Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples overmatched the Saints offensive line.

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Wilkerson
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsThe Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson was able to put steady pressure on Saints quarterback Drew Brees this past Sunday.
After watching the tape, I noticed a clever wrinkle: On some passing plays, the Jets used a defensive lineman in a spy-type role. Instead of rushing, a lineman peeled back and hovered around the line of scrimmage, reading Brees' eyes. Coples said afterward that the game plan was to obstruct the B gaps, meaning the guard-tackle gaps. In their scouting report, they noted how Brees -- listed generously at 6-foot -- liked to throw through the B gaps instead of the middle. I think the Jets used a defensive lineman as a roving shot blocker, hoping to deflect the ball or at least block his vision. This was a big point of emphasis in practice, as the coaches were constantly on the pass-rushers to get their arms up against the "5-foot-10 quarterback," as they referred to him.

On Brees' first of two interceptions, Coples was the rover, lurking behind a three-man rush. At the last second, he rushed, getting one of his long arms in Brees' face as he released the ball, which was intercepted by Demario Davis after an on-ball deflection by S Dawan Landry -- a great play all around. Other times, I saw NT Kenrick Ellis and DT Sheldon Richardson peeling back instead of rushing.

Two impressive sequences jumped out. In the third quarter, they sacked Brees on back-to-back plays. How often does that happen? Wilkerson split a double-team for the first sack. On the second, Brees tried a quick count, but he outsmarted himself because TE Jimmy Graham was isolated on LB Calvin Pace. Graham is a great receiver, but he doesn't do blocking. Pace beat him cleanly for a sack.

The second impressive sequence occurred at the end of the game. Brees had the ball at his 19, with 1:58 on the clock. He has made a career of game-winning drives. Not this time. He threw four straight incompletions, one uglier than the next. On first down, the Jets had one down lineman and five others standing at the line. It looked like a blitz, but it was a ruse because they rushed two and dropped nine, including Coples, who lurked in the spy role. CB Antonio Cromartie was a safety on this play, another wrinkle.

Overall, it was a brilliant game plan by Ryan.

The art of deception: Obviously, the Jets were committed to running the ball, hoping to exploit a defense that had allowed a league-high 4.8 yard per carry. Here is an amazing stat: QB Geno Smith passed for only one yard in the first quarter and none in the fourth.

Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did a fantastic job of using the read-option to exploit the Saints' aggressive front seven, which tends to over-pursue. On Chris Ivory's 27-yard run in the first quarter, they used the read option out of the Pistol formation. OLB Parys Haralson, influenced by the option, over-ran the play, leaving a gaping hole for Ivory.

On Josh Cribbs' 25-yard pass in the second quarter, the Jets ran a triple-option type play out of the Wildcat. Cribbs took the direct snap, faked to Bilal Powell and sprinted right with a run-pass option. He threw a dart to TE Zach Sudfeld, the Jets' best pass of the day.

I loved the two touchdown runs at the end of the second quarter. It was a great set-up by Mornhinweg, who used virtual mirror-image plays to outfox the Saints. On Ivory's three-yard scoring run, they were in shotgun, with Ivory to Smith's left -- the strong side, along with the tight end (Sudfeld) and two receivers (Stephen Hill and David Nelson). They ran a weakside play, with Ivory blasting off right tackle, behind key blocks by RG Willie Colon and RT Austin Howard.

After Cromartie's interception, the Jets got the ball back in almost an identical situation -- ball at the 3. They used the same personnel package, except they flipped the formation. Ivory went to the right of Smith, along with two receivers (Nelson and Greg Salas). The Saints probably were thinking it was a run to the left. It sure looked like as they ran Ivory to the left on a play-action. LBs David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton bit hard on the fake. Smith used the read-option. He pulled the ball out of Ivory's belly and kept it himself, putting a nice, open-field move on DE Cameron Jordan for the touchdown. Actually, Jordan read it well, but he was faked by Smith and had no back up because Hawthorne and Lofton were out of position.

The Jets finished with 198 rushing yards. Ivory got the headlines, but the coaches did a nice job of exploiting the weaknesses in the Saints' run defense.

Geno's signature moment: The play that had people buzzing at One Jets Drive was a 6-yard scramble by Smith at the start of the third quarter. It wasn't enough for a first down -- it was a third-and-10 play -- but it got them into field goal range, as Smith avoided a big loss.

