NFL Nation: New York Jets

QB snapshot: Geno Smith

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
A quick observation of quarterback Geno Smith and how he played in the New York Jets' 16-11 win in Week 15:

There were no Pro Bowl flashes (wink, wink), but there were flashes of a competent quarterback. Smith finished with a touchdown pass and no interceptions for only the fourth time in his career (27 starts), producing his first win since Week 1.

The most encouraging aspect of his game was his efficiency on play-action passes. Facing a steady diet of loaded boxes, Smith was able to throw against man-to-man coverage in the secondary. On play-action passes, he completed 6 of 9 passes with a touchdown, averaging 10.7 yards per attempt, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Where was this against the Miami Dolphins three weeks ago?

Smith has played a little better since returning from his three-game benching. Before the benching, he posted a 65.6 passer rating and a 27.6 Total QBR. His post-benching numbers are 78.2 and 29.7, respectively. We're not talking quantum leap, but it's something.

"It gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate the way I was going about things, my mindset," Smith said, recalling his time on the bench.

Specifically, he focused on improving his movement within the pocket.

"From watching the film on my previous games, I felt like my pocket presence wasn't near close to where it needed to be," he said. "That was something I wanted to work on -- moving my feet, keeping plays alive, making the right decision and trying to get the ball out quick."

This week's game against the New England Patriots will be a good measuring stick because, obviously, they're a lot better than the Jets' most recent opponents. Smith played his best game of the year in Week 7 at New England (a season-high Total QBR of 59.8), but the Jets lost 27-25 because they were poor in the red zone.
It's Rex Ryan against the New England Patriots, probably for the last time.

Ryan was in a reflective mood Monday as he looked ahead to Sunday, his 13th game against Bill Belichick & Co. Ryan's attitude has softened from the early years, when his mission in life was to dethrone the Patriots. He burst upon the scene in 2009, claiming he didn't take the New York Jets' job to kiss Belichick's rings.

Ryan won the only postseason showdown, but he's 4-8 overall against the Evil Empire, having watched the Patriots win the AFC East every season. He's still not ready to kiss Belichick's rings, but he came close.

"You're talking about a guy that will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame coach when he goes in there," Ryan said. "There are very few like that, if any -- maybe Tom Coughlin -- that's out there today. That's the biggest guy, and you like to go up against the very best. And that's who he is. ... I like that, and I like getting that opportunity."

On paper, it's as lopsided as lopsided can be.

The Jets are 3-11, playing out the string. The Patriots are 11-3, playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Patriots have won six of the last seven meetings, but four of those six wins were by seven points or less. In the previous game, Oct. 16, the Jets outplayed the Patriots in many respects, but still lost, 27-25. Ryan was so angry he punched a wall outside the postgame interview room. The Patriots usually figure out a way.

"That's what great teams do, they find ways to win, and he's done that," Ryan said of Belichick. "He prepares his team as well as anybody in the league, if not better than any coach in the league. I do like competing against him, there's no question about it. And he knows one thing: He's going to get my very best, that's for sure. I'm looking forward to this one."

This could be last licks for Ryan, who likely will be fired at the end of the season. Under the circumstances, a win against the Patriots wouldn't carry special meaning, Ryan said. In his next breath, he contradicted himself.

"It's just another game," he said, "but it's against the Patriots, so it's special."

Wide receiver Eric Decker has played in only one Jets-Patriots game, but he picked up quickly on the rivalry.

"You can feel the intensity," he said. "You can feel the fire within everyone."
Rex Ryan has accumulated so many fond memories in six years: His first victory. The two playoff runs. His four postseason wins, especially the shocking upset at New England. The locker-room celebration last December in Miami.

And Sunday evening in Nashville.

After the game, the New York Jets' coach was presented the game ball by his players. An ugly win against a 2-12 team usually doesn't warrant a gesture of that magnitude, but this hasn't been an ordinary season. The Jets were eliminated before Thanksgiving and Ryan probably will be fired in two weeks. So welcome to the Rex Farewell Tour.

