NFL: New Jersey native, Super Bowl champion Jim Kiick passes away at 73

The nine-year NFL veteran starred at Boonton High School before partaking in the Miami Dolphins’ Super Bowl runs in the 1970s.

New Jersey native and former NFL running back Jim Kiick has passed away at 73, the Miami Dolphins announced on Saturday.

A native of Lincoln Park, Kiick starred at Boonton High School, where he was a multi-sport athlete that made the all-Morris County team as a defensive back. He then spent three years at the University of Wyoming, where he led the Cowboys to victory with an MVP performance in the 1966 Sun Bowl, where he put up 177 total yards in a 28-20 win over Florida State. One year later, he was the spark behind Wyoming’s undefeated regular season.

Two years after breaking Floridians’ hearts by running all over the Seminoles, Kiick became a crucial part of the state’s athletic history when the Miami Dolphins chose him in the fifth round (118th overall) of the 1968 NFL/AFL Draft. He and fellow Miami draftee Larry Csonka rekindled a friendship begun at the 1968 College All-Star Game and, along with Mercury Morris, formed a deadly rushing attack. Kiick tallied 3,644 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns over seven seasons in a Dolphins uniform. His nine scores during the 1969 America Football League campaign.

To this day, Kiick ranked fifth in Dolphins history in rushing yardage (3,644) and sixth in rushing touchdowns (28).

Kiick would go on to make a name for himself via big performances in the postseason. Notably, he scored in all playoff contests during Miami’s completion of their perfect season in 1972-73. Kiick touchdowns were the difference in all three wins, including his one-yard score in Super Bowl VII against Washington. Previously, he posted a two-touchdown performance in the AFC Championship Game win in Pittsburgh (won by a 21-17 margin). His score in the divisional round against Cleveland was the last end zone entry of a 20-14 victory. One more Super Bowl score awaited Kiick in the eighth edition against Minnesota, which Miami won 24-7.

Clashes with head coach Don Shula about his Miami role led Kiick to seek a new opportunity in the World Football League. He, Csonka, and fellow Miami champion Paul Warfield spent a year-plus with the Memphis Southmen/Grizzlies (no relation to the NBA team of the same name). The trio were three of the richest WFL players before the league shut down in the middle of its second season in 1975.

Kiick was set to reunite with his good friend Csonka (the Miami media dubbed the pair “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) with the New York Giants, but the team was wary of the pair’s hard-partying ways. He would go on to play four games over two final NFL seasons with Denver and Washington before retiring in 1978. The dual-threat retired with 6,061 yards from scrimmage, with his best statistical season coming in 1971 (738 rushing yards in 1971, a year that ended with Miami’s first Super Bowl appearance).

After football, Kiick returned to Florida and served as a private investigator in the public defender’s office of Broward County. He routinely appeared at modern Dolphins games and was inducted into the University of Wyoming’s sports Hall of Fame in 1996. The running back was living with dementia at the time of his death.

Kiick is survived by his children Allie and Austin, the former being a tennis pro on the ITF Women’s Circuit.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

3 Reasons why Frank Gore and the New York Jets are a perfect match

New York Giants, Frank Gore

The signing of Frank Gore has raised some eyebrows, but the newly minted 37-year-old may wind up being the New York Jets’ most vital addition.

If you assembled the all-time “He played for the JETS?!?!” team, Frank Gore would already be a top contender, but he’d have some competition.

Gore, who turns 37 on Thursday, joins a list of illustrious rushers that have spent their twilight years with the New York Jets. Others notables that have taken the green plunge include Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, and LaDanian Tomlinson. Aging legends of the game be found all over such a lineup, one whose depth chart includes Brett Favre, Derrick Mason, Jason Taylor, and Ronnie Lott.

While some names wind up hitting the blooper reels of NFL lore, others can wind becoming solid contributors to the New York cause. Law, for example, earned a career-best 10 interceptions during the 2005 season. A decade later, Brandon Marshall had the most illustrious season in franchise history with team-bests 1,502 yards on 109 receptions, 14 of which went for touchdowns.

Here’s why Gore can potentially lean toward ending up in the latter, more hopeful, category…

He’s Still Got What the Jets Are Looking For

Jets head coach Adam Gase took some heat for his usage of Le’Veon Bell last season. Comments to ESPN’s Rich Cimini earlier this offseason only seemed to further freeze the icy relationship Bell and Gase have reportedly had so far.

