NFL Nation: Sal Alosi

Rex Ryan's book doesn't tell all, but enough

April, 27, 2011
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When I heard Rex Ryan was working on an autobiography, I wondered what he could put on those pages that we didn't already know.

Ryan has been an open, nearly unabridged book his entire life. It's one of the main reasons he's so beloved by his players and fans. Since he became head coach of the New York Jets two years ago, seemingly every aspect of his life has been reported.

But it turns out Ryan's entertaining style makes "Play Like You Mean It" a page-turner with fresh ideas and revelations.

About the only aspect of his life not illuminated was last year's foot-fetish storyline, but he did comment on the Jets' other prominent scandals that drew league investigations: the Ines Sainz sexual harassment claim and the Sal Alosi sideline trip of Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll.

ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini previewed the book and shared some of the sexier passages.

Ryan gave details about the transition away from Brett Favre, revealed his disgust over Tony Dungy's criticism of his language and knocked former players such as safety Kerry Rhodes and defensive draft bust Vernon Gholston.

Ryan called Rhodes "a selfish-ass guy. He wouldn't work and he was a Hollywood type, flashing and needing attention."

While still defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, Ryan said he warned then-Jets head coach Eric Mangini not to draft Gholston.

"Truth be told, I didn't like the kid coming out of college," Ryan said. "He's a good athlete and a smart guy, but I thought he was a phony."

Ryan also took a dig at New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who last year spat how much he hated the Jets.

"I really don't know Tom Brady, but who wouldn't hate him?" Ryan said. "Look at his life. Actually, look at his wife. Every man in America hates Tom Brady, and he should be proud of that."

No hardware, but AFC East rookies solid

February, 4, 2011
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Winners for the Associated Press 2010 Rookies of the Year will be announced Friday. Both appear to be foregone conclusions.

What a shock it would be if St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh didn't represent his side of the ball.

Still, it's an appropriate time to recognize a few remarkable rookie campaigns in the AFC East.

New England Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez should get a few votes.

McCourty was forced to grow up fast when Leigh Bodden suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in training camp. McCourty lined up against the opposition's top receivers and finished second in the league with seven interceptions. He was voted to the Pro Bowl.

Gronkowski had 10 touchdown receptions, a Patriots record for tight ends of any age and for rookies of any position. He came two touchdowns short of Mike Ditka's NFL record for rookie tight ends. Gronkowski broke another Patriots rookie record with three touchdowns in one game.

Hernandez broke the Patriots record for receptions from a rookie tight end. He had 45 catches for 563 yards and six touchdowns.

None of the three other teams had particularly stellar rookies, but let's take a look at each team.

C.J. Spiller generated a lot of praise in the preseason. He was the ninth overall pick at a position favorable to rookie awards. But Spiller rushed for 283 yards and no touchdowns and added 157 receiving yards with a touchdown.

Some Bills fans might argue linebacker Arthur Moats was their best rookie. The sixth-round pick gained fame for the hit that essentially ended Brett Favre's career. Moats had 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He added 10 special-teams tackles.

But I submit the Bills' best rookie wasn't drafted. David Nelson caught 31 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns. He didn't get on the field regularly until late in the season. Fourteen catches and all of his TDs came in a three-game stretch in December before an injury wiped out his last two games.

The Miami Dolphins caught a bad break when first-round pick Jared Odrick suffered a hairline leg fracture in the season opener. Second-round outside linebacker Koa Misi had a strong campaign with 4.5 sacks.

Defensive back Nolan Carroll, a fifth-round choice, had a wonderful year. Aside from being known as the guy Sal Alosi tripped at the Meadowlands, Carroll was a regular contributor in the secondary and was the Dolphins' top kickoff returner. His mother also was elected Florida's lieutenant governor.

For all the impressive things the New York Jets did in 2010, rookie production didn't rate. They drafted only four players, and all were disappointments to varying degrees.