Minutes after he was handed the game ball by D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Ryan exited the locker room and completed the feel-good, double-hand off, giving it to his wheelchair-bound father, Buddy, who watched the game in a suite with other family members. It was a wonderful version of Tennessee schmaltz.

"Aw, shoot, that was great, it's always great to get a game ball," Rex Ryan said Monday. "It was a little extra motivation with my dad being in the stadium and able to watch a game. He hasn't been able to do that this year. That felt really good. It felt better to give him the ball."

The plan was to bring Buddy to the locker room immediately after the game, but he didn't make it down in time because there was a line at the stadium elevator. When he arrived, he waited in a hallway outside the locker room for his son, who was busy answering questions from reporters on whether the Jets might have been better off losing to improve their draft position. Ryan wasn't thinking about a 21-year-old quarterback from Oregon; his mind was on the 83-year-old man outside the locker room, the man who taught him the family business.

"Rex gave him the ball and dad looked at it, and in typical Buddy fashion, he said, 'I've got a lot of these,'" Rex's older brother, Jim, said Monday by phone. "But you could tell, it was special to him. He's pretty unemotional -- it's hard for dad to show emotion -- but you could see it in his eyes."

Buddy Ryan is one of the greatest defensive minds in history, the mad scientist who gave life to the famed '85 Bears. These days are a struggle for him. He has endured several bouts of cancer, strokes and Encephalitis. Rex said it's hard to see his father in this condition, but "he keeps trucking along," Buddy being Buddy.

"He's had some tough battles lately, but it was great to put a smile on his face," Rex said. "Unfortunately, dad doesn't hear real well, so it's hard to communicate with him. It's obviously a little better when you're face to face, so that's been a frustrating thing. But I can say this: He follows us like crazy."

Buddy lives on a horse farm in Kentucky and was driven to Nashville for the game. It became a family weekend. Rex's wife, Micki, came in from New Jersey and Jim flew in from St. Louis. Rex and Micki have a home in the Nashville area, so it was the perfect weekend. On Saturday, they celebrated Rex's 52nd birthday. The house, where Rex and Micki plan to retire, is decorated with multi-colored Christmas lights. Rex said he'd change the lights to green and white if they beat the Titans.

After the 16-11 win, Ryan mentioned "green light bulbs" in his post-game speech to the team -- a reference to his Christmas decorations. The Jets almost blew it in the end, but they held on for the emotional, if not artistic win. They don't play well all the time, but they still play hard for Ryan. He has a strong bond with his players.

"I don't want to see him go anywhere," tackle Breno Giacomini said. "We all know this is a business, but I'm going to do what I can and go out there and fight for my head coach."
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Observed and heard in the New York Jets' locker room after their 16-11 victory against the Tennessee Titans:

No apologies: The victory probably cost the Jets their chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick -- presumably, Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota. They dropped from fourth to sixth in the current draft order, no doubt infuriating fans who want them to "Suck for the Duck." Rex Ryan's candid response?

"Tough you-know-what," he said. "Real fans -- real Jet fans -- want to win. It doesn't matter what pick you get or whatever. If it were Peyton Manning out there, I could understand it, but I don't think Peyton Manning is out there. But either way -- you know what? -- we're going to fight every game. We're going to fight next week, too, against New England, and we're looking forward to it. Jets fans want to win. Are you kidding me?"

Sucker punch: To a man, the Jets said Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey should've been ejected for punching Geno Smith, which triggered a third-quarter brawl. Casey was penalized for unnecessary roughness, and that's it.

"It was a dumb move on his part," said right tackle Breno Giacomini, who rushed to Smith's defense. "He's a good player; he doesn't need to do that stuff."

Guard Willie Colon, who also was involved in the melee, said the referee admitted to him he saw the punch, but that he didn't eject Casey because the punch didn't land. Colon said he told him he was wrong. In any event, the fight seemed to spark the Jets. As safety Dawan Landry said, "It kind of riled us up a bit."

