AFC East: New York Jets

Patriots vs. Jets preview

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
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video When: 1 p.m. ET Sunday. Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. TV: CBS.

Back in the day, it was called the Border War. This time it will be more like the Border Snore -- at least in terms of the overall stakes.

It means something to the New England Patriots (11-3), who can clinch home-field advantage in the playoffs, but it's strictly a pride game for the New York Jets (3-11). That said, it's Patriots-Jets, which means there's always intriguing subtext. The main storylines are Rex Ryan's final home game, presumably, and Darrelle Revis' return.

NFL Nation reporters Mike Reiss, who covers the Patriots, and Rich Cimini, who covers the Jets, discuss the matchup.

Cimini: Bill Belichick has faced Ryan more often than any AFC East coach. They’re polar opposites in terms of personality and coaching style, so I’m wondering: If you could inject Belichick with truth serum, what do you think he’d say about Ryan?

Reiss: Reading Belichick’s mind is sometimes as difficult as a quarterback trying to get a read on Ryan’s spin-the-dial defensive schemes when Rex is at his best (e.g., the 28-21 road playoff victory over the Patriots in the 2010 season). But I’ll take a shot at it. I think Belichick has a pretty good feel for him personally after having his brother, Rob, on his staff in the early 2000s and I think he respects him as a defensive coach and a competitor. This hasn’t been the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals over the past six years; Ryan has given the Patriots quite a bit to handle. Now, if that truth serum were a really strong dose, I might envision a scenario in which Belichick rolls his eyes at some of the bravado and says something like: This has been very similar, both on and off the field, to coaching against his father Buddy back in the day. Like father, like son.

Ryan talked about not coming into the AFC East to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings. How would you sum up what he has accomplished in the past six seasons?

Cimini: You're right. Ryan was full of bravado when he arrived in 2009, vowing to tilt the balance of power in the division. It hasn't worked out the way he planned, as the Jets have finished as also-rans every year. I really thought they had a chance to close the gap on the Patriots after beating them in the 2010 divisional playoffs, the Jets' biggest victory since Super Bowl III, but Ryan & Co. slid back down the mountain. Ryan is 4-8 against the Patriots, plus that memorable postseason win -- not a very good showing. But Ryan has fared better than his predecessors, and I think that should count for something. He gave it his "best shot," as he likes to say, but he's had the misfortune of being in a division with arguably the greatest coach-quarterback tandem in history.

The site of Revis in a Patriots uniform probably will nauseate many Jets fans. So what do you think: Will Revis stick around beyond this year, or will he chase the money elsewhere?

Reiss: The Patriots are going to take their best shot to re-sign him, and my viewpoint has been that if New England is competitive with the best offers from a total dollars, structure and guaranteed-money standpoint, they will have the tiebreaker edge based on the positive experience that Revis has had in 2014. But they have a team philosophy as it relates to the salary cap that is extremely disciplined, and it’s hard for me to see them blowing that up for one player if the bidding gets to extremely high levels. As for Revis, I would expect him to attempt to maximize his financial opportunity, but I don’t sense that he would “chase the money” if it meant landing in a place that he viewed as being similar to a 2014-Oakland-Raiders-type sitaution. So there’s a balance there. In the end, it’s impossible to answer this question without knowing what the market will dictate. One interesting aspect to it would be if Ryan is let go by the Jets, lands with a new team as head coach, and that team makes a big run at Revis. That would certainly affect the market for Revis and potentially make it tougher for the Patriots to re-sign him.

Few saw 3-11 as where the Jets would be. How would you sum up what has led to this?

Cimini: It's pretty simple, and I'm going to break out another Ryan quote to illustrate my point. He always says the two positions that can win (or lose) games faster than any others are quarterback and cornerback -- and the Jets lost a bunch of games because of poor play at those spots. General manager John Idzik mismanaged the cornerback position in the offseason, leaving his head coach with a thin and talent-deprived unit. To play his scheme, Ryan needs man-to-man corners the way humans need water and oxygen. At quarterback, Geno Smith hasn't developed as well as they had hoped, throwing the offense out of whack. They've been operating with a small margin for error, hurting them in close games. They're 3-6 in games decided by eight points or fewer.

For the Jets to pull off the upset, they have to play their best game of the year and “hope something is missing” from the Patriots, according to Ryan. What could possibly be missing for them?

