AFC East: New York Jets

The Film Don’t Lie: Jets

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
A weekly look at what the New York Jets must fix:

The Jets are into the "Missiles of October" portion of their schedule, as they face Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in an 11-day span. Unfortunately for the Jets, they're hitting this stretch with a defense that doesn't scare quarterbacks.

Oh sure, the Jets' defensive front will gets its share of sacks, but when it comes to making game-changing plays -- forcing turnovers -- its useless. Rex Ryan's defense has produced zero interceptions in four games. The only other team with an oh-fer is the New Orleans Saints, whose defense is headed by Ryan's twin brother, Rob. Talk about keeping it all in the family.

It's pretty amazing when you think about it: Opposing quarterbacks have dropped back to pass a total of 150 times against the Jets, and not one of those throws has ended up in the wrong hands. On Sunday, they travel to the San Diego Chargers and will face the hottest quarterback in the league. Rivers has a league-best 114.5 passer rating and has completed 70 percent of his attempts.

How does Ryan fix the takeaway issue? It's tough because they're undermanned at cornerback. The anticipated return of former first-round pick Dee Milliner should help -- maybe. Ryan is a man-to-man coach, but maybe he can change it up by playing more zone. Maybe he can play more two-high-safety looks instead of the usual one. He has to do something, because the Jets' bad start could turn ugly over the next 11 days.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If a head coach wants to change his quarterback, as Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone did Monday, he should be allowed to make the move without having to call an organizational meeting to discuss, debate and vote. It shouldn't be as complicated as getting a bill passed by Congress; it should be a one-man, executive decision. That's how Marrone did it in Buffalo, replacing EJ Manuel with Kyle Orton.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan and John Idzik
Bill Kostroun/AP PhotoIf Jets coach Rex Ryan wants to make a change at quarterback, what sort of role would general manager John Idzik play in that decision-making?
With Geno Smith slumping, the New York Jets could approaching a quarterback decision in the coming weeks, except in their case it's fair to wonder if coach Rex Ryan truly has the power to make that call. He was asked the question twice Monday, and each time he gave a cryptic answer that suggested he doesn't have the ultimate authority. If he doesn't -- if general manager John Idzik is pulling the strings from his bunker at One Jets Drive -- Ryan is just a puppet coach. And that would be troubling.

"To say who's going to outright make that call or whatever, I'd rather not say those things, but it would be a team decision," Ryan said at his news conference.

A short time later, Ryan was asked the same question during his weekly radio spot on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. This time, it was presented in the context of an in-game decision. Once again, Ryan dodged.

"You know what? I'd rather not get into this," he said. "It's always a Jet decision and I'm going to leave it at that, no matter how many times you ask me."

That response triggered images of Ryan calling up to Idzik's booth at halftime, asking if he's cool with the idea of bringing in Michael Vick. Idzik isn't that demanding, is he? All I know is the man monitors Ryan's news conferences and likes to stay involved in all aspects of the organization, staying abreast of seemingly trivial matters that could be handled by underlings. Yeah, he's hands-on.

There could be two explanations for Ryan's wishy-washy response. Maybe he did it to appease Idzik, allowing his boss -- the man who could determine his fate at the end of the season -- to be a part of the process.

Or maybe Ryan really doesn't have the power to make a quarterback change. That would be unusual because most head coaches have the contractual right to choose who plays and who sits.

Either way, it's bad form because of the perception it creates: A head coach with diminished power.

In Buffalo, Marrone made the decision and informed his general manager, Doug Whaley.

"I went to Doug, I said look, 'This gives us the best opportunity to win,'" Marrone told reporters. "We talked about it. We looked at some things, and we were in full agreement on it."

The key words: Best opportunity to win. Every decision should be based on what gives the team the best chance to win now. If Ryan decides at some point Vick gives the Jets the best chance, he should be allowed to make the call without having to convene a special session of the Woody Johnson cabinet. If Ryan is over-ruled, it's a bad situation because that's no way to run a team.

If Ryan is forced to play Smith longer than he wants -- and we're not suggesting he wants to dump him right now -- it would signal another rebuilding year, another year devoted to developing Smith. Ryan, his players and the fans deserve the chance to be better than that.

