During the four years the former TCU wide has played, he has been used primarily as a slot receiver, eventually becoming the most veteran receiver with the Jets. At times over the years, the former high school quarterback has taken the snap.
"I don’t classify myself as just a slot guy or an inside receiver, or a third-down receiver," Kerley said. "I’m an every-play receiver. I’m a Whenever-you-need-me-I’m-there receiver. I tell Geno (Smith) that, I tell Marty that."
Kerley’s versatility is something his teammates recognize.
"His talent level he can be a big-time playmaker for us," offensive lineman Willie Colon said.
This season, the Jets have a new wide receiving group. After parting ways with Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, the Jets brought in Eric Decker and drafted a few young players to develop.
"I think with the guys who have been here the last two years -- me David (Nelson), Greg (Salas), our second year being with Marty, second offseason, second year with Geno, -- our timing, our chemistry is getting better," Kerley said.
There is an understanding that no one player can carry the entire load, though on Monday night against Chicago, Kerley could have a larger role than usual if Decker (hamstring) is limited.
"Nobody is trying to overstep, no one is trying to be 'that guy.'"
Kerley is incredibly reliable -- and a clean receiver. Decker was the only receiver who contributed to the 11-penalty game against the Raiders. Kerley can be a steady short-distance receiver or, as he proved in Green Bay, make it to the end zone to catch the jump ball.
One thing he won’t do is showboat after he gets in the end zone.
"That’s not me, I’d rather go out there and make 50-40 whatever plays and they say, 'well, they’ve got to throw me the ball.'"
Maybe his lack of self-promotion after a great play keeps him from getting more of a spotlight, but it’s also why his teammates have so much respect for Kerley.
"Some guys aren’t going to hit their chest and talk about their type of game," Colon said. "He’s one of those guys that has motivation inside. What motivated him is just going out and doing his job well. I respect that a lot about him. I’ve seen receivers who are so Hollywood and tweet this and "look at me here" and want to stunt after a touchdown. He’s like 'Hey, thank you,' and runs to the bench. And I appreciate that."
"It's done wonders for us as a team," said committee member Willie Colon, claiming the "discipline level" has improved from last season. "It's not a dictatorship, it's not a Communist-type thing. It's all about, 'Hey, you're a Jet, and we want you to be a Jet on and off the field.' When you're not, you hear about it."
It's a shame the Jets don't have captains anymore, but we all know Ryan abolished the time-honored tradition after the 2011 season, when Holmes -- one of his captains -- went on a power trip and became a disruptive influence in the locker room. Since then, Ryan has named game captains, making selections based on the opponent and the location -- i.e. players facing their former team or playing in their hometown. Sometimes, he'll pick a player for motivational reasons. The Jets are among a handful of teams that don't have permanent captains, meaning no players with a "C" on their chest.
Interestingly, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman announced at the start of the season that he, too, was switching to weekly captains. That came two weeks after they signed Holmes. Hmmm.
2. The 'What-if?' Bowl: The Bears' two biggest stars -- quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall -- were once players on the Jets' radar, back in the Mike Tannenbaum days. Before the 2008 season, the Jets explored the possibility of acquiring Cutler from the Denver Broncos. They weren't excited about Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens, so Tannenbaum reached out to the Broncos, quickly discovering that Denver wasn't going to trade Cutler to an AFC team. The Bears swooped in and made the blockbuster trade. The Jets ended up trading for some guy named Favre.
Before the 2009 season, the Jets tried to pry Marshall away from the Broncos, initiating talks at the spring league meetings. They were persistent, continuing their efforts all the way to the end of the preseason. The Broncos wanted David Harris in return, and the Jets -- with the defensive-minded Ryan in his first season -- didn't want to part with the young linebacker. The following offseason, they addressed the receiver need, trading for Holmes.
So, in a roundabout way, can we say the Jets still would have captains if they agreed to trade Harris?
You can't blame the Jets for taking a pass on Allen, 32, who is off to a slow start, but you can blame them for missing the boat on Alshon Jeffery. They traded up for a wide receiver in the second round of the 2012 draft, but they preferred Stephen Hill over Jeffery, who went two spots later to the Bears. Oops.
4. No timeouts on timeout process: Despite last week's gaffe in Green Bay, Ryan said he hasn't made any changes to his sideline operation. He noted one aspect that hadn't been previously mentioned: He relies on the coaches in the press box to alert him if offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can't get word to him on the sideline that he wants a timeout, as was the case last Sunday. Obviously, that system failed because Ryan had no idea Mornhinweg wanted a timeout.
