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Jane McManus of The Journal News on the Jets.

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One last thing…

August
26

I didn’t want to have to write this on a day filled with actual Jets news, but this is the last post I’ll be writing for Jets Journal.

I’ve decided to leave The Journal News and today is my last day.

As a lot of you can probably tell, I have loved every minute covering this football team. From Chad Pennington, through Brett Favre and Mark Sanchez, Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan it’s been a blast.

I will admit I was a little nervous about writing a blog. They demand constant feeding and attention, and frankly there are not a lot of women blogging pro sports. I wasn’t sure if I’d spend a lot of days deleting profanities.

That didn’t happen.

I have really enjoyed reading your comments and insight about the team, and more than once followed up with a coach or player to see if there was more to it. I can’t tell you how much I will miss the give and take with you.

Thanks for making this worth the nights and weekends, the 1 a.m. phone call with Mike Tannenbaum to announce Favre’s arrival. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

I hope to be covering sports again and soon. In the meantime, you can follow me at twitter.com/janesports and I’ll be starting up a roller derby blog. That’s me in a black mouthguard, sneering at Rita Wayward. You can find info on my league, Suburbia Roller Derby, at suburbiarollerderby.com.

Hopefully though, there will be another pro sports blog in my future that I can stock with audio and video clips.

When that happens, I hope I’ll see you there.

Posted by Jane McManus on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 at 4:45 pm |


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Sanchez to start

August
26

Jets coach Rex Ryan has spent weeks watching Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens, looking at his quarterbacks’ numbers and film, trying to judge character and potential.

But in the end, he opted to go with his gut.

This morning he called the two into a closed door meeting and told Sanchez the starting job belonged to the rookie. Clemens was disappointed, but told Sanchez, “Take it and run, I’ll be your eyes on the sideline.”

For his part, Sanchez tried to act the part of the starter, showing deference to the veteran he beat out for the job and trying not to seem too giddy.

“As happy as I am, this is only the beginning,” Sanchez said.

The 22-year-old will be a starting quarterback in New York City. Not a bad job for a player fresh out of college. Some of the Jets receivers were already planning a celebratory dinner.

WR David Clowney, who worked with the first team for a while today, said he and Sanchez had developed a little rhythm since they both started with the twos at camp, “but at the same time he has a rhythm with everybody.”

Can Sanchez win?

“We’re going to find out,” said S Kerry Rhodes. “We believe in him. The coaching staff believes in him and the players believe in him. We think we have something special in him.”

FB Tony Richardson pointed out that this year in particular the offensive line and the players surrounding the rookie would have a lot of impact on how well he will play, but yes, Sanchez does have potential.

“It’s unlimited,” TE Dustin Keller said. “He’s got a very strong arm and he can put it anywhere on the field. The possibilities are endless.”

Clemens was still visibly disappointed as he addressed reporters after the afternoon practice before the crowds at Florham Park. He said he wished he’d performed better during camp and key moments.

“I felt like it was close,” Clemens said. “I think that I’m a good quarterback and I can win in this league but I think I needed to work to be more consistent. There were good days but it needed to stay at that level.”

Ryan was insistent that he didn’t just name Sanchez because Clemens had been lackluster.

“Just to say he won by default,” Ryan said, “I think that’s being way too disrespectful to Kellen.”

Posted by Jane McManus on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 at 4:15 pm |


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Where it stands now

August
25

No, Rex Ryan is not ready to name a starting quarterback. When both potential starters get interceptions returned for touchdowns within minutes of taking the field in a preseason game in Baltimore, it’s hard to get too excited about either one.

Both rookie Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens looked better as they went along later earned touchdowns. Sanchez started the game and, in front of the Monday Night Football national audience, looked a little doe-eyed to start out with a dropped pass, a sack and two delay of game penalties as he led the offense.

Ryan on Sanchez: “I thought he responded pretty well. It ain’t going to be perfect so sometimes you have these type of nights.”

The Ravens defense will hand you those kinds of nights. Ray Lewis was particularly rough on Sanchez, and the linebacker read the rookies eyes to cut off a second pass, and only a drop prevented another interception. The Jets defense has made strides, but former Raven linebacker Bart Scott wouldn’t bite when asked to compare the two units.

“That’s a loaded question,” Scott said. “That’s a great defense over there, and we’re striving to be a great defense over here.”

“I was surprised how much they threw the ball, but that’s good for us in the secondary,” said CB Dwight Lowery. “It challenges us a bit. It shows us where we are as a secondary, and the things that we need to improve on, and the communication, and to make sure that everybody lines up in correct spots, and things of that nature. Because, this defense, we’re still learning it. I feel like we did well as a defense, as a team tonight.”

