Appetizers From the Swamps of Jersey

From Lyndhurst, New Jersey

Any NFL road trip to play the Giants or Jets does not mean going to New York. Earlier Saturday, I landed at Newark’s Liberty International Airport, and I’m staying on the west side of the Hudson River.

That would be the New Jersey, one of the most misunderstood states in our 50. If your exposure to Jersey has been flying into Newark or New York and seeing the horizon filled with belching smoke stacks and the landscape of heavy industry, then you’ve missed a lot of the state.

There are parts of New Jersey that are just beautiful, whether it’s the Cap May area at the southern tip, up through the shore resorts like and then there’s the northwest corner, where there’s no smokestack to see for hundreds of miles.

Newark, Camden and Trenton are not garden spots. But Cape May, Princeton and the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area are garden spots in the Garden State.

Thomas Jones And Jets Trade Hugs & Kisses

It’s one of those great to see you weeks for Chiefs RB Thomas Jones and the New York Jets and both sides are saying all sorts of nice things about the other.

After the most productive season of Jones’ long NFL carrier in 2009, the Jets released him. That’s when he signed with the Chiefs.

“I’ve been traded twice and released; I’ve been through pretty much every situation you can think of as far as being a NFL player or professional athlete,” Jones told the New York media this week in a conference call. “I can say when I’m done playing football that I’ve had a lot of experiences that have helped me grow, and not only as a football player but as a person.

“I felt like, obviously, the numbers, 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, it was probably my best year (2009). I went to the Pro Bowl the year before that and I didn’t have the same type of numbers. I had a lot of fun that year. We went to the AFC Championship Game, playing in New York City and the whole buzz that came with that. It was just a great, great experience, something I’ll always remember.”

His former teammates just raved about the affect Jones had on the team during his three years with the Jets

“He was a big-time leader for us during his time here,” said CB Darrelle Revis. “I wish he wouldn’t have left. I wish we still had him as a teammate, but we know how business goes and I’m sure he’s giving all that leadership to those guys in Kansas City.”

Said RB Shonn Greene: “He’s been through it all. A lot of what I do is from that guy right there. He’s a great player and an even better person, and I appreciate him.”

The guy who really misses Jones is QB Mark Sanchez, who helped him get through a tough rookie season.

“I was just trying to stay afloat,” Sanchez said. “He was one of the first guys who came up to me and said, ‘Hey, man, you’re our guy. We drafted you for a reason. Prove them all wrong.’

“He’s one of the best teammates I ever had. He’s a real team leader, and he didn’t say much, but when he did it was from the heart. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever been around. That was a fun time.”

Even Rex Ryan was talking nice about Jones.

“He’ll be rarin’ to go,” the Jets head coach said. “He’s a great competitor. We always appreciated him. It’s funny, we took out an ad in the papers letting Kansas City know the kind of player Thomas was. I have a great deal of admiration for him … but not this week.”

Make you wonder why they let him get out the door if they loved him so much, but then the Jets had a better gauge on just how many more years Jones had on his career and figured going after LaDainian Tomlinson would give them more production.

Here’s a look at what both backs have done – you make the call on whether the Jets were right:

Back

G/S

Runs

Yards

Avg

LG

TD

Rec.

Yards

TD

T.J. w/Chiefs

28/15

352

1,295

3.7

70

6

18

138

0

L.T. w/Jets

25/14

266

1,086

4.1

31

7

78

696

1

T.J. Can Climb All-Time List

Right now, Jones is the 24th rusher in NFL history with 10,438 yards for the Buccaneers, Cardinals, Bears, Jets and Chiefs. Here is the lay of the land ahead of him that he’ll be chasing over the last four games:

# Running Back

Rushing Yards

20. Ricky Watters

10,643

21. Jamal Lewis

10,607

22. Tiki Barber

10,449

23. Eddie George

10,441

24. Thomas Jones

10,438

So far this season, Jones has averaged per game, so that would give him 108 more yards, which would push him to the No. 22 position ahead of Barber.

Moore Help Arrives For the Jets Offense

At this time of the year, it’s almost impossible to add any significant players to your team, with the trade deadline long past. The Jets have had offensive problems all season, so they were limited in what they could do with the roster.

But they did bring in reinforcements for the coaching staff. Tom Moore, long-time offensive guru of the Indianapolis Colts has been serving as a consultant for the Jets from his retirement home in South Carolina. Every week he would look at tape and pass along suggestions to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

This week, Moore has come to the team’s facility in New Jersey and he spent this past week, and the next three, working directly with the offensive staff and players.

Brian Schottenheimer said he is excited about the chance to work every day with Moore even though some have interpreted the news as a lack of confidence in the Jets offensive coordinator.

“I love having Tom here,” Brian said on Friday. “He’s been great, not just for me and he’s been great for the players. He’s such a positive guy. He really is. I think it was half-time (last Sunday at Washington when) we were just trying to figure things out and stuff and he’s just so level-headed. It has been awesome having him around.”

Schottenheimer than was asked about the perception that Moore is looking over his shoulder.

“I don’t get that sense at all,” he said. “Obviously, you have a guy with that much experience, people can think what they want. I wish I had this guy eight years ago, or six years ago. … I’ve never felt threatened by Tom. I hope he stays for a long time. It means we’re winning games and doing well.”

FLORIDA-KU NOW EVEN ON TRANSFERS

Speaking of Brian Schottenheimer, there’s an interesting take to Charlie Weis moving from the University of Florida to the University of Kansas as head coach.

A few years ago – and it’s more than a few but thinking about how many years makes us feel very old – Brian Schottenheimer spent one year at KU as part of the football team. He then transferred to Florida, where he finished out his college career. The reason he transferred was to get a chance to learn offense from then Gators coach Steve Spurrier.

Now, Weis has come the other way to take over the Jayhawks, after just one year at Florida.

TAMBA COMES HOME

It’s just 10 miles as the crow flies from Teaneck High School to MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.

The journey Tamba Hali has taken in his life is far more than that, but he’ll be just a 15-minute ride away from his alma mater on Sunday.

Hali always enjoyed playing in the old Meadowlands; in two games he has a sack in each game. He’s looking for more this time. In speaking with the Bergen Record newspaper this past week, Tamba reflected on a few items, including his story of escaping worn-torn Liberia and landing in New Jersey, where he learned English from Hooked on Phonics books.

“At the end of the day, I always sit back and look back and say, ‘Hey man, I could have been dead,’ ” said Hali. “I’ve had a great opportunity and a chance to come and be in this country, and get an education from a prestigious university, and then go on and play football … I just thank God for the opportunity and the blessing he’s put upon me and my family.”

He also spoke briefly of the scandal at his college alma mater, Penn State, including the firing of Joe Paterno.

“It’s been discouraging,” Hali said. “It’s disappointing the way they had to go about it [and] I think the victims here are those kids who have gotten into this thing with Sandusky. I mean, I really feel sorry for the families.

“It’s just hard the way they went about it with Joe. I don’t like how they did it with Joe. But for this to linger, for 10 more years to go by, it’s a shame.”

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