Here's the bottom line: Regardless of the system, these glitches will happen as long as you have two "heads" coaching the team on game day, Ryan and Mornhinweg.
5. Ed's words of wisdom: Safety Ed Reed took a lot of grief from fans and media during his seven-game run with the team last season, but you have to give him credit for this: Off the field, the future Hall of Famer made a lasting impact on many players. Since then, a few defensive backs have remarked how much they learned from Reed in the film room, but his reach extended beyond the secondary. Linebacker Demario Davis mentioned Reed this week when discussing his improved play. He said he learned "tendencies and habits" while breaking down film with Reed.
"That's what Ed taught me," Davis said. "If you see something on film, just trust it in the game."
6. The Curse of Vlad: The Jets' best left guard since Alan Faneca is now a member of the Bears -- Matt Slauson. You might say the left-guard position has been an issue since the surprising release of Faneca in 2010. That year, they used a second-round pick on Vladimir Ducasse, thinking he'd step in for Faneca, but he lost a competition to Slauson. Ducasse failed to beat out Slauson in 2011 and 2012, finally getting the job last season by default. That lasted four games. In came Brian Winters, who has struggled in many of his 14 starts. He was tossed around last week by Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels. A couple of more games like that, and they might have to consider Oday Aboushi.
7. We hardly knew ye: Quarterback Tajh Boyd, cut in the preseason, has signed with the Florida Blacktips of the FXFL, a developmental league. That was a bad draft pick by the Jets -- specifically, Ryan, who lobbied for the former Clemson star. Boyd is one of only five 2014 sixth-round picks (out of 39) no longer active in the NFL, according to pro-football-reference.com.
8. Turnover shortage: The Jets have only one takeaway in two games, and that was a gift -- a botched snap by the Packers. That the Jets recovered the ball was a small miracle. Over the past 18 games, they've forced 22 fumbles, recovering only three. How is that possible? You have to figure there's a 50-50 chance on every fumble, right?
Now for some good news: Wide receiver Eric Decker, who did not practice Wednesday, Thursday or Friday due to a hamstring injury, was out there on a limited basis Saturday, the team said, and he is officially listed as questionable. Expect Decker to be a game-time decision.
Milliner missed Week 1 due to a high-ankle sprain he has been dealing with since Aug. 10. He returned and played 40 snaps in Week 2, but recently he developed quad tightness, which will likely keep him out of Week 3.
That means converted safety Antonio Allen and career backup Darrin Walls will once again be the starting cornerbacks, with Kyle Wilson manning the slot.
Bears wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall are officially listed as questionable. But both are expected to play, which could mean yet another long night for Gang Green’s secondary. All the pressure is on the front seven to force quarterback Jay Cutler into mistakes, which he has been prone to in the past.
Milliner, who referred to himself as the best cornerback in the NFL back in July, needed offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder, and he also dealt with an Achilles injury during the preseason. The 2013 first-round pick rebounded nicely after being benched early in his rookie campaign, but so far, his young career hasn’t gone as well as he or the Jets had hoped.
Decker has been an extremely valuable addition on offense since he signed a $36 million, free-agent contract with the Jets in the offseason. Gang Green should use plenty of ground and pound against one of the NFL’s worst rush defenses, but quarterback Geno Smith has been developing a nice rapport with his favorite target, Decker, so the team is obviously hoping he plays.
Probable: LB Nick Bellore (hip), DB Josh Bush (quadriceps), OL Willie Colon (calf), LB Quinton Coples (probable), LB A.J. Edds (hamstring), RB Chris Johnson (ankle), OL Nick Mangold (shoulder)
Questionable: Decker (hamstring)
Doubtful: Milliner (ankle/quadriceps)
Probable: DE Jared Allen (back), S Chris Conte (shoulder), WR Josh Morgan (groin)
Questionable: Jeffery (hamstring), Marshall (ankle),
Doubtful: DE Trevor Scott (foot)
Out: C Roberto Garza (shoulder), LB Shea McClellin (hand), CB Sherrick McManis (quadriceps), DT Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion), G Matt Slauson (ankle)
Currently, the elite fraternity consists of 13 individuals, including four members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- Joe Namath, Don Maynard, Weeb Ewbank and Curtis Martin.
The other members are Winston Hill, Gerry Philbin, Larry Grantham, Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau, Freeman McNeil, Wesley Walker, Al Toon and Marty Lyons.
The Jets use a selection committee and online fan voting to determine the inductees.
