Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett are stuffing their Thanksgiving podcast, and they're joined by Newsday's Bob Glauber (13:00) to talk about the state of the Jets, Todd Bowles, and Sunday's showdown with the Miami Dolphins.
Tags: Miami Dolphins
After losing for the fourth time in five games, Jets head coach Todd Bowles voiced his frustrations to his players in the locker room, Muhammad Wilkerson told WFAN on Tuesday (Nov. 24).
"Coach Todd, after the game, went off on us and told us, 'Losing is not acceptable,'" Wilkerson said. "He doesn't like losing, as well. I'm pretty sure that everybody in the locker room definitely needs to have that spark lit under them this week, and we need to get these wins rolling quickly."
Bowles, in his first season as Jets head coach, said after the Jets' 24-17 loss to the Texans that he was upset at his team, but would handle the matter internally.
"I'm extremely upset today, but I'm not going to take it out here," Bowles said at the time. "We'll discuss that in-house when I get back in the locker room and we get in the meeting."
The Jets started the season 4-1, but have dropped to 5-5 and sit in a four-way tie for sixth in the AFC Wild Card race heading into Sunday's game against the Dolphins. New York doesn't hold any tiebreaker over the other 5-5 teams (Chiefs, Texans and Bills).
"These losses are starting to get out of hand for us," Wilkerson said.
Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson , Matthew Eisenberg
The Miami Dolphins have claimed Quinton Coples off waivers.
The former first-round draft pick was cut by the Jets on Monday.
This season for the Jets, the 25-year-old Coples had appeared in 10 games (two starts) while failing to record a sack.
The Jets play the Dolphins on Sunday.
Tags: Miami Dolphins , Quinton Coples
The Jets have signed OLB Josh Martin to the active roster, the team announced.
Martin started out as an undrafted LB with Kansas City in 2013, out of Columbia. He played his first two seasons with the Chiefs, then moved to Tampa Bay this season. He was waived/injured by the Buccaneers in October and was signed Oct. 31 to the Colts' practice squad.
Martin has half a sack, a forced fumble and 28 tackles over 21 games in the NFL.
The wide receiver and quarterback relationship is extremely important -- just ask Brandon Marshall.
Marshall shared a photo of himself on FaceTime with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
"Communication is key.. . Even over FaceTime with your QB!!!" he posted on Instagram.
Tags: Brandon Marshall , Ryan Fitzpatrick
Colin Kaepernick will not play again this season, after landing on injured reserve for a torn labrum in his shoulder. But, his 49ers career may be over, too, as he was benched in favor of their backup.
So, should the New York Jets look into trading for the quarterback?
Peter King floats the Jets as one of the options for the 49ers if they want to deal the QB.
"Because they're in need of a quarterback of the future, and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey likes versatile athlete types," King wrote in The MMQB (Nov. 24).
But, Kaepernick is owed $13.9 million next season and recovery time for his expected surgery is 4-6 months.
With Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith not looking like long-term solutions, do you think the Jets should inquire on Kaep?
Tags: San Francisco 49ers , Andrew Vazzano
Safety Ronald Martin was added back to the Jets' practice squad after clearing waivers, the team announced Monday night.
Martin was placed on waivers before Sunday's loss to the Texans. New York signed him from the practice squad to the active roster before the Jets' Week 10 loss to the Bills.
Martin, 22, is in his rookie season after attending LSU.
Tags: Ronald Martin
For all the changes the Jets made this offseason, yesterday's loss and the struggles over the past few weeks had a familiar feel to them.
However, if I told you at the start of the season that the Jets would be without Nick Mangold, Sheldon Richardson and Darrelle Revis during a November road game against a team leading their division, would you really have expected anything better than a competitive loss?
Right now, the Jets are victims of their own early-season success because the 4-1 start placed unrealistic expectations on the team. At the same time, they're not as bad as this 1-4 stretch would suggest either.
I remain extremely impressed with the Texans and hope to see them continuing to improve as the season endures. I have a feeling I'll be rooting for them come playoff time, because right now the Jets aren't showing many signs that they'll be there. However, right now this team needs to stop worrying about the playoffs and instead focus on getting back to winning ways. Hopefully, that can begin on Sunday because time is running out on the season.
There was no BGA Extra last week because you guys were kind to me and didn't ask me many questions after the Bills game. However, BGA Extra will return on Friday and I'll incorporate the few questions I did get into that article. Remember to send me your questions about the Texans game if there's anything you want be to go into more detail on.
Here are the links to each of this week's BGA articles.
- Offensive Line
- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Defensive Line
- Defensive Backs
- Special Teams
If you have anything you'd like me to take a closer look at or any other questions for me, leave them in the comments section of this post (please re-submit any questions you've asked in any of the above posts), tweet them to @Bent_Double or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll respond in BGA Extra on Friday.
Tags: Houston Texans
Jets head coach Todd Bowles spoke with the media on Monday. Here are five things we learned...
1.) QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will start against the Dolphins on Sunday, and there wasn't much discussion regarding a potential change.
2.) The release of LB Quinton Coples was strictly a business decision.
3.) CB Darrelle Revis is still going through concussion protocol and didn't feel better on Monday.
4.) C Nick Mangold had an MRI on his hand that came back negative. However, he has 6-7 stiches in his hand and his availability for Sunday will depend on his pain tolerance.
5.) Bowles is hopeful that DE Sheldon Richardson (hamstring) will be able to play on Sunday.
I've come to appreciate Jeremy Kerley as a punt returner this year. Yes, he offers no threat whatsoever, but he's been reliable at fielding the ball and on a special teams unit that can't otherwise seem to get out of its own way, that's appreciated because an ill-timed muff would strike me as the kind of thing this team wouldn't respond well to.
However, this week, Kerley annoyed me a little bit. At least three times, it seemed like he had a ton of room to run but he didn't make the most of it. The Texans have been susceptible to return yardage over the course of the season, but Kerley was unable to exploit this, dancing around and ultimately going nowhere on one play and then indecisively running towards the sideline and out of bounds on the other two.
The blocking in front of Kerley was perhaps not the best, but he still seemed like he could have done better on those plays. He also seemed to cut a forlorn figure on the sidelines even after Brandon Marshall's game-tying touchdown, so I wonder if he's started going through the motions, seeing the writing on the wall for next year.
His returns brought back memories of Santana Moss, who I coined "The Crab" when he similarly checked out in 2004, giving a poor effort on returns and in terms of going over the middle with a contract extension - one the Jets couldn't afford and ultimately side-stepped by trading him - looming on the horizon. I called him the crab because he basically ran laterally and then just ran straight out of bounds on nearly every punt return like he was only capable of going sideways. Kerley wasn't as bad as that, but did leave some yards on the field.
Other than this, there wasn't much to report on special teams. In the kicking game, Randy Bullock made a field goal and kicked three touchbacks. Ryan Quigley had two nice punts - it was almost three, but he put one in the end zone. Tanner Purdum had a bad snap and one punt was nearly blocked as Erin Henderson left a rusher unblocked and Calvin Pryor double-teamed instead of picking that up.
On kick returns, Antonio Cromartie had a good one out to the 40. He was stuffed inside the 20 on one though, as Leger Douzable missed his block.
Finally, in coverage, the likes of Buster Skrine, Rontez Miles and Kellen Davis made nice tackles and Henderson combined with Trevor Reilly to force a fumble, although how he didn't recover it, I'll never know. Miles also nearly blocked a punt but Skrine was called for a personal foul which turned a 45-yard net punt into a 71-yard net punt in the fourth quarter.
Next up…Our final wrap-up, giving you the links to all today's articles and the opportunity to read the whole thing in one go…
Tags: Jeremy Kerley
Darrelle Revis is a great player. He's easily the Jets' best defensive back and still one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. However, it's obvious he's not the guaranteed complete-lockdown corner he was before his ACL tear even though the Jets are currently paying him like he is, with a plan to continue doing so for the next few years.
When you watch the disruptiveness of a player like J.J. Watt, it shows the contributions he makes towards the hefty salary he himself is earning. You can say that the Texans have fielded a team with a losing record in recent years, but they've done so in spite of Watt earning his keep with the most consistently disruptive play of any defensive player in the league. Every team that beat the Texans had to deal with Watt making their job harder.
Revis has been on both winning and losing teams in his time away from the Jets. Perhaps tellingly, that's what each of those teams already were before he arrived and have continued to be after his departure.
You can remove an elite cornerback's influence from a game by completely avoiding him, but there's an inherent value in that because it reduces your number of options on any given play and can also serve to remove one of your playmakers' own influences from the game. Whether that value is worth the exorbitant salaries commanded by today's top corners is up for debate, but what happens when a player's performance slips below an elite level?
We can't expect Revis to be completely flawless. However, when you're paying him almost a million dollars per game (maybe more than that if he gets hurt and misses a few), he needs to be as close to that as possible to justify his worth. He's held players like Sammy Watkins and Amari Cooper to below their usual level of production in recent weeks, but if we're going to pick apart his performance -- and with such a high salary, we have a right to do so -- he did still get badly beaten for some key conversions to each and was lucky on a couple of plays that could have made their numbers look a lot better.
In Sunday's game, Revis started off matched up with DeAndre Hopkins, but Hopkins burned him on a double-move to get deep early. The ball was overthrown and this looked like another one of those near-misses that Revis would typically overcome to hold that receiver to below their usual production. However, this time, they went after him again later on and this time connected as Revis was badly beaten on a 61-yard touchdown pass.