DE Tom Johnson blew past LG Brian Winters and had a clean shot at Smith, who eluded him with a nifty step-back move. Smith took off and gained six valuable yards, allowing the Jets to take a 23-14 lead after the field goal.

Odds and ends: Winters made a key block in the second quarter, pulling to the right on Ivory's 52-yard yard. Winters got a piece of Lofton, who ended up missing the tackle in the hole. Sudfeld, not known for his blocking, delivered a key block as well. Hill, invisible in the passing game, made a nice downfield block. ... There was confusion on Graham's 51-yard TD reception. S Jaiquawn Jarrett raised both arms before the snap, as if to say, "What do I do?" He ended up getting torched on a double move. ... I have no idea what Ryan was thinking on the Jets' final possession. They got the ball on downs at the Saints' 9, with 1:21 to play. The Saints had one timeout left. Three kneel-downs and it was over, but the Jets ran two plays and called a timeout before having Smith take a knee. What was the point of risking a fumble? Made no sense.

Film review: QB pressure without blitzing

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
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Some observations after reviewing the tape of the Jets' 27-20 win over the Bills:

The Jets controlled the game in several areas, but the most dominant unit was the defensive line. This is a young, talented group with swagger.

"We want to be the best in the league, nothing short of it," rookie DT Sheldon Richardson said Monday. Asked where he sees the line in, say, eight weeks from now, Richardson replied, "We should be doing the same thing we're doing now -- dominating."

What made the eight-sack performance so impressive was that most of the pressure was generated by the line. Rex Ryan didn't have to rely on exotic pressure schemes to rattle rookie QB EJ Manuel; the front four did the trick by itself. Let's take a closer look:

Coples
Seven of the eight sacks came with the four-man rush -- and we're not talking about tricked-up, four-man rushes, either. Five of those seven sacks were accomplished with the usual cast of characters among the rushers, meaning defensive linemen and rush linebackers such as Quinton Coples, Antwan Barnes, Calvin Pace and Garrett McIntyre. They blitzed inside linebackers David Harris and/or DeMario Davis on only two sacks and there were no defensive-back blitzes. Yes, safety Antonio Allen recorded a sack, but he cleaned up from a shallow zone in pass coverage.

I'd say three of them were definite coverage sacks, as Manuel was forced to hold the ball at least 5 seconds. Two of the unsung heroes were Harris (one sack, three tackles for loss) and Coples (two QB hits, one tackle for loss). At times, Harris appeared to be in a "spy" role, lurking behind the rush and mirroring Manuel's movements in the pocket. Coples, in his 2013 debut, applied pressure in certain instances that freed up teammates for sacks.

It's interesting how the defense has evolved over the past couple of years. The back end used to be strong enough to compensate for the lack of a pass rush, but now the front four appears strong enough to camouflage some obvious deficiencies in the secondary.

Smith
Air Geno: Unofficially, Geno Smith was 5-for-7 on passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air. In fact, the Jets ended up with four pass plays of at least 40 yards, two shy of last season's total. It was exciting, a rare bombs-away attack by the Jets. But let's keep things in perspective. We're not talking about the reincarnation of the "Greatest Show on Turf" here.

The air show resulted from the confluence of a few factors. The Bills' defense, under former Ryan protégé Mike Pettine, played a lot of press-man coverage with a single-high safety, straight out of the Ryan playbook. The problem with that approach is that it doesn't work if you don't have the cornerbacks. Because of injuries, the Bills played with two second-string corners. Pettine never adjusted; he continued to play aggressive man-to-man instead of going conservative. Even the Jets' receiving corps, as maligned as it is, was good enough to win its share of one-on-one matchups -- with the help of terrific pass protection.

It's good that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has enough confidence in Smith to let him sling it, but he's smart enough to take what the defense gives him. Against the Bucs and Patriots, teams that used mostly two-safety looks, the Jets weren't nearly as aggressive down the field. In fact, they had only two pass plays more than 30 yards in the first two games.

Geno's best moment: The 69-yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes garnered the headlines (after all, it was the game-winner), but Smith's best play of the season was his 51-yard scoring strike to Stephen Hill.

