Jets Punish Alosi Further, Saying He Ordered Wall of Players

According to the team, the strength coach, Sal Alosi, acted alone when he ordered the special teams’ code red. The Jets reached that conclusion after interviewing the five players who stood next to Alosi on punt returns on Sunday against the , all six shoulder-to-shoulder, as if they were a Rockettes kick line.

Alosi corroborated the players’ stance that they were instructed by him, and the Jets changed his suspension from the rest of this season to indefinite.

The potential for Alosi’s termination increased drastically because the Jets concluded that in addition to his purposely tripping the Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll on a return, he also told inactive players to form a human barricade throughout the game.

The team insisted that Alosi acted alone, which would constitute an abnormal amount of sideline power for a strength coach. Nor did he reveal that information, even to the Jets, until asked.

“It’s really for the totality of the situation, the unsportsmanlike act,” General Manager Mike Tannenbaum said on a conference call. “We didn’t have all the information Monday. And that really doesn’t sit well with us.”

Tannenbaum said the Jets alerted the N.F.L. to their new information Wednesday morning. After they finish their investigation — when Tannenbaum and the owner Woody Johnson return from league meetings in Dallas — they will confer with Coach to determine whether to impose further discipline.

“I don’t think it should take long,” Tannenbaum said.

The controversy cast a spotlight on N.F.L. sidelines, particularly on punt returns, where gunners, or fliers, the players who start closest to the sideline covering punts, often end up out of bounds, either by accident, shoves or strategic choice.

Accusations surfaced Tuesday that there was more to the punt return shenanigans than Alosi’s simply putting his worst foot forward. The former Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas told the Miami radio station WQAM that the line of inactive Jets players seemed fishy, too orderly, obviously instructed.

Replays show six Jets lined up, tightly, right up against the painted line, presumably to act as a deterrent to Dolphins gunners who ventured up the sideline. The wall itself is not against N.F.L. rules, but the location of the Jets’ line of inactive players was. They were too close to the sideline, in an area where only coaches and substituting players are allowed.

Even while Mike Westhoff, the special teams coordinator, denied involvement, he said it did not take to decipher what had occurred.

Replays showed Alosi leaning into Carroll. They also appeared to show Marcus Dixon, an inactive defensive lineman, leaning left, as if preparing for contact.

Jets linebacker Bart Scott said he had seen various incidents in nine years, like gunners who tripped on cups, or the player who last season was blocked out of bounds and ended up running into the kicking net. Scott also said he had never heard of a coach instructing players to form a wall — which he called a “take-a-charge meeting.”

When receiver Jerricho Cotchery came to the Jets in 2004, he spent two seasons in the flier role. He said that position sometimes felt like navigating a Manhattan subway platform during rush hour, a chaotic mix of hands and feet and shoves, even the occasional strategic elbow, which Cotchery said players call “the chicken wing.”

“As a flier, you understood that guys on the sideline weren’t moving out the way,” Cotchery said. “I always looked at it like it was their sideline. When I went out of bounds, I knew I was going to have to fight some hands off to get back in.”

In a hypothetical scenario, Cotchery said that for every eight punt returns, an average flier would get shoved out of bounds four times; an above-average flier less. The short side of the field is the toughest, Cotchery said, because normally fliers would release to the outside, virtually guaranteeing a trip out of bounds.

The so-called Steve Tasker rule, named after the former special teams ace, is designed to keep such players inside the field. While this eliminates some players from using the sideline for strategic advantage, it does not eliminate players getting blocked onto sidelines.

Westhoff said he taught his players to run back in at a 45-degree angle, to comply with N.F.L. rules.

Westhoff also said that he reviewed the Jets’ punt returns from this season and did not find much of a pattern. He also implicated New England, saying the do the same thing.

“I’m not accusing the Patriots of doing something wrong,” he said. “Maybe they’re doing something smart.”

He later added, “I don’t think you gain an advantage” with the sideline maneuvers. “The whole thing’s craziness.”

The Jets’ great wall of inactives overshadowed the most egregious misbehavior Sunday, which was Alosi’s trip. That he did not fully disclose the story and that he lied in his news conference when asked directly if the Jets were instructed to form a wall only added to this bizarre case of sideline misbehavior.

Cotchery could not recall an example in his flier days of a time when an opponent tripped him. He never would have known, Cotchery said, because he expected mayhem, because he was flying, because cameras never caught the chaos. Until Sunday.

Scott offered a stronger opinion: “If that happened to me, I would have choked the hell of out of him. I wouldn’t have been mad if Carroll tried to.”


Rex Ryan said right tackle Damien Woody had successful surgery Wednesday to repair the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Wayne Hunter will replace Woody, who is expected to miss at least the rest of the regular season. … Safety Eric Smith will not play Sunday against the because of a concussion, Ryan said.

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