Jets vs. Patriots: Faces Who Have Seen Both Sides of the Rivalry
Players and coaches in the AFC East are notorious for rotating amongst teams in the division. What appears to be especially prevalent is players switching sides in the heated rivalry between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets.
In 1997, after the Jets were a league-worst 1-15, they were able to bring over Bill Parcells from the Patriots (not after sending them third and fourth round draft picks in 1997, a second in 1998, and a first in 1999).
Parcells switched benches and brought a number of coaching staff and players with him. One year later, the New York team signed running back Curtis Martin away from New England. Martin went on to be selected to three Pro Bowls and win one rushing title.
Now in 2010, the two teams meet on Monday Night Football in a dead heat atop the division at 9-2. The winner of the game could go a long way to winning the division and possibly earning home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
So let’s take a look at those involved in the matchup that have been on both sides of the battle.
Matt Cavanaugh, Quarterbacks coach, Jets
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Cavanaugh spent the first five of his 14 NFL seasons with the Patriots. He played in 52 games, but not as a starter until his third season with the team (1980). He had a 54 percent completion percentage, 3,018 yards passing, 19 passing touchdowns, 23 interceptions and three rushing touchdowns.
In 2009, Rex Ryan brought Cavanaugh in from the University of Pittsburgh as his quarterbacks coach.
Shawn Crable, LB, Jets
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Crable was another 2008 third round pick by the Patriots. He was placed on injured reserve in 2008 and 2009. At the beginning of this season he was assigned to the practice squad, then promoted to the 53-man roster September 25. He played in six games, made four tackles and half a sack, and was released November 16.
Three days later he was signed to the Jets practice squad.
Kevin O’Connell, QB, Jets
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The Patriots selected O’Connell in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft, the highest they took a quarterback since Drew Bledsoe in the first round of 1993.
He played in two games, completed four of six passes for 23 yards, and was waived the following offseason.
He was picked up by the Detroit Lions on September 1, but was traded five days later to the Jets for a seventh round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
When the Jets played the Patriots on September 20, O’Connell was named a team captain. Although he didn’t play, it was said he provided inside information to the Jets on how the Patriots pick up opposing blitzes.
With a new two-year contract, O’Connell is currently on injured reserve after surgery on a torn labrum in his throwing arm.
Damien Woody, OL, Jets
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Woody was a Pats first-round pick in 1999. He started in 76 games for the Patriots and was a member of the 2001 and 2003 Super Bowl champion teams, although he didn’t play in the 2003 Super Bowl because of a knee injury. He was also a Pro-Bowler in 2002.
He left the following offseason, signing a free agent deal with the Detroit Lions, started every game in 2004 and 2005, then missed most of 2006 while on injured reserve.
Woody signed a five-year contract with the Jets in 2008 and has started every single game for the Jets since (43 regular season games).
Corwin Brown, Defensive Backs coach, Patriots
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Originally drafted by the Patriots as a player in 1993, he played with the Patriots through 1996. In 1997 he followed Bill Parcells from the Pats to the Jets, where in two seasons he recorded 29 tackles and one interception.
Brown began a coaching career in 2001 when he joined Virginia as a special teams coach. In 2004, he joined the Jets as a defensive backs coach for three seasons.
After spending three years at Notre Dame, Brown came back to where his professional career began, joining the Patriots staff as a defensive backs coach for Bill Belichick, who also coached him during his time with the Patriots and Jets.
Pepper Johnson, Defensive Line coach, Patriots
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Famous as a player for his time with the New York Giants, with whom he began his career, Johnson—a Parcells and Belichick guy—rejoined the two with the other New York team, the Jets, for the final two seasons of his playing career.
He played 24 games as a Jet, registering 68 tackles, one sack and one interception.
In 2000, Johnson joined the Patriots coaching staff as an assistant linebackers coach. He’s moved up from there to inside linebackers coach, to his current position of defensive line coach. Over the offseason, he was a possible candidate to become the new defensive coordinator before Belichick assumed the responsibilities.
Danny Woodhead, RB, Patriots
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Woodhead was signed by the Jets in 2008 as an undrafted rookie out of NCAA Division II Chadron State College, and spent the season on injured reserve.
In 2009 he was put on the practice squad, shifted to wide receiver, and was promoted to the active roster. He played in ten games, carrying the ball 15 times for 64 yards and catching eight passes for 87 yards.
On the Jets installment of Hard Knocks, Woodhead endeared himself to many as the typical underdog story because of his size (only 5’7”) and the fact that he did not play at a Division I school. However, he was cut by the team.
Then, one day before the Pats-Jets matchup in Week 2, New England signed Woodhead to the roster. He was inactive for that game, but with the Pats lack of depth at running back with the injury of Kevin Faulk, Woodhead started in Week 3 and has been a great producer for the Pats.
He has 64 carries for 344 yards and three touchdowns, and 24 receptions for 230 yards and two more touchdowns. New England signed him to a two-year contract extension.
Bill Belichick, Head Coach, Patriots
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Starting his coaching career with the New York Giants, Belichick became a Bill Parcells guy when he was named the team’s defensive coordinator in 1985, where they won two Super Bowls.
Belichick was Browns head coach for five years before rejoining Parcells with the Patriots in 1996. One season later he left the Pats to move to the Jets with Parcells.
He was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator from 1997 to 1999. Parcells stepped down as head coach and the Jets tabbed Belichick as his predecessor. He was to be introduced to the media, but instead, he resigned from the position that day.
He later accepted an offer from the Patriots to be their head coach.
The Jets demanded compensation, so the Pats gave them a first-round draft pick. Since then, Belichick has guided the Pats to three Super Bowl wins, four AFC championships, and an undefeated regular season in 2007.
He has a record of 121-50 in the regular season with the Pats, and 14-4 in the playoffs.