Heated words: There was a brief exchange on the sideline between kicker Nick Folk and assistant special-teams coach Louie Aguiar. It happened after Folk missed a field goal from 53 yards, hitting the crossbar. Folk came off the field holding up three fingers, meaning the 33-yard line -- what he felt was the outer limit of his range. The line of scrimmage on the miss was the 35. There apparently was a difference of opinion.

"It was just a miscommunication," Folk said. "It's frustrating because I hit exactly the kick I wanted to and it hit the crossbar."

Folk knows his range, that's for sure. On the Jets' next possession, they got to the 33-yard line and he was good (barely) from 51 yards. Said Folk: "We had a laugh after that kick."

Percy Harvin is active for Jets

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
NASHVILLE -- When Percy Harvin left the stadium last week, he was on crutches with what New York Jets coach Rex Ryan termed a "significant" ankle injury. He didn't practice much during the week, but he will play Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. Call it a minor miracle.

With Harvin and tight end Jace Amaro (concussion) back in the lineup, the Jets will be at full strength on offense for the first time in three games. Amaro should help in the red zone, where they haven't scored a touchdown in their last eight possessions. Also look for tight end Zach Sudfeld to have an expanded role. At 6-foot-7, he could be a red-zone option. Four tight ends are active for the game.

Safety Antonio Allen (broken hand) is inactive, which isn't a surprise. The other inactives for the Jets are quarterback Matt Simms, wide receiver Walter Powell, cornerback Josh Thomas, guard Dakota Dozier, guard Wesley Johnson and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (turf toe), who didn't make the trip.

For the Titans, former Jets running backs Shonn Greene and Leon Washington are both active. This will be the battle of the exes, as Chris Johnson makes his return to Nashville.

The Titans' inactives are quarterback Zach Mettenberger, WR Kendall Wright, safety Daimion Stafford, tackle Byron Stingily, tackle Taylor Lewan, defensive lineman Mike Martin and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.

Tennessee is a beat-up team, especially on offense. The Titans are down four starters, including both tackles, and they're down to their third-string right tackle, Terren Jones.

Percy Harvin listed as questionable vs. Titans

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Percy Harvin can't simply talk his way into the New York Jets' lineup, but it does seem that his optimism is catching.

The Jets listed Harvin as questionable for Sunday's game in Tennessee against the Titans, which is less certain than he sounded Friday (and has all week), but a lot better than what coach Rex Ryan had indicated 24 hours earlier.

Though Ryan wouldn't fully commit to having his wide receiver available, he now isn't ruling it out.

"The fact that he's out there [on the practice field] is amazing," Ryan said. "This was a significant [ankle] injury. It's unbelievable. I'm still not sure, but I've been impressed."

The news wasn't nearly as good on defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who practiced Friday but was once again severely limited by turf toe. The Jets listed Wilkerson as doubtful for Sunday's game, and Ryan said there's a chance Wilkerson won't even travel to Tennessee.

Harvin seems to have passed that hurdle. He practiced Friday, for the first time this week, and continued his campaign to play in the game.

"I should be ready to roll," Harvin said. "I practiced, I felt fine, and I expect to be on the field. I did all my cuts that I have to do in a game. I told all the coaches I felt good, and they said I looked good. I fully expect to play, without any limitations."

Harvin, who came to the Jets from Seattle with plenty of baggage and no guarantee for next season, has every reason to want to play, and every reason to be on his best behavior.

So far, he's done both, with 25 catches in six games with the Jets, and with no complaints from his coaches and teammates. Ryan said Harvin even received votes from some Jets players for the Ed Block Courage Award.

"This is the guy that we see, since he's been here," Ryan said. "The respect he's built with his teammates is incredible."

Harvin hadn't been with the Jets long when he first began talking about how he felt at home. He hasn't stopped saying it, and he repeated Friday that he would like to stay here.

"I feel at home here," Harvin said. "I like the vibe around here. I just feel at home. Everyone's on the same page. I just overall love the whole organization."