The 24-23 loss likely pushes back the timeline to name a starter, something that some on the team would like to see happen as soon as possible before the regular season starts.

“I think it would be good to get it resolved and the sooner, the better,” WR Jerricho Cotchery said. “But that’s not up to me. Once we figure out who our quarterback is going to be, we need to get to work together and establish some chemistry. Until then, we just need to keep working as an offense. Whoever it is, we need to get together and play ball. I know we have the potential to be really good as an offense. We just need to jell.”

If you look at the two preseason efforts, Sanchez still looks like he has the makings of an NFL quarterback. The threat of humiliation in the first few minutes of a game can do a lot to spark a player, and Baltimore’s sophomore quarterback Joe Flacco had preseason nights like this as well. Saturday the Jets meet the Giants in the Meadowlands and that defense has a lot to offer as well.

With a chance to tie in the last minute, Ryan attempted a conversion for the win but fell short.

“If this was a regular season game, we probably would have just tied it up and then taken our chances in overtime,” Ryan  said, “but for preseason I wanted to try to go for two and I thought they were up to the challenge.”

WR David Clowney had his second touchdown in as many games for the Jets.

“And I know David Clowney,” Ryan said, “I told our team if we had left him in there in the fourth quarter, we would have gotten another one. He’s doing really well.”

Clowney said the comeback was a good signs for the Jets.

“That was definitely a very good building block for us,” Clowney said. “In the second half, the 2’s and 3’s (second string and third string) are out on the field. Playing like that in the second half lets you know how good your depth is. They say that you’re only as strong as your weakest link so that’s a good sign for us.”

Breaking news! RB Leon Washington is something else! Given these words from his head coach, perhaps the back will have a new contract soon.

“Leon Washington is pretty darn good. Wow. Whoa,” Ryan said.

Ryan praised Bryan Thomas also. Shonn Greene got hit in the ribs, but Ryan said it wasn’t serious. K Jay Feely didn’t make the trip after tweaking his groin.

Posted by Jane McManus on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 at 10:15 am |


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Post Baltimore

August
24

The starters are out, all that’s left is the final score.

Mark Sanchez got his start, and in under a minute had a pass intended for Tony Richardson intercepted by Haloti Ngata and run in for a touchdown. In less than a minute the Ravens had a 7-0 lead. But that wasn’t all. In the first half, Sanchez had two delay of game penalties, was sacked and dropped a handoff.

Sanchez held on, however, for a 19-yard scoring pass to Leon Washington.

All Kellen Clemens needed to do was look steady and competent, but it was only his second series before he threw a touchdown for an interception as well. Clemens was 5-for-10, 60 yards, a TD and a FG, while Sanchez was 3-for-8, 43 yards and a TD.

Clemens was marginally better by the numbers, but even he knows he has to outplay Sanchez by a wider margin to win the starting job. As it is now, neither looked ready for the nod, and their performances likely pushes back the timeline for naming the ultimate starter.

Bright spots: Kerry Rhodes looked solid in the backfield. Marques Murrell had a strip early in the second half. James Ihedigbo (aka King Ugly) had an interception. Bart Scott.

Problems: Vernon Gholston got burned by Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco on the run. David Clowney’s personal foul for pulling off his helmet after scoring a touchdown. The Wu Tang dance was a better move.

Update: Jets lose 24-23 after a failed conversion.

Posted by Jane McManus on Monday, August 24th, 2009 at 11:01 pm |


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Baltimore

August
24

Of course you can’t get too excited about preseason games, starters don’t play much and the final score doesn’t matter. But you just know Rex Ryan would love to get the better of his old team with the Jets play Baltimore tonight at 8. Most coaches would try to downplay the significance to lower expectations, but by now we all know that’s just not Ryan’s style.

“You got myself and (Baltimore head coach) John (Harbaugh), two great buddies going against each other,” Ryan said. “I’ve got the utmost respect for their players, their coaching staff and that entire organization from the top down. From Steve Bisciotti on, but that’s what’s fun. You’re there and you’re like ‘wow this is a preseason game,’ but it’s going to feel special. I know it is. It’s not just going to feel special to me. It’s going to feel special for all our guys. If there’s such a thing as a special preseason game, I think this is it.”

Not long after Ryan was named Jets head coach in January, he started pulling in some of his defense. He wanted linebacker Bart Scott so much that he showed up in his driveway at midnight at the start of free agency. To bring the defensive backs in line with his system, he pulled in S Jim Leonhard.

Linebacker Bart Scott weighed in on tonight’s matchup.