First-round pick Kyle Wilson played every game but didn't become the nickelback Rex Ryan said he'd be. Second-round offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse was healthy all season but played in three games. Fourth-round running back Joe McKnight became a punch line for his lack of conditioning and will be known as the player who led the Jets to cut Danny Woodhead. Fifth-round fullback John Conner didn't live up to his "Hard Knocks" hype and was deactivated at the end of the year.

Jets regular-season wrap-up

January, 5, 2011
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NFC Wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 8
Preseason Power Ranking: 9

[+] EnlargeDavid Harris
AP Photo/David DrapkinLinebacker David Harris led the Jets with 119 tackles this season.
Biggest surprise: LaDainian Tomlinson was supposed to limp into the sunset when he left the San Diego Chargers. The Jets were criticized for dumping their 2009 MVP, Thomas Jones, and picking up an older player with lower expectations. But Tomlinson showed he still had plenty to offer. He took over the lead duties from Shonn Greene and carried the Jets to a 5-1 record at their bye. He had 490 rushing yards with five touchdowns and averaged 5.3 yards a carry at the time. But more importantly he took pressure off sophomore quarterback Mark Sanchez. When Tomlinson's production waned after the bye -- he hasn't rushed for more than 55 yards in a game since -- Sanchez became more of a liability. Tomlinson finished with 914 yards and probably would have eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark had Rex Ryan not rested him for Sunday's game against the gracious Buffalo Bills run defense.

Biggest disappointment: If you drafted the Jets in your fantasy scandal league, then you ran away with the title. They led the league in NFL investigations, including Brett Favre's sexting scandal with Jenn Sterger, the Jets' admitted mistreatment of female reporter Ines Sainz and $100,000 in fines over setting up a sideline wall that led to strength coach Sal Alosi tripping Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll. They drew even more unwanted attention over Ryan's purported foot-fetish videos and Braylon Edwards' DUI arrest. ... Purely from a football standpoint, Ryan's defense didn't live up to the hype. Top cornerback Darrelle Revis' contract standoff and hamstring injury caused a negative ripple effect. Season-ending injuries to nose tackle Kris Jenkins and safety Jim Leonhard were damaging.

Biggest need: The Jets will have some difficult roster decisions to make over the offseason because so many players have expiring contracts. The biggest holes might not reveal themselves for a while, but upgrading the offensive line will be a priority regardless. Jenkins has undergone reconstructive knee surgery two years in a row. Sione Pouha was an admirable replacement. Overachiever Mike Devito was solid at defensive tackle, and Shaun Ellis was one of their better quarterback chasers. But Ryan's defense needs to be more dynamic up front, especially if Jenkins doesn't return. Ellis will turn 34 and Pouha 31 before next season. Their top backup at defensive end is Vernon Gholston, the sixth overall draft pick in 2008 who has zero NFL sacks.

Team MVP: David Harris, inside linebacker. Other Jets might have played like bigger MVPs for segments of the season -- Tomlinson through the first six games, Santonio Holmes in November -- but Harris was the most constant and consistent presence. Harris led the Jets with 119 tackles and 14 quarterback hits. He had three sacks, one forced fumble and one recovery. Harris also is one the Jets' quieter personalities, which earns him bonus points for 2010.

Yardage by committee: The Jets' offense features several decorated players, but none of them reached the 1,000-yard barrier and none scored more than seven touchdowns. Tomlinson came closest, but Greene appeared to supplant him toward the end of the season. The Jets had five players with at least 41 receptions, but none with more than 55. Tight end Dustin Keller, Edwards, Holmes and Tomlinson finished within three catches and two touchdowns of each other.

Woody Johnson fully supports Rex Ryan

December, 23, 2010
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New York Jets owner Woody Johnson held a news conference Thursday to reaffirm his support for Rex Ryan in light of recent incidents that have ensnared the head coach and the organization.

"He's still the coach of the New York Jets," Johnson said. "I have a lot of respect for Rex and his family.