The Jets say they love Harvin, too. By Sunday, they might even agree with him that he's ready to play.

Wilkerson's recovery has been slower than Harvin's. Ryan said that Wilkerson has struggled to get used to a new shoe that was designed to alleviate the pain from the turf toe, and Wilkerson would only answer "I don't know" when asked if he thought he could play.

The Jets might also be without cornerback Antonio Allen, who is trying to return from a broken hand. Allen returned to practice Friday, but Ryan said he was very limited in what he could do.

The official injury report:


Doubtful: Wilkerson (turf toe).

Questionable: Harvin (ankle), Allen (hand).

Probable: TE Jace Amaro (concussion), LB Trevor Reilly (concussion), K Nick Folk (right hip).


Out: QB Zach Mettenberger (right shoulder).

Doubtful: T Taylor Lewan (ankle), T Michael Oher (toe).

Questionable: T Byron Stingily (ankle), LB Kamerion Wimbley (hamstring), WR Kendall Wright (hand).
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Wide receiver Percy Harvin (sprained ankle) missed practice for the second straight day Thursday, making him a long shot to play Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

"I'm a lot less optimistic (than he is)," New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said Thursday, alluding to Harvin's comments that he "definitely" will play.

Ryan is confident Harvin will play again at some point this season, but you get the impression they will err on the side of caution.

Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (turf toe) took two team reps in practice, so he was officially listed as limited. It's 50-50 as to whether he will play, according to Ryan. Wilkerson, who has missed the last two games, said his objective is to play, but he stopped short of saying he expects to return.

"People say I should shut it down, but that's not the competitive spirit in me," Wilkerson said.

There's no point in rushing players back from injuries, especially with nothing on the line in terms of the postseason. If the Jets were battling for a playoff spot, it would be a different story with players like Wilkerson and Harvin. There's a fine line, and the line moves based on the team's situation.

In other news, tight end Jace Amaro and linebacker Trevor Reilly -- both returning from concussions -- were cleared for contact and practiced fully.

New York Jets

Did not practice: Harvin, S Antonio Allen

Limited: Wilkerson

Full practice: Amaro, Reilly, PK Nick Folk (hip), G Willie Colon (shoulder), RB Chris Johnson (knee)

Tennessee Titans

Did not practice: T Taylor Lewan, QB Zach Mettenberger (right shoulder), T Michael Oher (toe), S Daimion Stafford (concussion), LB Kamerion Wimbley (hamstring)

Limited: WR Kendall Wright (hand), S Michael Griffin (back), T Byron Stingily (ankle)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets owner Woody Johnson has experienced clunkers before. The Jets went 4-12 in 2005 and 2007, but "this is the hardest year I’ve had in terms of losses,” he said Wednesday. "It’s been extremely painful."

Johnson is expected to fire head coach Rex Ryan and probably general manager John Idzik at the end of the season. He didn't make any definitive comments in an interview with the New York Daily News at the league meetings in Dallas, but he shared a few emotions as he prepares for Black Monday. Johnson told the newspaper he hasn't made up his mind on potential changes.

Here are some of Johnson's remarks. Reading between the lines is required, so we'll provide some assistance:

On the overall disaster of the season: “I’m a fan, I represent the fans. We’re both frustrated by this. Ultimately, I am going to have to look for something that I believe is going to right the ship, whether it’s the current way, the way we are doing it now with the people we have now, or going down a different pathway. I’m looking at everything. I’m analyzing what’s happened and why it’s happened.”

Our take: One of Johnson's problems is he thinks too much like a fan at times, bending to the whims of public pressure. In this case, he's had plenty of time to consider the cause of the debacle and potential solutions. Either way, it doesn't bode well for the current regime.

On his fondness for Ryan and whether it will be difficult to fire him: “It’s not a question of fondness. I’ve always thought he’s a very good coach. He’s an excellent coach, excellent teacher. The fans are going to want to see something different. They’re not going to let us get along, and I don’t want to do exactly the same thing. So it’s going to be either the way we coach or the way we approach it. It could be with the same people. It might be with different people. That’s the case each and every year.”

