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On The Defensive

By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
September 14th, 2005
There will be no hiding when Nick Saban and his Dolphins visit the Jets on Sunday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
There will be no hiding when Nick Saban and his Dolphins visit the Jets on Sunday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Herman Edwards had just finished humming the national anthem when he looked up to see the Kansas City offense on the Jets 35-yard line. Once Chiefs running back Larry Johnson scampered – untouched albeit – for a touchdown on the next play, the Jets head coach was left scratching his head.

“I thought I missed something,” Edwards said, “because they scored so fast.”

His team had been bull rushed – literally – three 30-yard runs less than a minute and a half into the game. The drive was a harbinger of things to come in the 27-7 loss on Sunday, and this week the Jets must pounce early on the Dolphins.

The lackluster performance was a side-effect of his team losing its workman-like mentality, Edwards explained. He delivered a patented Edwards-like sermon today at Hofstra during which he adamant about his team refocusing on what made them a playoff team last year.

At one point, Edwards held up the Jets guidelines for victory. It outlined how the Jets must play “smart, fast and physical” and must run the ball while taking away the rush on defense. Sounds simple, but for a team that couldn’t run a snap properly on Sunday, that’s where it starts.

“That’s how we play football,” Edwards said emphatically, referring to the instructions he later handed out to reporters. “When we don’t play that way we’re not going to win…You can write it anyway you want, but that’s my philosophy.”

Sunday’s disaster in Kansas City served as a much-needed slap in the face, and Edwards call to arms was the cherry on top.

“I didn’t want to lose a game to get a wake-up call,” Edwards said.

The snooze button can’t be an option on Sunday. Listening to Edwards talk about the Dolphins, you would think this is the undefeated 1972 team. But they are a rebuilding, upstart the Jets should beat.

At the very least, the threat of falling to 0-2 should light a fire under the players because being winless starts to seep into your psyche.

“You look around and think: ‘Well, this is getting interesting’ because you start running out of games, but we’re not at that point,” Edwards said.

If the defense doesn’t shore up its play who knows what the players minds will be. LB Jonathan Vilma, like much of his defensive compatriots, was a man of few words on Monday. The Jets defensive leader was sullen after the defense was torched for 198 yards in the opener. Or maybe he was still seething after being punched in the face by DT

James Reed during a sideline altercation. Today, Vilma, like most players echoed the same sentiment.

“We have to take things back to last year,” the reigning rookie of the year said.

QB Chad Pennington, whose six fumbles were at the heart of the Jets meltdown, put took the onus on his shoulders and talked about how the little things make the difference.

“If you don’t concentrate on fundamentals you’re not going to be where you want to be,” the $64-million signal-caller said.

Pennington, like the all the players, heard Edwards’ blue-collar-team speech and agreed.

“Our football team isn’t a bunch of frontrunners,” he continued.

Against Miami, Pennington will face one of the better defenses in the League. The Dolphins defense could cause problems if the Jets again fall behind early, with All-Pro LBs Zach Thomas and Junior Seau and DE Jason Taylor posing a serious threat if QB Chad Pennington can’t shake what’s ailing him.

But QB Gus Frerotte is a journeyman and with the absence of RB Ricky Williams rookie Ronnie Brown will carry the load. The Jets defense won’t have nearly as big a task as it did last week.

For Edwards, though, it’s about the big picture. “We have 15 games [remaining] to iron out your inequities….Last week’s game is done,” he said. “A different team needs to show up this week.”

Looks like it’s time to get on the bus and start sipping the Kool-aid.

INSIDER TIDBITS

A quarterback’s guarantee. Chad Pennington, after fumbling six time on Sunday, issued a Namath-like credo today at Hofstra.

“I’m not going to drop another one,” he said. “I’ll promise you that.”

Pennington’s foibles in the shotgun could be rectified with a slight adjustment this week. At Kansas City, Pennington stood five to five-and-a-half yards behind C Kevin Mawae. The noise the Chiefs fans provided was an issue when Pennington tried to make his calls at the line of scrimmage. This week, he will stand about four yards behind Mawae, an adjustment he expects will help.

As for how he will calm Mawae’s jitters, Pennington jokingly said, “I’m going to give him a valium just to calm him down.”

Just Dessert. During halftime this Sunday the Jets will honor former LBs Mo lewis and Marvin Jones. The two anchored a Jets LB core that took the Jets to the AFC Championship game in 1998.

“It’s a great gesture by the [front office] to give something to guys who played their whole careers here,” Edwards said. “It’s hard to do that in the NFL. Those guys were staples of great defenses here.”

New England Jets? Don’t fear, Jets fans, opening day may not mean as much as you think. The New England Patriots were blown out, 31-0, by the Buffalo Bills in their first game of 2003. After starting 2-2, the team capped its 12-game win-streak by beating the Panthers in Super Bowl 39.

Edwards dismissed the comparison.

“We’re not New England. We haven’t won Super Bowls,” he said.

-The Jets swept the season series with the Dolphins last year and are 7-3 against the Dolphins at Giants Stadium in the last 10 home games.

INJURY REPORT

DE Trevor Johnson (concussion) will not play Sunday. For the Dolphins, RB Ronnie Brown is probable.

The Jets return to practice tomorrow. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest news leading up to the Jets home opener this Sunday.

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