So who's next? The Jets have kept it hush-hush, so we'll have to rely on informed speculation. In my view, here are the leading candidates:
The most decorated possibility is tackle Marvin Powell, who made five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams from 1977 to 1984. For some reason, Powell's name rarely comes up when discussing the franchise's top players. He deserves to be in the Ring of Honor.
So does center Kevin Mawae, a six-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro from 1998 to 2005. Technically, he's eligible because he has been retired for five years -- thus, he's on the Hall-of-Fame ballot for the first time -- but the feeling here is the selection committee will make him wait at least another year.
Guard Randy Rasmussen has no Pro Bowls on his resume, but the man was a member of the Super Bowl III team and he played 15 years in the league -- all with the Jets. Nothing enhances a player's credentials more than a championship.
Younger Jets fans will remember Mo Lewis, a versatile linebacker who played from 1991 to 2003. He made three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team, but he's best known as the man who started the Tom Brady era in New England -- by taking out Drew Bledsoe with a vicious hit.
The sentimental choice is wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, who rose from an undrafted free agent to one of the most popular players in team history. And he was a damn good receiver. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to concussions.
My predictions for this year's class: Chrebet, Powell and -- a sleeper pick -- the late Leon Hess, the principal owner from 1981 until his death in 1999. Hess presided over a lot of bad teams, but there was some good, too. He made the decision that turned around the frannchise, hiring Bill Parcells in 1997.
I'm curious to get your thoughts. What say you?
@RichCimini: You're absolutely right. I thought he'd be more of a factor last week, figuring the wide receivers would have a tough time against the Green Bay Packers' cornerbacks, who are pretty good. Jace Amaro was prominent in the game plan, but he ended up with only one target. Clearly, the Jets have to diversify the passing attack, and that could happen Monday night, especially with Eric Decker (hamstring) a question mark. Amaro has played only 30 percent of the offensive snaps. There could be two reasons for that: He still doesn't know the offense and/or Marty Mornhinweg still is trying to find a niche for him.
@RichCimini: They haven't used it enough to take Geno Smith out of rhythm. In terms of Michael Vick, they've used him for five plays -- three in the Wildcat, two as a slot receiver. Those five plays have produced a net of zero yards -- a Tebow-esque number. That fourth-quarter play against the Packers, resulting in a sack, was a brutal call. If it's any consolation, Vick said he doesn't think it'll happen Monday night against the Chicago Bears. I think Vick is on your side on this one: He's not a fan of it, either.
#jetsmail will the jets stop running the wildcat? It never works and takes geno smith out of rhythm— Nolan Rich (@richsportstalk) September 19, 2014
@RichCimini: It's a fair question, Charlie. They absolutely need a cornerback because there are no proven commodities at the position, and that has to be a scary thought for Rex Ryan. Bilal Powell is an average running back who will be a free agent after the season, so I don't think he has much trade value. The players with the most trade value are Vick (the St. Louis Rams?) and nose tackle Damon Harrison (only $570,000 base salary), but I can't see them being traded. They'd have to deal a premium draft pick to get a decent corner, and there aren't many teams, if any, looking to dump good corners.
@RichCimini: Dude, that game is only eight days away, so there's no chance Dee Milliner will be healthy. Come to think of it, he might be in worse shape, considering the news that broke Friday out of Jets camp. He has developed tightness in his quadriceps, forcing him to miss Friday's practice. So now he has a tight quad and a bum ankle. Based on his early track record, and his career at Alabama, Milliner could be one those guys who's always nicked up.
@RichCimini: You're a funny man, Christopher, but there's a lot of truth in what you say. As I wrote the other day, Marty Mornhinweg panicked in that situation instead of trusting Geno Smith to get the players lined up correctly, which he did. Mornhinweg took the heat, which you'd expect a coach to do. If he hadn't accepted responsibility, he would've been hanging Sheldon Richardson out to dry. I'll tell you one thing: Mornhinweg had better be on his game Monday night, because you know the ESPN cameras will be on him.
Granted, that may not be such a bad thing.
The Jets have rushed for the second-most yards (358) in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season, while the Bears possess the league’s sixth-worst run defense (320 yards allowed).
“It’s going to have a big impact,” Jets running back Chris Johnson said when asked how Decker's potential absence could affect the team. “Any time you’ve got a guy of his caliber, with the type of catches that he makes and the type of plays that he makes, out, that’s going to be a blow. But it just gives opportunities to other guys to step up and make big plays. I feel like we’ve got guys on this team who can step up and do those things.”