Smith was hammered by DT Kyle Williams, who beat LG Vladimir Ducasse with an inside move, as he threw the ball. Smith saw him coming, yet still managed to set his feet and throw an accurate ball to Hill. That's a big-time play. Overshadowed on the play was the role of TE Kellen Winslow. He was chipped by two defenders on his release and held the attention of the safety in the middle of the field long enough to give Hill man-to-man coverage on the outside. The Bills showed a lot of respect to Winslow throughout the game, which helped create opportunities for others.

Odds and ends: Ryan likes to talk about how they're one of the few teams in the league that can use base personnel against three receivers. Well, they got burned on one play, when Allen was matched against WR Stevie Johnson. The result was a 23-yard completion. ... Scott Chandler's 33-yard TD reception is a bit of a mystery. The Jets dropped seven into coverage and forgot to cover the tight end. Pace jammed him at the line and passed him off, but no one picked him up. S Dawan Landry, in the deep middle, cheated to the opposite side and got spun around. If he had been more decisive, they probably would've tackled Chandler around the 10. ... Smith's 8-yard TD run, on a designed play, resulted from nice blocks by G Willie Colon and Winslow. It also was a niece piece of running by Smith, who had two safeties bearing down on him. He split the safeties and plowed into the end zone, with an assist from LB Kiko Alonso, who drilled Smith from behind and pushed him forward.

Notes: Colon already feels Jets-Pats hatred

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
9:04
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's never too early to start banging the drums for Jets-Patriots.

The AFC East rivals meet Thursday night in Foxborough, Mass., and guard Willie Colon already was feeling the vibe after Sunday's 18-17 win over the Bucs. Colon is new to the Jets-Patriots rivalry, but we're talking about someone to experienced Steelers-Ravens. So he knows the deal.

“I’m not new to any rivalry," the former Steelers guard said. "It is what it is. We hate them, they know it and we’re going to go and get them."

And here we go.

Dawan misses: Safety Dawan Landry almost ended up the goat of the game. He missed a tackle on wide receiver Vincent Jackson, turning a 10-yard completion into a 37-yard gain. That set up a go-ahead field goal, Rian Lindell from 37 yards, with 38 seconds left in the game.

"He was open and I missed a tackle, and that's pretty much it," Landry said. "I just missed a tackle."

Landry covered Jackson in the slot, a mismatch, and he arrived a split-second too late. Rex Ryan took the bullet, saying he botched the call.

"I wasn't clear with my communication on that call," the Jets' coach said. "That one mistake almost cost us the game. ... Landry was where he was supposed to be. We didn't have a seam-flat player where we needed one, and that's trouble. We never had someone on the No. 2 [receiver] when we were supposed to. It wasn't clearly communicated from my end, and that was a huge mistake."

No pity: The Jets showed no sympathy for linebacker Lavonte David, whose mindless late-hit penalty on Geno Smith cost his team the game.

"I think they need to tell No. 54 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to catch his own flight home, because that was the worst penalty at the worst time," Jets linebacker David Harris said.

Injury report: Tight end Jeff Cumberland and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley took blows to the head on vicious hits by Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron, respectively, both of which resulted in personal fouls. Cumberland and Kerley were taken to the locker room and were allowed to return to the game and passing concussion tests, according to Ryan. ... Center Nick Mangold hurt his right elbow in the third quarter. He, too, was taken to the locker room, but returned for the next series.

Newcomers contribute: Some of John Idzik's free-agent additions made key plays. Tight end Kellen Winslow caught a team-high seven passes for 79 yards, including a touchdown. Outside linebacker Antwan Barnes recorded a sack. And Landry had an interception. It wasn't such a great start for running back Chris Ivory, who dropped a pass and was held to 15 yards on 10 carries.

Odds and ends: Ryan improved to 4-1 in openers. ... Stephen Hill set a career high with six receptions. ... Robert Malone's 84-yard punt was the second-longest in team history. It was the longest punt since Chuck Ramsey's 79-yarder in 1978. The record is held by Steve O'Neil, who had a 98-yarder in 1969. ... Five draft picks made their debut -- cornerback Dee Milliner, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (half-sack), quarterback Geno Smith, guard Brian Winters (backup) and fullback Tommy Bohanon (one catch for 21 yards). Rookie wide receiver Ryan Spadola, an undrafted free agent, also played. ... The Jets' running game was brutal. Bilal Powell and Ivory combined for 44 yards on 22 carries. The leading rusher was Smith (47 yards).