Jets cut Jalen Saunders

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets released fourth-round wide receiver Jalen Saunders on Monday, the fourth of 12 draft picks the team had this year. The Jets then signed WR T.J. Graham.

The Jets also cut cornerback LeQuan Lewis, who had two penalties in the Lions' game.

Saunders was briefly the team’s punt returner, but after dropping two punts in two weeks, Saunders was inactive Sunday and replaced by Walt Powell for a 24-17 loss to the Lions at Metlife Stadium.

Saunders has a medical emergency situation in August, when he had a seizure in his car near the Jets' training facility. After doctors evaluated him, he was back at practice 10 days later.

He was the only one of three wide receivers drafted who was on the 53-man roster.

Also, the Jets signed wide receiver Chris Owusu, who played in 17 games for the Tampa Bay. For the Bucs, Owusu had 16 receptions for 158 yards and a touchdown. He scored in the Bucs' season-opening loss.

The Jets drafted 12 players in the spring, and the team is already dealing with attrition. First-rounder S Calvin Pryor and second round pick TE Jace Amaro are rostered and contributing, while third-round pick CB Dexter McDougle rehabs a knee injury on the reserved/injured list.

Three of the others are on the roster; OT Dakota Dozier, DE IK Enemkpali and LB Trevor Reilly. WR Shaq Evans is on reserved/injured and WR Quincy Enunwa is on the practice squad.

Three others are no longer with the team; LB Jeremiah George, CB Brandon Dixon and QB Tajh Boyd.

Graham, 25, was initially drafted by the Bills in 2012. He has caught three touchdowns in the NFL, and his career stats include 54 catches for 683 yards.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With one slip of the tongue, Geno Smith turned a bad day into a really bad day. After another poor performance, resulting in occasional chants of "We Want Vick!" at MetLife Stadium, Smith walked off the field Sunday -- clearly angry -- and violated one of the 10 commandments of NFL quarterbacking: Thou shalt not let the fans get inside your head.

"F--- you!" Smith yelled at a heckler behind the New York Jets' bench after an ugly 24-17 loss to the Detroit Lions -- the Jets' third straight defeat.

The brief exchange was caught on camera by WCBS 2 New York, and it shows Smith glaring at the fan, pausing a moment and shouting the profanity with conviction. There was nothing flippant about it.

We might have witnessed the beginning of the end of Smith as the Jets' starting quarterback.

It wasn't just the unfortunate outburst; it was everything that unfolded. The supposedly improved Smith continued to regress, committing two turnovers and missing a handful of open receivers. He fed the blood-thirsty crowd, which started chanting for Michael Vick during a stretch of five consecutive three-and-out possessions in the first half. It got louder in the fourth quarter, when Smith was intercepted.

[+] EnlargeSmith & Mornhinweg
Ron Antonelli/Getty ImagesMarty Mornhinweg (right) had a more conservative game plan for Geno Smith against the Lions, but it didn't jump-start the Jets offense.
It's one thing when a gladiator is defeated by the lions -- or, in this case, the Lions. It's quite another situation when he's affected by the coliseum's angry mob. Smith let it get to him -- the bad day, the swirling quarterback controversy, everything. During his postgame apology, he said it was only "one guy" in the crowd, but that doesn't matter. Smith showed cracks, stripping away perhaps his greatest attribute -- his thick skin.

Smith is known for an even-keeled demeanor, which he demonstrated during a wildly inconsistent rookie season. But Sunday's outburst showed a different side. A starting quarterback can't have rabbit ears; it's not a good look. You don't pick fights with the paying customers. It shows immaturity and a lack of poise. For all his mistakes, Mark Sanchez never lashed out at a fan.

"It's part of my learning process," Smith said. "I have to get better with that. I have to let that stuff roll off my back. But today I didn't do well with that."

Smith received a vote of confidence from Jets coach Rex Ryan, who said he's not considering a change. It's the right call; Smith should get at least another start to right himself and the offense. At this point, benching Smith would be a panic move for an organization that still believes he can be the franchise quarterback, but let's be clear: It has to be a short leash. The margin for error is almost gone. The chances of a 1-3 team making the playoffs are 14.5 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

That the Jets are going on the road, facing the San Diego Chargers, is a plus for Smith. To paraphrase the slogan in an airline commercial, he needs to get away.