Reiss: We saw it Oct. 16, when the Jets came into the Patriots’ home stadium and nearly pulled off the upset -- shoddy tackling on defense, and a time-of-possession edge for the Jets of 40:54 to 19:06. If the Patriots can’t stop the running game, that would be one ingredient that could produce a carbon copy of what we saw in mid-October, and maybe this time the Jets could pull off the victory. The other thing that comes to mind is shaky play by the offensive line, which has had some ups and downs in recent weeks. If the Jets can get to quarterback Tom Brady early and capitalize on some of the O-line miscues we’ve seen, that would be another area they could have an edge.

A win over the Patriots would mean a lot to Rex Ryan and this team. What are the key areas you see that could help the Jets spring the upset?

Cimini: Basically, this is the Jets' playoff game -- and, yes, I do think they have a chance to win. It would take a ball-control offense and a plus number in the turnover margin. As the Jets proved in the previous meeting, it takes more 200 rushing yards and a 40-minute possession time to knock off the Patriots. They need a couple of field position-changing plays, either on offense or defense or special teams -- or all of the above. The X factor could be Percy Harvin, who didn't play in the first game. That could depend on the condition of his sprained ankle. He didn't do much last week. If they can get a big play or two out of him, the Jets might have a chance.
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As everybody knows, the New York Jets slid to sixth in the current NFL draft order by defeating the Tennessee Titans. If they lose another, the Jets will clinch a top-6 pick.

Can they get higher by losing the final two? Maybe not. If the teams ahead of them lose out, removing Thursday night's Titans-Jacksonville Jaguars game from that equation, the Jets still could finish in the sixth spot based on the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker.

Imagine suffering through a 3-13 season and landing only the sixth pick. The Jets have virtually zero chance of getting the top pick; they blew that chance by beating the Titans.

QB snapshot: Geno Smith

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

Smith
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
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 -- Chris Johnson didn't "tear it up" in his homecoming game, as he had hoped, but he made a big play that helped the New York Jets defeat his old team, the Tennessee Titans.

The former Titans star was bottled up for 55 minutes -- so was the entire Jets' rushing attack -- but he broke free for a 37-yard run, setting up Chris Ivory's go-ahead touchdown in the 16-11 victory Sunday at LP Field.

Johnson
It was a nice wrinkle by the Jets. They went to the Wildcat formation, allowing Johnson to take the direct snap. It was somewhat risky because center Nick Mangold was injured on the previous play, meaning his replacement, Dalton Freeman, had to deliver a shotgun snap in his first NFL play at center. Previously, Freeman had only one offensive snap at guard.

But everything worked. Johnson even got a nice downfield block from quarterback Geno Smith, who was split wide.

Johnson rushed for a game-high 55 yards on 10 carries. Afterward, he admitted it was an emotional day. He acknowledged he had revenge on his mind.

"It was motivation, but I just tried to block all of that out and focus on the New York Jets needing a win," said Johnson, who was cut by the Titans last April after five 1,000-yard seasons and one 2,000-yard season.

Johnson said the entire experience was "a little weird" and "a little crazy." What was weird was the Jets' struggle in the running game, as they rushed for only 114 yards against the league's lowest-ranked run defense.

In the end, it was just enough.

Injury update: Safety Calvin Pryor said he suffered a "bad stinger," but returned to play the entire second half. ... Mangold injured his right ring finger, causing him to miss a few plays in the fourth quarter. A post-game X-ray was negative, he said. There was only a small wrap on it. ... Wide receiver Percy Harvin (no catches) played most of the game on a sore ankle. He was replaced on kickoff-return duty, but volunteered for a third-quarter kickoff. He returned it 33 yards.

A numerical first: The Jets and Titans made history, playing to first 16-11 final ever. Hard to believe, right?

"I'm proud of that fact," Ryan joked.

Illegal lateral? The final play of the game was a wild one. Charlie Whitehurst, who placed the injured Jake Locker (shoulder) in the second quarter, completed a 6-yard pass to Dexter McCluster. He lateraled to Nate Washington for a loss of 10 yards. Washington lateraled to Whitehurst, who ran for 20. He lateraled to Delanie Walker, who ran for 33. For a fleeting moment, it looked like he might score, but Dawan Landry brought him down at the Jets' 9 as time expired.

Ryan believed there was a forward lateral during the craziness and that it should've been blown dead.

"Thanks goodness no one got injured on that play," he said. "You extend a play like that, you can get injured. Clearly, it looked like a forward lateral. I've seen people get injured on plays like that and you want to see it blown dead."

If Walker had scored, it would have been a fascinating replay review.
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
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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.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Welcome to the JamMarcus Bowl, not to be confused with JaMarcus Russell.