“I do think we have some guys that can help maybe lessen the load on (Bell) to where it’s not all on him,” Gase told Cimini on May 4, two days before Gore’s arrival. “Hopefully, we can get some of the younger backs to where we can make a good one-two punch to where we can really excel instead of feeling like it’s just all on him all the time.”

But Gase may have a point.

While Bell’s tally of 311 touches didn’t sniff the league-best 406 he had with Pittsburgh in 2017, it still ranked eighth in the NFL last season. It quickly became clear that Bell wasn’t the one-size-fits-all solution to the Jets’ offense some envisioned him to be. Things could get a little easier after the expansive offensive line renovations,  The Jets had to find a spell option for Bell, a process that became all the more imperative with Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery on the free agency block.

They began to address the role when they took Florida’s Lamical Perine in the fourth round of last month’s draft and continued with Gore. No one’s expecting Gore to be the dominant rusher he was during his glory days in San Francisco, but he has spent the past few seasons fulfilling similar roles across the AFC East. Gore has earned 1,321 over the last two seasons with Miami and Buffalo. He would serve as a passable starting option when Devin Singletary went down with an injury. Among his notable efforts with the Bills last season was an 83-total yard performance at MetLife Stadium (also scoring a touchdown in a 28-14 win over the Giants) and a 109-yard ground output on 17 carries against New England. For what the Jets are looking for, Gore was a perfect fit.

Over the last seasons, Gore’s 1,321 rushing yards are good for second amongst running backs in their 30s (behind only Washington’s Adrian Peterson).

He Knows the Staff

If and when we get a 2020 season, it will undoubtedly be one of reckoning for Gase and his staff. He and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains will be under particular scrutiny for how the offense flows with Sam Darnold entering the telling third year as the franchise quarterback, now armed with a revamped offensive line and a potential big-play receiver in Denzel Mims in tow.

It’s only natural for the staff to surround themselves with talent that has worked to their advantage before. Gore was brought into Gase and Loggains’ Miami squad in 2018. His duties were shared with youngsters Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage, but he still led the team with 722 yards. The 2018 season also served as a mini-revitalization, as Gore averaged 4.6 yards per carry, the first time he put over four yards since his final San Francisco season in 2014.

Gase has spoken highly of their brief shared tour of Miami. He referred to the Gore experience as “unbelievable” in the lead-up to the Jets’ Week 1 matchup with the rusher’s then-employers from Buffalo.

“If you watched him work day-in and day-out, it wouldn’t surprise you,” Gase said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “We would always say, ‘Hey, we think you should take today off,’ and he’s like, ‘Wednesdays, I’m practicing,’ and he wants every rep. You’re in full pads and he’s going at it like it’s Sunday. That’s just how he looks. That’s how he’s always been. He loves football. There’s no other place he’d rather be than the practice field, game day. Everything about football, he loves.”

(Photo by Anthony J. Causi/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Good Country For Old Men

A lot has been made about the Jets signing yet another veteran past his prime. But that might be exactly what they need at this stage of the game.

The Jets’ perpetual rebuild is in perhaps its most hopeful stage yet, but it’s one stocked with youth. On the team’s current roster, only four other veterans are at least 30. When it comes to building a winning culture, a veteran that has done the dance of victory before is an essential ingredient. One can do far worse in a helpful veteran than a college football national champion, a five-time Pro Bowler, the rusher named to the 2010s All-Decade Team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the third-leading rusher in NFL history.

An example at another position came in the form of Mark Brunell’s brief tenure as Mark Sanchez’s backup during the 2010 and 2011 campaigns. Brunell’s resume wasn’t as polished as Gore’s, but he was the quarterback that led the Jacksonville Jaguars to their earliest glory days and later won a Super Bowl as the understudy in New Orleans.

The aged Brunell, who was entering his 40s, had a calming effect on Sanchez, who posted the best numbers of his career with the ex-Jaguar in the room.

“He has a calming presence when everything is spinning out of control,” Sanchez told Cimini during the 2011 preseason. “When you’re not having a good game or practice is going too fast and you’re just not right, he’s got this way about him.”

