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Defensive Challenge

By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 30th, 2004
There is no denying the great job Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson has done this season. He turned a defense that was ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL last year to a top 10 defense this year. The Jets are sixth in the NFL, allowing 293.3 yards a game.

There is no denying the great job Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson has done this season. He turned a defense that was ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL last year to a top 10 defense this year. The Jets are sixth in the NFL, allowing 293.3 yards a game.

However, despite the shortcomings of the Jets offense in big games, Henderson’s defense will have one of their toughest challenges of the season on Sunday, trying to stop the high-powered St. Louis Rams attack. Adding even more pressure is both teams are fighting for a playoff spot.

The Rams offense is ranked sixth in the NFL, averaging 359.7 yards a game. It starts with QB Marc Bulger, who has completed 292-of-446 passes for 3,514 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Bulger has two all-pro wide receivers in Issac Bruce and Torry Holt. Bruce has caught 87 passes for 1,256 yards and eight touchdowns. Holt is right behind at 84 receptions for 1,206 yards and five touchdowns.

Jets CB Donnie Abraham talked about the challenge of containing Bruce and Holt.

“Every week in this league you are going to be faced with a great tandem,” Abraham said. “This is just another tandem that we are facing this week. They are a great tandem. I wouldn’t say they are the best tandem, I wouldn’t say they are not the best tandem. They are just another big test for us this week because we have played some big competition in the AFC and in our division.”

The Jets secondary has struggled recently and is giving up 192 yards per game through the air.

Bulger said the Rams have taken advantage of opposing team’s secondary all years.

“We saw every week that if we can get one-on-one match ups, Issac (Bruce) and Torry (Holt) are going to beat whoever they line up against,” Bulger said in a conference call with the New York media this afternoon.

“That being said you still have to block the front four and then if they decide to bring the linebackers you have to block them, so it’s real easy to say we’re going to win one-on-one but at the same times we have to do a good job of blocking up front to allow us the time to do it,” Bulger said.

Abraham said the Jets secondary needs to be physical with Bruce and Holt.

“You can be aggressive with them and try to be physical at the line,” Abraham said. “I think for you to be successful, you have to be disruptive somehow and that is one of the ways that you can do that.”

Henderson talked about how the Jets can take Bulger out of his rhythm.

“You have to put pressure on him,” Henderson said.

The Rams have also done a nice job on the ground, as Marshall Faulk has rushed for 759 yards and rookie Steven Jackson has ran for 644 yards.

Jets rookie LB Jonathan Vilma talked about why the Rams have had success running the ball.

“I think it is unlike what I have seen in any other team because (they are) total opposites of each other,” Vilma said. “You have Marshall Faulk, he is a smaller, quicker guy and he can shake you and blow by you and you have Stephen Jackson who is a big, burly guy who is just as fast but can run over you. You have to adjust, they are different styles.”

Jets head coach Herman Edwards gave credit to the Rams offense.

“They’ve witnessed every defense imaginable over the years,” Edwards said. “They’ve seen it all. They are good at what they do.”

Last week, the Jets defense struggled against New England and this week they will have to play like a top 10 defense if they want to beat the Rams.

MISCELANEOUS TIDBITS: WR Santana Moss was asked about if playing on the turf in St. Louis will be a problem. “Not really because we have a fast track too,” Moss said. “I feel like our turf, any turf alone, is going to be fast. Everyone now has turned to field turf and I think that turf alone isn’t going to give you that much of a difference.”

-The Jets have had a lot of success on the road in the past few years and will hope to continue it on Sunday. RB Curtis Martin talked about why the Jets have done well away from home. “I think it is because Herm always makes us think about teams playing on the road and different things that you have to do on the road,” Martin said. “It is almost as if it gives you that underdog feeling. For some reason, I think this team likes being the underdog.”

-There is no question that unless the Jets’ offense explodes and they go deep into the playoffs that Offensive Coordinator Paul Hackett’s job is in dire jeopardy. Several media outlets have already reported that nothing short of a Superbowl victory will be enough to save the beleaguered Coach.

INJURY REPORT: As mentioned yesterday, DE John Abraham (knee) is officially listed as questionable for Sunday, but the pass rushing end will not play this Sunday vs. St. Louis. Edwards said Abraham tested his knee today as he ran a little. Earlier this week, Abraham said his goal is to be back for the first playoff game. QB Quincy Carter is the only other player listed on the injury report as he has the flu and is probable. Edwards said Carter has not taken any reps this week and a decision will be made tomorrow whether Carter or Brooks Bollinger will be the backup QB on Sunday. Edwards said either way, the Jets will bring three QB’s to the game.

-DE John Abraham (knee): Questionable
-QB Quincy Carter (illness): Probable

The Jets will travel to St. Louis to face the Rams this Sunday. The team will resume preparation for St. Louis tomorrow. Check back often to Jets Insider.com for all the latest team news and reports as the Jets prepare for QB Marc Bulger and the Rams.

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