Jets QB Chad Pennington will try to bounce back against the Dolphins after a shaky start in Kansas City last week. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Last week was one of the worst performances during head coach Herman Edwards' tenure: eight penalties, seven fumbles, three turnovers, three scoreless red-zone trips, no rushing first downs. All of those numbers added up to a 27-7 loss at Kansas City in the opener.
Edwards had his team get back to the basics this week and during his Wednesday press conference, held up a sheet of paper that he gave to the team. The paper had the following points on them:
HOW THE JETS WIN!
RUN THE BALL/STOP THE RUN
PROTECT THE BALL/TAKE IT AWAY
SOLID SPECIAL TEAMS/NO FOOLISH FOULS
If the Jets can follow those messages, then they will have a good shot at defeating Miami on Sunday in the home opener.
“Sometimes they all need to be reminded where we come from, how we do things,” Edwards said. “It's very important we understand that. That's how we win around here. We're not some glamour team because we're in New York. We're not some glamour team. We're a blue collar, hard working team. We do certain things, how we play. When you play that way, you have a chance to win in this league. We didn't play that way.”
“…Your basics are your foundation,” RB Curtis Martin said. “You never leave the foundation and it didn’t seem like we were there on Sunday.”
Despite winning both games against Miami last season and taking five of the last six against Miami at the Meadowlands, after their poor performance last week, the Jets know they cannot overlook the 1-0 Dolphins.
QB Chad Pennington took the blame for last week’s loss and he needs to bounce back from last week. Pennington’s poor outing raised questions about if his arm is truly healed and Pennington can silence the critics with a strong outing. Pennington showed he is still adjusting to new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger’s offense. Many of Pennington’s fumbles came out of the shotgun formation. Edwards said the team won’t abandon the shotgun and Pennington said he will stand a foot back from where he was last week.
Edwards talked about what he wants Pennington to focus on against Miami. “Just get the ball from the center,” Edwards said. “That's the first thing. We laugh, but that's the truth. I've always said that: the thing that looks the easiest is the hardest. To take the ball from the center, then run the play. We lose sight. We think, Oh, that's easy. It wasn't easy this Sunday. It was very difficult, difficult. So we got to get that right first because you can't run a play if you don't have that right.”
The Dolphins defense is improved from the past and last week held Denver to just 70 yards rushing. Jets RB Curtis Martin struggled last week, carrying 20 times for 57 yards. “I think that if you can run the ball, that’s the key to winning,” Martin said. “Everybody knows that in the NFL. That’s what we have to do. We’re no exception. I don’t think that we can just have a one-dimensional game. We have to have that balanced attack. We have the talent, we have the ability to do that and hopefully we’ll get to that.”
C Kevin Mawae was asked if the offensive line is looking for redemption. “Redemption is not the word,” Mawae said. “Getting better is what you call it. We just have to go out there and play like we know we’re capable of playing. If we do that we’ll be fine. Last week we laid an egg. The whole team did. It starts with the leaders on the team, me and other guys. We lead by example and if the leaders aren’t playing well you can’t expect everyone else to play well.”
The Dolphins have a solid front seven led by DE Jason Taylor and they will look to pressure Pennington often. NT Keith Traylor anchors the middle and LB Zach Thomas if healthy and very effective.
“I think any time you have a great player like Jason you have to know where he’s going to be,” Pennington said. “A lot of the time he’s in the same place but they’re doing a good job of moving him around too. You have to know where he’s going to be, absolutely.”
Taylor returned a fumble 85 yards for a score last week. “He had an outstanding game, no doubt,” Dolphins head coach Nick Saban said. “We’re asking him to do a lot of different things and he’s a very bright guy, very instinctive and has taken well to all those things and actually got one sack in the game.”
Taylor talked about the different things he is doing this year. “We’ve played the two points a little bit and I’ve played some linebacker in the three-four-scheme, dropping more then I have in years past,” Taylor said. “There are other things that we will do in the future that we haven’t tapped into yet, but it is a completely different position then I have played in the past.”
