Live Bait
By Justin Paley
Jets Staff Writer
October 1st, 2004

With a 2-0 start behind them and a stretch ahead where they play 5 division games in six weeks, the NY Jets head to Miami this weekend trying to keep up momentum as well as add more misery to their bitter division rival’s nightmarish 2004 start.

With a 2-0 start behind them and a stretch ahead where they play 5 division games in six weeks, the NY Jets head to Miami this weekend trying to keep up momentum as well as add more misery to their bitter division rival’s nightmarish 2004 start.

Coming off their bye week, Jets Head Coach Herman Edwards thought having it this early was an advantage and enjoyed the extra week to recharge and prepare for Miami.

“I think it was great for our young players to take an exhale because a long season for young guys,” the HC said. “Obviously they went through the training camp, the two regular season games. They got a feel of what the regular schedule is, got a little break. Now it's a 14 game season for us. I think for us, we're ready for it.”

The Dolphins meanwhile are struggling at 0-3 and Dolphins LB Zach Thomas talked about the mindset of his team.

“It’s not ever good if anybody starts 0-3 with your mindset, but you try not to think about it,” Thomas said. “Coming up we have the Jets, you won’t even need that mindset because it’s always been a rivalry. We’ve got to get back and get a win so we can get the taste of it because – the thing is with the first three games, you look at the turnover ratio. We’re minus seven; that doesn’t help at all. That’s something that we do not need to do; we just need to find playmakers. We haven’t been making enough plays. We just have to get better.”

The Jets will be out for revenge after losing twice to the Dolphins last year. Leading the offense will be QB Chad Pennington. He has looked extremely comfortable the first two games, running the West Coast Offense to near perfection, throwing for 482 yards and four touchdowns. Pennington knows the Jets still have a lot of work to do.

“When you are winning, it makes it a lot more fun and coming to work is fun,” Pennington said. “It is not a drag. Winning makes things go by faster, you look forward to the games every week. It is a nice feeling to have but at the same time, we have a long, long way to go.”

While Miami is 0-3, they have played their opponents close and only have given up 46 points. Pennington praised the ‘Fins defense.

“They are the best,” Pennington said. “They have been good for a long time and that hasn’t changed at all. In order to execute and at least have a chance, you have to be firing on all cylinders. If you are not, you are in for a long day.”

The health of Jets Center Kevin Mawae is a big question entering the game. Mawae broke a finger in his right hand during the Jets win over San Diego two weeks ago. The bye week did help Mawae to heal despite any lingering pain, the All-Pro will play on Sunday and extend his streak of 157 straight starts.

Mawae gave his keys for the game.

“We have to take care of our business. Block whatever they show us, protect Chad, and let our defense play ball and get the ball back to us.”

The Dolphins passing defense is first in the NFL with an average of 112.7 yards allowed per game. The rushing defense is another story, ranked 28th, allowing 143 yards per game. That bodes well for Jets RB Curtis Martin, who has rushed for 315 yards this season. Martin talked about the difference between his playing now and when he was younger.

“I just think I am smarter,” Martin said. “I think my ability is the same, but I think it really helps knowing what I know now. When I was a rookie, I was just out there running. Now, there is more rhyme to my reason. “

The Dolphins offense appears to be in shambles with an inconsistent offensive line, rotating QB’s, and an unproven running back. The team has scored an NFL-low 23 points and is last or second-to-last in the NFL in eight major offensive categories.

Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler was removed midway through the first game and A.J. Feeley replaced him. Feeley though has thrown for only two touchdowns compared to five interceptions. This week, Dolphins Head Coach Dave Wannstedt announced Fiedler would start against the Jets.

“Right now, to beat the Jets this week, I believe with Jay’s experience, with all the new guys, somewhat young guys that we have on offense, we need to stabilize our offense as much as we can…this gives us the best chance to win this week,” Wannstedt said.

Fielder has won his three career starts against the Jets.

“I know the offense,” Fiedler said. “I know I could get guys in the right position. I know I could give guys little reminders in the huddle. Not to say that A.J. wasn’t doing those things. My knowledge of the Jets as well, and their personnel even though they do have some new schemes this year. I think I’ll be ready to get the team in the right position on each play.”

The Fins bad luck seemed to have started when RB Ricky Williams announced his retirement before training camp. Leonard Henry will be the fifth RB to start for the Dolphins on Sunday.

With the shaky Miami o-line, it might be time for Jets defensive coordinator to let the defense loose. They have remained conservative for the most part in the first two games. However, they do have six takeaways.

The other major Jets injury in San Diego was to LB Sam Cowart, who hurt his knee. Cowart is out for another few weeks which means rookie LB Jonathan Vilma will take his place. It will be Vilma’s first career start. There will be a lot of pressure on the rookie as he will be playing in front of his hometown crowd in Miami. Vilma has been quiet so far, picking up four tackles. Vilma is excited about going back to play in Miami.

“I am ready to play,” Vilma said. “It is going to be my first start so I am real excited about that. I have to make sure I go out there and play hard.”

Edwards and the veterans are confident in Vilma.

“I think for him mentally wise, he'll be able to handle it, he really will,” Edwards said. “He's a quiet but confident player. And he should be because he prepares himself. We said that when we first drafted the guy. That's the difference when you looked at him compared to a lot of other college guys, he prepares his self to play. He prepares his self the same way at this level,” Edwards said while DE Shaun Ellis added, “I am confident in him. I am pretty sure he is a guy that is going to do the right thing. He is a smart player. He knows what he is doing. I don’t have any concerns about him.”

Every year there seems to be a player no one has heard about that rises to stardom and this year it is Erik Coleman. The 5th round draft pick from Washington has played amazing so far, intercepting two passes and a fumble recovery. Coleman was named the defensive rookie of the month for September.

Edwards talked about why Coleman has been able to make the jump from college to the NFL.

“His personality helps him,” Edwards said. “He doesn’t get too down or too up. I think he’s a good football player. He’s gotten better every day.”

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS: The Jets streak of being the least penalized team in the NFL continues as they have been flagged only five times for 29 yards during the first two games.....The Jets have just three players listed on their injury report while the Dolphins had 16 on Thursday…S Jon McGraw is healthy but Reggie Tongue will continue to start at FS. McGraw will though be rotated in the secondary....Every Friday, the Jets coaching staff awards black jerseys to defensive players who have stood out. Today, DE Shaun Ellis and Rookie of the Month S Erik Coleman were the recipients. Early on in the season, Ellis has seven tackles while Coleman has recorded two interceptions and a fumble recovery.....Defensive lineman Bryan Thomas should get his first action of the season this week and will likely play at both DT and DE....Since there are many transplanted NYers in South Florida and it’s only a 2 hour flight there is always a formidable Gang Green presence at Pro Player Stadium when the Jets come to town. However, due to the Dolphins’ poor star, Miami officials are expecting one of the largest Jets crowds ever this Sunday. Expect a lot of J-E-T-S chants if the Jets get a lead....The team went through a walk-through this morning and will leave late this afternoon for a team charter to Miami.

INJURY REPORT: LT Jason Fabini has been battling a sore back all week and was downgraded from probable to questionable today. If he can’t go, T/G Brent Smith will step in as the starter. Smith has been working with the first unit at LT all week while Fabini has been resting his back.

Here is the official injury report:

-LB Sam Cowart (knee): Out
-LT Jason Fabini (back): Questionable
-C Kevin Mawae (hand): Probable