Johnson is coming off a Week 2 performance in which he rushed for just 21 yards on 12 carries. He feels he’s still getting used to New York's shotgun, zone-blocking offense. Johnson was in a more traditional pro set system his first six seasons with Tennessee. Johnson called the transition “a work in progress.”
The Jets struggled against the Packers after Decker went down.
“We just didn’t execute quite as well,” Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “And I’ve got to do a better job of putting guys in a position [to succeed].”
You also have to wonder whether this could be a breakout game for tight ends Jeff Cumberland and Jace Amaro, who saw just three targets, combined, from quarterback Geno Smith this past Sunday.
As for Smith’s progress, Mornhinweg said, “I think he was playing fantastic for much of the [Green Bay] game. There’s four or five plays there that I told him if we can minimize that to one or two plays, then we’ll be in great shape. And I’ve told him this. I flat out told him, ‘Look, we love the way you’re playing ball.’ Some of it’s experience. Some of it is more reps with that specific play. And I’m talking just a few plays a game. Otherwise, he’s playing at a high level.”
• Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman referred to Chicago’s big and tall receivers -- Brandon Marshall (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 216) -- as NBA small forwards. (OK, so they need a couple more inches, but you get the point.)
That being said, Jets coach Rex Ryan still thinks “press” coverage is the way to go when covering the duo.
“I think press coverage is an ideal way to play because you can get your hands on them, and you’re not giving them free access down the field,” Ryan said. “So that’s probably an ideal way to play it. but again, if [one of them] gets on top of you, you’re in trouble.”
Wilkerson (punches, ejection) was fined $20,000, while Richardson (grabbed opponent's facemask after play) was docked $8,268.
Richardson and Wilkerson both lost their cool in a heated end zone scuffle after the Packers completed a two-point conversion in the third quarter. Richardson was flagged for unsportsmanlike behavior, while Wilkerson was tossed.
Wilkerson has since apologized to his teammates for his actions.
Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was also fined $8,268 for his role in the scuffle.
Also, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick was fined $11,025 for using "inappropriate language" after a play against Chicago last Sunday night.
Kaepernick, who has said he will appeal the fine, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after he threw an interception in the fourth quarter of the 49ers' 28-20 loss to the Bears. He and Chicago defensive end Lamarr Houston went at it, but Houston acknowledged that Kaepernick didn't say anything offensive or out of line.
He’s coming to try for a W with his new squad.
“My focus is on the Chicago Bears, making plays and win ballgames. Not on any other team.” the mercurial wide receiver told the Chicago Sun Times, adding that he hasn’t gotten any texts from his former teammates with the Jets, and he doesn’t plan on shaking hands with them prior to Monday night’s game.
Said Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman: “He looks healthier. He looks like he’s moving better than last year. He’s a pro, and the guy comes in and competes. He’s won a world championship. He was the MVP of the Super Bowl.
“He probably has a little revenge on his mind, but ... we understand who he is and we understand what he’s going to come in here and try to do ... and we can’t get caught up in the one-on-one part of it. We just have to come and do our job.”
Added offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg: “Santonio is one of my favorite men. I don’t root for the other team, but I root for Santonio. I enjoyed him.”
Yes, New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner has developed yet another injury.
On Friday, Jets coach Rex Ryan said that Milliner is dealing with quad soreness in addition to a nagging high ankle sprain.
Ryan said he guessed that Milliner’s quad began bothering him Thursday, and it kept him out of Friday’s practice.
Ryan said he’s still “hopeful” Milliner can play Monday night against the Chicago Bears, but this latest development isn’t promising with respect to the 22-year-old’s status.
“I mean, the fact that he didn’t practice today is not a great sign, but I’m hopeful he plays,” Ryan said.
Milliner sprained his ankle Aug. 10. He missed the team’s season opener, but returned in Week 2, playing 40 snaps but getting beat on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson's 80-yard touchdown catch.
Less Milliner would mean more Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls, and that could mean more big plays for the Bears, who have, in Ryan’s words, two “monsters” at wide receiver in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Wide receiver Eric Decker (hamstring) missed his third consecutive day of practice.
He was seen running and cutting in the rehab area during the 30-minute portion of Friday’s practice open to the media.
Ryan said Decker does not necessarily have to practice to play in Monday night’s game.
“He’s a veteran,” Ryan said. “You’d like your guys to practice, there’s no doubt. But if a guy can’t, I’m not gonna say he absolutely can’t play. ... I’m not gonna back myself into that corner.”