Rapid Reaction: Jets 18, Buccaneers 17

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
4:28
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Quick takeaways on the New York Jets' 18-17 season-opening win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: The Jets lost the game and they won it, all in the final 76 seconds. Capitalizing on a stupid late-hit penalty on Bucs LB Lavonte David in the final seconds, the Jets stole the game with a 48-yard field goal by Nick Folk with two seconds left. David's penalty, hitting Geno Smith out of bounds, put Folk in field goal range. Moments earlier, a missed tackle by Jets S Dawan Landry set up a go-ahead field goal by the Bucs. Yes, the Jets got lucky. But lucky ain't bad in the NFL. Get ready: There will be a lot of close games this season because the Jets' defense will keep them competitive.

Stock watch: Smith was up. And down. And up. You get the picture. It was a typical rookie performance. Smith committed two turnovers in the first half (a fumble and an interception), but he kept his composure and finished 24-of-38 for 256 yards and a touchdown. He gave the Jets a 15-14 lead in the fourth quarter, executing a nice drive that included a few big screen passes, and his late scramble set up Folk's game-winning field goal. The moment wasn't too big for the rookie, who gave the Jets hope and something to build around.

No ground-and-pound: New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has instilled a pass-first mentality; that has to change. The Jets won't win many games by rushing for 90 yards on 29 carries, hardly the ideal way to support a rookie quarterback. Chris Ivory was a nonfactor in his Jets debut, and he lived down to his reputation as a poor receiver with a key drop. They tried to mix it up, using Bilal Powell and Jeremy Kerley in the Wildcat, but they couldn't establish much against the Bucs, who owned the league's top-ranked rush defense last season.

Defense owns Freeman, Martin: Rex Ryan predicted a top-five defense this season. If the Jets could face the Bucs every week, he'd probably turn out to be correct. Other than Landry's missed tackle, they confused QB Josh Freeman by changing fronts, showing some 4-3 looks, and they contained RB Doug Martin better than anyone could've imagined. They held Martin to 64 total yards, keeping him off the edges as a runner and receiver. The Bucs' only success came on blitz-beating slants to Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson, who beat Antonio Cromartie for a couple of big plays. Rookie CB Dee Milliner settled down after a shaky start, which included a 17-yard touchdown catch by Williams. The Jets could've used ... uh, Darrelle Revis.

What's next: The Jets have a quick turnaround, as they face the Patriots on Thursday night in Foxborough. The Jets have dropped four straight in the series, including a 49-19 laugher last Thanksgiving -- the night of the Butt Fumble.

What we learned on Day 26

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
8:30
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Observations from the sideline:

1. Geno will get a shot: It came as no surprise Monday that Rex Ryan didn't name a starting quarterback for Saturday night against the Giants. Clearly, he's waiting on Geno Smith's ankle. If the ankle checks out at the end of the week, I wouldn't be surprised to see Smith get the starting nod. They don't want to end the competition until they see a healthy Smith in an extended audition. Can he do enough in one game to beat out Mark Sanchez? It would take a lights-out performance, but his outing could go a long way toward determining the length of Ryan's leash on Sanchez once the regular season begins -- if Sanchez is named the starter.

2. Overselling his linebackers: Listening to Ryan talk about his replacements for Quinton Coples (fractured ankle), you'd think the Jets have the Giants' linebacking corps from the 1980s. "We have some guys that can really play on the outside," said Ryan, mentioning Garrett McIntyre and Calvin Pace. McIntyre is slated to replace Coples in the base defense. McIntyre is a classic overachiever, a nice underdog story, but he's not a starting-caliber linebacker. He struggles in space, which means the perimeter run defense will be vulnerable with him on the edge. Ryan, of course, can make him sound like a young Carl Banks.

3. Speak up, men: Rookie CB Dee Milliner took the brunt of the criticism from the poor defensive performance Saturday night, but he wasn't the only culprit. Ryan cited communication issues in the secondary, noting that veteran newcomer Dawan Landry has to become more vocal. He ran Ryan's defense in Baltimore, from a signal-calling standpoint, and Ryan challenged him to do the same here. He wants Landry and LB David Harris to take charge. Basically, Landry is the only safety on the roster with significant NFL experience.