Our take: You might want to start gathering the names of real-estate brokers in the area, Rex.

On what might happen Black Monday: “It’s safe to say you got to do things differently that you did to get you to this point. The thing about football is that after every season, everybody is up for grabs. You take a look at everything. You’re trying to get to the Super Bowl. It doesn’t sound like I should even be saying that at this point. But that’s what my goal is. That’s what the fans want. They want to have a clear direction in terms of how they get to where they want to go. I have to give them confidence they are going to have a chance to get where they want to go."

Our take: Johnson will have a news conference the day after the season, announce he's cleaning house and do his best to convince a skeptical fan base he will find the right people to lead the franchise. Do you trust him?

QB snapshot: Geno Smith

December, 9, 2014
Dec 9
A quick observation of quarterback Geno Smith and how he played in the New York Jets' 30-24 overtime loss to the Vikings in Week 14:

This was a vintage ride on the Geno Coaster, a series of extreme highs and lows. In the end, he finished with a Total QBR of 48.9, his third highest of the season. He will take that momentum, if you could call it that, on the road to the Tennessee Titans -- the scene of a rookie nightmare. In Nashville, Tennessee, last season, he committed three turnovers, including his infamous behind-the-butt fumble.

Against the Vikings, Smith was all over the place. Fasten your seat belts, here's the wild ride:

Low: He threw a pick-six on the first play of the game. It was a terrific interception by linebacker Gerald Hodges, but Smith telegraphed the throw, allowing Hodges to get an arm up. It was Smith's eighth pick-six in two years, a league high. Let's put it another way: Smith has given away as many touchdowns as any individual player has scored for the Jets over that span. (Chris Ivory has eight touchdowns.)

High: Smith rebounded from the awful start and led the Jets to 410 total yards, committing no turnovers the rest of the way.

Low: He failed in the red zone -- over and over. The Jets were 0-for-5 inside the 20. It's the reason they lost the game.

High: Smith demonstrated improved pocket presence and ball security. He escaped at least three sacks by dodging rushers, protecting the ball and, in a couple of instances, finding open receivers. He made plays with his legs, turning potential losses into key gains. These are areas in which he has struggled in the past.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan has coached 93 regular-season games for the New York Jets. The prevailing thought is he'll get to 96 and that will be it. When it was suggested to him Monday that he has sounded at times like a coach who knows the end is near, his voice rose and he morphed into Old Rex, if only for a few seconds.

"I'm not conceding anything, man," he said the day after his 11th loss in 13 games. "I'm not going anywhere. I know I've got three weeks, and here we come."

In his next breath, Ryan joked he hasn't been told by anyone he definitely has three more games. Say this for the embattled coach: He hasn't lost his sense of humor, albeit gallows humor.

For the second straight day, Ryan offered effusive praise of Jets owner Woody Johnson, who hired him in 2009 and likely will fire him after the season. Ryan's admiration for Johnson is genuine. It also helps his image to be supportive of his owner because he knows other owners -- potential employers -- might be watching.

"I don't like it when people criticize the ownership because that's the furthest thing from the truth," Ryan said, adding, "Trust me, you should be really happy this guy's your owner, because he is committed. He's committed to this.

"You should be happy this guy is your owner. You can do a heck of a lot worse than having Woody Johnson as your owner, I promise you."
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Fresh off his three-sack performance in a 30-24 overtime loss to the Vikings, Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson hopes he has played well enough to make the Pro Bowl. It’s a realistic goal for the second-year player. Richardson has played well despite the Jets, who are 2-11 after the loss.

So he’s playing for that trip to Hawaii, and there’s one other thing.

“The almighty dollar,” Richardson answered. “It’s what drives this league. It is what it is. I don’t want to sound selfish or anything, but in the end you’ve got to get yours.”