Ryan said he never considered switching to Vick, although I'm not sure I'm buying that. I think Smith bought himself the rest of the game by opening the second half with a 74-yard touchdown drive that ended with his 11-yard scoring pass to Eric Decker. But it went downhill from there, starting with Smith's interception and a strip-sack on back-to-back possessions. He has seven turnovers in four games, and his passer rating has dropped to 77.0.

"No, I'm not going to replace him," Ryan said. "I feel good about Geno. I think he will get it turned [around]. He's a tough, resilient young man. ... I think he has the tools to be really good. In my opinion, it's not a question of if it's going to happen, but a question of when he will be that kind of guy. I think he's a good quarterback. I think he has a chance to really be something one day."

Part of the problem is a trust issue. After last week's loss, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg chided himself for putting "too much on his plate." On Sunday, Mornhinweg's cleaned Smith's plate, leaving only a couple of crumbs. It was an ultra-conservative game plan, starting with 10 runs on the first 13 plays. It led to an early field goal, but then came the deep freeze. Smith completed 17 of 33 passes for 209 yards and, frankly, he was worse than the stats indicate.

"I have to make sure I right the ship and get this team going," Smith said.

Right now, the team is headed toward an iceberg.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Jets' already depleted secondary could take another turn depending on the condition of cornerback Antonio Allen. The Jets starter, who was converted from safety this season because the position was already so depleted, had to be taken out of the locker room on a cart with an apparent leg injury.

Allen played the entire game, but appeared to struggle afterward. The Jets didn’t provide an update to the cornerback’s condition.

Jets rookie safety Calvin Pryor left the 24-17 loss to the Lions with a quad injury, and wide receiver David Nelson soon followed with an injured ankle.

Pryor was at his locker after the game and said his status would be day to day, and that he sustained the injury by taking a helmet to his leg on a hit. Nelson said he would be evaluated Monday and walked out of the locker room on his own.

Nose tackle Damon Harrison left the game briefly with an ankle injury, but returned.

Despite an injured hamstring, wide receiver Eric Decker played the entire game. Decker noted his drops and speculated that reduced practice time during the week because of the injury could have been a factor. Decker said he felt “all right” during the game.

The Jets have had issue keeping a full group at cornerback and wide receiver so far this year, and it looks like the health of those same position groups could be the focus of the upcoming week.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson heard the Jets fans chanting "We want Vick!" throughout New York's 24-17 loss to the Lions at MetLife Stadium. Geno Smith threw an interception and was charged with two fumbles, and the calls for Vick could be heard clearly on the field.

"Shut up," is Richardson's message to those fans. "If that's the case, produce a child to make it to the NFL. We'll see what he got. Other than that, just shut up."

After the game, Smith was captured by CBS 2's camera cursing at a fan. Ultimately, an already tense postgame as the Jets fell to 1-3 was intensified as players responded to their young quarterback's mistakes.

Richardson said Smith shouldn't have lost his cool.

"It's frustrating," Richardson said. "You trip for him when he throws a touchdown but you were talking about you wanted Vick the whole game. So it happens. You know, he's got to keep his composure no matter how frustrating it gets."

Offensive lineman Willie Colon knows it is extremely hard for a young quarterback to take the rebuke of a few thousand fans, especially when they should be on your side.

"It's New York, they want to win," said Colon, a Bronx native. "I get it. I'm a New Yorker, I'm a NY fan. All they want to do is see their team win and have the best outcome for their hometown team. Listen, we're fighting."

Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson thinks coach Rex Ryan will help put Smith back in the right frame of mind. Ryan has been fined in the past for his own profane interaction with fans.

"Geno was definitely wrong, cursing the fans," Wilkerson said. "I'm pretty sure Rex an,d you know, some other guys will get on him."

If Smith's confidence was waning, Sunday's issues won't make it easier. Ultimately, veteran players are wary of sapping any more confidence.

"Geno has a lot of heart," Colon said. "He stood back there and fought. It's tough for any quarterback in this league when you're going through an up-and-down spurt to look at the sideline [to see if he's being replaced]."