Defense not up to Green standards

August, 18, 2013
8/18/13
2:00
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Jets defense did not meet Rex Ryan’s standards in the second preseason game of the year, a 37-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium.

 New York Jets
AP Photo/John MinchilloThe Jets' first-team defense struggled in the first half against the Jaguars.
"Our defensive intensity in the first half I thought [was] not to Jets standards, to New York Jets standards certainly," Ryan said. "The poor tackling -- you can tell when the intensity is there, you’re going to tackle, you’re going to run to the ball, you’re going to do all those things that epitomize the New York Jets defense -- and, quite honestly, we struggled with that."

The Jaguars had 12 first downs in the first half and were able to go 80 yards on seven plays to score a touchdown on the first drive of the game. The offense, with Blaine Gabbert under center, played an up-tempo game that caught the Jets defense off balance.

"They kept drives alive on us," safety Dawan Landry said.

"If that was a real game, that’ll get you beat," LB Calvin Pace said. "Again, this is a learning experience. I’m pretty sure there are going to be some F-bombs thrown around on Monday."

Ryan was angry when he came off the field at the end of the first half and challenged his squad to do better. DE Kenrick Ellis was not active with a back issue, and OLB Quinton Coples left in the second quarter with a hairline fracture of his ankle.

There has been a lot of turnover on defense, and rookie CB Dee Milliner -- tapped to start the opener -- has not been as aggressive as Ryan would like. LB David Harris struggled in coverage as well.

"I didn’t like the way we competed and challenged on the outside -- not so much [Antonio] Cromartie, but from Dee [Milliner]," Ryan said. "When we call on him, I want him to get up there. Let’s go. Let’s play."

Rapid Reaction: Lions 26, Jets 17

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
10:39
PM ET


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.

What we learned on Day 5

July, 29, 2013
7/29/13
10:42
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Observations from the press box:

1. Hurting at safety: In a mild surprise, Rex Ryan indicated that second-year player Antonio Allen is the leading contender to start opposite Dawan Landry at safety. Allen is ahead of former Eagle Jaiquawn Jarrett, with Josh Bush working behind Landry at the other spot. Ryan said some nice things about Allen, but also noted, "He's not there yet." Frankly, Ryan didn't sound sold. Allen played only 72 defensive snaps last season, the equivalent of one game. His skill set is similar to that of Landry, meaning they would have two "box" safeties in the lineup. I thought Bush would be a better complement to Landry because of his pass-coverage skills, but the Jets have other ideas.

2. Flying colors in the red zone: In the first red zone-heavy practice of camp, Geno Smith stood out with his ability to throw on the run and rifle passes into the end zone. He hit Jeremy Kerley on the run for an 11-yard TD and he found Stephen Hill in the back of the end zone with a seeing-eye laser. That opened plenty of eyes. A year ago, the Jets were awful inside the 20. Mark Sanchez threw four interceptions and compiled a 54.1 passer rating, according to ESPN Stats & Information. You can't win with those kind of numbers. It was only one practice, but Smith made an impression.

3. Easy does it: CB Dee Milliner finally made it to camp. We won't see him on the field until Wednesday (no practice Tuesday), and even then it won't be at full throttle. The Jets gave every indication they will be extremely cautious with their prized rookie, who hasn't participated in any football activity since Alabama's bowl game. The last thing they need is for him to pull a hamstring. He's already fighting an uphill climb. If he suffers a setback, the molehill will turn into a mountain, to paraphrase a Rex-ism.

Rex Report: Allen leads safety competition

July, 29, 2013
7/29/13
6:54
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CORTLAND, N.Y. – Antonio Allen is in the lead for the starting safety spot opposite Dawan Landry, Jets coach Rex Ryan said Monday.

“It’s good competition, because Jaiquawn Jarrett is behind him. That’s going to be real fun to watch because both guys [are] physical players. I love Allen’s length and he’s been impressive at times. He’s not there yet, but some of the things he’s done, he made a couple real nice plays the other day.

“Both of them can blitz, both of them are aggressive in the run game and we’ll just let that play out.”

Allen, going into his third NFL season, has been getting a lot of the first-team reps alongside Landry. As for safety Josh Bush, who many thought would compete for the starting role, Ryan said he is studying to back up Landry.