"My respect has not diminished one iota."

Ryan has declined to discuss a recent Deadspin.com report he and his wife produced foot fetish videos that were posted on YouTube. Ryan repeatedly called them "a personal matter." The Jets and the NFL agree.

The allegations came a week after the Jets had drawn NFL scrutiny for strength coach Sal Alosi's trip of Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll.

Johnson also addressed that investigation. He said he has apologized to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for the trip and to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft after Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff accused the Patriots of forming the same phalanx Alosi organized along the sideline to inhibit gunners.

"We're going to make mistakes," Johnson said of the organizations repeated problems, which also included an NFL investigation for treatment of female reporter Ines Sainz and receiver Braylon Edwards' DUI arrest. "We're not perfect, but we are pretty good -- once we’ve made a mistake -- at trying to make remedies, trying to cure, trying to correct what we're doing.

"We're trying to get better every year. We're going to work on things like our culture. We're going to work on trying to make ourselves an organization that doesn't have, preferably, any incidents."

New Jets' distraction trumps them all

December, 22, 2010
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The New York Jets latest distraction is their most bizarre yet.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan didn't deny a Deadspin.com report that included several foot-fetish videos of a woman who looks strikingly similar to Ryan's wife, Michelle, showing off her feet to a cameraman who sounds exactly like Rex Ryan.

Rex Ryan was asked about the report Wednesday morning during a conference call with Chicago Bears media.

"I know you need to ask," Ryan said. "It's a personal matter."

Ryan's normally scheduled news conference with New York reporters is Wednesday afternoon, but the Jets previously released a statement that Ryan wouldn't address the report.

Over my 20 years as a sports reporter, I always use Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield's ear as the baseline for surrealism.

When I clicked on one of the alleged Michelle Ryan videos and heard the cameraman's voice, I might have found a new standard.

The Jets have dealt with a series of distractions since Ryan took over as head coach. Not all of them are his fault, but he was photographed flipping off Miami Dolphins fans at an MMA event last February and came under fire -- his mother even called him out publicly -- for gratuitous profanity on "Hard Knocks."

NFL investigators have been to the Jets' facility three times this year because of the Brett Favre sexting scandal, boorish treatment of female reporter Ines Sainz and Sal Alosi's trip of Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll.

Braylon Edwards was arrested for DUI in September.

Other than that, it has been a quiet season for the Jets.

Jets answer fraud alert in Pittsburgh

December, 19, 2010
12/19/10
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Mark SanchezKarl Walter/Getty ImagesMark Sanchez scrambled for the Jets' first offensive touchdown in 12 quarters and helped key a much-needed win.
PITTSBURGH -- There's a faint line between counterfeits and contenders.

For the past two weeks, the New York Jets appeared to be posers. No team had a better record at the end of November. Then a pair of unsettling defeats and a sideline controversy knocked the Jets catawampus.

Faster than you could say "Rich Kotite," the Jets went from cruising along to crisis time.

"People thought we were falling off and we were frauds," Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis said. "In the end, we just put it behind us amid everything that was going on."

The Jets returned to the contender ranks Sunday with a gritty 22-17 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers at snow-blown Heinz Field. The Jets are all but in the playoffs with their 10th victory and two games left.

So much went well for the Jets (10-4), their performance practically was a mind-eraser of the past two weeks.

Beleaguered offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer called an effective game against the NFL's fourth-rated defense. The Jets' struggling ground attack frequently came through. Tormented quarterback Mark Sanchez was sharp and efficient, leading the Jets to their first offensive touchdown in 12 quarters. Their scandalous special teams produced a touchdown on the first play. Their defense denied Ben Roethlisberger on the final drive.

"You guys get tired of [hearing] it, and I don't care," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. "This football team is resilient. We had some adversity, obviously, that we were dealing with. But our team responded.

"Same old Jets came down to Pittsburgh and got a win."