It’s a truth that isn’t always spoken out loud, but Richardson is honest. It helps that his performances have generally backed up his candor. Along with Muhammad Wilkerson, Richardson anchors a defensive line that has arguably been the Jets' best position during a dismal season. Richardson has 57 tackles and 6.5 sacks.

“This is a team-oriented game but this is a business in the end and I’ve still got something to play for,” Richardson said.

Coach Rex Ryan wasn't crazy about what Richardson said, but not for the reason you might think.

“It bothers me that he said it for the simple fact that he’s selling himself short.”

With Ryan and general manager John Idzik set to face postseason evaluation, Richardson could be a Jet longer than either of his bosses. His success could be one of the strongest arguments to keep his job that Idzik could make. Making the Pro Bowl would only add to his credentials.

“A lot of people have to vote on that to make it happen and I hope it goes my way,” Richardson said.

As he spoke, OL Oday Aboushi walked by and said “Pro Bowl!” Richardson’s three sacks were the first time a Jet has had a defensive hat trick since 2009. He also wound up as the last player chasing Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright down the field trying to make a tackle in overtime. He’s not a cornerback, but Richardson gave it a try.

“I came in this league I wanted to be a dominant force and I meant that,” Richardson said. “That doesn’t change for me no matter what the outcome of our record is. The same ballplayer you got from the moment I said I was going to be a heck of a ballplayer I’m still going to be that guy when I’m done playing.”
MINNEAPOLIS -- The game began with a pick-six, served up by quarterback Geno Smith, who has a history of such things. It ended with a quick-six, courtesy of Rex Ryan, who chose a bad time to be Riverboat Rex. In the crucible of overtime, Ryan -- one of the smartest defensive coaches in the business -- was outfoxed by a rookie quarterback.

And now the New York Jets' sorry season is just about complete.

Can it get any worse?

On Sunday, the Jets found a new way to lose, letting a wide receiver screen turn into an 87-yard touchdown by Jarius Wright -- the decisive play in their 30-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. Ryan called a Cover Zero blitz, but it backfired because Teddy Bridgewater recognized it and checked out of the original play, a long pass. Fourteen seconds later, it was over. Jaiquawn Jarrett missed a tackle, and there was no safety net because Ryan had everyone at the line of scrimmage.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
AP Photo/Alex BrandonRex Ryan's overtime blitz backfired in the Jets' 11th loss of the season.
Hello, 2-11.

"That game is clearly on my shoulders," Ryan said, explaining, "I came here to win the game, not just play it close."

A good coach made a bad call, but this sort of thing happens in an out-of-control season. Players make uncharacteristic mistakes, such as Chris Ivory fumbling at the goal line, and coaches outsmart themselves by reaching for miracles. It becomes an epidemic, bad leading to more bad. It hit the Jets early in the season. There was the timeout fiasco in Green Bay, the blocked field goal in New England and the tipped interception that ended last week's run-a-thon.

Ryan wore a look of exasperation after Sunday's loss. His team actually played reasonably well for many of the 130 plays between the first and last -- Smith rallied from his brutal start -- but it ended in familiar fashion, Ryan and his players trying to explain another kick to the gut. This time they had to watch an opposing player run away with the game, with no chance of tackling him. Sheldon Richardson gave chase for a little while, but you don't see 300-pound linemen run down wide receivers.

"I can't say the word I was thinking at that moment, not in the holiday season," right tackle Breno Giacomini said.

This was similar to a 2011 loss in Denver, when Ryan sent an all-out blitz and got burned by Tim Tebow's touchdown run in the final seconds. Ryan suffered a severe case of indigestion after that game and needed medical attention on the way to the airport. He probably felt the same way Sunday. He knows his days as coach are numbered, but that doesn't mean the losses hurt any less. He's still haunted by a 67-yard touchdown from 2007, when his Baltimore Ravens lost in overtime to the Miami Dolphins, who finished 1-15.

"They have a tendency to stay with you for a lifetime, just like this one," said Ryan, who began the day with an 8-2 record against rookie quarterbacks.

