New York Jets: Tony Gonzalez

Green Day: Rex may steal from brother

October, 4, 2013
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan may borrow a page from his brother's defensive playbook Monday night in an attempt to slow down Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez.

In the season opener, Rob Ryan, defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, shut down the most prolific tight end in history by jamming at the line with two players. They held him to three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.

The New England Patriots used the same technique in the final minute of last Sunday night's game. The Falcons, down by a touchdown, had four shots from the Patriots' 13-yard line, but they failed to score. On three of the four plays, they double-jammed Gonzalez at the line. It was pretty remarkable; he was like a gunner being doubled on punt coverage. On the one play he wasn't doubled at the line, the Patriots used a two-man, bracket coverage -- an incomplete pass to Gonzalez.

Gonzalez finished with a career-high 149 yards, but he couldn't deliver in crunch time. The Falcons' red-zone woes continued, and they lost, 30-23.

Asked about the Gonzalez coverage on the final drive, Rex Ryan smiled.

"I certainly saw it against New Orleans as well," he said. "I saw that coverage. [The Patriots] might have seen it, too. So I think I'll give my brother credit for that one first."

Ryan doesn't have fond personal memories of Gonzalez. In the 14th game of the 2009 season, Gonzalez caught a 6-yard touchdown pass in the final minute, lifting the Falcons to a 10-7 win. Afterward, Ryan infamously proclaimed the Jets had been eliminated from playoff contention. He can laugh about now because they made it and reached the AFC Championship Game.

"I knew we'd make the playoffs that year," he joked. "It kind of worked out for us. Another guarantee that I made that never came out.

ICYMI: The Jets are dealing with a handful of key injuries. On Thursday, WR Santonio Holmes, WR Stephen Hill, CB Dee Milliner and RB Chris Ivory didn't practice. Officially, no one has been ruled out, but Holmes is out for sure. Hill and Milliner are not expected to play. Ivory probably is less than 50-50. ... Tone being Tone: "I can't throw it to myself and catch it. Otherwise, I would." You get that? ... One last time, Ryan talks about the color-coded wrist band that won't see the light of day. ... As expected, Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples will appeal their fines for the hit on Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker. ... Check out the Week 5 "Gang Green Report," with insider stuff on Jets-Falcons.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- You don't trade a player the caliber of Darrelle Revis and not feel the impact. Through four games, the New York Jets experienced only a dull ache, but that changes Monday night. The Revis withdrawal turns into a sharp pain.

The Atlanta Falcons (1-3) aren't having the kind of the season they expected, but they still have Matt Ryan throwing to Julio Jones and Roddy White and future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. In Rex Ryan's words, "Wow, what a collection" of talent.

In the past, Ryan relished this type of matchup because he had the luxury of rolling out two premier cornerbacks, Revis and Antonio Cromartie. The Jets' defense was built around the man-to-man coverage skills of the two players, affording Ryan the freedom to scheme up ways to neutralize other threats. More often than not, it worked.

The post-Revis Jets have acquitted themselves quite nicely -- they're No. 2 in total defense -- but they knew there would be times when they'd feel Revis' absence. This is one of those times. Jones and Gonzalez are among the best at their respective positions, and the Jets' secondary ... well, it ain't what it used to be.

[+] EnlargeNate Washington and Antonio Cromartie (31)
Don McPeak/USA TODAY SportsAntonio Cromartie (31), the Jets' No. 1 corner, gave up a 77-yard touchdown last weekend.
Cromartie's play has slipped, possibly because of a nagging hip injury, and the other cornerback position has turned into a revolving door. First-round pick Dee Milliner probably will miss his second straight game with a cranky hamstring -- he was struggling before the injury -- and his replacements, Kyle (Flags) Wilson and Darrin Walls, haven't distinguished themselves.

Last Sunday, the Tennessee Titans turned misplays by Walls and Cromartie into touchdowns, and you can bet the Falcons will go to school on that.

"They're seeing the tape," Ryan said, "and they're going to take shot after shot after shot, because that's what they do."

Too bad they couldn't borrow Revis for this game. And maybe the game next month against the New Orleans Saints. He probably wouldn't mind; he's probably already tiring of life with the winless and dysfunctional Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- the new New York Jets.

The Jets already have allowed seven touchdown passes, including two on blown coverages. In 2009, the heyday of Revis and Ryan's defense, they surrendered a total of only 11.

Cromartie, coming off a career year, has allowed two touchdowns and a 105.6 passer rating, according to Pro Football Focus. In Tennessee, he was embarrassed on a 77-yard touchdown reception by Nate Washington, colliding with the back judge at the time of the catch. Cromartie misplayed the football, according to Ryan, who said: "Even the great ones have that happen to them."

Cromartie isn't a great one; he's a very good corner when he's on his game. On Monday night, he'll face a great receiver in Jones, who has three straight 100-yard receiving games. If he's in man-to-man coverage, Cromartie will have trouble keeping up with the Jones, who can wreck a game.

"He's been doubled almost the whole year and I think he still leads the league in receiving yards," said Ryan, who was correct with his factoid -- 481 yards, to be exact. "That might be a problem."

The usually dangerous White has been slowed by an ankle injury, but the Falcons are getting a terrific season out of Gonzalez, the most prolific tight end in history. If you're Ryan, how do you cover Gonzalez? With second-year safety Antonio Allen? Gimme a break.

When he had the Cromartie-Revis tandem, Ryan sometimes used another corner to cover the top receiving tight ends. He doesn't have that kind of flexibility anymore because he's down a couple of thoroughbreds in the secondary, meaning Revis and safety LaRon Landry, who bolted in free agency.

Let's be clear: The Jets made the right move by trading Revis for a first-round draft pick, which they turned into promising defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. It would've been insanity to meet Revis' asking price, $16 million a year, especially for a rebuilding team. Someday, everyone will see the benefit of the trade.

Someday won't be Monday night.