Ryan's snarky comment was a swipe at the familiar refrain crestfallen Jets fans have heard and recited over the years. Just when you think they're about to do something special ...

Obviously, these weren't those same old Jets, who never had won a game in the state of Pennsylvania -- let alone at Pittsburgh (10-4) -- in franchise history.

Had the Jets lost in Pittsburgh, however, the mad descent would have gained exponential velocity. The Jets would've taken a three-game skid into next week's game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. They would have been dreading the possibility of needing to beat the Buffalo Bills in the regular-season finale to get into the playoffs.

Athletes aren't supposed to think in those terms. They're trained to compartmentalize -- forget the last result, concentrate on the upcoming game, don't think beyond that.

But they're human beings. The Jets' minds were drifting into dark places.

"It's natural," Ellis said. "We don't want to go down that road."

Instead, the Jets pulled a U-turn.

They were reeling after a pair of appalling defeats to division opponents. The New England Patriots plastered them 45-3 in Week 14. The Miami Dolphins beat them 10-6 at the Meadowlands in Week 15 -- the Jets' third game without a touchdown in their new $1.6 billion stadium.

Then there was the spectacle created by strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi's sideline scandal. The Jets were visited by NFL officials for the third time this season, perhaps a league-leading stat, because Alosi formed a cordon and tripped Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll. But how much did special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff know? And when did he know it?

"There were so many reasons," said Jets outside linebacker Jason Taylor, "why we needed to get back to winning."

Brad Smith gave the Jets a jolt when he returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. That certainly helped ease the tension.

In retrospect, maybe the Alosi headlines took some of the pressure off Sanchez and Schottenheimer.

Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery marveled at the offense Sunday. He said he and right guard Brandon Moore at one point locked eyes in the huddle, amazed at the calls Schottenheimer was making and the personnel packages he was inserting. There was a palpable rhythm to the offense, Cotchery noted.

"It was the 'Six and Schotty Show,' " Cotchery said. Sanchez wears No. 6.

Sanchez completed 19 of his 29 attempts for 170 yards -- modest numbers. But he ran a bootleg into the end zone from 7 yards out and oversaw an offense that didn't commit a turnover.

Sanchez connected with Braylon Edwards eight times for 100 yards, including a 38-yard strike up the right sideline to set up a Nick Folk field goal in the second quarter.

LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene combined for 89 yards on 23 carries, which was enough to keep the Steelers' top-rated run defense honest. The Steelers had allowed a measly 60.1 rushing yards a game entering Sunday.

Sanchez completed six of his seven play-action passes for 84 yards.

"That's about as gutsy a performance as you'll find," Ryan said of Sanchez. "He was absolutely outstanding. I knew he would respond. He's tougher than nails."

The Jets boarded their charter flight back to New Jersey in a much better mood than they've gone home the past two weeks. Their burden has eased considerably. That prized ticket to the AFC tournament is within their reach.

The Jets, for this week, are contenders again.

"It was damn near a must win for us," Ellis said. "It's great to pull this game out.

"But who knows what happens next?"

Halftime thoughts from Jets at Steelers

December, 19, 2010
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PITTSBURGH -- Some halftime thoughts from Heinz Field, where the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers are tied at 10:
  • Jets gadget man Brad Smith has 115 kickoff return yards, with 97 coming on the first play of the game. The Jets' offense, which hasn't scored a touchdown in 11 quarters and counting, has 124 yards.
  • Smith's touchdown return had to be a relief to special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, who experienced a long week with the Sal Alosi wall/trip fallout.
  • So much for The Weather Channel forecast that there was just a 10 percent chance of precipitation. Snowflakes have been flying since kickoff. Looks quite nice, actually.
  • On the Steelers' 96-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter, the Jets gave up third-down conversions of 10 and 18 yards. The touchdown came on a third-and-4 from the Jets' 9-yard line. But the Steelers might have picked up a gift on the 18-yard gain. According to the TV line, Hines Ward appeared to come up short, but the linesmen were late in catching up to the play and spotted the ball beyond the marker. I wonder if Rex Ryan was too afraid to challenge because of what happened in New England.
  • Jets fans must be thrilled to see the run game produce a little. Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson have been ineffective for a few weeks, but Tomlinson has six carries for 31 yards. That doesn't sound like much, but it is for them.
  • I have no clue what the Jets were thinking at the end of the first half. They started a possession at their own 37-yard line with 29 seconds left and two timeouts. Mark Sanchez completed a 6-yard pass to Braylon Edwards and let the clock run down to nine seconds before snapping on second down. A 6-yard completion to Tomlinson left them with three seconds.
  • Sanchez has played a tidy game. He has completed nine of 13 passes for 82 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions.