What was he thinking? On a third-and-5 from the Vikings' 13, Ryan wanted to be aggressive, figuring the rookie quarterback wouldn't be able to handle the blitz. They'd force a punt, get great field position, make a first down or two and send in Nick Folk for his sixth field goal.

But the Jets showed blitz too early, allowing Bridgewater to check to the screen. Cornerback Darrin Walls was on Wright, but he was blocked out of the play. It was Jarrett's job to clean up, but he slid off Wright -- and the gate was open.

"If you show your hand too early, it's kind of dead fish out there," Richardson said. "You have to make the play."

To his credit, Ryan took the heat, admitting he messed up. He acknowledged "there are probably better calls to make there. ... The kid made a nice check." Walls didn't disagree, saying, "Screens are sometimes difficult to cover in Cover Zero."

Of course, Jarrett should've made the tackle. And the Jets should've been better in the red zone (0-for-5). And Jeff Cumberland should've scored instead of dropping a pass in the end zone. And the Jets should've scored more than one touchdown with 410 total yards. We could go on and on; it's the story of the Jets' season.

"This f---ing sucks," right guard Willie Colon said.

On this day, the Jets died a quick death. Too bad the same can't be said for their season. It trudges on for another three weeks -- three more opportunities for creative losing.

Rapid Reaction: New York Jets

December, 7, 2014
Dec 7

MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the New York Jets' 30-24 loss in overtime to the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium:

What it means: The Jets (2-11) found a new way to lose, surrendering an 87-yard touchdown pass to Jarius Wright in overtime -- on a wide-receiver screen, of all things. Jaiquawn Jarrett missed a tackle, and Wright was off to the end zone. The misery continues for the cursed Jets. They gave a spirited effort, but they simply couldn't make enough plays to beat an utterly mediocre opponent. They were brutal in the red zone and gave away 14 points with two turnovers, undermining a decent performance on both sides of the ball. Yes, they're still playing hard for coach Rex Ryan, but it doesn't matter. This is a death march for Ryan & Co. They were swept by the NFC North. On the bright side, they're still in contention for a top-five draft pick.

Stock watch: Geno Smith -- DOWN and UP. He threw a pick-six on the game's first play, the worst start imaginable. It was the eighth pick-six of his career, three more than any quarterback over the past two seasons. Now we know why the Jets' coaches were so skittish last week about letting him throw. To his credit, Smith didn't fold after his disastrous start. Given a chance to throw (surprise!), he managed to put together a decent game, finishing 18-for-29 for 254 yards and a touchdown. He made a few nice plays with his legs, avoiding sacks. He showed his mettle, leading them to a tying field goal in the final minute of regulation. But quarterbacks are graded on whether they get their team in the end zone, and Smith did that only once. His inability to perform in the red zone was the difference in the game.

Red zone blues: The Jets went 0-for-5 inside the 20. That's bad offense. They were undermined by Chris Ivory's fumble at the goal line, a third-down sack and a drop by Jeff Cumberland in the end zone. Ivory's fumble was a killer because it ruined a fantastic 80-yard drive. It was his first lost fumble since 2010, his rookie year with the New Orleans Saints. You know things are rough when your most dependable players start messing up. On the bright side, Nick Folk capitalized on his chances, tying a career high with five field goals -- a nice rebound after last week's rough outing.

Game ball: In his return to Minnesota, wide receiver Percy Harvin was terrific. He scored on a 35-yard touchdown reception -- his first receiving touchdown since 2012 -- and finished with six catches for 124 yards. It was sweet redemption for Harvin -- who left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury -- who was traded by the Vikings in 2013 after four turbulent seasons. Sheldon Richardson (three sacks) also had a big game, dropping Teddy Bridgewater for a safety.