A prominent rushing example came from Thomas Jones at the turn of the last decade. Jones’ was a solid contributor during his twilight years (he’s still seventh in franchise history with 3,833 rushing yards despite spending only three years in green), but he had a calming effect on the lineup as a whole. In another Cimini piece, Sanchez called Jones “one of the best teammates I’ve ever had”, even though their New York paths only merged for a single season.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Fun Facts and Analysis of the New York Jets’ 2020 Schedule

New York Jets, New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Times and dates have been attached to the New York Jets’ 20 preseason and regular season matchups. ESM reveals what you need to know.

As if you didn’t need more of a reason to stay inside, the NFL just gave you 256 goals to work toward.

The league attached times and dates to its 2020 regular season matchups on Thursday, while preaching caution in the wake of the current health crisis. Nonetheless, the event gave fans a welcome reprieve as they continue to work their way through these trying times.

Here’s what you need to know about the Jets’ slate…

Preseason

Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

TBD: NY Giants (TBD, WCBS)

The annual Snoopy Bowl stays in the Week 1 slot it found itself in last season, even though the Jets and Giants will not play each other during the regular season. Big Blue took last season’s matchup by a 31-22 final.

August 20: @ Detroit (8:00 p.m., ESPN)

The Jets will play a nationally televised preseason game for the second time in three years, the last matchup being a 2018 visit to Washington, which was also on ESPN.

TBD: Pittsburgh (TBD, WCBS)

Pittsburgh will return to the site where their playoff hopes more or less died, as a Marcus Maye deflection game the Jets a 16-10 win.

TBD: @ Philadelphia (TBD, WCBS)

Should it happen, 2020 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Jets and Eagles meeting annually in the preseason. The Jets took last year’s meeting at MetLife by a 6-0 tally

Regular Season

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

September 13: @ Buffalo (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

For the third time in four seasons, the Jets will open their regular season against the Bills. Buffalo has taken each of the first two openers in that span thus far, but Sam Darnold has yet to lose at New Era Field, having bested fellow 2019 first-round pick Josh Allen twice thus far. The Jets have dropped their Week 1 matchup in three of the last four seasons, the lone exception being 2018’s Monday night visit to Detroit.

September 20: San Francisco (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox)

The Jets’ will welcome the defending NFC champions for their first East Rutherford visit for AFC business since the 49ers administered a 34-0 shellacking in 2012 en route to that season’s Super Bowl. New York’s last home opener win came in 2017 against Miami, but they have likewise gone 1-3 over their past four tries in such a game.

September 27: @ Indianapolis (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets are 3-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium since it opened in 2008. Alas, the lone exception is the 2010 AFC Championship Game. New York’s previous visit was a 20-7 Monday night triumph in 2015. Overall, the Jets have taken four of the past five meetings with their former AFC East brethren since that postseason match.

October 1: Denver (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network)

A previous Thursday night meeting with the Broncos didn’t go so well, as Tim Tebow’s 20-yard touchdown run gave Denver a 17-13 win at Mile High. Their 34-16 win over Denver ended a three-game losing streak in the series. The Jets are 2-5 on Thursday night games since the NFL made them a full-time phenomenon in 2012.

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

October 11: Arizona (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox)

No matter what happens between the Jets and Cardinals, the quarterback matchup between Sam Darnold and Kyler Murray will definitely be more exciting than the last time they met at MetLife Stadium. Back in 2012, Greg McElroy relieved Mark Sanchez and guided the Jets to an ugly 7-6 victory. The Jets have won six of the last seven meetings, but fell in the last showdown in Glendale in 2016.

October 18: @ LA Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

Depending on health progress, the Jets are set to make their first two trips to SoFi Stadium, the site of Super Bowl LVI this season. The Jets’ last game against a team with a Los Angeles moniker came back in 1993, when they fell to the Raiders at the Coliseum. More recently, the Jets dropped a 14-7 decision to the Chargers in their last meeting at home on Christmas Eve 2017.

October 25: Buffalo (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets will be looking to end a two-year losing streak at MetLife Stadium to the Bills, who are 4-2 at the relatively new establishment in East Rutherford after dropping their first four. This will mark the first time the Jets end their yearly pair with the Bills by the end of October since 2007, a Buffalo sweep.

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

November 1: @ Kansas City (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

Kansas City ended their five-decade plus Super Bowl drought. Are the Jets next? Time will only tell, but the first two AFL champions will meet at Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since 2016. The Jets’ last Kansas City masterpiece came in 1998, when John Hall’s 32-yard field goal as time expired gave them a 20-17 victory.