Esiason: Jets hung Sal Alosi out to dry

December, 19, 2010
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On Sunday's edition of "The NFL Today," CBS Sports analysts Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason discussed the controversy swirling around the New York Jets after Sal Alosi's villainous trip brought attention to the sideline wall they constructed to inhibit gunners on punt coverage.

Esiason said the Jets made Alosi the fall guy, suspending him indefinitely without pay and fining him $25,000 while head coach Rex Ryan and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff denied they knew anything about it.

Marino: "Yeah, he is ultimately responsible. So is Mike Westhoff. But at the same time, I talked to Mike Westhoff. They say they did not teach this at any time. They did not know this was going on with the team, especially him and Rex Ryan both. I played on the Dolphins for 17 years. Mike Westhoff, 16 of those years was the special teams coach. He wouldn't lie to me. He said he doesn't teach it. He doesn't know anything about it."

Esiason: "It's all semantics here. What doesn't he teach? He doesn't teach to stick the knee out. That's what he's not teaching. But he does teach to line them up on the sideline. And I will tell you this: Sal Alosi is not a rat. He will not throw the coaches under the bus. Although I do think that Mike Westhoff did throw Sal Alosi under the bus this week by playing semantics with his language."

Final Word: AFC East

December, 17, 2010
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 15:

[+] EnlargeSantonio Holmes
Al Bello/Getty ImagesReceiver Santonio Holmes will be facing his former team, the Steelers, for the first time as a New York Jet.
Santonio Holmes can wipe out his droptastic game with a successful homecoming. Holmes committed one of the worst gaffes of the season when he wasted a perfectly thrown Mark Sanchez pass in the left corner of the end zone against the Dolphins last week. Holmes can erase that memory and help the Jets move on from two weeks of turmoil with a big game Sunday against his old team. The Steelers traded the Super Bowl MVP for a fifth-round draft pick because they were tired of dealing with him at a time when Ben Roethlisberger was embarrassing the organization, too. Holmes had been suspended four games for violating the NFL's drug policy. But he still felt betrayed to be dumped. "It's been on my mind for quite some time, and I just never let it play a factor until now," Holmes said. "Now is the time to get a chance to play against these guys. I spent four years there. It's definitely time to show these guys 'Why let me go?' "

Brains are working overtime to find a formula to beat the Patriots. In this week's "Hot Read" feature, ESPN.com senior writer Greg Garber explores how the seemingly invincible Patriots can be beaten. The formula looks simple:

  • Harass or confuse Tom Brady into making mistakes.
  • Win the turnover battle.
  • Run the ball effectively to limit Patriots possessions.
  • Score enough points against a middling defense.

"That's the magic formula," ESPN analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi told Garber with a laugh. "Easier said than done." ESPN Insider contributor KC Joyner also tried to crack the Patriots' offensive code with some suggestions for the Packers on Sunday. He advises them to get Wes Welker into traffic, put cover corner Tramon Williams on Deion Branch and defend rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez like a receiver.