“I don’t know what they’re putting into it,” Scott said. “I don’t know what the coaches may say. You never know with coach Harbaugh. I’m sure they are out there to prove it was more-or-less them, not Rex’s system. But they’re running the same system.”

As for the quarterbacks, both Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez should play more, and Ryan said he could see Sanchez getting a little more playing time given that Clemens got two series against St. Louis. Ryan knows that both will have a harder time against Baltimore.

“And by the way, that other team over there is pretty good on defense,” Ryan said. “They’re going to be looking to hunt. They’re going to get after him just like we’ll be looking to get after their quarterback. It’s going to be fun. It’ll be good to watch. It’s going to be closer to regular season tempo than any preseason game. I know the way the Ravens play. They’re going to give us everything they (have) and we’re going to give them everything we (have).”

He said the Jets could name a starter soon depending on what he sees in the game.

“I would say that every snap is important,” Clemens said. “Obviously, you can evaluate somebody a little bit better in games than you can in practice, but every snap that we get out there is important. I think Baltimore will be no different.”

The Jets have brought Harvard quarterback Chris Pizzotti back for the night. The Ivy Leaguer may not be NFL material, but the Jets are going to give him a series under the lights. That’s darn human of them in a league that cuts you at noon and removes your name plate at 12:01.

Posted by Jane McManus on Monday, August 24th, 2009 at 10:32 am |


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King Ugly

August
21

Last night, the final night of camp in Cortland, the Jets had the rookie show and the announced that James Ihedigbo was the winner of the King Ugly comptition. The winner gets a toilet plunger as a scepter and a Burger King crown.

Good stuff, but the second and third place winners get cash.

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine came in second and RB Leon Washington came in third. My theory is that Washington finished in the money because his teammates wanted to help him out as he waits for his contract dispute over an extension to be resolved. (By the way, Leon’s newborn was at camp earlier, worn in a swanky designer baby carrier, so I think he’s doing OK!)

Now, that’s bonding.

Posted by Jane McManus on Friday, August 21st, 2009 at 11:10 am |


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NFL on Plax

August
20

There’s been a lot of talk about the wide on this blog, so I thought I’d include it. Pretty strong, and I think what has happened with Ellis, Plaxico and other NFL players who get in trouble show there won’t a free pass from the league.

Here’s the NFL’s statement on former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress:

PLAXICO BURRESS is not under contract to an NFL team. In light of his plea today, Commissioner ROGER GOODELL has suspended Burress and informed him that he is ineligible to sign with any team until he completes his jail term. Commissioner Goodell said Burress will be reinstated and eligible to sign with an NFL team upon the completion of his sentence. Burress was notified on June 26 that Commissioner Goodell had initiated a review of the matter for potential discipline under the NFL’s Personal Conduct and Weapons policies. Commissioner Goodell and members of his staff conducted a hearing with Burress and his representatives last Wednesday (August 12) in New York.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 3:39 pm |


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Jets sign S Nate Ness

August
19

From the Jets:

Ness (6-1, 190/Arizona/Gardena, CA) originally signed with Cleveland as an undrafted free agent on May 1, 2009, before being waived on July 15. In 25 games (19 starts) during two seasons at the University of Arizona, Ness totaled 107 tackles, seven interceptions for 166 yards in returns and two fumble recoveries.

Posted by Jane McManus on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 at 5:00 pm |


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Leavin’ on a Jet plane

August
19

Oh, Brett Favre. It is always dangerous to underestimate how much he dislikes training camp.

The former (and briefly at that) Jets quarterback will play for Minnesota next year, which one might cynically think he’d hoped to do ever since leaving Green Bay during the last offseason. At least the Jets don’t have to give up any first-rounders as a result of this, and I imagine plenty of Jets fans are glad he won’t be competing with Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens for the starting job.

The Jets are wrapping up camp this week, with a closed practice on Friday and then coming back for closed weekend practices before Monday’s preseason game against Baltimore.

Rex Ryan had a few things to say yesterday, and noted that David Clowney really helped himself in the game against the Rams. Before catching Sanchez’ first NFL pass for 48-yards, I thought he was in danger of losing his position given the addition of Aundrae Allison and the crowd at wide receiver. Allison is the same kind of speedy wide that Clowney is, and you never want to see a mirror image brought in. (Hello TJ? Meet Shonn Greene…)

”(David) Clowney stepped up big time in that game,” Ryan said. “I think that was huge. We all know he can do it. He’s got that blazing speed. It wasn’t necessarily a surprise. You guys (media) saw that last year. He led the NFL in yardage last year in the preseason. Unfortunately, he had the collarbone (injury) so we all know he can do it. But, it was good for me to see with my own eyes also. That was impressive. He really was.”

Then Ryan said this about his big, brash attitude.