Revis had already given up three first downs to that point and in the second half, the Jets started getting Revis to pass Hopkins off to Marcus Gilchrist when he ran deep. They also put Buster Skrine and Antonio Cromartie on him at times instead. A concession that he couldn't handle this match-up, perhaps?
In the second half, Revis gave up another first down on third-and-long and also had two tackles where he didn't wrap up and the runner was able to get extra yardage. In the end, Revis was knocked out of the game with a suspected concussion and Hopkins beat his replacement, Marcus Williams, over the top for another touchdown.
Revis is a great player, but if he's going to be given these tough isolation assignments and can't handle them as well as he used to, the Jets' defense will suddenly be no better off than it would have if it were playing two cheaper, more conventional cornerbacks and not worrying about the traps, blitz packages and rolling coverages that leaving Revis on an island enables them to do. Unfortunately, in order to be worth what they're paying him, they need him to handle those assignments.
Cromartie might only be earning half as much as Revis but he's not even meeting the requirement of being capable of playing at a "cheaper, more conventional cornerback" level right now. Making his return from injury, he was driven well out of the play on a wildcat run early on for an easy third down conversion. He was also flagged for holding on another third down and beaten twice in coverage in the first half -- once for a first down and the other time as the throw was off target. The one good play he did make in coverage in the first half should also have been a hold or an illegal contact call.
The second half wasn't much better for Revis. As noted, he was perhaps drawn out of position on the gadget play that went for a touchdown and then gave up a huge gain when he gambled to try and break up the pass and the receiver escaped into the open field. He did make one good play in coverage, stripping the ball away from a receiver after he caught it at the marker.
Perhaps more concerning was that he noticeably seemed to shy away from contact on a couple of plays. That's something he's been accused of in the past, but not something I've seen from him as much in recent years. The one good tackle Cromartie did make -- although it was negated by a penalty anyway -- was when he was out of position and ran across late, so he was on the move as the receiver caught the ball. When a runner comes at Cromartie, he seems to be reverting to bad habits but he had the momentum in his favor on that one.
Skrine wasn't exploited in coverage, although I did notice that Cecil Shorts lost him on one third down route where the pass went elsewhere. Skrine did well to contain one wildcat run and had a good hit on a receiver downfield, although he held on to the catch.
Although he gave up that score, Williams came up big with a strip-sack and fumble recovery and a key pass break-up on third down. The only other cornerback to get any reps was Darrin Walls, who played one snap.
At safety, Gilchrist was in on a few stops and made a couple of good plays in coverage. He almost intercepted a wayward pass downfield.
Calvin Pryor made his return to the lineup and made some good contributions in the running game, although he did have one missed tackle on a bad angle. Pryor also had a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and two nice plays in coverage. One of those saw him break up a fade route to J.J. Watt -- a player who entered the game with a 100 percent catch rate. The other saw him avoid traffic to pick up Cromartie's man near the goal line after the Texans motioned him across the formation at full speed. The sideline mics, picked up Pryor saying "[I] got you!" as Cromartie thanked him for the rescue following the throw-away.
Finally, Rontez Miles saw some brief action with Pryor out of the game for a few plays. I did notice both Cromartie and Pryor shaking out the cobwebs after one running play. It seemed odd that neither went through concussion protocol and wouldn't be surprised to hear that they're being assessed during the week. They may have benefited from the fact that Revis was already being looked at, so the doctors were preoccupied. That seems like a flaw in the system.
Next up…A pretty non-eventful day on special teams, but I'm sure I'll find something to gripe about…
Tags: Darrelle Revis
Once again, Jets fans were subjected to the all-too-familiar sight of Demario Davis arriving on the scene too late as a wide open receiver took another pass into the end zone. That doesn't necessarily mean it's always his fault but, this time, Davis did seem to be fooled by the Texans' well-designed (and well-executed) gadget play.
While the announcers correctly noted that Antonio Cromartie had completely abandoned that side of the field, it's definitely the case that the back who caught the pass was Davis' assignment initially, because he mirrored his first step before the ball was thrown to the opposite sideline.
Davis continues to struggle with the Bowles/Rodgers system for whatever reason and you have to wonder if he's going to lose playing time soon. I did notice Erin Henderson entered the game for him a couple of times, although on one of those occasions he was noticeably limping at the conclusion of the previous play, so I don't know if we can say that this is a shift in that direction quite yet. Davis only missed a total of six plays, although he had only missed two all season before yesterday.
We often discuss players in the context of whether or not they are making impact plays, but Davis is a player who is making impact mistakes nearly every week. Everyone makes a mistake from time to time, but if you compare him directly with his inside linebacking partner David Harris, it seems a lot rarer that Harris is on the wrong end of a crucial play this year.
Davis had a couple of pressures and was in on a few run stops, but was blocked out of a few run plays and missed one tackle. There was also another play where he seemed to be at fault for leaving the back uncovered for an easy third down conversion on a dump-off underneath. On the play, both Harris and Davis vacated the middle, but Harris was the only defender on the same side as the tight end so he had to take that assignment, whereas Davis tried to jump a slant route on a slot receiver that was already covered so he either needed to get back to the middle of the field quicker having done so, or should have stayed underneath and taken responsibility for the back instead.
Harris recorded eight tackles, a pass defensed and a quarterback hit. He did miss one tackle, was fooled on a wildcat play and was blocked out a few times at the second level, but - unlike Davis - he avoided any major errors.
The biggest story of the week is the fact that the Jets waived Quinton Coples after the game. Coples saw action on just five snaps, which had me wondering what the point was of even having him active if they're not going to use him even when Sheldon Richardson is out. The team obviously reached the same conclusion and took it a step further by waiving him earlier today. Coples perhaps wasn't viewed as an ideal fit for the system, but he's a player with experience and good production in multiple roles and the Jets' insistence on not using him was baffling, especially since he'd shown some early season signs that he was going to have a productive year.
When the Jets were in London, I observed that Coples was laughing around and joking following the team's win, despite the fact that his snaps had been cut, while others in the same situation were moping around despite the win. He didn't seem bothered by the fact he hadn't played a big part in the win and I wonder if the team was less than impressed with his lack of urgency to start making bigger contributions after having talked about expectations of big pass rush numbers during the offseason. Alternatively, maybe he finally got frustrated and spoke out or even asked for his release. Who knows?
I'm sure there's more to this, but Coples is going to be an interesting player to keep tabs on now the Jets have cut ties.
Calvin Pace got plenty of playing time and was able to make a few good contributions with a tackle for loss, one other run stuff and a good play in coverage. He too was fooled on a wildcat play, lost contain on another play and was blocked well off the line by a double-team on a stretch zone run, creating a big cutback lane.
Lorenzo Mauldin saw reps as a situational edge rusher in passing situations again and did get outside to record one pressure.
In relief work, Henderson was in on one run stuff but did miss a tackle. He came unblocked to create pressure on one blitz. Jamari Lattimore and Trevor Reilly continue to just play on special teams.
Next up…The Jets' expensive secondary continues to disappoint…
Tags: Demario Davis
The Jets have waived OLB Quinton Coples, the team announced on Monday.
Coples, the Jets' first round pick (16th overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft, was in his fourth season with New York.
This season for the Jets, the 25-year-old Coples had appeared in 10 games (two starts) while failing to record a sack.
This is big news and while the new regime has no loyalty to Coples, the timing of the move is unsettling. I believe we don't know the full situation and expect that more will be revealed in time.
Just to give you a sense of how little Coples has played over the two months, here's his snap counts since the start of the season according to Pro Football Focus: 54/71, 39/64, 35/73, 15/65, 8/65, 23/67, 19/64, 8/66, 8/66, 5/76. Coples has all the natural gifts that any NFL coaching staff covets, but questions of desire and attitude have followed him since his days at North Carolina.
A few weeks ago, Corey Griffin and I spoke to NFL Media's Lance Zierlein on the TJB podcast and his assessment of Coples was shrewd. In short, Zierlein said pass rushing is much like rebounding in basketball: it's a question of desire and Zierlein didn't think Coples had that trait. It's hard to blame the Jets for dropping Coples, especially in light of how Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams have played. Three out of four ain't bad, but to drop a first rounder in the middle of the season is still quite a bombshell.
This new front office and coaching staff has zero allegiance to Coples, but what's most surprising is that the team was not able to trade him -- even if just for pennies -- at the NFL trade deadline to any team needing some defensive help a few weeks ago.
What might have been more problematic was the team already picking up his fifth year option in 2016. Had the team held onto him into the spring, they might have been on the hook to pay him and the team was not confident enough in their ability to move him for much of anything. Now Coples is free to any team wanting to put in a waiver claim. I'd be shocked if Rex Ryan and the Bills don't put just such a claim in on him.
Personally, this feels like a kick in the gut. It's hard for me to be unbiased when it comes to Quinton Coples because I've sat in his home, met both his amazing mother and sister and seen his generosity to his hometown first-hand. Every year he hosts a community day and feeds his entire hometown of Kinston, NC -- some of the best Carolina barbecue I've ever tasted -- and raises money for local charities ...
The simple truth is that not every player will work out in every situation, but I do hope that he finds a team that can make use of his talents. I will be very interested in hearing the reasoning for cutting Coples at this juncture. But one thing is for sure ... Coples was NOT the Jets' biggest problem in Houston or 11 days ago against Buffalo. At the end of the day, the team hasn't done anything to address the real problem here.
Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett are deep in the heart of a losing streak, as they take calls and comments after the Jets dropped Sunday's tilt with the Texans.
Tags: Houston Texans
Before we get onto the inevitable comparisons between JJ Watt and Muhammad Wilkerson, it would be remiss of me not to mention what a monster game Damon Harrison had at nose tackle.