Don't worry about Cameron Wake not being higher in the Pro Bowl voting. I've noticed some resentment from South Florida regarding Wake's lack of Pro Bowl votes among outside linebackers. He entered the week fifth behind James Harrison, Terrell Suggs, LaMarr Woodley and Shaun Phillips. Fret not, Dolfans. Wake not only will make the roster, but he will generate attention for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. Wake leads the league with 14 sacks and should add to his total Sunday against the Bills. There's no denying his impact.

Thanks to Sal Alosi's bad trip, Brian Schottenheimer has avoided the spotlight this week. The controversy Alosi kicked up with his trip of Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll eclipsed the aggravation Jets fans have developed with Schottenheimer. Jets head coach Rex Ryan was subjected to chants to fire Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator after losing back-to-back games without a touchdown. Not only has Sanchez crumbled, but the run game also has disappeared. Schottenheimer owned up Thursday at a news conference. "Overall I'm in charge of the offense," Schottenheimer said. "I take a lot of pride in that. I take a lot of pride in my job. I take a lot of pride in our unit, and we're not playing very well. It's my job to put the players in position to make plays. It's my job along with the staff to get them to do the fundamentals right."

If Ryan Fitzpatrick can remain upright Sunday, then the Bills will have a chance. The Bills' offensive line is in rough shape and is about to face one of the NFL's stingiest teams. The Dolphins rank fifth in total defense, seventh in run defense and sixth in pass defense. Fitzpatrick has shown he can make good decisions. Despite the Bills' record and the fact they're often playing from behind, Fitzpatrick has thrown 21 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions. But he won't have receiver Lee Evans to loosen up coverages, and will face a pass rush that registered six sacks against of the Jets, who own one of the NFL's better offensive lines. Wake will be matched up against Mansfield Wrotto, a third-year pro who was out of work until October.

Westhoff: Patriots line up in a wall, too

December, 15, 2010
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New York Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff shrugged off the seriousness of the punt coverage phalanx strength coach Sal Alosi and some inactive players formed in Sunday's game.

Even with Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland revealing Alosi had instructed them to do it all season, Westhoff downplayed any outrage by noting other teams, including the New England Patriots, also do it.

"If you watch [the Patriots], if you watch their defense when the other opponents' punt team's out there, they're up there pretty close in that line," Westhoff said on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "So, yeah, it certainly looks like they're trying to do it.

"Now are they doing something illegal? Are they tripping anybody? Heck no and I'm not saying that at all. That's not the point. But, yeah, they're lined up there. Does it make a difference? I don't know. I really don't know. It's hard to say because to tell you the truth until this occurred I never really looked at anybody's sideline in all my years."

Westhoff insisted he didn't instruct the Jets to form a wall to limit the space gunners have to operate on their sideline. Westhoff's disavowal reiterated previous claims from Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan.

Alosi brought attention to the practice by tripping Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll. The Jets have suspended Alosi indefinitely without pay and have fined him $25,000.

Cumberland, who has been deactivated every game this year, explained the practice was in place all season.

"We've been doing that since the beginning of the year, standing right there," Cumberland said. "Sunday was not the first time that we'd been doing that. ... [Alosi] never really just gave a reason. He just said during punt return 'You just stand right here by this line, everybody just stand right here.' There wasn't really a reason why. But we kind of figured just in case somebody ran over here."

That this wall had been formed all year and neither Ryan nor Westhoff noticed would be pretty incredible.

To be fair, their attention would be on the field during the game. The coach's film they use to review games is shot from the end zones and wouldn't reveal what's transpiring on a team's sideline.

But really ...

"The fact that those guys were lined up, you can't deny it," Westhoff said. "Yeah, they did do it. Apparently, he lined him up just to say 'Hey, let's line up and make it a little narrower corridor.' It's not like it's an illegal thing to do. But it was something that really shouldn't occur now that I see it."

Jets claim Sal Alosi ordered the wall

December, 15, 2010
12/15/10
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The New York Jets have expanded their sanctions on strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi after learning more information about the infamous incident that led to Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll getting tripped in Sunday's game.