We're talking about Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, the presumptive top quarterbacks in the 2015 draft. The New York Jets and Tennessee Titans, both 2-11, figure to be in the quarterback market, and Sunday's game will have a big impact on the draft order. The loser will remain in contention for the No. 1 overall pick; the winner could drop out of the top 5. It sets up a paradoxical drama. Some fans are rooting for the Jets to lose.

"What, we haven't done enough losing?" an incredulous Breno Giacomini replied.

Kickoff is 4:05 p.m. at LP Field. The top storylines:

Smith
1. Flash: Geno Smith didn't help himself by saying he has "shown flashes of being a Pro Bowl quarterback," an out-of-left field comment that didn't go over well with people in the organization. Smith has demonstrated NFL-caliber ability in spurts, but Pro Bowl? Come on, man. His passer rating over the last two seasons (67.1) is the lowest in the league, a whopping 10 points below the next quarterback, Chad Henne. Smith can regain some credibility by playing well in his return to Nashville, where he committed four turnovers last season. The Titans' defense is like a bear without claws. They attack with an array of blitz packages, but they don't do much damage.

Johnson
2. CJ2K's revenge: This is Chris Johnson's Super Bowl. He circled this game on his calendar soon after he was unceremoniously released last April by the Titans. He was one of the greatest players in Titans history, rushing for close to 8,000 yards in six seasons. Johnson is healthy, in peak form after a sluggish start, so don't be surprised if he slices up the league's worst run defense. He said he's not sure how he will be received by the fans. If they don't give him a standing ovation, they're nuts.

3. The red-zone comedy: The Jets haven't scored a touchdown in their last eight trips to the red zone, covering three-plus games. The last touchdown came against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it was scored by rookie tight end Jace Amaro, who returns after missing two games with a concussion. Look for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to shake up his personnel groupings, trying to find a combination that works. Amaro figures to have a key role. The slumping Jeff Cumberland (three drops, 35 targets) could lose some playing time. Mornhinweg said the red-zone problems are "easy to diagnose. Good football teams are typically pretty good in the red zone." The Jets aren't a good team, but they should have better than a 38-percent success rate.

Richardson
4. Pro Bowl push: Sheldon Richardson (6.5 sacks) is making a late run. Coming off the best game of his career (three sacks), Richardson could have another big day, facing the Titans' porous offensive line. They allowed eight sacks last week to the New York Giants, although most of those came on the outside. A word of warning, though: For some strange reason, the Jets struggle against Jake Locker, whose stats defy explanation -- a 67-percent completion rate, three touchdowns, no interceptions. He's 2-0 against the Jets, 7-13 against the rest of the NFL. Good grief.

5. They couldn't ... could they? Only twice in the Rex Ryan era have the Jets lost to a team with double-digit losses -- and those were 5-10 opponents on the final day of the season, the Miami Dolphins (2011) and Buffalo Bills (2012). Falling to the Titans, losers of seven straight, would be a whole new realm of bad. Then again, the Jets are 0-6 on the road, having been outscored 181-86. Anything is possible.
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. -- Wide receiver Percy Harvin (sprained ankle) made an appearance Thursday on the practice field, catching passes from a Jugs machine, but he wasn't expected to participate in team drills. Harvin said Wednesday he will "definitely" play Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. Rex Ryan was less certain, saying it would be "a stretch." It could be a game-time decison.

Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (turf toe) participated in positional drills, which was more activity than Wednesday -- an encouraging sign. Tight end Jace Amaro and linebacker Trevor Reilly, both rookies coming off concussions, worked without the red (non-contact) jerseys, meaning they were cleared for contact.
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.

Ryan
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?
Wilkerson
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- After missing two games with turf toe, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson returned to the practice field Wednesday as the New York Jets began preparations for the Tennessee Titans. How much he practiced -- or if he practiced -- wasn't immediately clear, but it was a positive step.

Tight end Jace Amaro, sidelined the last two games with a concussion, also made an appearance, wearing the red, no-contact jersey, as required by the NFL's concussion protocol. On Monday, coach Rex Ryan seemed encouraged about Amaro's chances of playing this week. Wilkerson's status appears less certain.

As expected, wide receiver Percy Harvin (sprained ankle) wasn't seen at practice. He's unlikely to play this week. In other injury-related developments, safety Antonio Allen (broken hand) sat out positional drills. Linebacker Trevor Reilly (head) wore the red jersey.

QB snapshot: Geno Smith

December, 9, 2014
Dec 9
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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:

Smith
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.

Ryan
"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."

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