Harrison smashed his career high with 12 tackles, almost doubling his highest number of solo tackles with nine. To an extent that was because the Texans kept running it up the middle while Harrison just did what he always does in those situations and held his ground then shed the block to get in on the stuff. While he didn't record a tackle for a loss, only one of those tackles came on a play that went for more than three yards as the Jets did hold the Texans to 3.3 yards per carry, even though they gave up over 120 yards on the ground.
Harrison did get blocked out of a couple of plays in the second half and was dragged for extra yardage on one play, but his consistent run stuffing helped the Jets force the Texans into a lot of passing downs with Houston converting seven of 18 third downs, including just two of eight in the second half. Harrison also created pressure with one bull rush and came close to getting pressure on a stunt.
For Wilkerson, it was a much quieter afternoon on a day when he could have put up a contractual marker for himself by matching or bettering Watt's performance.
Houston rarely ran at him and blocked him out of a couple of running plays, although he did bottle up a few runs with good penetration and ended up with three tackles. The team as a whole didn't have much success rushing the passer, but Wilkerson did record a hit and a couple of pressures in a quieter than usual performance as a pass rusher. Wilkerson's best highlight saw him take right tackle Derek Newton and basically throw him on the ground on a running play early in the game.
In the absence of Sheldon Richardson, I'm sure many Jets fans were hoping that Leonard Williams would step it up. He did actually do some good things, but he's not making many impact plays right now. Williams was the only lineman to be credited with a tackle for loss and led the team with three quarterback hits though. On one play, he hit the quarterback after beating the lineman with a nice spin move. He also came up big with pressure in a couple of key situations.
Williams did get blocked out of several running plays and had a missed tackle though. He also jumped offside on third-and-four, which was something Wilkerson almost did as well earlier on in the game.
In Richardson's absence, the Jets simply replaced him with Leger Douzable so they were back to the personnel grouping they used a lot when Richardson was suspended. Douzable was blocked out of a couple of plays and fooled on a wildcat/read option play, but he was in on a couple of run stops. He blew up one run on the edge by taking out the lead blocker. He didn't produce much as a pass rusher though.
Stephen Bowen continues to get reps as a rotational back-up. He was in on one run stop, but driven off the line on another play.
I'm not sure whether we should consider Mike Catapano as a defensive end or a linebacker, as he's done both and is something of a tweener. However, as he was brought up with Richardson inactive, I assume he was brought in for cover at that rush end position Richardson has been occupying. Obviously I'll be looking to do a full scouting report on Catapano soon, unless they quickly de-activate him again.
For what it's worth, the only time I noticed Catapano on the field on defense was that play when a third down stop was negated by a 12-men on the field penalty, although he did play one other snap - as a pass rushing end on a third-and-13 that the Texans successfully converted.
Next up…More disappointing breakdowns from the linebackers ruin a performance that was otherwise promising in places…
Tags: Damon Harrison
Last week, I praised Eric Decker for his consistency. However, I was wrong. He's arguably the least consistent player the Jets have right now. How so? Read on to find out.
Here's how I characterized his consistent play last week:
"Decker has been really consistent over the last month, catching six passes in each of the last four games with at least 60 yards per game. He's averaging 13.3 yards per catch with a 67 percent catch rate during that span and has scored a touchdown in every game this year aside from the New England one."
Sounds pretty consistent, right? And while he only had four catches in this game, he had 81 yards, so his numbers were more or less in line with his season averages of just over five catches and 71 yards per game.
However, Decker was completely shut out in the first half, continuing a somewhat remarkable streak of performances where he has always been significantly more productive in one half than he is in the other.
Here are the numbers:
Week 1: 2-37 (no catches in the second half)
Week 2: 8-97 (no catches in the second half)
Week 3: Injured
Week 4: 4-46 (no catches in the second half)
Week 5: Bye week
Week 6: 4-59 (only two catches for 13 yards in the second half)
Week 7: 6-94 (only two catches for 35 yards in the second half)
Week 8: 6-60 (only one catch for 14 yards in the first half)
Week 9: 6-79 (only one catch for 13 yards in the second half)
Week 10: 6-85 (only one catch for seven yards in the first half)
Week 11: 4-81 (no catches in the first half)
Decker always has one half where he has pretty disappointing levels of production. If he was always able to match the production in his "good" half in the other half, he would be on pace for 139 catches for 1,977 yards, extrapolated over a full season. However, if he was only able to match the level of production in his "bad" halves over a full season that would only give him 25 catches for 291 yards.
The moral, I guess, is that if you're thinking "Decker's having a good game" or "Decker seems quiet today" about halfway through the game, you should probably prepare yourself for the fact he's going to end up with his usual modest production no matter what.
This isn't a phenomenon unique to Decker. Brandon Marshall was, of course, shut out last week in the first half but did better in the second half. Also, back in 2013, the Jets had issues with their tight ends where, for a long stretch, either one or the other would be productive but never both at the same time. Of course, that's not an issue this year with both tight ends giving them basically nothing in the passing game, week in and week out.
For only the second time all season, Decker didn't score a touchdown. However, they did look for it a few times. He did make four first down catches in the second half, one which was a spectacular juggling effort.
In addition, he drew a 44-yard pass interference penalty, which at the time basically doubled the Jets' passing game output. Prior to that pass, Ryan Fitzpatrick was 6-of-14 for 47 yards. Thereafter, he was a more respectable 13-of-25 for 169 yards. Decker did false start once.
Marshall had another touchdown, schooling rookie Kevin Johnson on a post-corner fade route. On another end zone throw, he made the catch but came down just out of bounds. He did add a key third down conversion, but also had his hands on two other passes he probably would have caught earlier in the season.
Marshall has averaged just four catches and 38 yards per game over the past three weeks. Prior to that, four catches for 67 yards was his lowest single game output of the season as he had at least seven catches and over 100 yards in five of the first seven games. He's clearly been banged up and that's perhaps hurt the Jets offensively in their last three games.
Although Jeremy Kerley and Kenbrell Thompkins have proven they can be much more productive than Devin Smith and Quincy Enunwa, they found themselves sitting on the sidelines again. (Thompkins was inactive, while Kerley was back in his punt returner only role and again played just one snap).
The Kerley/Thompkins pairing had played 340 offensive snaps entering this week and Enunwa/Smith had combined for 342. That enables a pretty effective comparison of their statistical productivity. Kerley/Thompkins have 27 catches for 240 yards and two touchdowns. Enunwa/Smith have 17 catches for 198 yards and no touchdowns.
In addition, Kerley/Thompkins have a combined catch rate of 66 percent while Enunwa is at 50 percent and Smith is at 33 percent.
I know the Jets like what Enunwa and Smith bring to the table in terms of Enunwa's blocking and Smith's ability to stretch the field, but their insistence on playing these players ahead of more productive players is reminiscent of the Idzik regime's insistence on playing the struggling Dee Milliner and Brian Winters in 2013, costing them games while more reliable short-term options rode the bench.
Enunwa had a couple of nice catches and a few good blocks, but they looked for him unsuccessfully a couple of times. Smith dropped a certain touchdown over the shoulder, had one other drop on a deep ball and was unsuccessfully targeted on key third and fourth downs in the second half.
Hopefully, Enunwa can get over these struggles, because it's obvious he can get separation down the field. However, for him to be targeted four times and end up with fewer catches than Wesley Johnson is a problem.
Once again, the tight ends had no targets in the passing game. Jeff Cumberland deserves credit, though, because on Marshall's touchdown catch, he ended up single-blocking JJ Watt on the outside and held up well enough for Fitzpatrick to make the throw.
In fact, he did as good a job on that play as anyone did all day, as James Carpenter tried to get across the formation to help but didn't make it. True to form, Cumberland would get beaten inside as a run was stuffed for a loss shortly afterwards. He actually played just six snaps, a season-low.
Finally, Kellen Davis found himself blocking or helping out on Watt quite a lot and predictably got blown up several times. However, he probably did better in that role than many blockers would have.
Next up…onto the Jets' defense, where their own version of Watt failed to live up to his counterpart…
It was great to see Bilal Powell back in the line-up and the Jets have certainly missed him this year. Powell was extremely efficient, as he led the team in yards per carry and was tied for the team lead in receptions. In all, he generated 89 yards on just nine touches. Zac Stacy had rushed for the same number of yards all season - on 31 carries.
Powell did do a lot of this damage late in the game, with the Texans dropping off and conceding the dump-off pass, but he still did well in the open field, picking up 25 on one screen and breaking two tackles on one of his two other first downs.
Powell also showed his value as a blocker, picking up the blitz well on one completion. He did also drop a screen pass though, although I'm not sure that play was going anywhere.
With Powell back, Chris Ivory had a less significant role, although the fact the team was trailing likely factored into that too, because Powell typically gets all the reps when the Jets go to a pass-heavy offensive set. Ivory busted a 23-yard run in the second half, but otherwise gained just 13 yards on seven other carries. He did also gain nine yards on his only catch, a dump-off pass on the first play of the game.
Ivory was disappointingly stuffed on third-and-1 as he tried to bounce the run to the outside and also was very lucky to have a lost fumble overturned by the replay booth on the play after his long run.
After looking slow in his previous appearance, Stevan Ridley looked to have a bit more pep in his step this week, cutting back nicely to pick up a short yardage conversion. However, Ridley's five touches netted him minus-five yards and he actually has minus-six yards on eight touches for the season.
At fullback, Tommy Bohanon didn't have much of an impact. He missed his lead block on one play and was stood up on another.