The Jets announced their internal investigation found the Alosi Wall was ordered by him.

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said Alosi's suspension has been extended indefinitely. The Jets previously suspended Alosi without pay for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs, and fined him $25,000.

"Over the last day as we continued our investigation we discovered some new information," Tannenbaum said. "The players at the Miami game were instructed by Sal to stand where they were forcing the gunner in the game to run around them. Based on that new information we've suspended Sal indefinitely, pending further review."

Tannenbaum claimed Alosi instructed five inactive Jets players to stand next to him along the sideline to prevent Carroll from using the area to cover a punt. Tannenbaum stressed Alosi acted alone without knowledge or consent of head coach Rex Ryan or special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff.

The Jets' announcement will further sully Alosi's reputation and make it difficult for him to remain employed by the NFL.

A background check on Alosi turned up a 1999 arrest for third-degree assault while he was a linebacker at Hofstra.

Alosi and seven other Hofstra students, including two football teammates, were arrested in March 1999 for storming into a dorm room and assaulting three students.

A Newsday report at the time attributed information to Nassau County Police that Alosi had confessed to participating. Alosi pleaded down to a harassment violation in August 1999.

How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

December, 15, 2010
12/15/10
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Rex Ryan, Jets head coach: Nothing seems to be going properly for Ryan. He's known as a master motivator, but he's not pushing the right buttons lately. He symbolically buried a game ball from the Week 13 debacle against the Patriots, and it looked like nothing more than a rah-rah antic after losing at home to the Dolphins. Ryan reportedly chafed his defensive players by criticizing them in his postgame speech. And then there's the Sal Alosi tripping scandal that might not go away as quickly as Ryan would like.

2. Jets offense: Mark Sanchez is playing poorly. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene aren't finding room to run. Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery are dropping passes. Dustin Keller isn't involved. Right tackle Damien Woody is hurt. Other than that, there's nothing to worry about.

3. Dolphins offense: Chad Henne is playing poorly. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams aren't as productive as you'd like. Right tackle Vernon Carey is done for the season. Top chunk-yardage receiver Brian Hartline is out. While Miami's defense seems to be getting itself together, the offense seems to get worse by the week.

[+] EnlargeNew England's Gary Guyton
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastPatriots linebacker Gary Guyton returned a fumble 35 yards for a touchdown against the Bears.
RISING

1. Inside linebacker Gary Guyton and the Patriots defense: The Patriots have put together a pair of strong defensive efforts against division leaders, holding the Jets to three points and the Bears to seven points. With rookie starter Brandon Spikes suspended for four games, Guyton stepped up with an interception and returned a fumble 35 yards for a touchdown on snow-covered Soldier Field.

2. Brodney Pool, Jets safety: Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine called him out last week for being inconsistent, but Pool arguably was the Jets' best player against the Dolphins and would have been considered the star had the Jets won. Pool recorded a sack, forced a fumble that Jason Taylor recovered and picked up a Henne fumble.

3. David Nelson, Bills receiver: The undrafted rookie from Florida caught a touchdown pass in his second straight game. His 11-yard grab was the only touchdown scored in a 13-6 victory over the Browns in Ralph Wilson Stadium. He should get more opportunities over the final three games. The Bills placed veteran receiver Lee Evans on injured reserve Tuesday.

Steve Tasker on Sal Alosi uproar: So what?

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
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Steve Tasker, perhaps the greatest gunner in NFL history, had an interesting response to the theory the New York Jets instruct their players to defend their sideline on punt returns:

"So what?"

Tasker was not offended by the idea and essentially said he appreciated it -- even though he handled the role that would be most impacted by the practice.

"No question, you're not supposed to trip someone, but I think this is an overreaction," Tasker told ESPNNewYork.com reporter Rich Cimini. "This isn't stealing signs or illegal taping or somebody sabotaging something. It was just a guy, reacting."