Full participation: DB Josh Bush (quadricep), LB Quinton Coples (elbow)
Limited: LB Nick Bellore (hip), OL Willie Colon (calf), LB A.J. Edds (hamstring), RB Chris Johnson (ankle), OL Nick Mangold (shoulder)
Did not practice: Decker (hamstring), Milliner (ankle/quadricep)
Full participation: DE Jared Allen (back), WR Josh Morgan (groin)
Limited: S Chris Conte (shoulder), WR Jeffery (hamstring)
Did not practice: C Roberto Garza (ankle), WR Brandon Marshall (ankle), LB Shea McClellin (hand), CB Sherrick McManis (quadricep), DT Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion), DE Trevor Scott (foot), G Matt Slauson (ankle)
During the 30-minute portion of practice open to the media, Decker (hamstring), who again was not wearing pads, did some running and cutting off to the side.
The Jets will not put out their final injury report before Monday night’s matchup against the Chicago Bears until Saturday.
You have to wonder if the team will wait until game-time to make a decision on Decker, who is already an integral part of the offense.
Dee Milliner (ankle) was seen with the other cornerbacks in individual drills after a fairly long stint in the rehab area.
Linebackers/special teamers Nick Bellore (hip) and A.J. Edds (hamstring) spent some time in the rehab area before joining their teammates for individual drills. Edds missed the team’s Week 2 loss in Green Bay because of injury.
I think the Jets will turn this into an old-school football game, playing it in the trenches rather than on the perimeter. Why wouldn't they? The Jets have the No. 1 rushing offense and the Bears are ranked 30th. They struggle with the read option, so look for that. The Jets have some favorable matchups on both lines, which is another reason I like their chances. Colin Kaepernick basically handed the game to the Bears last week, throwing two interceptions, so the onus is on Geno Smith to protect the ball against the opportunistic Chicago defense.
From an intangibles standpoint, I think last week's crushing loss will do more good than harm to the team's psyche. The vibe in the locker room is anger, not resignation. Plus, it helps being at home.
Prediction: Jets 23, Bears 17
Should we say it?
Do we want to dredge up that memory?
Yeah, we have to.
It was the "Butt Fumble" game, Nov. 22, 2012 -- a 49-19 loss to the New England Patriots.
Rex Ryan was asked this week if he could recall the last night game at home. He thought for a second.
"What was it? Was that that New England fiasco?" he asked reporters, laughing.
"Yeah let’s hope that doesn’t happen again -- yikes," Ryan said. "It won’t be hard to show better than that. I will guarantee we play better than that. Talk about going out on a limb. That’s true, though, that was horrible. Then we had another great performance: Remember we got beat, 45-3, by New England also, and I think that was a Monday night game."
That was 2010. And six weeks later, they stunned the Patriots in the playoffs, the second-greatest win in franchise history.
There, we ended with a positive memory.
The Chicago Bears are coming off one of their best wins in recent memory; the New York Jets are trying to rebound from one of their worst losses -- ever.
Monday night's nonconference matchup at MetLife Stadium will be a fascinating study in how the teams -- both 1-1 -- handle extreme highs and lows. The Bears rallied from a 17-0 deficit to stun the San Francisco 49ers on the road 28-20. The Jets blew a 21-3 lead and fell to the Bears' top rival, the Green Bay Packers, 31-24.
The Jets and Bears are different on so many levels. The Jets like to play the game in the trenches, and they play it well. They lead the NFL in rushing offense and rushing defense, becoming the first team since the 2007 Minnesota Vikings to lead those categories in the same week. The Bears struggle in those areas (30th and 27th, respectively), preferring to play the game on the perimeter with Jay Cutler throwing to a talented group of receivers.
ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini and ESPN Bears reporter Michael C. Wright discuss the matchup:
Cimini: Obviously, there is a lot of interest in receiver Santonio Holmes. How is he fitting in with the offense and, given his diva reputation in New York, is he behaving in the locker room?
Wright: Rich, the first week Holmes was here, I spent about an hour speaking with him one day after practice and we touched on his tumultuous tenure with the Jets. He seems to be genuine, and says that is probably what got him into trouble some in New York. From what I've seen of Holmes, though, he is a fairly quiet guy who seems to prefer to be alone. He understands the current situation is a tremendous opportunity; he wants to prove that he still possesses the skills to be an effective player and that he can be a person his coaches and teammates can depend on. He has been good in the locker room, sharing his knowledge and experiences with younger receivers.