Vick is one of the few Jets who said he didn't hear the chants. He put it in perspective when asked by reporters if he was ready to go in as a starter.

"Twelve-year veteran, I should be ready," Vick said. "I'm only one person, so that doesn't mean I'm going to come in and be the savior and save the game. ... Because you guys will be interviewing the next quarterback asking him if he's ready."
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker says he will play Sunday after practicing for the first time all week Friday. Decker’s hamstring injury kept him from completing last week’s game against the Bears, but he said this week things have improved.

"Hamstring’s feeling good," Decker said. "Got out there, finally got to practice, definitely night and day from last week. Happy with the way I’ve progressed and looking forward to getting out there Sunday."

Jets coach Rex Ryan said Decker will play, but could be limited.

"They’ll probably be limited a little bit, but he feels better now than he did last week," Ryan said.

The Jets got another wide receiver back in David Nelson, who returned after a bout of food poisoning that kept him out of practice for two days.

Here is the rest of the injury report:


Doubtful: CB Dee Milliner (quad).

Questionable: WR Eric Decker (hamstring).

Probable: RB Chris Johnson (ankle), OL Dalton Freeman (knee), OL Nick Mangold (shoulder), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (knee), OL Willie Colon (calf), WR David Nelson (illness).


Out: TE Joseph Fauria (ankle), CB Cassius Vaughn (ankle), LB Travis Lewis (quad),

Doubtful: S Don Carey (hamstring), T LaAdrian Waddle (calf).

Questionable: WR Calvin Johnson (ankle), FB Montell Owens (hamstring).

Probable: DE Ezekiel Ansah (knee), DT Nick Fairly (biceps), Joique Bell (knee), S James Ihedigbo (neck), DE George Johnson (groin), RB Theo Riddick (hamstring).
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Chris Johnson wants the ball, but he understands why he's not getting it as much as he hopes.

Attributing his lack of carries to "game situations," not play calling, the New York Jets' running back said Thursday his efficiency will improve if his workload increases. But, no, he's not planning to complain to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

“It’s still early,” Johnson said. “I know what Marty wants to do, and I know what this offense wants to do. We want to run the ball. I don’t think it’s time right now to go in there and talk to Marty and try to tell him what he needs to do.”

Johnson has only 35 carries, but it's not like his backfield partner, Chris Ivory, is hogging the spotlight. Ivory has just 33 rushes, although he's averaging two more yards per attempt -- 5.7 to Johnson's 3.5.

"Of course we want to run the ball more times and get into where we run the ball 35, 40 times a game, and give us both the opportunity to get a chance to run the ball hard,” Johnson said. “I know we both envisioned probably getting more carries, not just us both getting 10, 12 apiece. Probably more than that. A lot of times, you’ve got to go how the game goes, and we’ve been put in situations where we’ve had to throw the ball.”

Well, not really.

In Monday night's loss to the Chicago Bears, the Jets got the ball with 3:10 left in the game, still having two timeouts, plus the two-minute warning. There was no need to panic, but they passed on 11 of 12 plays. Mornhinweg forgot about his running backs, a glaring oversight considering the Bears' porous run defense.

Double-A will remain at CB: It looks like the Antonio Allen-to-cornerback experiment is permanent. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said they will keep the former safety at cornerback and evaluate the move after the season.

"I don't see how we can go back," Thurman said.

Keep your money: Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said he wasn't fined for his roughing-the-passer penalty on the Bears' Jay Cutler.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley remembers dropping two or three punts in his rookie season, but the Jets kept using him on special teams. Given the additional workload Kerley faces with Eric Decker’s hamstring issue, Kerley is hoping the Jets stick with rookie Jalen Saunders as the punt returner.

“I would hope someone would take it over,” Kerley said. “But if I’ve got to be that guy, I’ll be that guy.”

[+] EnlargeSaunders
AP Photo/Bill KostrounRookie Jalen Saunders has dropped two punts this season.
Kerley might be the most reliable punt returner the Jets have, and he was brought in during a 27-19 loss to the Bears after Saunders muffed and then lost a punt early on. It was the second punt Saunders has dropped this year, and it stung.