November 9: New England (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

After two appearances last season, the Jets get one showing on Monday Night Football, thought the MetLife meeting with the Patriots gets such a treatment for the second straight season. The Jets will look to end an eight-game losing streak in the rivalry and also seek their first Monday night win since the aforementioned Week 1 tilt against the Lions in 2018.

November 15: @ Miami (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

With the expanded AFC playoff picture, could these matchups with Miami hold major implications? The schedulemaker certainly seems to think so, as this is the first time a Jets-Dolphins game starts beyond the 1:00 p.m. ET timeslot since December 2016, when a Miami squad led by Adam Gase beat the Jets 34-13 in a Saturday primetime game.

November 22: Bye Week

The Jets’ bye week comes in Week 11 for the second time in the last three seasons.

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

November 29: Miami (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

In this de facto home-and-home series with the Dolphins, the Jets will look to win after their bye for the first time since 2015, when they followed up a London win over Miami with another triumph against Washington. The Jets’ last-second win Miami last December, courtesy of a Sam Ficken field goal, ended a four-game losing streak against the Dolphins.

December 6: Las Vegas (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets finished their stretch against the Oakland Raiders with a 9-11 mark, but they were able to end things on a dominant note with a 34-3 win at MetLife Stadium last season. Las Vegas’ new franchise has not won in East Rutherford since 1996 and is 0-3 at MetLife Stadium.

December 13: @ Seattle (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets haven’t beaten the Seahawks since 2004, and their last win in Seattle came at the since-demolished Kingdom in 1997. Their prior matchup a 27-17 defeat at MetLife Stadium.

December 19/20: @ LA Rams (TBD)

Over the last two weeks of the season, a dozen matchups have been nominated to potentially appear in a trio of Saturday games. The Jets’ penultimate two games are a pair of such choices, including the latter half of their SoFi split.

Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

December 26/27: Cleveland (TBD)

Thus far, Baker Mayfield has gotten the better of Sam Darnold in the two meetings between 2018’s first two quarterbacks. Darnold, however, was unable to take part in last year’s Monday nite tilt, as his illness forced Trevor Siemian and later Luke Falk to oversee a 23-3 defeat in East Rutherford.

January 3: @ New England (1:00 p.m., CBS)

The Jets are still looking for their first win at Gillette Stadium since their epic divisional playoff wince in 2011, but they were at least able to snap the touchdown hex in their last visit. New England and New York last ended their regular seasons against each other in 2018, a game that served as the end of the Todd Bowles era.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

 

 

 

 

Report: New York Jets to face off against Buffalo Bills in week 1

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

As the NFL prepares to release the official schedule this evening, Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News has now leaked the New York Jets‘ first opponents. The betting favorites to win the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills will be hosting the Green & White in week 1.

The Jets will visit Orchard Park after facing the Bills in Week 1 & 17 of last season. They’re reportedly slated to play at 1 PM to kick off the season. Although there were initial reports that the NFL would structure the season with AFC vs NFC games for the first four weeks to kick off the season, they’ve now shown that’s not the case, at least for two AFC East teams.

Breaking Down The Matchup

A brief look at the Bills roster shows you how talented they are. Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane have built an excellent squad of high character guys in Buffalo. They’ve used lots of resources to build through the trenches, just like Joe Douglas has done for the Jets. The difference between the teams to me is in the coaching staff(s). The Jets are still looking to build an identity under second-year coach Adam Gase. The Bills have constructed that identity under McDermott and now been to the playoffs twice under his guidance. As Josh Allen continues to develop and the team added pieces like Stefon Diggs, Josh Norman, and AJ Epenesa to an already talented team, they look primed to contend for the AFC East title.

As for the Jets, although they’ve had a great offseason, the team has one of the hardest schedules in football and is facing a lot of pressure. There’s real skepticism about Adam Gase, and if he’s the right guy to lead this team, if he wins this year and shows he can win with this team, he’ll keep his job, but if he does not prove that he can lead this team to wins, the Jets will be looking for another coach. The Jets QB 1 also faces pressure. As his third year approaches, Darnold has shown flashes of brilliance. When he’s not hurt, the Jets have also been a productive offensive team. If he can stay healthy and produce, he will prove he’s the true franchise QB, but another average or slightly above average season could lead fans to question his ability to lead this team.