With the offensive line so overmatched with no Nick Mangold, perhaps it's understandable that the running game didn't produce much and at least they augmented that with some of the short passing they did. Some of their best running success arguably came from designed quarterback draws.
It was interesting that the Texans had success running the wildcat and that the Jets took until after half time to adjust to it. Not only has Chan Gailey used such formations in the past, but most of the Jets' offensive personnel are familiar with it, so I could see them turning to this at some point in an effort to bolster their running game. However, you just know that if the Jets tried to implement this in a real game, it would fail miserably.
Next up…Plenty of near misses, but the Jets' receivers fail to generate enough actual production…
Tags: Bilal Powell
Entering this game, it was pretty obvious that the Jets were going to have to figure out a way to slow down J.J. Watt. That didn't go so well, as Watt racked up two sacks, five quarterback hits, five tackles for loss and led the Texans in total tackles.
However, they did figure out one way to slow him down, as they ran 26 plays in the fourth quarter and he had just one tackle (on a four yard run) and one quarterback hit. The Jets had run 37 plays in the other three quarters, during which he did the rest of that damage. He wasn't rested in the fourth, nor is he typically the type of player who will wear down over the course of the game. They were simply able to slow down his influence by upping the tempo and throwing more quick passes. That begs the question; why didn't they do that from the start?
Of course, what this does do is provide a nice blueprint for how those teams that can do this more efficiently than the Jets can approach their match-up with the Texans. You're never going to fully mitigate Watt's impact, but if you can slow him down by speeding yourselves up, I think that's an approach many teams will favor as the Texans continue to establish themselves as a team on the rise.
This is supposed to be the Jets' offensive line review, though, not the JJ Watt review, so we need to concern ourselves with how they handled him. Watt lined up on the left for most of the first half, so was matched up with Breno Giacomini and he pretty much made mincemeat out of him with several sacks, pressures and tackles in the backfield, even though Brian Winters and Kellen Davis were often helping out with double-teams. Giacomini was also called for holding on Watt once.
Oddly enough, despite the fact he was making hay on that side of the formation, the Texans opted to line Watt up on the right a lot in the second half and he gave D'Brickashaw Ferguson constant troubles too, driving him back to sack Ryan Fitzpatrick on one play. Ferguson, who didn't get the same kind of help Giacomini did, had held up well in the first half. However, after having struggled with Watt, he continued to struggle in the rest of the second half, even when no longer matched up with Watt.
The Jets' offensive gameplan was thrown into disarray when center Nick Mangold injured his right hand. This forced Wesley Johnson back into action. Mangold snaps the ball with his right hand, so he couldn't play. However, when Kevin Mawae broke his right hand in 2004, he taught himself to snap left-handed during the week and remained in the line-up with a club on his right hand. Could we see something similar from Mangold?
To his credit, Johnson didn't hold up too badly, although he did have one bad snap and a couple of plays where he couldn't sustain his block. There was a key short yardage play on third down where he allowed Vince Wilfork to leverage a double-team laterally to close the running lane up the middle. While the announcers rightly credited Watt with splitting his own double-team to make the tackle, that was only possible because the running back was forced to change course.
Where the Jets really lose out with Johnson in for Mangold is that Mangold can handle one-on-one assignments against just about anybody, enabling the guards to be re-deployed in helping out the tackles or able to get out to the second level. With Johnson in there, this is less feasible and played a big part in the lack of success in the running game. Even on the few successful runs the Jets did have, they tended to be because the runner made a good cut or broke a tackle to avoid someone who was able to get penetration or shed their block.
Winters gave up a couple of hits, including one where Watt made a spin move to get past him despite a Chris Ivory chip block. He didn't have many successful blocks in the running game either. In fact, not many players did - although Giacomini set the edge well a couple of times.
James Carpenter remains the team's most reliable offensive lineman, as has been the case in recent weeks. He had a few good run blocks, not many mistakes and only gave up a couple of pressures. I'm not sure he's good enough to get the running game going on his own though.
Next up…Each of the backs had their moments, but their disappointing overall output probably wasn't helped by Mangold's injury…
This isn't the first time this season that the Jets have been thoroughly outplayed only to end the game with a late chance to tie or win it. (It's actually the third.) Theoretically, the Jets could have come back to win all of those. Add in the Patriots game which they also had a chance to win and that's how close the Jets are to what would be a laughably misleading 9-1 record.
While this creates the illusion that the Jets were competitive in those games, it disguises the fact they were second-best for most of the day and only able to pull it close as their opponent tried to protect their lead by being conservative on both sides of the ball. The quarterback is a big part of this, of couse.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, out there when some athletes wouldn't even have suited up, showed an admirable toughness and will-to-win in bringing the Jets close but came up short when it counted most. This gutsy performance doesn't change the fact he was off-line with a lot of his throws and didn't really get anything going until the Texans had a two-score lead and the Jets were playing from behind.
You can make the usual excuses for him that his receivers dropped some well-thrown balls and that he was under a lot of pressure, and that's fair. However, that's the case every week and he should still be able to produce more than he did in that first half. The Texans gained more yards on one play - DeAndre Hopkins' first touchdown - than the entire Jets team did in the first half.
You'd like to think the Jets would have done a better job of attacking some of the Texans' less-experienced defensive backs, but they did do that to some extent down the stretch. Tellingly, their one experienced starter - Jonathan Joseph - made several terrific plays when they went after him. Can this Jets' passing game only have success against inexperienced youngsters and prevent-style defences?
I criticized the playcalling last week because the Jets opened up by throwing downfield three times rather than giving Fitzpatrick a chance to get into a rhythm first. This week was an improvement on that, as he opened up with some short passes, completing his first three. It really didn't help him much though, as he continued to be unsuccessful on downfield throws after that, including on the first possession of the second half as the Jets went three and out on three straight incompletions, again with a couple of unsuccessful downfield passes. To be fair, any attempts to get Fitzpatrick into an early rhythm were torpedoed by the fact that the Jets only had one possession in the first quarter anyway.
While the two interceptions he threw may have been late in the game, they were still worrying. The first came on fourth-and-5, so he may not have had much option other than to throw it to Devin Smith despite the fact he was clearly blanketed the whole time. Why they would throw to a player with a 33 percent catch rate on such an important play is another matter.
The second one was more concerning, as he telegraphed the slant pattern to Brandon Marshall and Andre Hal jumped the route. The fact Fitzpatrick failed to read the safety on that play is made all the more troubling by the fact that Hal reacted to a hard count seconds before the snap, which should have alerted Fitzpatrick to the fact he was obviously sitting on that route from the start.
I was also going to get on at him for taking too much punishment when he runs with the ball, but I think I'll let that slide.
Next up…The absolute last thing this team needed…
Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Welcome to BGA! We'll be here the day after every Jets game for an in-depth review of what happened. We'll look at each position group throughout the day, so keep coming back to TJB to check it out.
Let's move on to discuss yesterday's game…
I tend not to make predictions on the record, because no matter how informed you think you are, it's really just a guess. However, this year, I've been pretty much on the money as far as the Jets are concerned and this game went about how I expected. 24-17 was even the exact scoreline I had in my head and the game transpired more or less as I had feared.
If you saw the Bengals-Texans game last Monday night, you saw a well-coached Houston team that is establishing an identity and starting to look like a force to be reckoned with. There's no shame in losing to the Texans in Houston because they're probably going to win their division and be a tough out in the postseason.
Where there is shame, however, is in the disappointing nature of the Jets' performance. They blew opportunities, showed more signs that they are a fragile unit that responds negatively to adversity and gave the impression that they knew they were the second-best team on the field for the majority of the game. The defensive breakdowns were especially troubling, giving an inexperienced quarterback easy opportunities to exploit them.
With Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis joining Sheldon Richardson on the sidelines, the Jets were downgraded at three key positions and it cost them in the end. Their quarterback played like he had hardly practiced all week (which was to be expected), and the teams' respective gameplans suggested that the Jets had been forced to deal with a short week, while the Texans had additional time to prepare (which was the opposite of what should have been expected).
I've been reminded of the 2008 team by the Jets in recent weeks. That 2008 team - with an aging veteran at the quarterback position - were the NFL's flavor of the month as they went 8-3 to begin the season, only to then lose four of their last five games to miss out on the postseason despite the fact they had an easy schedule down the stretch.
This 1-4 stretch is eerily reminiscent of that. It just happens to have come earlier in the season. Teams are exploiting some very obvious weaknesses in the Jets, while the running game they leaned heavily on to start the year has deserted them. As was the case in 2008, the warning signs have been there all along.
While parts of the media anointed the Jets as a serious contender because they nearly beat New England (who is overrated, but might end up 16-0 anyway because their schedule is so easy), what I saw was a team that had some glaring weak points that have yet to be fixed, just as in 2008 that 8-3 record included some sloppy wins against poor teams, involving a lot of luck.
While the 2008 Jets were picked apart by the likes of Tyler Thigpen, Shaun Hill, Seneca Wallace, Matt Cassel and a young Ryan Fitzpatrick, the 2015 iteration is already compiling its own list of inexperienced quarterbacks that are making them look bad. T.J. Yates is the latest to join that list.
Ironically, the postseason success in 2009 and 2010 instilled a belief in Jets fans that if they could just sneak into the playoffs, they had a chance to make some noise. You didn't need to be that impressive, as the Jets proved you could be a team that gets humiliatingly blown out and throws away easy wins with poor execution during the season but still had a chance to peak when it mattered. This meant that in the years since then, hope was not lost even as the team was falling out of contention. As long as there was a mathematical chance of making it, there was hope the team would emulate their success from a few years earlier.