“Last week was probably one of the first [times I] dropped a punt and lost it in my entire career,” Saunders said. “Green Bay was the first time I’ve ever muffed a punt.”

Right now, the Jets aren’t committing to a starter, with Kerley, Saunders and Walt Powell in the mix. Clearly Jets special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey is wary of going back to Saunders after two weeks of drops.

Saunders said he’s been taking extra reps in practice -- “I’m always taking extra reps,” he says -- and he’s been trying to mentally move beyond the two mistakes on punt return.

“Watched [Saunders] all week in practice; we watched some other guys,” McGaughey said. “We’ve got to make a decision at the end of the week about who we’re going to go with.”

Kerley is essentially the most reliable receiver on the field when Decker is out or limited due to a hamstring injury that arose during the preseason.

“I hope these coaches don’t lose confidence in the youngster, in Jalen,” Kerley said. “It never happened to me when I was in college, maybe one time. It’s different; lights are a little brighter, crowds a little bigger, stage is bigger, so it’s different. He’ll bounce back; he’ll eventually turn into that guy.”

The advantage to having Saunders on special teams is that Kerley can preserve himself for offense. When Kerley is in, the yardage gained is limited because he generally fair-catches punts.

“It is, but I won’t say no to nothing, so if it calls for me to go out there and fair-catching the ball every time, that’s what it has to be,” Kerley said.

But it’s not optimal. As McGaughey notes, it’s hard to change the course of a game on special teams if every punt ends in a fair catch.

“You want to be in a position where you have a playmaker,” McGaughey said. “Our job is not just to transition from one phase to the next. We want to affect the game.”
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Antonio Allen is either tremendously confident or woefully misguided. The New York Jets' safety-turned-cornerback is a neophyte in the heavyweight class, and he's about to step into the ring against the undisputed champion, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

"I haven't seen anything on film yet, but I'm pretty sure he has some weaknesses," Allen said Wednesday. "Just like everybody else, he has stuff he can work on. It's going to be my job to try to exploit it."

This should be interesting Sunday.

To his credit, Allen has held up reasonably well at his new position, but the competition is about to jump a few notches. As Allen noted, "He's probably the best receiver in the league, hands down." Johnson -- a.k.a. Megatron -- is so freakishly good that Rex Ryan was at a loss when asked if he reminds him of any player he's ever seen.

[+] EnlargeCalvin Johnson
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesDetroit Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson is a tough cover for any cornerback.
"I'm a football historian, but no," said Ryan, finally throwing out the name of Boyd Dowler, a 6-foot-5 tight end on the great Green Bay Packers teams of the 1960s.

No offense to Mr. Dowler, but Johnson is in a different league. He's a three-time All Pro who has averaged more than 100 yards per game during the last three-plus seasons. Allen covered some ultra-athletic tight ends in his days as a safety, namely Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, but Johnson is different.

"He's much faster than any tight end I've covered," he said.

Johnson, speaking to the New York media, said there's "no doubt" he's looking forward to facing the Jets' corners, Allen and Darrin Walls. He also said he's eager to face a defense that uses a single-high safety, the scheme preferred by Ryan. That usually means man-to-man coverage on the receivers, with a safety (usually Calvin Pryor) roaming the deep middle.

Look for Ryan to cook up a wrinkle for Johnson. No, there won't be single coverage.

"I may be crazy," Ryan said, "but I'm not that crazy."

Linebacker Demario Davis suggested that Allen will be primarily responsible for Johnson. Davis commended Allen and Walls for limiting the Chicago Bears' receivers, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, to only one big play Monday night -- Jeffery's 42-yard catch on Allen.

"For us to give up only one explosive play on the outside, that's humongous, especially with the way people are trash-talking about our corners," Davis said. "[Allen] is holding up against the best receivers in the league. We'll put Double-A on Calvin Johnson and let them lock up. I trust he'll do a good job. The only time they're going to catch a ball on him is if the ref doesn't call a push-off."

Jeffery got away with a push-off on the 42-yard reception, according to Davis. The previous week, Jordy Nelson scorched the Jets for 209 yards, with 80 coming on a touchdown against Dee Milliner. Obviously, Johnson is thinking "monster game" against the Jets. Asked his opinion of Allen and Walls, Megatron stumbled for words.

