29 September 2010
Rex would never buy flowers for himself. He's never even considered it.
Rex Ryan has a peculiar hitch in his speech, a sort of verbal trope the listener might only notice after a year or so of press conferences. It goes like this: When you would say, "I didn't know," Rex says, "I never knew." When you'd say, "I did not anticipate that happening," Rex would say, "I never anticipated that happening." Basically, the guy always says "never!" He never says "not!"
Don't believe me? Here are three examples selected from just a small portion of his first Wednesday press conference, 36 hours after the season-opening loss to Baltimore.
On how much it hurt to lose the stadium/home opener:
"That was the most disappointing thing to me. You can overcome a loss, but that was just a special night and it never turned out that way."
On why Sanchez was so limited against the ball-hawking Ravens D, and an unintended consequence:
"When you say they won 45 out of 47 games when they win the turnover battle, that should be a high priority. I never wanted to cripple him."
On whether or not Ryan had spoken with Schottenheimer about why Shonn Greene played so little in the second half of that game:
"Really, I never got to that specifically."
On that strange note, please allow me to introduce a new weekly feature called "Things We Never Knew!" The idea is to use the quietest day of the NFL week (for fans) as a time to reflect on what we've learned from the past weekend’s game and how the players, coaches, fans, and media have reacted.
This past Sunday night, our dear Jetties brought their considerable talent, and a fair share of recently acquired baggage, down to South Beach. In the end though, triumph was theirs, dispatching of the loathsome Fins, 31-23.
So, without further ado... some “Things We Never Knew!" about the 2010 Jets.
1) We never knew the quarterback was ready to take command of a game in the fourth quarter.
The score was 24-23 after a long, Miami field goal. The ball was at the Jets' 20 after Dan Carpenter popped a beautiful kickoff into the corner of the end zone. There was 6:42 left to play and everyone in the stadium knew the Jets needed points-- a touchdown, specifically. A year ago, maybe even just 12 days before, it would've been "ground and pound and then probably punt" time. Not on Sunday night. The shackles were off and for the second straight week Sanchez looked calm and threw with remarkable pace and accuracy. (Yea, he nearly Brister'd the game away... almost.) The offense looked crisp coming out of the huddle and on third-and-10 from the 50, Sanchez drilled Braylon in the chest. Seven plays later LT was flying across the goal line and the contest was sealed. Mostly.
This had to be the most impressive drive of Sanchez's 21-game-old career. The coaches gave him an opportunity to win the game in the fourth quarter and he more than "managed" to grasp it. Watching, I felt like one of Fitzgerald's Dutch sailors; the fresh, green breast of a new world flowering before my eyes. (What, too much? It was good, how about that?)
2) We never knew such an out-of-control, classless, undisciplined team could keep it together when the going got tough.
And how! It had to be Edwards, didn't it? Having blown a two-touchdown lead, and with the beach crowd unusually in tune with the proceedings, the Jets took over on their own 33. Out came the offense, now trailing by a field goal. There was 8:47 to go in the third quarter. It took just one play. Just like he would an hour later, Sanchez drilled a perfect spiral into the hands of Public Enemy No. 1. The wayward Jason Allen was on the deck a second later and there went Edwards… another long touchdown in Miami. The Jets took a 21-17 lead, and the "being ahead in the score" portion of the Dolphins' evening was over.
The point here is not that we've learned Edwards can drive super-drunk on a Monday night, then play brilliantly on Sunday. I don't think too many people doubted he'd have a fine game. No, I just wanted to point out that the same tabloid press that suckles Sergeant Tom Coughlin's rough teet and pillories Rex for presiding over "Animal House" can so entirely miss the mark. It's rarely so stark. The Jets had their share of penalties, sure, but they were football miscues; pass interference on the rookie CB, false starts, and holding by the underqualified LG, etc. The Giants, on the other hand, with all their big blue blood class managed FIIIIIIVE personal foul penalties. Oh, and they suck.
I should also mention my favorite “stat of the week”. It's been on all the sites (including BC's Monday article) and in all the papers, though I NEVER saw it before the Jets won Sunday. It says that in the AFC East contest for immoral supremacy, the Jets are tied for last with the Patriots. Since Rex Ryan took over (on the date you see on our banner), both teams have had one player arrested. For the Jets, that guy was Braylon Edwards. At the top of the dipshit table are Tony Sparano's Dolphins, with six. The Bills have five.
3) We never knew Brodney Pool would make such a quick impact, or that Rex could be so versatile in his defensive play-calling.
Two games into his Jet career, Pool has proven his worth as the anti-Kerry Rhodes. We’ve read about his versatility in coverage, and how that allows the coaches to disguise who’s really playing the strong safety position (that’s an important piece of information to the quarterback, apparently). We knew about Pool’s taste for physical play and how that’s often landed him on the trainer’s table. But who knew he was such a sure tackler and ball-hawk? The latter title was often showered on Rhodes, but I prefer Pool’s style. Rhodes hung out in center field waiting for the occasional can of corn. Pool attacks the play, but never seems out of control. See: his clever snatch and foot drag job against the Pats. It was hardly Pete Reiser running into walls. On Sunday night, he was the last line of defense twice in the final two minutes. First, he bailed out a flopping Cromartie by pushing Brandon Marshall out of bounds at the 11 after a 30-yard reception. Then it was Pool, who, in a bizarre replay of last year’s soul-wrenching finish against Atlanta, broke the right way and got a paw on Henne’s fourth down pass to Fasano in the end zone. Drew Coleman grabbed the fluttering ball and it was game over.
And speaking of that last series… It’s good to know that “controlled chaos” is, indeed, controlled. The Jets blitz packages had been failing all night, and no matter how good or bad your corners are, if an NFL quarterback has seven clicks to throw the ball, he’s going to find someone, even Brian Hartline. So on the last three plays of the game, Ryan sent only three or four to rush Henne. In essence, he dared Fat(ter) Ben Roethlisberger to make a pin-point throw through traffic. The use of zone coverage gave the illusion of an open tight end—like one of those basketball rims at a carnival. The space Henne saw was never really there, as three guys had their hands in Fasano’s mug by the time the ball arrived.
4) We never knew just how bad the penalty situation was going to be.
As mentioned before, the Jets’ penalties were not necessarily the result of indiscipline, just incompetence. I’m not sure what’s worse. With Revis and Pace set to return to full strength in the next few weeks, the pass rush should get a boost both on the front and back end—more competent people to attack the QB with and better talent defending when/if the ball gets out of his hand.
There’s less to look forward to on the other side of the ball. Slauson is completely overmatched. One holding penalty negated a TD, which to be fair, wouldn’t have possible without the foul. The other was blatant enough to get called, but not thorough enough to keep the defender from falling dangerously at the Sanchise’s left leg. As the season goes on, teams are going to target the left guard more and more and sooner rather than later the quarterback is going to pay. Unless, of course, Slauson does a better job of holding.
5) We never knew Nick Folk was… no.. nevermind. Seeya next week.