This team? It's right in the postseason mix, even with the recent slump. If the Jets can get healthy, figure a few things out and get back into winning habits, they still have hopes of making the postseason. Even so, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get enthused about their chances if they did make it.
Sometimes when you feel like you need a pick-me-up, the Jets deliver. Unfortunately, more often than not, they leave you feeling even worse.
Next up…Ryan Fitzpatrick may have toughed it out, but he couldn't pull it out in the end…
Tags: Darrelle Revis , Ryan Fitzpatrick
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Jets coach Todd Bowles was critical of rookie wide receiver Devin Smith after Sunday's 24-17 loss to the Texans at NRG Stadium.
Smith, New York's second-round pick from Ohio State, dropped what would have been a 46-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the third quarter. The play would have brought the Jets within one possession, but instead, they punted later that drive.
Last week, Smith, 23, fumbled on a kick return that the Bills recovered and ran for a touchdown.
"Our rookies have to stop being rookies," Bowles said after the Jets suffered their fourth loss in their last five games. "They need to grow up. They get paid like everybody else and they've got to start acting like they're not in college anymore."
Smith led national champion Ohio State last season with 931 yards and 12 touchdowns. However, in just seven games this season, Smith has been targeted 22 times, but has just seven catches for 82 yards. He did not have a catch on Sunday in four targets.
"It's tough, but I know my time is coming," Smith said. "So I'm just going to keep working hard. When that day comes, everybody will know."
Tags: Devin Smith , Matthew Eisenberg
Jets center Nick Mangold needed to receive stitches after suffering "severe lacerations" on his right hand in the second quarter of Sunday's 24-17 loss to the Texans, head coach Todd Bowles said.
Mangold was seen on the sideline with his hand wrapped and did not return to the game afterward. He suffered a cut between his pinky and ring finger.
"I came to the sideline and I saw some blood," Mangold said. "I looked down and that's when we went inside [the locker room]. ... It was completely random. I haven't seen anything like this before. This is a new one."
Mangold underwent X-rays, which came back negative, but will undergo an MRI on Monday to see if he sustained any ligament damage.
He said he was unable to grip the ball, and Wesley Johnson replaced him.
"That's all I needed to do, roll a couple of snaps and screw the team over," Mangold said.
Tags: Nick Mangold
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis suffered a concussion in Sunday's 24-17 loss to the Texans, head coach Todd Bowles said.
Revis sustained the injury trying to make a tackle in the third quarter and left the game.
Revis was burned on a 61-yard touchdown reception from T.J. Yates to DeAndre Hopkins in the second quarter.
Marcus Williams, a second-year cornerback from North Dakota State, replaced Revis.
Tags: Darrelle Revis
HOUSTON -- Quarterback T.J. Yates was solid in his first start since 2012. He got some help in the passing game from receiver Cecil Shorts, who threw a touchdown pass to help the Houston Texans to a victory.
The Texans (5-5) have won three games in a row for the first time since 2012. And they did it with Yates, who threw for 229 yards in his first start since Jan. 15, 2012, in the playoffs for Houston as a rookie.
The game was tied in the third quarter when the TD pass by Shorts made it 17-10. Yates and Hopkins linked up for a 20-yard score on the next possession.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, who played after having surgery on his non-throwing thumb on Nov. 13, got New York within 24-17 with a touchdown run with 4 1/2 minutes left, but was intercepted on the next two drives to seal the win for Houston. Fitzpatrick was 19 of 39 for 216 yards with a touchdown against the team he started 12 games for last year.
Hopkins tied a franchise record held by Andre Johnson with nine receiving touchdown this season. He beat Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis repeatedly before the cornerback left the game in the third quarter with a head injury.
J.J. Watt had eight tackles and two sacks, but it was a day where his perfect record on offense was blemished.
The Texans had a first down at the 6 in the first quarter, but their offense stalled after that and they settled for a 20-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead. Watt got in on offense on that drive and for the first time in his career didn't catch a pass thrown to him.
He came in on second-and-2 from the 2-yard line and Yates targeted him in the corner of the end zone. But he couldn't grab the ball under heavy pressure from Calvin Pryor.
It was the fourth time in his career he'd had a pass thrown to him and had reeled in each of the previous three for touchdowns. All of those scores came last season.
Shorts, a quarterback early in his college career at Mount Union, took a lateral from Yates and tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Blue to make it 17-10 with about eight minutes left in the third quarter.
Shorts was the star of that entire drive, grabbing a 16-yard reception on third-and-13 before grabbing a 35-yard reception on the next play. He took a direct snap and ran for 5 yards two plays before the TD throw.
The Texans made it 24-10 when Hopkins caught a 20-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.
The Jets tied at 10-10 early in the third when Fitzpatrick connected with Brandon Marshall for a 21-yard touchdown. New York got a boost on that drive from a 44-yard pass interference penalty on Quintin Demps.
Hopkins put the Texans on top when he got in front of Revis and grabbed a 61-yard touchdown reception to make it 10-3 with about three minutes left in the first half. The play came two plays after another big catch by Hopkins, where he again beat Revis and snagged the ball one-handed for an 18-yard gain.
Williams sacked Yates, who fumbled the ball in the second quarter. Williams pounced on it to give New York the ball near midfield. Randy Bullock, who was cut by the Texans earlier this season, made a 40-yard field goal to tie it at 3 with about nine minutes left in the second.
NOTES: Jets C Nick Mangold left in the first quarter with a hand injury and didn't return. ... Houston CB A.J. Bouye didn't return after leaving in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
I'm not really sure where to begin here other than this was a total system failure. From the poor tackling by the defense, specifically Antonio Cromartie, to the poor read progressions and turnovers on offense, to the inability to fight for the ball by Devin Smith, to the offensive line's inability to have an answer let alone a double team for JJ Watt ... this list could keep going and going.
What's most unfortunate about this team is the way the season started and the brutal change of direction that has taken place over the last month and a half. What started off so well has fallen apart devastatingly quickly.
After it all, the Jets still desperately need answers at the quarterback position. While some might have believed Ryan Fitzpatrick could steady the ship, he's not proven to be the mid to long-term answer regardless of his injury. From here, everything needs to starting bending towards what makes them the best possible team in 2016.
The Jets are on the road today to visit the Texans in Houston.
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Stadium, surface: Reliant Stadium (dome), grass
TV: CBS The Line: Jets by 2.5
The Series: Jets lead, 5-1
Last meeting: Texans beat Jets 23-17, Oct. 8, 2012
Last week: Jets lost to Bills 22-17 Nov. 12;
Jets notes: Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had surgery on thumb ligament of left hand on Nov. 13, has thrown at least two touchdown passes in seven of last nine games. He started 12 games for Houston last season and is expected to start Sunday. ... RB Chris Ivory has four touchdowns in his last six games combined. ... WR Brandon Marshall has 25 receptions for 293 yards and one touchdown in three meetings with Texans. ... WR Eric Decker has touchdown catch in eight of his last nine games. ... DE Muhammad Wilkerson has seven sacks, including two last week. ... CB Darrelle Revis leads NFL with six takeaways, including three fumble recoveries and three interceptions. ... LB Demario Davis had his first sack this season last week.
Texans notes: Houston QB Brian Hoyer (concussion). ... QB T.J. Yates played first game since September 2014 when he took over for Hoyer in third quarter Monday and threw for winning touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins. ... RB Alfred Blue has averaged 105.5 yards of total offense in last two home starts. ... WR Hopkins is third in the NFL with 927 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. ... LB Brian Cushing leads team with 76 tackles. ... OLB Whitney Mercilus has 5 1/2 sacks in last four games. ... DE J.J. Watt is second in NFL with 9 1/2 sacks.
Series notes: The Bills have won the last three games between the team in decisive fashion, by an average margin of 39.3 to 13.3. The Bills seek their first four-game winning streak in the series since 1995-1997, when they swept all six meetings with NYJ.
Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (hamstring) and defensive back Dee Milliner (illness) are inactive for Sunday's game at Houston.
Richardson was hurt two Thursdays ago against Buffalo. The Jets promoted defensive end Mike Catapano from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday.
This is the first time Richardson has missed a game due to injury. He served a four-game marijuana suspension to begin this season.
Milliner missed practice Wednesday and Thursday because of an illness. He practiced fully Friday and was listed as probable.
Jet inactives: S Dion Bailey (ankle); QB Bryce Pett;y WR Kenbrell Thompkins CB Dee Milliner; OG Dakota Dozier; OT Ben Ijalana; DE Sheldon Richardson (hamstring)
Texans: QB Brian Hoyer (concussion); RB Chris Polk (hamstring); CB Kareem Jackson (ankle); FS Rahim Moore ILB Akeem Dent (hamstring); OG Oday Aboushi; TE Garrett Graham
In the Jets Sunday matchup against the Houston Texans, here's some concerns the Jets must effectively navigate to have a chance to win on the road.
Spread the love -- The Jets have to get the ball into the hands of receivers NOT named Brandon Marshall. Since Week 1, Ryan Fitzpatrick has force the ball too often to his top receiver, a play who is north of 30 and who seems to be grinding down as a result. For as good as Marshall is, the wear and tear of the season and constantly facing double coverage is making it harder for him to be as efficient as the Jets need him to be. Last week against the Bills Marshall caught a season low 30% of the passes thrown his way and the Jets offense ground to a halt as a result. Eric Decker has been efficient over the course of the season and the Jets need to manufacture more targets in his direction but also to the tertiary options in the offense. That means plays like Devin Smith, Jeremy Kerley, Quincy Enunwa and the running backs HAVE TO do a better job of beating their assignments for their quarterback. Maybe this team misses a player like Jace Amaro a lot more than they ever let on, although they certainly had a funny way of showing it. Decker and Marshall account for over 50% of the total market share of Jets passing targets ... that number has to get distributed more evenly if this team wants to keep Marshall as a viable part of the offense into December, forget about January.