"Uh, let's see ... just from watching the film I've watched so ... you know, just ... they play what the coach asks them to play," he said. "They're ... I mean, oh, shoot. I don't have anything negative to say about them."

Jets miss wide receiver Eric Decker

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eric Decker was ready to go at game time, but by the time the Jets trailed to the Bears at halftime, he felt a familiar tightness in his hamstring. The team's No. 1 wide receiver watched from the sideline as the Jets ultimately lost 27-19 to the Bears in a "Monday Night Football" game at MetLife Stadium.

"Just tightened up on me and wanted to be smart," Decker said. "A few plays and just decided it was best to step aside and pull myself out."

[+] EnlargeDecker
Alex Goodlett/Getty Images"Just tightened up on me and wanted to be smart," Eric Decker said of leaving the game. "A few plays and just decided it was best to step aside and pull myself out."
He ended with one catch for 19 yards. Decker said it was still sore before the start of the game, but wanted to play because he hasn't missed a regular-season game in his career.

"My mentality is I'm going to go if I can go," Decker said. "I gave it a try. We had good communication within the training staff and the coaching staff. I understand my body. I knew at that point it was the most I could do."

Jets coach Rex Ryan said the team never expected to play Decker fully; he had a game plan to preserve the hamstring.

"We were going to cut his reps way back and we did that," Ryan said.

Decker makes a huge difference when he's on the field. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Geno Smith's completion rate is 73.5 percent with Decker in the play, and 27.3 percent when he's on the sideline through the first two games.

"It's always difficult but I think we have enough guys who can get it done," Jets offensive lineman Willie Colon said. "It's never one guy that makes us lopsided. We could have run the ball better we could have protected the ball better There's a lot of things we could have done better we just didn't do it."

Jeremy Kerley stepped up in Decker's wake with seven catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. Rookie tight end Jace Amaro had a 43-yard catch. But Smith also threw two interceptions in addition to the touchdown pass to Kerley.

"Our game plan was to go out there and not play outside ourselves," Kerley said. "Just do the things we do well. I think we did that. We've just got to have less mistakes."

Then there was the red zone efficiency. The Jets scored just one touchdown in six trips.

"You go down there six times and you only come away with one score, that's not our brand of football," Colon said.

The Jets have a short week to prepare for the Lions, who will be the matchup next Sunday at 1 p.m. at MetLife -- with no guarantee that Decker will be game-ready. Linebacker Calvin Pace said a short week is no excuse.

"Nobody feels sorry for us so we've just got to come back to work," Pace said.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Former New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet and former owner Leon Hess were announced as this year's Ring of Honor inductees during the first quarter of the Jets-Bears "Monday Night Football" game.

Chrebet was shown on the jumbo television screen in the stadium and received a huge cheer from the fans. He played from 1995-2005 for the Jets and is second in franchise history with 580 receptions.

Hess was part of a partnership that bought the Jets in 1963, and he bought out his partners to become the majority stakeholder in 1973. Hess owned the team until his death in 1999.

Other members of the Jets' Ring of Honor are Joe Namath, Don Maynard, Weeb Ewbank, Curtis Martin, Winston Hill, Gerry Philbin, Larry Grantham, Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau, Freeman McNeil, Wesley Walker, Al Toon and Marty Lyons.

Jeremy Kerley important cog for Jets

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
Receiver Jeremy Kerley is more than just an option for the New York Jets, even though he can run that, too.

Against the Raiders, Kerley caught all five balls sent his way for 38 yards. In two games this season, Kerley has eight catches for 60 yards, which doesn’t count the touchdown that was nullified by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s timeout.

During the four years the former TCU wide has played, he has been used primarily as a slot receiver, eventually becoming the most veteran receiver with the Jets. At times over the years, the former high school quarterback has taken the snap.

"I don’t classify myself as just a slot guy or an inside receiver, or a third-down receiver," Kerley said. "I’m an every-play receiver. I’m a Whenever-you-need-me-I’m-there receiver. I tell Geno (Smith) that, I tell Marty that."

Kerley’s versatility is something his teammates recognize.

"His talent level he can be a big-time playmaker for us," offensive lineman Willie Colon said.