The Jets turned the ball over three times last week and they cannot have a repeat this week. “We can't turn the ball over,” Edwards said. “You’ve got to pick up. When they blitz you, you got to protect. You have to protect. If you protect, if you have the ability to make a play, you have to make a play. But you have to be patient with it, because they're not going to give you a bunch of big plays.”
The Jets wide receivers had trouble holding onto the ball last week with WR Laveranues Coles dropping at least two-sure touchdowns in the end zone. When the Pennington to Coles connection is on, it is tough to beat and the Jets need to establish that early against the Dolphins secondary. CB Reggie Howard replaced Patrick Surtain who left for Kansas City and FS Lance Schulters started last week and played his college ball at Hofstra and is from New Jersey.
If there was a bright spot last week, it was the play of TE Chris Baker who exploded for seven catches and 124 yards and a touchdown.
The Dolphins offense surprised a lot of people putting up 34 points last week. One of the big question marks on the Dolphins coming into the season was at quarterback. Gus Ferrotte won the starting job and was able to finish 24-for-36 for 275 yards and two touchdowns last week. The offensive line did a nice job protecting Ferrotte as he was not sacked.
Rookie RB Ronnie Brown led the way as the Dolphins rushed for 151 yards. “Ronnie did a nice job for the first game, also taking into account that he only had two exhibition games that he played in and missed a significant amount of camp,” Saban said. “But he’s developed nicely, he’s a really conscientious guy who picked up and understood what was expected of him in the offense relatively quickly. We’re just hoping he progresses and improves as we go through the season, that he can stay healthy so he can have a chance to do that.” Brown is probable with a shoulder injury.
The Dolphins have talented wideouts in Mary Booker and Chris Chambers. Jets CB David Barrett was torched repeatedly last week and will looks to redeem himself. TE Randy McMichael at 6’3 and 255 is always a big atarget as well.
The Dolphins went 4-12 last year and fans in South Florida are rejoicing after the 1-0 start. “The real test for us is to see if we can do that with any relative consistency over time and that’s the challenge we all have in this league I think,” Saban said.
Saban is in his first year as the Dolphins head coach and talked about the
transition from coaching in college to the NFL. “So far I think we have had to do some adjusting, the players have had to do some adjusting, I think we’ve all adjusted to each other,” Saban said. “We’ve done it with a spirit of support as far as what we’re trying to get done with them. I think we have a coaching staff who has a lot of NFL experience and a blend of college guys who bring some enthusiasm and so forth. I’m really pleased with the way it’s going. We need to continue to build and improve in the future. I think that’s the number one thing. I was in the pros for a long time. I think when I went back to college I was taking pro ball back to college more than I am bringing college to pro ball now.”
The Jets want to get back on the field and prove that last week was just a fluke. “This Sunday can’t come fast enough,” DE Shaun Ellis said. “Anytime you lose you want to get back on the field to try and redeem yourself. Miami is a good team that just came off a win. They’ll be fired up and ready to play us. It’s always a rivalry game when we play each other. We’ll see when we get out there. You want to win at home regardless of who you’re playing. The main thing we’re trying to do is win the first home game. We’re just trying to start our season off better, on the right foot.”
The Jets have spoken all week about getting back to the basics and that they will not have the same mistakes that cost them last week against Kansas City. But the talk doesn’t matter until the Jets actually take the field Sunday. “Nobody will know until we go out there and do it,” Pennington said. “We can talk about what we’re going to do, but talking doesn’t get you very far. We know what we have to do, how we have to play and how we have to get back to the fundamentals. I think we have enough veteran guys on our team to lead the way, set the tempo early, play well and let our young guys follow us. But that’s up to us to go out and play well. I think we will. Normally we respond to adversity pretty well, but this is a new year, a new day and another game so that question will have to be answered on Sunday.”
-Ben Graham has the league’s highest net punting average, 44.3 yards
-DE John Abraham is seventh on the Jets all-time sack list with 44. Next up is John Elliot at 48.