Pressure Yates to eliminate Hopkins -- One of the best tonics for any team desperate for wins is getting a chance to take on a backup (or even a backup backup) quarterback like TJ Yates. Yates is over two seasons removed from game action and the Jets should dial up the blitz to rattle Yates early on in this game. Todd Bowles is known for his aggressive scheme and this would be one of the best opportunities to use that play style to devastating effect. Of course for the Jets, this also means that they must account for one of the NFL's best young playmakers at wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. "Nuk" might be one of the very best talents in the game right now and while Revis has had a good season on the whole, he's struggled against some of the better playmakers in the league like Allen Robinson two weeks ago. Expect Nuk to do some serious damage against the Jets, but for Bowles it will come down to minimizing the work of a impact player like Hopkins.
Stop Watt -- The biggest challenge for the Jets this weekend will have to be finding ways to neutralize JJ Watt. Watt is arguably the best defensive player in football and has been an unparalleled disruptive force for at least the past three seasons. The problem for the Jets is that other talented defensive front players like Whitney Mercilus (6.5 sacks) and John Simon (3.0 sacks) are playing well in the wake of JJ Watt and will have to be accounted for as well ... not even mentioning the oft-dinged up former first overall draft pick Jadaveon Clowney (1.0 sack) who is slated to return today.
Takeaway game -- At the start of the season, the Jets were blistering hot in their give/take rates when it came to controlling the football. Since that start, the team has tumbled to 10th overall with a differential of three in their favor. Over their last six games the Jets have been unable to put the same pressure on forcing turnovers on opposing teams, but maybe more importantly their offense has coughed up the ball at rates that have outpaced the hot start. JJ Watt is by far one of the best strip-sackers in the league. With Ryan Fitzpatrick coming off thumb surgery last week the team has to find ways to take the air out of the football and throw short higher percentage passes while Fitzy manages the pain of his injury for at least a few more weeks.
The Jets take on the Houston Texans in search of their sixth win of the season. However, New York will most likely be playing without starting defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson, who is dealing with a hamstring issue.
Richardson did not practice at all this week, and on Saturday the Jets promoted defensive end Mike Catapano from the practice squad in case Richardson can't suit up.
Richardson also missed the first four games of the season due to a suspension for violating the subtance abuse policy. On the season, the defensive end has 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble
Tags: Sheldon Richardson
During the season, Bent's Game Analysis charts games for some of the Jets' upcoming opponents, enabling a breakdown of what to watch out for on gameday…
Just a few weeks ago, the Jets' schedule from mid-November to mid-December was looking pretty easy for the Jets. However, it seems like each of their opponents over that month have regrouped - either due to key veterans making their return from injury, a positive response to coaching changes or the maturation of key youngsters. The Texans looked like a complete mess as they trailed 41-0 to Miami at halftime three weeks ago. Since that time, they've held their opponents without a touchdown for 10 quarters and have won two straight games, outscoring their opponents 56-15 and ending the Bengals' unbeaten streak. While they may have issues at the quarterback position, they do boast arguably the best defensive player of this era.
After the jump, I break down the positional groupings (BGA-style!) to try and highlight what the Jets need to look out for.
Head coach Bill O'Brien admitted he had pulled the plug on Brian Hoyer too soon and Hoyer had been a big part of their recent resurgence. He had put up pretty good numbers since returning to the line-up following the ill-fated Ryan Mallett experiment, but - unfortunately for the Texans - he got hurt in the Bengals game and will not suit up today due to memory loss.
TJ Yates will fill in for Hoyer. He doesn't have a ton of regular season experience - just four touchdown passes - but did once win a playoff game. No doubt the Jets gameplan will involve getting after him and creating pressure.
Backing up Yates is Brandon Weeden, who was just claimed off waivers a couple of days ago. He was most recently starting games across state for the Cowboys as Tony Romo's emergency replacement; an experiment which lasted about as long as the Mallett experiment did.
There's a familiar face on the Texans' offensive line - former Jets guard Oday Aboushi, whom the Texans claimed when the Jets waived him in week two. However, Aboushi has been relegated to the bench after making four starts at left guard earlier in the season. Instead, second year pro Xavier Su'a-Filo started his second game of the year at left guard last week. Su'a-Filo has good potential but has struggled in pass protection so far in his career.
The Texans are still widely associated with being a zone blocking scheme and that's typically been the case since Alex Gibbs was there for a couple of years at the end of the last decade. However, with long-term starting center Chris Myers retiring during the offseason, the Texans moved the bigger Ben Jones - a former starting guard - to center. Their offensive line coach is now Mike Devlin, who was in the same role last year with the Jets. As we know, he runs a more varied system with both power and zone elements.
The Texans' best - and most expensive - lineman is left tackle Duane Brown, who is in the third year of a six-year $53 million deal. However, Brandon Brooks is also an emerging talent at right guard. Derek Newton completes the starting line-up at right tackle, although he's also started games at both guard positions this year.
Other than Aboushi, the back-ups are veteran Chris Clark, who has made a couple of starts at tackle this year but gave up three sacks to Miami and hasn't played since, and undrafted rookie Kendall Lamm. Lamm is a player I identified as a potential sleeper during the offseason and he's made some good contributions, playing over 150 snaps as an extra lineman in jumbo packages and a rotational role. The Texans will often play some of their starters in a rotation, so you could see any or all of the three reserves getting reps.
The Texans haven't lost many key players to season-ending injuries this year, but Arian Foster's Achilles tear was a blow. In his absence, Alfred Blue is the starter. Blue ran for 139 yards against the Bucs in week three, but has gained just 108 yards on 41 carries since then.
Veteran Chris Polk and former Jet Jonathan Grimes back up Blue. The three of them combined for just 68 yards on 22 carries in the Bengals game. Of the three, Grimes is probably the best pass catcher. Polk is dealing with hamstring issues.
Jay Prosch - a 256-pounder who was a 6th round pick last season - is the team's fullback and averages about 10 snaps per game.
With Andre Johnson gone, DeAndre Hopkins is having a break-out season as the unquestioned number one receiver. Hopkins had already had a monster year last year - 71 catches, 1,210 yards and six scores - but this year has been something else. He's already beaten last year's total with seven touchdown catches and needs just six receptions to beat his career best for receptions in a season. While his average per reception is down, he needs just 73 more yards to record another thousand-yard season and should present a formidable challenge for Darrelle Revis, regardless of who's throwing him the ball.
Two veterans provide support to Hopkins in the passing game; former Jaguar Cecil Shorts III and former Titan Nate Washington. Washington remains a dangerous deep threat and leads the team with a 15.8 yards per catch average. He's a player who has burned Antonio Cromartie more than once in the recent past. Shorts is a good possession option, but also possesses good quickness.
Two rookies - Keith Mumphrey and Jaelen Strong - complete the rotation. Despite being the less-heralded pick, Mumphrey has played a lot more and Strong has just three catches so far.
At tight end, another youngster - last year's third round pick CJ Fiedorowicz - is listed as the starter. He and veteran back-ups Garrett Graham and Ryan Griffin have combined for 19 receptions. The youngster is probably the best blocker of the three.
I'm surprised the media isn't making more of a big deal over the battle between Vince Wilfork and Nick Mangold, which often used to be a hot topic when the Jets met the Patriots over the years. Wilfork left New England in the offseason and has been starting at nose tackle for Houston. He's no longer the elite player he once was, but still gives the team a solid space stuffer in there.
Starting alongside Wilfork in the Texans' 3-4 base is Jared Crick. Crick held his own as he made the transition from rotational back-up to full time starter last year, but hasn't quite had the same success this year.
Beyond the starters, the Texans don't have a lot of experience on their bench. However, I could see them starting to find more reps for rookie Christian Covington as the season progresses. Covington had his first NFL sack against the Bengals.
Oh, and they have this guy called JJ Watt. He's pretty good too.
Recent number one pick Jadeveon Clowney has flashed against the run this season, but hasn't done much as a pass rusher yet. He has just one sack and has yet to fully live up to the hype. Clowney has been outshone by former first-rounder Whitney Mercilus, who was on the brink of being dumped by the old regime, but seems to have found a new lease of life this season. He's racked up 6.5 sacks already.
John Simon has done a solid job of starting on the other side, but he doesn't get many pass rush reps because Watt will often line up as a pass rushing end on pass downs. Simon has more of a versatile role, which requires him to drop into coverage a lot more than Mercilus or Clowney do.
On the inside, Brian Cushing continues to play an every-snap role with rookie Benardrick McKinney currently listed as the other starter alongside him. From what I've seen of McKinney, he seems to be developing nicely, and there is also veteran depth behind him with Justin Tuggle and Akeem Dent, although Dent is listed as questionable.
Three quarters of the Houston starting secondary according to the official depth chart have good experience, although Kareem Jackson will miss today's game with an ankle injury. The exception is safety Andre Hal, who only made his first NFL start last month. He did mark it with two interceptions though, which is good enough to lead the team.
At corner, Johnathan Joseph is still playing well and had a big interception against the Bengals. The other starter at safety is Quintin Demps, who was almost out of the league before Houston signed him late in the offseason. Demps was previously a Texan from 2010-2012 but spend last year with the Giants.
Former Bronco Rahim Moore was benched after the Miami debacle and hasn't played since. Demps played just 10 snaps that day, having missed the previous two weeks through injury. Eddie Pleasant is probably ahead of Moore on the safety depth chart right now, although he's not even listed.