This season, the Jets have a new wide receiving group. After parting ways with Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, the Jets brought in Eric Decker and drafted a few young players to develop.

"I think with the guys who have been here the last two years -- me David (Nelson), Greg (Salas), our second year being with Marty, second offseason, second year with Geno, -- our timing, our chemistry is getting better," Kerley said.

There is an understanding that no one player can carry the entire load, though on Monday night against Chicago, Kerley could have a larger role than usual if Decker (hamstring) is limited.

"Nobody is trying to overstep, no one is trying to be 'that guy.'"

Kerley is incredibly reliable -- and a clean receiver. Decker was the only receiver who contributed to the 11-penalty game against the Raiders. Kerley can be a steady short-distance receiver or, as he proved in Green Bay, make it to the end zone to catch the jump ball.

One thing he won’t do is showboat after he gets in the end zone.

"That’s not me, I’d rather go out there and make 50-40 whatever plays and they say, 'well, they’ve got to throw me the ball.'"

Maybe his lack of self-promotion after a great play keeps him from getting more of a spotlight, but it’s also why his teammates have so much respect for Kerley.

"Some guys aren’t going to hit their chest and talk about their type of game," Colon said. "He’s one of those guys that has motivation inside. What motivated him is just going out and doing his job well. I respect that a lot about him. I’ve seen receivers who are so Hollywood and tweet this and "look at me here" and want to stunt after a touchdown. He’s like 'Hey, thank you,' and runs to the bench. And I appreciate that."
A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. Life after Holmes: The Jets are into their third season without permanent captains -- such is the legacy of Santonio Holmes, who returns Monday night -- but that doesn't mean the team lacks leaders. It has the "Steering Committee," 10 veteran players representing each position group. It doesn't meet on a regular basis, only when necessary. The committee is a conduit between the players and Rex Ryan. It tackles team-related issues and, yes, it has a fine system. Players can be fined for showing up late for a meeting, missing a weight-lifting session or skipping a rehab appointment with the trainer. The council focuses on Monday-to-Saturday discipline, leaving Sundays for the NFL. They won't say what they do with the money that is collected.

"It's done wonders for us as a team," said committee member Willie Colon, claiming the "discipline level" has improved from last season. "It's not a dictatorship, it's not a Communist-type thing. It's all about, 'Hey, you're a Jet, and we want you to be a Jet on and off the field.' When you're not, you hear about it."

It's a shame the Jets don't have captains anymore, but we all know Ryan abolished the time-honored tradition after the 2011 season, when Holmes -- one of his captains -- went on a power trip and became a disruptive influence in the locker room. Since then, Ryan has named game captains, making selections based on the opponent and the location -- i.e. players facing their former team or playing in their hometown. Sometimes, he'll pick a player for motivational reasons. The Jets are among a handful of teams that don't have permanent captains, meaning no players with a "C" on their chest.

Interestingly, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman announced at the start of the season that he, too, was switching to weekly captains. That came two weeks after they signed Holmes. Hmmm.

2. The 'What-if?' Bowl: The Bears' two biggest stars -- quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall -- were once players on the Jets' radar, back in the Mike Tannenbaum days. Before the 2008 season, the Jets explored the possibility of acquiring Cutler from the Denver Broncos. They weren't excited about Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens, so Tannenbaum reached out to the Broncos, quickly discovering that Denver wasn't going to trade Cutler to an AFC team. The Bears swooped in and made the blockbuster trade. The Jets ended up trading for some guy named Favre.

Before the 2009 season, the Jets tried to pry Marshall away from the Broncos, initiating talks at the spring league meetings. They were persistent, continuing their efforts all the way to the end of the preseason. The Broncos wanted David Harris in return, and the Jets -- with the defensive-minded Ryan in his first season -- didn't want to part with the young linebacker. The following offseason, they addressed the receiver need, trading for Holmes.

So, in a roundabout way, can we say the Jets still would have captains if they agreed to trade Harris?