Both teams are young with loads of potential, and with pressure to win on both sides of the ball, week 1 can’t get here soon enough.

Happy April Fools’: The Best Trick Plays in New York Jets History

With the nation in need of a laugh, ESM counts down the best practical jokes in the history of the New York Jets.

Alas, our current situation isn’t one that can be remedied by the powers that be declaring “April Fools”. But, we could certainly use a laugh, or at least an “ooh? or an “ahh” in this day and age.

ESM is happy to pick up the slack on this, the first day of April. We present the New York Jets’ greatest examples of the trick play…football’s version of the practical joke:

1/3/87: Walker This Way

(skip to 16:34)

You’d perhaps never expect the Jets and Cleveland Browns to create one of the most memorable games in NFL postseason history. After all, the two are often regarded as the most cursed franchises in football. The Jets perhaps gave the game a fitting conclusion by blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter en route to a 23-20 loss in double overtime. Cleveland’s defense limited the Jets to less than 300 yards of offense and brought down Jets quarterbacks on nine occasions.

The Jets got the memorable game’s scoring off to a roaring start in the second quarter despite their problems on offense. Pat Ryan got things going with a toss to Freeman McNeil before the rusher tossed the ball back to him. Another Ryan toss, this one deeper and of the forward variety, landed in the arms of Wesley Walker to give the Jets the early lead. That single throw constituted nearly half of Ryan’s yardage output on the day (103 yards while splitting duties with Ken O’Brien).

10/6/91: Blair It Out

(skip to 31:44)

Four years after suffering that heartbreaking playoff defeat at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the Jets created deja vu all over again. Green trickery allowed them to break another scoreless tie in the second quarter. A throw from a running back was involved, but unlike McNeil, Blair Thomas got a chance to show off his downfield prowess.

As the Jets entered the Cleveland red zone, Thomas took a handoff from O’Brien. The Browns defense converged on Thomas, who mustered only 13 yards on eight carries during the afternoon. He more than made up for it on the 16-yard floater to Rob Moore. The sophomore receiver was left wide open in the lingering infield of the Cleveland Indians and caught the “pop-up” to give the Jets the lead. Gaining a quantum of revenge, the Jets topped the Browns 17-14.

Thomas’ toss was the only throw of his NFL career. He’s one of three Jets (along with fellow rushers McNeil and Curtis Martin) to have a  perfect “touchdown percentage”.

9/24/00: Wayne’s World

(skip to 1:42)

At the turn of the century, Keyshawn Johnson was apparently not pleased with how often he was getting “the damn ball”. The Jets traded the top overall pick of the 1996 draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in April 2000. One of Johnson’s parting gifts was some harsh criticisms of Wayne Chrebet. The undrafted receiver was making a name for himself by becoming the quintessential NFL success story, but Johnson labeled the Hofstra alum as a “mascot” in his aforementioned autobiography.

Chrebet and the Jets didn’t have to wait long to serve Johnson’s words back to him. The schedulemaker placed the Jets’ interconference showdown with Tampa in the September portion. Both teams entered 3-0 and Johnson continued to run his mouth, saying comparing him to Chrebet was “like comparing a flashlight to a star”.

In the end, Chrebet earned the last laugh as the recipient of one of the most electrifying moments in Jets history. A Vinny Testaverde handoff to Martin seemed questionable with the clock running in the final minute, but Martin suddenly launched am 18-yard pass that landed in the bare hands of Chrebet, who snuck by defenders Damien Robinson and Brian Kelly. That score allowed the Jets to complete a quick comeback after trailing 17-6 within the final two minutes. Johnson was forced to wash down his serving of humble pie with a mere one-yard output in the 21-17 New York victory.

Martin is the only Jet in team history to a perfect passing touchdown percentage on multiple throws. His second and final toss came in a December 2001 loss to Pittsburgh.

10/23/00: An OT Sends It To OT

(skip to 10:03)

Offensive lineman may be the most underrated and undervalued position in all of sports. Anonymity is perhaps the blocker’s dearest friend. Create the hole for the quarterback or rusher, and the skill player gets the credit in terms of highlights and fantasy points. Failure to do so often introduces you to fans in the grimmest of ways. Entering the box score, much less the scoring summary, is a long-shot at best.

Jets offensive tackle Jumbo Elliott found a way to it in the most memorable way on a Monday night at the Meadowlands.

