Back in Hempstead after an impressive opening win on the road against the Titans, Head Coach Eric Mangini and the players reflected on their great start but by no means overplayed the win.
After being picked by most NFL prognosticators to finish at the bottom of the league this year, the Jets surprised many yesterday. On top of the win, the team starts the season with several league individual statistical leaders.
Quarterback Chad Pennington’s 319 passing yards ranks him tops among all NFL signal-callers thus far, with two games remaining to be played Monday night. The veteran is also ranked second in QB rating behind only Pittsburgh’s Charlie Batch. Behind the efforts of mostly the passing game, the Jets are currently ranked first in the AFC in total yards, yards per play, and first downs.
Pennington’s go-to-guy Laveranues Coles is the league leader in receiving yards after racking up 153 yards on eight catches. His eight grabs also tie him for fourth in the league in that category as his counterpart across the field, Jets wide out Jerricho Cotchery, is tied for tenth after hauling in six balls on Sunday. While the entire team received game balls for the Week 1 effort, Pennington and Coles split offensive player of the week recognition.
“We actually named two guys player of the week on offense,” head coach Eric Mangini said at his Monday press conference. “It was that difficult to differentiate between the two.”
The Jets proved to be staunch on the defensive side of the ball as well. Middle linebacker and team captain Jonathan Vilma is tied for third in the league with 12 tackles while offseason addition CB Andre Dyson is No. 1 in the league with two interceptions, the only player to pick off more than one pass so far in Week 1.
The defense held firm all day. They allowed the Titans just 86 rushing yards and although they allowed 242 passing yards, they held Tennessee quarterbacks Kerry Collins and Vince Young to a combined completion percentage of 47.6 and intercepted three passes. Although Gang Green gave up two touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions, one of the Titans’ strikes came after recovering a Pennington fumble at the 1-yard line.
The special teams play was also stellar for the most part. Although kicker Mike Nugent missed two of three field goals and an extra point try, punter Ben Graham was on his game, booming for punts to the tune of a 49.8 yard average, fourth best in the league. Kick returner Justin Miller was also sharp, averaging an NFL best 29.7 yards per return on three tries.
The big problem for the Jets seems to be the running game. While the Jets ran a balanced offense, rushing 34 times, they managed just 91 yards as a unit, an average of 2.7 yards per carry.
“That is definitely one of the things we need to work on,” Mangini said, explaining that the whole team must continue to improve. “Each person needs to hear the coaching, see the problem, and fix the problems.”
Nugent had already begun that process by Monday afternoon. The second-year kicker said he had seen the tape and recognized the problem.
“On each one of the kicks, my foot was hitting the ground at the same point,” Nugent, who pushed three kicks wide right, said. “I don’t know how it is with other guys but for me when that happens I tend to push it right.”
Mangini did not rule out the possibility of bringing in some new guys to tryout at kicker, but he said this is a possibility at any position. However, right now Mangini has shifted his focus on to this Sunday’s game against New England, although the coach did admit that he allowed himself some time to enjoy his first victory as a head coach.
“With a two-year-old and a seven-month-old there’s not too much champagne popping,” Mangini said, referencing his two young children with a grin. “But we enjoyed it and had some apple pie and some ice cream.”
-Dyson was recognized as the defensive player of the week.
“Andre had two big interceptions and I’m sure that was very meaningful to him,” Mangini said, alluding to the fact that Dyson was drafted by the Titans.
LB Brad Kassel received the player of the week honors on special teams.
-Mangini also recognized what he called the “practice player of the week.” This week the honor went to defensive lineman Dave Ball for helping the team prepare for the talented defensive ends they would see against Tennessee.
-Keeping with tradition, Mangini declined to discuss the status of guard Pete Kendall and safety Kerry Rhodes, who both left Sunday’s game. An injury report will come out on Wednesday but until then the team will take the situations day-by-day. Kendall did note that his hamstring is feeling better today.
-Mangini made mention of the fifth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 in his daily presser.
“All the people that lost their lives, all those who were affected, and everyone that was so brave that day, that’s so much more important than what we’re doing here,” Mangini said. “People like them and the servicemen and women around the world, those are the real heroes, those are the guys that should be written about.”
G Pete Kendall (hamstring): Day To Day
S Kerry Rhodes (ankle): Day To Day
OL Trey Teague (leg): Out
The team has an off day tomorrow and returns to the practice field on Wednesday to begin preparation for their home opener against the Patriots.