Deadspin had an interesting article the other day on the history of injuries for players that were on the field as Jake Locker went down during the Jets-Titans Week 4 matchup.
Hidden neatly underneath the information was a nugget on Calvin Pace…
He once fell through a window???
That needed more of an explanation.
Turns out during the 2005 season, when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, Calvin Pace had a freak accident in his house. During the Bye Week, Pace slipped and fell through a window, badly cutting his right forearm. He would miss the remaining 11 games that year.
“As they say, a lot of accidents happen around the house so you have to be careful,” his coach at the time, Dennis Green would tell reporters. “He just kind of slipped and went to brace himself and went through the window.”
The good news was that it never stopped Pace from finally growing into the defensive threat the Cardinals thought he would become, drafting out of Wake Forest in 2003. Pace parlayed a career year in 2007 into a six-year, $42 million deal with the New York Jets in 2008. Still a Jet, he averaged seven sacks a season over the first 3 in New York.
Pace, and the rest of the 2013 Jets, will be competing on Monday Night Football tonight. Prime time has not been all that friendly in the Rex Ryan era, with his teams accumulating a 2-5 record on ESPN. They go into Atlanta, where a thought-to-be championship contender is struggling.
The 1-3 Falcons have not had anywhere near the start experts believed they would. While their opponents have had a strong 14-6 record, the team has not been playing up to predictions at all.
The Falcons are nursing some major injuries on offense, where their top two wide receivers, Julio Jones and Roddy White, have been slowed down for most of the season.
That has affected White, who is off to his slowest start of his career, with just 84 yards total over four games. The opposite is true of Jones, who is off to one of his best starts with 481 total yards and two touchdowns. Their health and performance, along with #3 Harry Douglas will be important for the Falcons – Antonio Cromartie has been having an off-year and beyond him are Kyle Wilson and Darrin Walls, two corners the Jets cannot have confidence in.
Defensively, Atlanta has given up the 20th most points in the league at 26.0 per game. They are also 23rd in turnover differential.
One thing that could help a team at just -1 in turnover differential is a team walking in with a quarterback who has struggled early on the road with them.
Geno Smith, coming off his worst start as a pro against the Tennessee Titans, contributed four turnovers (2 interceptions and 2 fumbles) in a disappointing losing effort. Along with three interceptions in his first prime time game, against the Patriots on Thursday Night Football in Week 2, Smith entered this week second in the NFL in passes caught by his opponent, much stimulated by his road woes.
He will also be without one of his strongest teammates, Santonio Holmes, who is out with a hamstring injury. In good news, his #2, Stephen Hill, who has improved since his major fumble in New England, has been showing improvement this season and will return after missing most of last week’s game with a concussion.
Smith with also get Mike Goodson and possibly Chris Ivory back from suspension and injury respectively. They will be a nice two and three to go with the co-AFC leader (going into this week) in yards, Bilal Powell. Powell and the run game have been a nice surprise for the Jets this season.
But that strength may be negated by the 7th ranked rush defense in the league of the Falcons. If they can keep Powell and company contained, much will be forced upon Geno Smith’s boom or bust shoulders. He is 8th in the NFL in yards per attempt and will have to have a “good Geno” day, where his bombs go for big plays, as opposed to crippling interceptions.
The quarterback is a question, but the last part of the Jets is not: their defense. Rex Ryan’s specialty is once again the strength of the Jets. Their swarming defense has given up the 2nd least yards per game at 283.0 per contest, and are the #3 ranked run defense, with just 79.3 yards per game yielded (#1 is Denver, who is almost always playing an opponent down by a ton and in passing-mode). With Stephen Jackson out, New York will be tasked with limiting Atlanta backups Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling, who have filled in well. If the defense can keep it going against the run, and force the less-than-stellar in 2013 Matt Ryan into some turnovers, the Jets may be able to pull off a stunning win at the Georgia Dome.