The team has some intriguing young depth with first round rookie Kevin Johnson having started the last three games and Hard Knocks favorite Charles James II having seen his role increase over the past few weeks. Expect to see him working a lot out of the slot.
The Texans have one of the best punters in recent memory - Shane Lechler - although he may be past his prime these days. The kicking game is less established. They dumped current Jet Randy Bullock last month and replaced him with former Jet Nick Novak. Novak has missed just one of his seven field goal attempts so far.
The Texans have given up the third highest total of punt return yards in the NFL this season. They've not given up a touchdown though and the longest returns they've given up were 50 yards on a kickoff and 37 on a punt. Dent and Pleasant are their most productive tacklers in coverage.
Mumphrey has been handling return duties, but hasn't had much success yet. His longest return was a 41-yarder on a kick-off.
>>> I'll be back tomorrow to recap the game.
Stats from PFF were used in the completion of this article.
The Jets activated wide receiver Quincy Enunwa and signed defensive end Mike Catapano for Sunday's game against the Texans.
Enunwa will return to the Jets after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. He has eight catches for 94 yards this season.
Catapano, 25, will join the Jets after spending the 2013 season with the Chiefs, playing 15 games. A third-year player out of Princeton, Catapano was a seventh-round draft pick in 2013.
To make room on the roster, the Jets placed running back Zac Stacy, who suffered a fractured ankle in the Jets' Nov. 12 game against the Bills, on injured reserve and waived safety Ronald Martin.
Tags: Mike Catapano , Quincy Enunwa , Ronald Martin , Zac Stacy
The high motor. The athleticism. The desire to win every play in every game.
"He plays hard every snap in practice, too," said Fitzpatrick, traded by the Texans to the New York Jets in March. "But it was a big difference when you're wearing a red (no-contact) jersey and he's not allowed to hit you versus when you're out there and the lights are on."
That's what Fitzpatrick faces Sunday when the Jets take on the Texans in Houston.
No longer is he protected by practice rules. It's on New York's offensive line to keep Watt away from Fitzpatrick.
And that's certainly easier said than done. Ask just about any other team that has played against him.
"He's one of a kind," Jets right tackle Breno Giacomini said.
Watt was the AP Defensive Player of the Year last season after one dominant, game-wrecking performance after another. The defensive end thinks he's off to just as dynamic a start this season.
"You can go ahead and look at the stats," Watt said during a conference call. "I mean, you tell me."
Well, he has 9 1/2 sacks - one behind NFL leader Chandler Jones of New England - 42 tackles, five passes defensed and 28 quarterback hits. According to the Texans, Watt's numbers through nine games are higher for sacks, total tackles and tackles for loss (16) than at this point last season.
That's a lot of time being spent in the backfield making things miserable for quarterbacks and offensive coordinators.
"He's a high-effort player," said Giacomini, who will be largely responsible for keeping Watt away from Fitzpatrick. "His pad level is great. He does a good job of reading the tackle's set. If you give him something, he's going to take it."
Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey acknowledged that the Texans have been moving Watt all around the defensive line, setting up largely over the right tackle and guard, but sometimes over the left tackle and even moving inside at times.
That creates an almost manic approach to the in-game planning, just making sure there's a blocker on Watt before every snap. There's a lot of guesswork when a team has to play the percentages on where he usually lines up - but even that isn't foolproof.
"He's one of the premier defensive players in the league, if not the premier defensive player in the league," Gailey said. "We were talking about it the other day and he reminds me of the way we used to have to handle Howie Long - same type of player. You have to know where he is and you have to account for him every play."
And not only on defense. Watt has no catches this season on offense, but he caught three touchdown passes last season - and the Jets know he could add that element to Houston's goal-line attack at any time.
"We have to leave no stone unturned," defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said.
Jets coach Todd Bowles played safety with Washington and San Francisco from 1986-93, and can't recall anyone he played with or against in that era who compares to Watt.
"Before, when I watched football, he's probably a faster version of Randy White from the Cowboys," Bowles said. "Maybe lighter, but probably faster."
Bowles was then asked about Gailey's comparison to Long, a Hall of Famer who was one of the NFL's premier pass rushers with the Raiders from 1981-93.
"Howie had a motor as well," Bowles said. "He may be a little more athletic than Howie and probably a little faster than Howie, but similar. You could go either way."
Watt needs a half-sack to record his fourth consecutive 10-sack season, and 3 1/2 would give him 70 for his career - in just five seasons.
"It's not just him on that defense," Giacomini said. "The whole front seven is really good. That being said, he's a hell of a player."
Meanwhile, the Jets have allowed an NFL-low 10 sacks all season. Three of those came against Geno Smith, who filled in for Fitzpatrick after he injured his left thumb against Oakland on Nov. 1. Fitzpatrick, who had surgery last Friday to repair a torn ligament in his non-throwing hand, has shown some good ability to escape pressure and avoid sacks.
He could be on the run quite a bit Sunday - and without that red jersey on.
"I don't know if he has any weaknesses," Bowles said of Watt. "He's just one of those rare players that doesn't come around very often."
Tags: Breno Giacomini , Houston Texans , Ryan Fitzpatrick
Richardson didn't practice this week, and coach Todd Bowles says Friday he will be a game-time decision. Richardson has 19 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in five games after being suspended the first four for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Fitzpatrick had no setbacks after surgery on his left thumb last week.
Safety Dion Bailey didn't practice this week and will miss his second straight game with a high ankle sprain.
Cornerback Buster Skrine is questionable after being limited at practice Friday with shoulder and hand injuries.
Tags: Buster Skrine , Sheldon Richardson
Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey say that barring any setbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at QB for the Jets in Week 11.
The Jets Game Plan panel discusses Ryan Fitzpatrick's potential impact, Brandon Marshall's adjustments and J.J. Watt's ability to dominate.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Quincy Enunwa had a lot of time to just think - and not play football - during the last month.
The Jets wide receiver rejoined the team this week following a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
"I want to keep going forward," Enunwa said Thursday, "and be a positive influence on the team."
Enunwa was banned by the league last month after an incident last year in which he was arrested for simple assault on his girlfriend at a New Jersey hotel. Domestic violence charges were later dropped in the case.
During his suspension, Enunwa was not permitted to play, practice or work out at the Jets' facility with his teammates.
"That time off was kind of rough," he acknowledged. "I can't say that it was the best time of my life, those four weeks off, watching the guys play. It was hard, but I knew I kind of had to get my time done so I could come back out here and help the team as best I could."
He was arrested just after the league put in place tougher penalties for players accused of domestic violence, including a six-week suspension for first offenses and at least a year for second offenses. The NFL and NFL Players Association negotiated the suspension down to four games from six. Enunwa's cooperation, remorse and acceptance of responsibility factored into the reduced ban. The NFL's personal conduct policy also provides for the possibility of mitigation.
"I'm just glad that it's past me and I'm hoping now that I can just focus on football and go out there and help the team as best I can," Enunwa said. "No outside interferences. I want to kind of stay on the straight and narrow for the rest of my career."
Florham Park police said Enunwa pulled the woman off a bed in a hotel on Aug. 31, 2014, and she injured her head and finger. The woman decided to not pursue the case, which was conditionally dismissed in court last October.
Enunwa, in his second season with the Jets, declined to discuss any of the details of the situation.
"I think the best thing for me is to just move past it," he said. "For me, and everybody else involved, family and everything. I kind of just want to keep going forward with football. That being the main focus, I don't want to be a distraction on the team."
Enunwa was a sixth-round draft pick out of Nebraska last year after he had 12 touchdowns for the Cornhuskers in 2013 and was the Gator Bowl MVP. He spent most of last season on the Jets' practice squad, but saw an increased role under coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
He surprisingly passed Jeremy Kerley as the Jets' No. 3 receiver, in large part because of his blocking abilities. Enunwa has eight catches for 94 yards in five games this season, but he was being used very much like a tight end. His absence the last four games has coincided with New York's slump in the run game.
"There were certain roles I was used in that we didn't use when I was gone," he said. "So hopefully me being back, I can help as much as possible."
The Jets have a roster exemption this week for Enunwa, which means they need to make a move to officially make room for him. Running back Zac Stacy, who broke his left ankle against Buffalo last week, could be placed on injured reserve.
Enunwa worked out at Parabolic Performance in New Jersey during his time away from the team, and hasn't felt at all rusty during practice with the Jets this week.
"I've been doing pretty well, running around and flying around," he said. "Surprisingly, the playbook came to me really fast, and that was good."
Enunwa acknowledged he was "a little bit worried" about how some of his teammates would react to him coming back following his suspension. But he said he was open with them, answering their questions, and felt the relationships he has built with several players helped alleviate any potential tension when he returned Monday.
"It has definitely helped me grow a lot," Enunwa said of the entire situation. "I learned a lot about the NFL. I learned a lot about myself. I just want to make sure I don't put myself in any kind of position like that again."
As for what he learned about the NFL, Enunwa realizes there's more than just being a player on the field.
"There's a lot of sides to the NFL," the wide receiver said, "and I never want to be on that side of the NFL (again)."
Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett are looking for luck in the Lone Star State, and they're joined by Stephanie Stradley from the Houston Chronicle for a full preview of the Jets matchup with the Texans.
S Dion Bailey, CB Dee Milliner, and DE Sheldon Richardson did not participate in practice on Thursday, the Jets said.
All other players were full participants in practice.
Head coach Todd Bowles said that Richardson (hamstring) will be a game-time decision on Sunday and that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (thumb) will start on Sunday as long as he doesn't have any setbacks.