The final regulation touches on the Jets’ erasure of a 30-7 deficit to the Miami Dolphins was Elliott’s three-yard touchdown catch from Testaverde on a tackle-eligible play. It certainly didn’t come easy…Elliott bobbled the ball throughout the process…but after replay deliberation, the game was allowed to continue after referee Walt Coleman approved the catch. John Hall wound up finishing the “Monday Night Miracle” with a 40-yard field goal to give the Jets a 40-37 win.

They say things are bigger on Monday night, and, in Elliott’s case, that axiom came literally. His catch (the only reception of his career) allowed him to become the heaviest player in Monday Night Football’s history to score a touchdown.

The Jets’ official social media accounts adapted the classic game into a Twitter-friendly setting earlier this week. 

10/14/12: What Might’ve Been

(skip to 2:06)

Tim Tebow’s New York saga was perhaps the most attention ever devoted to a personal protector. For all the pomp and circumstance behind that chaotic year, no one in the metropolitan area seemed to truly find an established role for Tebow. His spot on the Jets’ punting unit offered the sole form of green consistency.

Tebow’s longest New York play from scrimmage came on special teams in a midseason visit from Indianapolis. The Jets led 14-6 but were forced to punt in the latter stages of the second quarter. Needing 11 yards for the first, Tebow helped the Jets earn 23. He would navigate a quickly collapsing pocket before finding linebacker Nick Bellore wide open in the middle of the pair. Colts back deep brought him down, but the Jets situated well enough to set a pre-halftime touchdown from Mark Sanchez to Jason Hill. The Jets would up crushing the Colts 35-9 after momentum was permanently shifted to their side.

11/13/16: Varsity Green

The Jets welcomed fans from a galaxy far, far away last season when they hosted their first-ever Star Wars-themed day at MetLife Stadium last fall. It was hardly the first time cinematic exploits graced the East Rutherford field.

Closing on a scoring opportunity against the Los Angeles Rams, the Jets wound up punching it in on a play similar to one displayed in the climax of the 1999 coming-of-age high school football drama Varsity Blues. A Bryce Petty pass went to Brandon Marshall, but he immediately tossed the ball over to Bilal Powell on a hook-and-ladder surprise. The perplexed Rams could do nothing stop Powell’s score that gave the Jets a lead in the second quarter. It served as a moment of lateral redemption for Marshall, whose previous attempt…could’ve gone better. 

The Jets’ fortunes were unfortunately not tied to those of the West Canaan High School Coyotes. Powell’s magic score accounted for their only points of the game in a 9-6 loss.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: The Greatest Backup QB Performances

tom tupa throwing a pass in a recent game against the patriots

With World Backup Day landing on March 31, ESM counts down the finest second-string performances in the history of the New York Jets.

March 31 has given rise to “World Backup Day”. The “holiday” was founded by Youngstown State University student Ismail Jadun and encourages backing up personal data and files on the day before April Fools’ Day.

Backup has a different meaning when it comes to NFL quarterbacks. Often looked upon as the guy in the baseball cap, the backup quarterback may one of the most underrated positions in the four major sports. You never know if and when your data could be erased in the blink of an eye. Quarterback issues are likewise unsympathetic to best-laid plans, necessitating backup and contingency in all walks of life.

The New York Jets are in desperate need of a backup quarterback to work with franchise man Sam Darnold. Their cornerstone has missed six games over the past two seasons, and the Jets have gone 0-6 in such contests. There have been other times, however, that the Jets have been better prepared….

12/1/68: The Babe

This is a story about a quarterback that won the Super Bowl with the Jets in 1968, an AFL legend that partook in Gang Green’s finest hour. Of course, the thrower in question is…Babe Parilli.

Parilli made a name for himself as the quarterback of the American Football League’s Boston Patriots. While Parilli’s 3,465 yards and 31 touchdowns during Boston’s 1964 campaign may seem almost commonplace in today’s NFL, those marks stood as Patriot records until Tom Brady broke them during his historic 2007 tour.

Since Joe Namath sometimes had trouble finishing games, Parilli was brought in as his understudy in 1968. He would come up particularly big during the final weeks of the AFL season. Parilli’s play allowed the Jets to enter the postseason with a full-wave of momentum. A Houston Oilers loss on Thanksgiving gave the Jets the East Division title, leading to Namath taking the second half off in the final three games of the regular season. In the first, Parilli led a fourth quarter come against the Miami Dolphins at Shea Stadium, throwing three touchdowns in the frame (two to Don Maynard) in a 35-17 win. He would go on to throw a pass in Super Bowl III against Baltimore while relieving an ailing Namath and wound up with a ring after the Jets won the game 16-7.