Allen intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass in 7-on-7 drills on Saturday, coming down with a ball intended for Stephen Hill. In that play, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Allen had an advantage. Jarrett is about the same height, while Bush is 5-11.

Last season the Jets had LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, a solid combo, but both free agents signed with other teams after the season.

[+] EnlargeEllis-Coples
AP Photo/Bill KostrounKenrick Ellis and Quinton Coples lead a talented defensive line.
BEST IN LEAGUE?: There is reason to be optimistic when it comes to the Jets' defensive line. Quinton Coples, Kenrick Ellis and Muhammad Wilkerson are developing into formidable players. Ryan was asked if he thought the Jets could have one of the best defensive lines in the league, as Coples had said earlier.

“I think we got a long road before we can say that,” Ryan said. “How about we play a couple of games? But they certainly are a talented group.”

NOT ABOUT THE BIKE: Ryan is frustrated with the numbers of players who worked on the bikes Monday. WRs Jordan White, Joe Collins and Marcus Davis worked with trainers instead of doing team drills.

“How many more wideouts are over there?” Ryan said. “Like really, That kid again? Eventually you get tired of seeing it. We want football players, guys who play football and availability is an important thing in this league.”

LINE PLAY: Ryan praised offensive linemen Willie Colon and Austin Howard for their solid wall. “I might have been able to run behind that,” Ryan said. He compared them to Brandon Moore and Damien Woody.

QUICK HITS: Ryan said DT Kenrick Ellis dominated Sunday in pads, but was shut down Monday ... Asked about how well second-year receiver Stephen Hill has played at camp, Ryan said, “I’m not going to comment of Stephen, because he’s doing so well I’m not going to comment on him.” ... Ryan said the next live practice is likely to be the goal line and short-yardage drills planned for Thursday ... Last up, Ryan was asked about the Dee Milliner signing and joked, “I made that call.” Then he started laughing, “Oh my goodness.”

Camp preview: Secondary

July, 24, 2013
7/24/13
10:35
AM ET
Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as they prepare for training camp. Camp opens Thursday; this is the final installment in the series:

Position: Secondary

[+] EnlargeDee Milliner
AP Photo/Bill KostrounWill Dee Milliner be ready to start by Week 1?
Projected starters: Antonio Cromartie, Dee Milliner, Dawan Landry, Josh Bush

Projected reserves: Kyle Wilson, Aaron Berry, Ellis Lankster, Antonio Allen, Darrin Walls, Jaiquawn Jarrett

New faces: Milliner, Landry, Jarrett

The departed: Darrelle Revis, LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Eric Smith

Player to watch: Milliner, naturally. He was the ninth overall pick in the draft and, ostensibly, will replace Revis. He will eventually replace Wilson as a starter, allowing Wilson to return to his nickel role. Whether that happens by Week 1 remains to be seen. Milliner, who underwent shoulder surgery in March, missed the entire offseason. When he's up to speed, Milliner has a chance to be special. He's fundamentally sound and not afraid to tackle. He doesn't have elite ball skills, but his cover skills should translate nicely in the Jets' man-to-man schemes.

Potential strength: Depth at cornerback. The Jets traded the best cornerback in the NFL to the Bucs -- Revis, in case you didn't know -- but they will survive because of Cromartie, Milliner and Wilson. Nowadays, you need three good corners in the pass-happy NFL. The Jets should be able to line up against any team without having to be afraid -- assuming Cromartie can duplicate last season's performance as the No. 1 corner.

Potential weakness: The Jets overhauled the safety position, letting LaRon Landry and Bell walk out the door. The replacements are Dawan Landry (LaRon's older brother) and ... well, that's a good question. Bush and Allen, both second-year players, are the leading candidates for the other starting job. Take your pick: Bush is better against the pass; Allen is the better run defender. Neither is a blue-chipper. Maybe new DBs coach Tim McDonald, a former All-Pro, still has something left in the tank.

Wild card: Rex Ryan and new defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, a former secondary coach, are smart cookies when it comes to camouflaging weaknesses. Maybe, just maybe, they can coach around the safety issue, using extra corners in the sub packages. That's not a far-fetched idea, considering their three AFC East opponents employ spread offenses. The back end of Ryan's defenses is built around the corners, not the safeties.

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