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Level Playing Field

By John Melillo
Jets, Staff Writer
January 4th, 2005
The opening of Tuesday’s press conference began with New York Jets head coach Herman Edwards holding up a letter from the league office congratulating the organization for earning a playoff berth this year. Soon after, Edwards addressed the growing perception that the Jets backed into the playoffs and don’t deserve to go to the playoffs.

The opening of Tuesday’s press conference began with New York Jets head coach Herman Edwards holding up a letter from the league office congratulating the organization for earning a playoff berth this year. Soon after, Edwards addressed the growing perception that the Jets backed into the playoffs and don’t deserve to go to the playoffs.

”There’s perception and there’s reality. I always bring reality to the doorstep,” explained Edwards. “We don’t look at it as we backed in (to the postseason). We actually didn’t back in at all. We got off to a great start this year, and finished at .500 (4-4) over the second half of the season. The players understand where we’re at.”

Pro Bowl C Kevin Mawae bristled when asked on the perception that the Jets have backed into the postseason this year.

“It doesn’t matter,” Mawae said of the outside perception. “There are 20 teams wishing they were in the playoffs. Regardless that we lost the last two games or won the last two, we’d still be in the same position. The important thing is that we have a chance.”

The Jets (10-6) are one of just nine teams in the league with double-digit victories this season. More importantly, behind Edwards’ leadership, the Jets have reached the postseason three out of his four seasons with the organization. Edwards stressed how uncommon it is for an NFL team to reach the playoffs in three out of the past four seasons.

“Only seven teams have made the playoffs three times in four seasons,” Edwards said. “And only one team has won the Super Bowl and that has been New England. They have done it twice. Those seven teams were pretty good, but it is a daunting task. Everything has to go right in the playoffs.”

The first thing that must go right for the Jets is a successful showing against the Chargers this Saturday. This will be the second meeting between the two franchises this year, the first being a 34-28 win by the Jets in Week 2.

Edwards expressed concern in facing a 12-4 Chargers team that has won 9 of its last 10 games.

“(The Chargers) have done a great job of being consistent throughout the year,” Edwards said. “They’re entire team is more confident than they were in Week 2 (against us).”

While the Chargers enjoy the momentum and home field advantage in their wild card match up with the Jets, Edwards emphasized that the postseason is a new season and that anything could occur once a team reaches the playoffs.

“Nothing is guaranteed in the playoffs,” Edwards said. “The No. 1 (playoff) seed gets the same anxiety as the last seed. Being the No. 1 seed sounds good, but there is a lot of pressure for every team to win or get knocked out. The good thing about the playoffs is you know you will play a good team. There are only 12 teams.”

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS: Edwards addressed the possibility of potential rainy conditions at Qualcomm Stadium Saturday night.

“Whatever (the weather) is, we’ll be fine,” Edwards said. “If it is muddy, we can deal with it. It will slow down the pass rush for the passing game and the footing will be a little different for the receivers, but the runners should not be bothered by it.”

-Speaking of runners, Edwards noted that he has yet to address the team on the accomplishment of RB Curtis Martin, who edged Seattle Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander by one yard for the NFL’s rushing title this season.

“To be honest, I have not (addressed the team),” Edwards of Martin’s feat. “I have been too focused on preparing this team for the playoffs. I believe the players in that locker room realize what Curtis has accomplished.”

Martin stressed the importance and how special the accomplishment is to him.

“It’s special,” Martin said gleaming with pride. “I feel good about this. I feel it’s the biggest individual accomplishment of my career that I’m most proud of.”

Likewise, the players most thrilled with Martin’s achievement were those who paved the way for nearly 1,700 yards on the ground in 2004.

“It is a great accomplishment,” C Kevin Mawae said. “The fact that I can say I blocked for him is pretty neat. I’m happy for Curtis.”

Guard Pete Kendall commended the consistency and work ethic of the Jets 31-year old RB.

“I’m far more happier for Curtis than for the (line),” Kendall said. “It’s an indicator that Curtis takes his job seriously because you certainly don’t get results without that hard work.”

With the expected return of DE John Abraham (knee) to the starting lineup Saturday, CB David Barrett expressed his excitement for the pass-rushing end to boost the team’s pass defense.

“We need that threat coming around the end,” Barrett said.

The pass defense was torched by the Rams’ offense last Sunday for 450 yards.

Maligned veteran S Reggie Tongue, who was benched midway through last Sunday’s game vs. St. Louis, discussed his situation following the team’s walkthrough today.

“(Defensive coordinator) Donnie (Henderson) is going to do what he feels is right for the team,” said Tongue, who was replaced in the lineup by S Oliver Celestin. “Whether I like it or not, I have to be a man about it and accept it.” The Jets have yet to announce who will start at safety alongside Erik Coleman for Saturday’s game.

INJURY REPORT: The injury report remained unchanged today as the only player who’s availability is in question is reserve LB Kenyatta Wright (foot), who is officially listed as questionable for Saturday’s Wild Card game. Here is the rest of this week’s injury report.

-DE John Abraham (knee): Probable
-WR Wayne Chrebet (concussion): Probable
-LB Kenyatta Wright (foot): Questionable

The Jets will practice tomorrow and Thursday before departing for San Diego. The Jets will travel to face the Chargers on Saturday for an AFC wild-card showdown. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. Check back often to Jets for all the latest team news and reports as the Jets prepare for the playoffs!

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