Pryor back in the lineup: Playing for the future, even though he probably doesn't have one with the Jets, Ryan started No. 1 pick Calvin Pryor at safety, benching longtime starter Dawan Landry. It was a passing-the-torch moment. Landry ended up playing a little in the second half, but this was a clear youth-movement decision. Pryor, who lost his starting job four weeks ago after showing up late for multiple meetings, worked his way back after three games in rookie "timeout." Ryan used rotations at all four positions in the secondary, giving it a preseason feel. There was one major breakdown: Darrin Walls surrendered a 56-yard touchdown pass to Charles Johnson, who had a huge day.

What's ahead: This won't be pretty. The Jets stay on the road to face the Tennessee Titans (2-11) in a game that will impact the top five in next spring's draft. Chris Johnson returns to the scene of his past glory.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Michael Vick is back on the bench, but don't say he was benched.

"I don't look at it as me getting benched, first and foremost, to correct you," the New York Jets' backup quarterback said Wednesday. "But if you want to look at it that way, you can."

Vick was replaced (is that better, Mike?) after three consecutive starts, as the Jets decided to return to Geno Smith, who truly was benched after a 1-7 start. Clearly, Vick doesn't believe his change in role was caused by poor play. In his opinion, it was because of the organization's desire to evaluate Smith during the final month of the season.

"I really don't have to speak in detail about it, because it really don't make a difference," Vick told reporters. "You're going to think what you going to think, I'm going to think what I'm going to think and I think what I think is most important."

What does he think?

"I just look at it as an opportunity for this organization to figure out the things that they need to figure out and see what they need to see," he said. "Does that answer your question?"

Kind of. Sort of.

In truth, Vick is half-right. He lost the job because of a poor performance in Week 12, but it was inevitable because of the organization's desire to give Smith one last shot.

Vick is a proud veteran, and he's sensitive to the perception that he got demoted. It was the same deal last season with the Philadelphia Eagles: He didn't "lose" his job to Nick Foles; he was unable to fulfill the demands of the starting job because of injuries.

Got that?
PHILADELPHIA -- Mark Sanchez's phone buzzed during the summer. It was a text message from his former coach.

Pete Carroll.

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez and Pete Carroll
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsSaid Mark Sanchez of former college coach Pete Carroll: "He's a great coach and a better friend."
"Oh, he's great," Sanchez said. "He texted me during the preseason: 'You're doing awesome. So happy to see you back and having fun.' That means the world to me, because that's someone I really respect and had so much fun playing for. It's going to be great to see him again. We got to talk when I played them a couple of years ago. He's great. He's a great coach and a better friend."

Sanchez was Carroll's quarterback at the University of Southern California. Carroll made headlines when he publicly advised Sanchez against leaving college a year early for the NFL draft. Sanchez made the jump.

Was it the right decision? It depends on when you analyzed it. After Sanchez was released by the New York Jets, you could argue that he would have been better served with one more year of college experience. But when he was going to the AFC championship game after each of his first two seasons in New York, it certainly looked as if Sanchez made the right decision.

And then there's this: Sanchez was the fifth player taken in the 2009 draft. That landed him a contract with $28 million in guaranteed money. Just two years later, the NFL locked its players out to force negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement. That CBA limited the amount of money paid to rookies in their first contract. The top quarterback taken in the 2011 draft, Carolina's Cam Newton, got about $22 million in guaranteed money. So Newton got drafted four spots higher than Sanchez and got $6 million less guaranteed.

So it's hard to argue definitively that Sanchez made a mistake by going pro a year early. He and Carroll remained on good terms. Besides, a year later, Carroll jumped to the NFL himself.

Sanchez is looking forward to seeing Carroll in person Sunday. It will be especially nice because Sanchez is happy with his situation: He's starting, he's playing in Chip Kelly's offense and the Eagles are 9-3.

Sanchez sees some similarities in Carroll and Kelly.

"The atmosphere," Sanchez said. "They really emphasize that you work your butt off all week and when you get to game day, just relax and have the time of your life. That's what it feels like here, that's what it felt like at USC, that's what it felt like in New York at times, too. Things are going great. We've got good players, a good system, let's go have fun on Sunday. It was a competitive atmosphere at all times. You had to be ready to play."


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