“I mean, I probably won’t call out Channing Crowder again,” Ryan said. “That’s one thing I probably won’t do because that really got blown out (of proportion).  I’ll pick on a kicker or something (laughter). No (it’s not a concern). I’m going to be true to myself. I don’t mean to be disrespectful.  I’m not trying to be disrespectful. When I said that about (Bill) Belichick, I’m just letting him know I’m not intimidated by him. He’s got the same position I have. We’re both head coaches in this league. He just happens to have a hell of a lot of Super Bowl rings. I don’t have a win and I appreciate you pointing that out (laughter). I understand that. We’re not going to just tiptoe our way through this thing. You don’t win and beat a Bill Belichick-coached team by tiptoeing up there. We’re going to be ourselves and I’m going to be myself and that’s just the way it is. How much more motivation are they going to get by putting a quote from Rex Ryan on their wall saying I believe in my football team and that I’m not going to be intimidated by a coach or anybody else?  If that’s where you’re going to draw motivation from, hell, we’re probably going to kick your (butt) if that’s the case (laughter).”

And lastly, if any of you visit training camp, I’ve loved seeing your observations in the comments, so keep it coming!

Posted by Jane McManus on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 at 9:18 am |


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Defense and job interviews

August
18

Here are some of the highlights from yesterday’s practice, the first after a loss to the Rams in the first preseason game of the season. Clearly, Jets coach Rex Ryan is starting to get tough on players. Then of course there are the issues with the defense. Let’s start with the nose.

NT Kris Jenkins on practicing yesterday:

“I’m tired of doing the same thing on the sideline over and over again. He (Sal Alosi head strength and conditioning coach) won’t change up the routine and it hurt and I just spazzed out, so I just walked out in the middle of the thing and said, ‘I’ll take my chances on the field’ (laughing).  I got out there and was just good to go.”

Jenkins said he wasn’t sure if he would be ready for the Baltimore game, but said if it were a regular season game he’d muster. Here’s the thing, for that first game  of the actual season, Jenkins will be essential given the loss of LB Calvin Pace and DE Shaun Ellis for their maddeningly boneheaded actions.

Ellis spoke yesterday after getting the $100,000 NFL fine for his marijuana arrest last season, and missing the Houston game.

“It hurts,” Ellis said. “It’s a situation that happened last year. For it to carry on into this year, it’s kind of tough. I just wish I would have been able to have dealt with it last year. This year is just going into things fresh with that behind me. But, it didn’t happen that way. I just have to go through it and deal with it, be ready for week two. Yes, I’m going to miss being out there, but I have confidence in the New York Jets that they will get the job done.”

Ryan said this about the Ellis situation.

“I think (what) is important (is) how it is going to affect us,” Ryan said. “Who is starting hasn’t really been determined. We’ll go through that process. But again, we have a lot of confidence in our players. We always talk about the decal. Whoever goes out there is going to make a good account of themselves. We will miss Shaun obviously, but we feel that we have the guys playing behind him.  We should be just fine. Don’t feel sorry for us. We will move forward from that.”

With DE Vernon Gholston already named the starter in lieu of Pace, that leaves a few candidates, namely Mike DeVito or Sione Poucha, possibly Marques Murrell or Howard Green.

Meanwhile, the team is clearly starting to tweak the roster, and waived S Keith Fitzhugh yesterday. After the 23-20 loss to the Rame, the Jets cut WR Paul Raymond.

“You have to be special to play for the Jets,” Ryan said. “There are a lot of guys that would love to get this opportunity but I want that certain mentality. Dropping a punt with Paul (Raymond), if Jim Leonhard dropped a punt I wouldn’t be cutting Jim Leonhard. I wouldn’t be cutting Leon Washington. But if you get a chance to shine there, you have to step up and do it. Not everybody gets to bat with us. So, if you get an opportunity, you have to make the most of it. Some guys only get one shot. You have to make the most of it.”

I would imagine Ryan really, really wants to beat his old team next Monday in Baltimore. Or at least out-play on defense. Ryan talked a little about the pairing of former Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott with David Harris.

“That is the odd couple right there,” Ryan said. “Harris never says anything and then you have Scott who’s talking all the time, running his mouth.”

Posted by Jane McManus on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 at 8:27 am |


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About this blog
A team of Journal News reporters share their thoughts on the Jets with the Lower Hudson fans.

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About the author
Jane McManusJane McManus joined The Journal News in 1999, after working at The Daily News and Newsday. Since she's been here, she's covered everything from girls basketball to the Final Four, the U.S. Open of both golf and tennis and recreational sports from rock climbing to roller derby (which she liked so much she joined the team). READ MORE
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