-The Jets will honor LB’s Mo Lewis and Marvin Jones at halftime Sunday. “I think it's a great gesture by Mr. Johnson, Jay (Cross) and Terry (Bradway), to really give something back to some guys that played their whole career here,” Edwards said. “It's hard to do that in the National Football League any more. Those guys were staples of having some great defenses here. They got to the AFC Championship game. They were good players. I had the privilege of coaching them. Did a good job of teaching young guys when they were here. I'm glad they're coming back.”
-KEVIN MAWAE NEEDS YOUR HELP In an effort to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Kevin and Tracy Mawae have started the Mawae Movement.
Please help us this Saturday make a difference for the unfortunate victims who have suffered so much due to this horrible natural disaster.
Here are the details:
Who: Kevin & Tracy Mawae and other Jets players
What: A drive to collect non-perishable and non-breakable food items, hygiene products, diapers, formula, toiletries, soap, toothpaste, paper products. Please note that no used or new clothing will be accepted.
When:Saturday, September 17th from 10:00am – 4:00pm
Where: St. Paul’s Recreational Complex, Corner of Rockaway Avenue & Stewart Avenue (West of the Garden City Hotel), Garden City, New York
How it Works:Between the hours of 10:00a.m. and 4:00p.m. volunteers will be on hand to collect your items. Simply drive to the St. Paul’s Recreation Complex and enter on Rockaway Avenue. You will be directed to the facility where you can hand volunteers your donation without getting out of your car.
All items collected will be loaded and sent immediately to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and distributed by PRC Compassion, a charitable organization comprised of churches and pastors to address community needs and distribute relief.
Supported by: Feed The Children, the New York Jets, Progressive Solutions, Pallets Unlimited, St. Paul’s Recreational Complex, The Town of Garden City and National Communications Group Inc.
For More Information: Contact Major League Events @ 212-966-3721
DE Trevor Johnson will miss the game with a concussion.
Three things the Jets must do to win
Run the ball: Curtis Martin didn’t look like the player against Kansas City that won the NFL rushing title last season. Granted the Jets fell behind by so much early that they had to pass most of the second half but if the Jets and Martin can establish the running game early, they will have a good shot at winning.
Pick up the blitz:The Kansas City defense frustrated QB Chad Pennington all afternoon, repeatedly pressuring him and forcing him into bad decisions. The Dolphins will most likely try to pressure Pennington and the Jets offensive line needs to do a good job protecting Pennington and allowing him time to make his reads and throw the ball.
Be Disciplined: Last week, the Jets shot themselves in the foot repeatedly with penalties. The Jets had eight penalties for 80 yards last week. Under Edwards, the Jets have been one of the least penalized teams in the NFL and need to get back to that this week.
Key match up: Jason Taylor vs. Jason Fabini
Jets LT Jason Fabini did not have a good game last week, allowing a sack against Kansas City and repeatedly getting beat. Fabini has a tough challenge in Dolphins DE Jason Taylor but has handled Taylor in the past, shutting him out last season. “He is another good football player and we have had our battles over the years and we have both had some success in those battles,” Taylor said. “The key is, for me, to be disruptive no matter where I am or who I am playing against, whether I play against him or the other tackle, wherever it may be. He obviously is a good football player and anytime someone is a franchise left tackle, you know they are a good football player.” Fabini needs to contain Taylor and not have Pennington worry about where Taylor is.
While it’s never good to lose, especially in a blowout, the Jets realized they weren’t ready for the season yet. Edwards will have his team prepared for the Dolphins, who will be no pushover. The o-line needs to protect Pennington and if they do, he should have a solid game. The Jets need to establish the running game early with Curtis Martin. The Jets defense should bounce back from a poor performance last week as defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson will have his troops fired up. This won’t be a 41-14 blowout like last year but the Jets should win in front of a sold-out fired up crowd at the Meadowlands.
Jets 17 Dolphins 10
The game can be seen at 4:15 p.m. on CBS and heard on ESPN Radio 1050 am. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for full coverage and photos of the Jets home opener against the Dolphins.