Jets CB Ty Law hopes to build on the great game he had last week agaisnt Tampa Bay. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets and Bills are in similar situations. Both have had slow starts, both are coming off wins that were sparked by new quarterbacks and both are trying to salvage their season. Sunday’s matchup could be a good gauge as to how each team will ultimately end up in 2005.
“They had a big win last week,” said Coach Herm Edwards regarding the Bills’ 20-14 win over division rival Miami. “They were kind of sitting in the same situation we were. They came out and played well. Their quarterback did a good job of really managing the game well.”
The quarterback Edwards speaks of is veteran Kelly Holcomb, the Bills’ journeyman backup that was inserted for second year man JP Losman last week to try to spark the team. Bills’ coach Mike Mularkey’s strategy worked as Holcomb got the job done. His numbers were not flashy (20 - 26 169 Yds, 1 TD, 0 INT’s), but more importantly he didn’t make mistakes. Losman, has been ineffective starting the Bills previous games and has only completed 47% of his passes.
Mularkey hasn’t announced who his starter is this week but it’s a safe bet that Holcomb will continue to lead the Bills’ offense. No mater who starts, the Coach doesn’t feel that the Bills’ gameplan will be much different.
“Their offense is not going to change that much,” said Edwards. “They're going to try to run the ball, get it to Eric Moulds in certain situations, get it to Lee Evans in certain situations, and get it to Josh Reed.”
Defensively the Jets are solid. However, on offense it’s still a work in progress. QB Vinny Testaverde makes his second start this Sunday and even with limited practice, the Coach feels his QB will be fine. In contrast to former OC Paul Hackett, who tried to mold Testaverde into his offense, Mike Heimerdinger is designing the offense around Vinny’s strengths.
“We designed the offense around things he can do well,” said Edwards. “That's how we're going to play the whole year. As long as he's the quarterback, we're going to play that way.”
With backup RB Derrick Blayock out for 6-8 weeks with a broken foot, rookie Cedric Houston may get some playing time. However, based on his lack of experience, unless something happens to Curtis Martin, Houston won’t be out there much. It isn’t due to the lack of faith the coach has in Houston’s running ability but it’s the other variables.
“When you bring a young guy in, everyone always wonders how is he going to run,” said the Coach. “That's not my concern. Its how does he pick up the protections and blitzes. That's what you always worry about with young RB. It's not if they can run. They can run. Can he pick up the protection when they start bringing those guys off the edge and we get into a pass? That's what we have to be able to do.”
The Jets should be concerned about the Bills’ defense. They are ranked 11th in the league and despite not being as dominating as last season, against Miami they forced four fumbles, intercepted 3 passes and sacked Dolphins QB Gus Frerotte twice. The Jets offensive line must play on the same level as last week to have a chance to score points.
The Coach knows the Jets offense is up for a challenge this week against the Bills defense in a hostile environment. “They don't give up a lot of big plays on defense,” said Edwards. “That's kind of how they play. They got a lead against Miami and they kept the lead.”
-Robertson Honored. The NFL today named Jets DT Dewayne Robertson the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Robertson had arguably his best game as a Jet by compiling 9 tackles and 2 sacks against Tampa. LB Jonathan Vilma and CB Ty Law were also nominated for the weekly award.
-Nervous About Nuge? Despite a shaky (or should we say shank-y) start to the young career of rookie K Mike Nugent, where he went 0-2 against the Bucs, the coach is not concerned. “He'll be fine, said Edwards on Nugent. “He's just trying too hard. His rhythm was a little off from what I had to check. He needs to slow down, that's all. I think he's just pressing right now.”
Luckily none of Nugent’s misses have hurt the Jets badly. He is though only 1-3 from 40 yards or more which is a bit troubling. If any of his misses effect the outcome of a game, you can be sure the Coach’s attitude will change.
-Even though the Jets are minus Derrick Blaylock for the next two months don’t look for them to trade for or pick up any named running back. The Jets have no salary cap room to make any deals. Curtis Martin will continue to get the brunt of the load while rookie Cedric Houston and BJ Askew may get some carries.
LB Eric Barton (ankle) and RB BJ Askew returned to practice today and will be further evaluated tomorrow. DT Dewayne Robertson’s knee is sore but he’s not expected to miss any time.
-FB B.J. Askew (ankle): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (shoulder): Out
-QB Jay Fiedler (shoulder): Out
-LB Eric Barton (ankle): Questionable
-DT Dewayne Robertson (knee): Probable
The team returns to practice tomorrow and continues their preparation for Buffalo. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest NY Jets news.