The NFL implemented the so-called Steve Tasker rule, a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to deter gunners from intentionally running out of bounds to avoid a press.

Dolphins safety Reshad Jones was flagged for the Tasker rule two punts before Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi stuck his knee into Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll, creating a firestorm of controversy.

"You think this is the first time [a trip] ever happened? Come on," Tasker said. "Guys were always giving me extra shoves. You don't want to see someone get hurt, but it's not a big deal. Why wouldn't you give a guy a forearm shiver? Everyone on the sideline is part of a team and they all want to win. Shoot, even the doctors are competitive.

"If [the Jets] are coached to do that, so what? Call a penalty on them. If a gunner is going to use the sideline as a weapon, like I did, why wouldn't you want to form a road block? There's nothing wrong with that as long as it's within the rules."

AFC East High Energy Player of the Week

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
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NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 14.

That's right, a punter.

Readers voted Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields the High Energy Player of the Week, and the honor is warranted.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Fields
AP Photo/Dick DruckmanMiami punter Brandon Fields played a key role in the Dolphins' victory over the Jets on Sunday.
Fields was that brilliant in Sunday's 10-6 victory over the New York Jets at the Meadowlands.

He single-footedly won the field-position battle, a factor that was critical given the dreadfulness of each offense.

Fields averaged 56.4 yards on his 10 punts, the longest average in a game with at least 10 punts since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. He had no touchbacks, but only one of his punts landed inside the 20-yard line, underscoring how deep in Miami territory he launched from.

ESPN Stats & Information noted the maximum distance Fields could have traveled based on the line of scrimmage for each punt was 821 yards. He got 69 percent of that.

"He flipped field position maybe three times where they could've gotten the ball maybe on the 50-yard line," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said, "and the next thing you know the ball is down in the 30-yard line area."

Miami capitalized on Fields' leg by covering like demons, especially Reshad Jones and Jonathon Amaya. Even with Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi's scandalous trip of Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll, the Jets averaged a modest 7.6 yards on punt returns.

Jets deliver strong statement on Sal Alosi

December, 13, 2010
12/13/10
9:28
PM ET
The New York Jets acted swiftly, decisively and justly in punishing strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi.

As shameful as Alosi's trip of Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll was, the Jets at least should be proud of how they responded. The Jets suspended Alosi without pay for the rest of the season, including the playoffs, and fined him $25,000. Alosi will not be allowed to have any contact with the players while he is suspended.

The NFL will not add to the sanctions, but ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the league is looking into the incident to determine if Alosi and the Jets' inactive players were instructed to station themselves on the extreme edges of the sideline to inhibit Carroll from using that area to cover a punt.

As you can see in the still shot of the video below, Alosi and some inactive Jets players stood in a military-style phalanx, foot to foot, with their toes right up against the boundary. Alosi is stationed as close to the corner of the sideline box as allowable. That doesn't look like a coincidence.

Two punts before Alosi's trip, Dolphins safety Reshad Jones was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct for running out of bounds for about 30 yards. Players often get knocked out of bounds by defenders, but they must get back into the field of play as quickly as possible.

One of Alosi's game responsibilities is to make sure the Jets' sideline is clear, that their own players don't creep too close to the field. That person is called the get-back coach because he's often yelling at his players to do just that.

But Jets head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum denied they or special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff had instructed Alosi or anybody else to defend the sideline.

"We don't coach that," Tannenbaum said. "Coach Westhoff does not coach that. Coach Ryan does not coach that. We try to follow those rules as closely as possible, the player safety rules. I had a discussion with the league about that as well. Sal is in charge as the get-back coach, but that's not something we try to coach at all."

Ryan said he informs his coaches and players to back up when they're going to double-press a gunner because collisions can occur as they get driven out of bounds.

"I know one thing: I've never made that instruction," Ryan said of the cordon. "I always do the opposite. I always alert that there is a double press; get away from it."

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