Milliner, who has a high fever, hasn't practiced for the last two days and was sent home.
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The Jets have signed CB Kevin Short to the practice squad, the team announced (Nov. 19).
To make room on the roster, LB Quanterus Smith was released from the practice squad.
Mike Maccagnan understands the expectations of New York Jets fans.
After a big offseason of roster moves that followed a fourth straight year out of the postseason, hopes were high for the new general manager heading into a season of promise.
Playoffs or bust? Well, not quite.
"I don't really view it as trying to set a benchmark, like we have to be here, we have to be (somewhere) at some point in time," Maccagnan said Wednesday, adding that the team entered the season focused on competing. "But I wouldn't necessarily say that the playoffs are not our benchmark."
The Jets got off to a 4-1 start and were among the NFL's early season surprises. But they have lost three of their last four.
With some major trades - acquiring Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick - and free-agent signings - Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist - some fans and media expected a major turnaround from last year's 4-12 season under coach Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik.
That still might happen. After all, the Jets have already surpassed last season's win total. But in a muddled AFC, other than the undefeated New England Patriots, there could be an opening for the Jets to end their postseason drought.
"Overall, we're happy with the progress we've made," Maccagnan said while meeting with reporters for the first time since training camp. "I think the one thing we tried to do going into this season was make ourselves more competitive at every position, and I think that's sort of held true to a degree. Obviously, we're happy about the five wins we have. We came up short in four of those (other) games. So, for us, it's a work in progress."
Coach Todd Bowles insisted his goal for the Jets remains the same as it was when he was hired in January: the playoffs and the Super Bowl. He was then asked if this season would be a failure without a trip to the postseason.
"For me, yes," Bowles said. "We want to get to the playoffs every year. We don't accept not going."
Maccagnan would like to be a playoff contender right now, but he's also got an eye on the future - like most NFL general managers. He's sticking to his long-term plans and hoping for short-term success in the meantime.
Marshall likes the vibe around the team despite its recent struggles and thinks the Jets are in a good spot.
"It feels like there's the start of a crescendo going on in the locker room and on the field, and that's a good feeling to have," Marshall said.
Here are some other things to know about Maccagnan's nearly 28-minute "state of the team" midseason report:
BOWLED OVER BY BOWLES: Maccagnan and Bowles have seemed to complement each other from Day 1, with their low-key personalities making for a good working relationship.
So far, so good on the Jets' coach-GM tag-team.
"Just being around Todd, working with Todd and observing Todd, I think Todd has done a very good job as a head coach," Maccagnan said. "I really enjoy working with Todd. I watch him with the players and just his persona and demeanor … it's really what we're trying to do as an organization."
FITZ FITS IN: Maccagnan acknowledged that he has been pleased with Fitzpatrick's performance at quarterback after he stepped in for Geno Smith, whose jaw was broken by a punch from then-teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali in training camp. Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,983 yards and 15 touchdowns with nine interceptions and expects to play Sunday despite having surgery to repair a torn ligament in the thumb on his non-throwing hand.
"At the midseason point, we're very happy with what Ryan has done so far and what he's brought to this organization and the team," Maccagnan said. "I think he has a lot of good football left in him. We'll see how this unfolds as the season goes on, but to this point in time, he's done a good job."
GENO'S FUTURE: Maccagnan was non-committal about whether Smith is in the Jets' long-term plans. Smith remains under contract through next season, and the injury has prevented him from proving whether he could still be this team's future starting QB.
"Geno has dealt with some adversity with the incident this summer," Maccagnan said. "I thought he's handled it very well. He's actually done a good job in his practice and his approach. … We're just going to see how this thing progresses."
He later added: "The jury is still out, but not in a bad way."
MO'S CONTRACT: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is looking for a new deal, and that remains a topic of discussion. But Maccagnan said the two sides won't talk about a contract until after the season. Wilkerson is having a solid season, leading the Jets with seven sacks while also likely driving up his price tag. He might be a candidate to be designated with the franchise tag.
"Mo has done a very good job," Maccagnan said, sidestepping the contract issue, "and we're very happy with what he's done so far."
Jets head coach Todd Bowles believes his first season as coach would be a failure if the Jets don't make the playoffs.
"You want to get to the playoffs every year," Bowles said. "You don't accept not going."
New York started the season 4-1, but have lost three of their last four games. Its defense, which allowed 15 points per game over the first five, has given up 27.3 points per game on average since Week 7.
The Jets, who currently sit at 5-4, would be the No. 7 team in the AFC if the season ended today. While the Patriots lead the AFC East at 9-0, the Steelers would have the first wild card spot with a 6-4 record, and the Bills, also at 5-4, hold the tiebreaker over the Jets based on their head-to-head matchup.
"I wouldn't necessarily say that the playoffs or not are our benchmark," GM Mike Maccagnan said.
Four teams are 4-5, including the Jets' Week 11 opponent, the Houston Texans. After the Jets face the Texans, they host the Dolphins, have a "road" game against the Giants and then face the Titans at home. They end their season with games against the Cowboys, the Patriots and the Bills.
"I said it when I came in, your goal is to get to the playoffs so you can get to the Super Bowl," Bowles said. "You're trying to get to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl, and that's still our goal."
The New York Jets released the following injury report from practice on Wednesday.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (thumb), DE Sheldon Richardson (hamstring), DB Dion Bailey (ankle) and CB Dee Milliner (illness) all did not practice.
CB Darrelle Revis (hip), CB Antonio Cromartie (quad), WR Brandon Marshall (toe) and S Calvin Pryor (ankle) were all limited participants in practice.
Head coach Todd Bowles expects Fitzpatrick to practice on a limited capacity on Thursday. Fitzpatrick told reporters after practice on Wednesday that he expects to play.
Richardson is expected to be a game time decision on Sunday.
The Jets Extra Point panel examines the film from Gang Green's loss to the Bills and discusses what went wrong.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The New York Jets are going to play it by ear with Ryan Fitzpatrick's thumb.
Coach Todd Bowles remained optimistic Monday that the quarterback will play Sunday after Fitzpatrick had surgery on his left thumb last week. But he wants to monitor how - and if - Fitzpatrick practices during the week leading up to the game against the Texans in Houston.
"We'll see," Bowles said when asked if Fitzpatrick would be able to practice Wednesday. "I'm hopeful that he will be. He had the day off, he'll be off tomorrow, so we'll see on Wednesday how he feels."
Fitzpatrick had a torn ligament in his non-throwing hand repaired last Friday, a day after New York's 22-17 loss to Buffalo. Bowles insisted that Fitzpatrick must be able to practice at some point this week to play.
"I have to see how he heals and how he takes snaps," the coach said. "It would be unfair for me to say he's going to be fine. I'm not a doctor."
If Fitzpatrick is unable to play, Geno Smith would start in his place. Fitzpatrick was injured at Oakland on Nov. 1, but was able to play through it against Jacksonville and Buffalo while wearing a padded and molded brace on his thumb, with his hand covered by a glove.
He didn't appear to be hindered by the injury during those games, handling the football fine, throwing for 465 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions, one of which was bobbled by Brandon Marshall directly to a defensive back. The injury itself will take several weeks to fully heal, but the quarterback will continue to wear the protective coverings on his hand. That has Bowles under the impression, at the moment, that Fitzpatrick should be able to play.
"That's what they conveyed to me," Bowles said. "We have to see about his pain level. We have to see if there's any difference in the way he took handoffs last week and the way he's taking them this week."
Fitzpatrick said last week he had two options for the surgery, last Friday or after the season. One of the considerations was, he was told, the ligament could start to shrink the longer he puts it off, making the procedure more complicated.
The Jets also have nine days between games, giving Fitzpatrick extra time to have the stitched-up wound heal. Bowles did acknowledge his staff considered resting Fitzpatrick for the entire week and holding him out against Houston.
"It was a thought, but it wasn't a serious thought," Bowles said. "Everything that was conveyed to us was that he would probably be able to play if everything went well. Everything went well. But again, you have to wait until Wednesday to see what his pain tolerance is."
Smith was slated to be the starter this season until his jaw was broken by a punch from then-teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali during training camp. Fitzpatrick assumed the role and has provided a calming presence for the offense.
He has thrown for 1,983 yards with 15 touchdowns - the most by a Jets quarterback since Mark Sanchez had 26 in 2011 - and nine interceptions. Smith threw for 265 yards with two TDs and an interception in mop-up duty against the Raiders, the only action he has seen this season.
Bowles remains confident Smith can perform well if he needs to play Sunday.
"I'm fine with him starting," Bowles said of Smith. "He's made great progress. He's learned a lot under Ryan. He threw the ball well in Oakland, for the most part. So, if he has to play, we'll just keep on moving."
NOTES: WR Quincy Enunwa was reinstated after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. The Jets have a roster exemption, meaning they have to make a move by the end of the week to make room for Enunwa. RB Zac Stacy is expected to be placed on season-ending IR after breaking his left ankle against Buffalo. … DL Sheldon Richardson has a sore hamstring. … Bowles said CB Antonio Cromartie is "doing a lot better than he was last week" while dealing with a deep bruise in his left thigh. He was inactive against Buffalo. … S Calvin Pryor declared that he's "sure I'll be playing" Sunday after missing three games with a high ankle sprain. … Bowles said he spoke to Smith about an incident in which he allegedly used a vulgarity toward a reporter after the game last Thursday. "From what I heard, I don't think it was anything disrespectful and that he didn't fire back," Bowles said. "It was no big deal, it was a passing shot. … I don't think he's a bad guy."