Holmes is still learning the nuances of Chicago's system, which he said is similar to what the Jets ran during his tenure, and he is spending time after practice with receivers coach Mike Groh, learning the ropes. It appears he is becoming more comfortable with the offense, and I anticipate his role growing as the team moves forward.
Turning to the Jets, it seems there has been quite a bit of fallout over the timeout that negated what should have been the game-tying touchdown against the Packers. In a situation like that, a lot of blame can be thrown around. How are the Jets handling that, and have they done anything moving forward to eliminate another miscommunication?
Cimini: Sheldon Richardson and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have each taken responsibility for the costly, ill-timed timeout, truly one of the biggest gaffes in Jets history. In my opinion, it was a perfect storm, meaning a whole lot of bad stuff happened at the same time. Obviously, they learned a hard lesson. If they didn't know it already, the players on the sideline know they should stay out of the "timeout" business.
In terms of communication between the coaches, nothing will change, according to Rex Ryan. He feels confident the right system is in place. He and Mornhinweg communicate during the game via the headset and, if Ryan is on the defensive channel and can't hear Mornhinweg (which happened Sunday), he will get the message from someone in the coaches' booth. They feel last Sunday was an aberration.
It overshadowed the biggest concern -- the pass defense. Do you think the Bears will try to have more balance offensively, or will they let Cutler attack the Jets' suspect secondary?
Wright: That depends on whether the Bears can be effective against the Jets' stingy run defense. Chicago has run the ball 35 times and passed 83 times this season. Against a defense like the Jets' -- regardless of the issues in their secondary -- that will get you beat. If Chicago can't show a semblance of a rushing attack, the offense becomes one-dimensional, which would allow the Jets to dial up the pressure on Cutler.
So the Bears definitely want to keep the Jets guessing. But as you mentioned, they will also want to attack with their huge receivers (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery) on the outside, and also utilize tight end Martellus Bennett down the seams. The Bears will definitely try to test New York's run defense early. But if they don't achieve any success, my guess is they will go heavy with the aerial attack.
Speaking of offense, New York seemed to be rolling early in the game against the Packers, scoring touchdowns on each of the first three drives. But in the last nine drives, the Jets came up with only a field goal. What is the team’s explanation for what happened?
Cimini: Get a load of this stat, Michael: The Jets scored 14 points in the first quarter for the first time since 2009. That is what you call a rare early explosion. They built the 21-3 lead with a run-heavy approach (18 runs, 10 passes), using a variety of schemes that kept the Packers off balance. The Packers adjusted and the Jets got away from the run, with a run-pass ratio of 16-26 over the final nine drives. I think the Jets got a little caught up in trying to keep pace with Rodgers, and it took them out of their comfort zone.
This week, there will be a renewed emphasis on the running game. Even though they ran for 146 yards, they weren't happy at all. The uncertain status of wide receiver Eric Decker (hamstring) makes the running game even more important. At the same time, they are trying to achieve more balance in the passing game. It has been a two-man show, Decker and Jeremy Kerley, and some of the players have approached Mornhinweg about trying to spread the ball around.
Statistically, the Bears' run defense stinks. How do you think it will fare against the Jets' run-heavy attack?
Wright: In the opener, Chicago gave up 193 yards to the Bills on the ground -- but 85 came on two runs. Most of their issues against the run have been execution, and that is more acceptable than players simply being dominated physically. That is why the Bears weren't overly concerned with their performance in the opener. There were one or two occasions in which a player tried to do more than his own job. That resulted in the player jumping out of his gap, and a big gain followed. The Bears cleaned that up against the 49ers in Week 2, and I anticipate them being a tad better against the Jets. That doesn't mean the Bears will stop them. But I think they will allow fewer than the 4.8 yards per attempt they gave up last week.
There have been lots of Jets penalties so far. How have the flags affected this team's effectiveness, and do you think this speaks to an issue of immaturity or lack of discipline that can ultimately undermine the Jets?
Cimini: The Jets have been called for 22 penalties (four declined), but who's counting? That total includes two roughing-the-passer penalties and two unsportsmanlike conduct calls, one of which resulted in the ejection of Muhammad Wilkerson. Yeah, there is a lack of maturity at times. The Jets are a relatively young team, and those young players tend to lose their poise. Some of it falls on Ryan, who is anything but a no-nonsense disciplinarian. He gives the players their space, and sometimes things get loosey-goosey, but they appreciate his player-friendly approach and they play hard for him. That is the tradeoff.
Obviously, they have to clean it up or they will lose a lot of close games. Teams with middling talent, such as the Jets, don't have a huge margin for error.