3. 'What-if?' Bowl II: It didn't generate much buzz, but the Jets had eyes for Bears defensive end Jared Allen last offseason. During free agency, Ryan placed a call to Allen, one of the most prolific sack artists in history. The Jets had a strong connection to Allen -- defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, who coached Allen with the Minnesota Vikings. That connection, however, wasn't enough to overcome the money issue. The frugal Jets weren't willing to go anywhere near the four-year, $32 million deal he received from the Bears. The Jets ended up finding a veteran pass rusher on the eve of training camp, Jason Babin, who signed for two years, $3.25 million.

You can't blame the Jets for taking a pass on Allen, 32, who is off to a slow start, but you can blame them for missing the boat on Alshon Jeffery. They traded up for a wide receiver in the second round of the 2012 draft, but they preferred Stephen Hill over Jeffery, who went two spots later to the Bears. Oops.

4. No timeouts on timeout process: Despite last week's gaffe in Green Bay, Ryan said he hasn't made any changes to his sideline operation. He noted one aspect that hadn't been previously mentioned: He relies on the coaches in the press box to alert him if offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can't get word to him on the sideline that he wants a timeout, as was the case last Sunday. Obviously, that system failed because Ryan had no idea Mornhinweg wanted a timeout.

Here's the bottom line: Regardless of the system, these glitches will happen as long as you have two "heads" coaching the team on game day, Ryan and Mornhinweg.

5. Ed's words of wisdom: Safety Ed Reed took a lot of grief from fans and media during his seven-game run with the team last season, but you have to give him credit for this: Off the field, the future Hall of Famer made a lasting impact on many players. Since then, a few defensive backs have remarked how much they learned from Reed in the film room, but his reach extended beyond the secondary. Linebacker Demario Davis mentioned Reed this week when discussing his improved play. He said he learned "tendencies and habits" while breaking down film with Reed.

Davis said Reed's teachings helped him last week in Green Bay -- specifically, on his fourth-quarter sack. Initially, he dropped into pass coverage, but he noticed from Aaron Rodgers' "mannerisms" that the Packers' quarterback was going to hold the ball longer than usual and was prepared to improvise by playing "backyard football" -- something Davis picked up on film. His eyes flashed to the defensive line, where he noticed teammates being double teamed. He processed the information in a split second and decided to blitz, abandoning his pass-coverage assignment. It was so Reed -- a player jumping off the script to make an instinctive play.

"That's what Ed taught me," Davis said. "If you see something on film, just trust it in the game."

6. The Curse of Vlad: The Jets' best left guard since Alan Faneca is now a member of the Bears -- Matt Slauson. You might say the left-guard position has been an issue since the surprising release of Faneca in 2010. That year, they used a second-round pick on Vladimir Ducasse, thinking he'd step in for Faneca, but he lost a competition to Slauson. Ducasse failed to beat out Slauson in 2011 and 2012, finally getting the job last season by default. That lasted four games. In came Brian Winters, who has struggled in many of his 14 starts. He was tossed around last week by Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels. A couple of more games like that, and they might have to consider Oday Aboushi.

7. We hardly knew ye: Quarterback Tajh Boyd, cut in the preseason, has signed with the Florida Blacktips of the FXFL, a developmental league. That was a bad draft pick by the Jets -- specifically, Ryan, who lobbied for the former Clemson star. Boyd is one of only five 2014 sixth-round picks (out of 39) no longer active in the NFL, according to

8. Turnover shortage: The Jets have only one takeaway in two games, and that was a gift -- a botched snap by the Packers. That the Jets recovered the ball was a small miracle. Over the past 18 games, they've forced 22 fumbles, recovering only three. How is that possible? You have to figure there's a 50-50 chance on every fumble, right?

Practice report: Decker rehabs for third day

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker worked in the rehab area for a third consecutive day on Friday.

During the 30-minute portion of practice open to the media, Decker (hamstring), who again was not wearing pads, did some running and cutting off to the side.

The Jets will not put out their final injury report before Monday night’s matchup against the Chicago Bears until Saturday.

You have to wonder if the team will wait until game-time to make a decision on Decker, who is already an integral part of the offense.

Dee Milliner (ankle) was seen with the other cornerbacks in individual drills after a fairly long stint in the rehab area.

Linebackers/special teamers Nick Bellore (hip) and A.J. Edds (hamstring) spent some time in the rehab area before joining their teammates for individual drills. Edds missed the team’s Week 2 loss in Green Bay because of injury.