Parilli played one more year with the Jets, once again in relief of Namath. He never started a game in New York, but, notably, the Jets won each of the ten games in which he partook.

11/15/70: L.A. Woodall

Reality quickly came for the Jets after their Super Bowl title. They earned another division title in 1969 but the bottom fell out in 1970 to the tune of a 4-10 record. Namath’s injuries (as well as a threatened retirement) had reached a breaking point by then, forcing them to find insurance in the form of second-round pick Al Woodall.

The Duke alumn mostly struggled as a Jets quarterback and was out of football by 1974. He did, however, earn one shining New York moment during a November visit to Los Angeles to battle the Rams. The Jets entered with a 1-7 mark but wound up shocking the City of Angels to the tune of a 31-20 victory. Woodall’s 261 yards and three touchdown passes wound up being his career-best and his efforts just might’ve cost Los Angeles a playoff spot. The Rams finished their season 9-4-1, one game behind San Francisco for the NFC West crown and a half-game behind Detroit for the NFC’s wild card.

Woodall was able to extend his 15 minutes of NFL fame as the win over Los Angeles began a three-game win streak. The other bookend of that streak was a 20-10 win over defending NFC champion Minnesota two weeks later.

9/12/99: Give ’em the Tup

After a surprise appearance in the AFC title game, expectations were high for the century-ending New York Jets. However, hopes of a return trip were immediately dashed at the onset of the season, when Vinny Testaverde went down without contact, suffering a torn Achilles during a Week 1 visit from the New England Patriots. For the Week 1 divisional tilt, head coach Bill Parcells made the unusual move of naming punter Tom Tupa the primary backup. Tupa was a college quarterback at Maryland, but he hadn’t thrown on a full-time basis in seven years. The choice put Parcells in an awkward spot: if Tupa was lifted from the game for emergency quarterback Rick Mirer prior to the fourth quarter, he could not come back in. To the shock of many at Giants Stadium…including the New England defense…Tupa’s first play from scrimmage resulted in a 25-yard touchdown pass to Keyshawn Johnson, one that gave the Jets the lead back.

From there on out, Parcells’ will to keep Tupa under center was tested by a relentless New England pass rush. Tupa was sacked three times and lost a fumble that was recovered by Willie McGinest in the end zone. But just as Mirer momentum was brewing, Tupa seemed to sway Parcells back his way every time. He would end up throwing another touchdown pass (this one from seven yards out to Fred Baxter) and had the Jets well in the ball game, which stood at a 27-22 New England lead entering the final quarter.

However, with the emergency caveats removed, Parcells fully entrusted the offense to Mirer. The Jets took the lead thanks to a pick-six from Brian Cox, but Mirer wound up throwing two interceptions, including one on the Jets’ final drive, that allowed the Patriots to escape East Rutherford with a 30-28 win. Tupa finished the game 6-of-10 for 165 yards and two scores.

EAST RUTHERFORD, UNITED STATES: New York Jets’ quarterback Ray Lucas (L) is chased out of the pocket by the Miami Dolphins’ Rich Owens (R) in the second quarter of their game at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey 12 December, 1999. AFP PHOTO/ Henny Ray ABRAMS (Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

12/12/99: Feeling 22

There’s a reason you won’t see any antics from Mirer on this list. Parcells chose him to take over for Testaverde, but that faith was not rewarded. Mirer posted a mere 66.6 passer ratings over six starts, during which they went 2-4. With the team sitting at 2-6 and the playoffs an afterthought, Parcells turned the offensive reigns over to Ray Lucas.  The Harrison, NJ native was in the midst of building a respectable career as a backup after starring at Rutgers. Parcells gave him his first NFL chance, as the Tuna brought in the undrafted Lucas in as a backup quarterback during New England’s Super Bowl run in 1996. Lucas was one of several Parcells-related transfers to New York when the latter took the Jets’ job a year later.

Under Lucas, the Jets were able to gain back respectability, especially over an exhilarating December. The former Scarlet Knight led the Jets to three consecutive fourth quarter comebacks, starting with the erasure of a 13-6 deficit at The Meadowlands against the Dolphins. Lucas helped the Jets put up 22 unanswered points as they scored on each of their three full offensive possessions in the third. Two throws found their way to Johnson for scores, allowing the Jets to earn a 28-20 win over a Dolphins team contending for a playoff spot.

Lucas posted a 6-3 record as the Jets starter en route to an 8-8 campaign. He would earn another fourth quarter comeback win when the Jets visited Miami two weeks later, creating a sandwich yet another last-frame victory in Dallas.

12/2/12: Raising Arizona

This is the story about a Jets quarterback that came from the hallowed football ground of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and led Gang Green to a crucial victory.

The hero in this tale is, of course, Greg McElroy.

In December 2012, the Jets and Arizona Cardinals met in a game that set quarterbacking back decades. In NFL football, a quarterback could throw the ball an infinite number of times into the ground and still emerge with a comparatively sizable passer rating of 39.6. Somehow, starting quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Ryan Lindley both failed to beat 30. Neither eclipsed the century mark in yardage and combined to complete 20-of-52 passes. Arizona managed to earn just five first downs, but somehow nursed a slim 3-0 lead for a majority of the game.

With the Sanchez era in its dying acts, the Jets mercifully removed him for McElroy in the second half. The insertion of the former national champion and seventh-round pick drew cheers from a bored MetLife Stadium crowd. His statline was simple…a mere 5-of-7 for 29 yards…but he did what Sanchez could not: score. McElroy found tight end Jeff Cumberland for a one-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, which was somehow enough to earn the Jets a 7-6 win and keep their playoff hopes alive for another week.

When the Jets were eliminated a week later, McElroy earned his first, and what became his only, career start. He was sacked 11 times in a loss to the San Diego Chargers, suffering concussion symptoms. He never partook in another regular season down in the NFL.

11/9/14: Vick Over Pitt

The 2014 New York Jets hoped to showcase the No. 7 of the future in Geno Smith.

They did get to show off a certain man with the numeral…albeit one from the past.

Michael Vick’s penultimate season with the Jets, albeit in the unfamiliar number of one. Vick was called upon to replace a struggling Smith with the Jets reeling at 1-6. The third and final game of his starting tenure produced a rare victory, as the Jets upset the 6-3 Pittsburgh Steelers by a 20-13 final at MetLife Stadium. Two touchdown passes from Vick, including a 67-yard bomb to T.J. Graham, allowed the Jets to jump out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Vick also made history during the game by becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to break the rushing plateau of 6,000 yards.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

The New York Jets Shouldn’t Fire Gase Because the Titans are in the AFC Championship Game

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

Things did not go the way Adam Gase expected them to his first season with the New York Jets. Some of the problems he faced were out of his control (Sam Darnold’s mono), and some he could control (why won’t he give Bell the ball?). But to argue Gase should be fired because Ryan Tannehill “leading” the Titans to the AFC Championship game is lunacy in the highest order.

Ryan Tannehill Barely Played for Gase in Miami

Ryan Tannehill was so hurt as a Dolphin when Gase was his coach, he played in exactly 24 games for the Dolphins. That’s right, he played in 24 out of 48 games for the Dolphins, missing the entire 2017 season. So you can’t fault Gase for “hindering Tannehill’s development”, as some Jets fans are arguing because Tannehill couldn’t get on the field half the time.

Tannehill Was the Titans Backup for About Half the Season

The other reason why we can’t fault Gase by using Tannehill is the Titans didn’t start Tannehill until they went 2-4. So with about half the season over, they make the switch and had to have EVERYTHING fall their way to get into the Wild Card game against the Patriots. Do you know who else was in the same boat as the Titans? The Oakland Raiders. They ALMOST were the Titans this year. And if they were, we’d more than likely be staring Baltimore v KC in the mouth for Sunday’s game.

The TITANS Aren’t Trusting Tannehill That Much on This Playoff Push

Look at the Titans offense these last two games. Against the Pats, he went 8-15, for 72 yards, a TD, and a pick. Saturday, in Baltimore, he went 7-14, with 88 yards, and 2 TD. Derrick Henry has been the reason the Titans have won these games. So how can you cite what “Gase did to Tannehill, and look at the Titans now,” as proof why Gase needs to be fired? It’s just sheer lunacy!