After being benched the past two games, will Jets RB Derrick Blaylock be back in action this week? (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Instead of his usual “we need to play well and avoid mistakes” speech, Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini decided to open his Thursday press conference with an uncharacteristically-blatant statement: “Third down is going to be extremely important this week.”
Mangini quickly explained his reasoning. “With the time of possession that these guys [Jacksonville] have had, where they are in the league in terms of time of possession, it’s even that much more important.” The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently second in the NFL with an average time of possession (TOP) of 33:49 per game, trailing only the San Diego Chargers.
The Jets’ defense has showed flashes of both brilliance and utter ineptitude in the early parts of the season, with fantastic and disastrous results, respectively. The disastrous results are much fresher in the minds of Jets coaches, players, and fans alike after a fourth quarter meltdown last Sunday led to a heartbreaking home-loss against the Colts.
Mangini was unable to find a connection between the various third-down failures thus far, making it all-the-more difficult to find a simple solution. “I think each [big third-down play allowed] is a little bit different,” said Mangini. “If there’s just one problem, you’d really be able to zero in on that.”
As easy as it is to focus on the problems that have contributed to the Jets’ two losses, it is equally important to realize what this improbable Jets team has done to even give themselves as shot at winning games. Mangini and his players all seemed to agree on a particularly important positive for the team through four games this season: the no-huddle offense.
Mangini first spoke about the no-huddle offense on Thursday in response to questions about QB Chad Pennington being able to confuse the Colts’ defense enough to force a timeout call during Sunday’s game by changing the snap count on the line. “I think the more that you can change things like the snap count, the tougher it is to get any kind of jump.” He later added that “the same thing [is true] with formations and things like that.”
Jets WR Laveranues Coles was asked how he liked the no-huddle offense during a locker room interview, and the answer he gave was somewhat shocking. “Do I like it? No. Do I do it? Yes.”
Coles was then asked why he didn’t like the no-huddle offense that he has excelled greatly in. He explained that the purpose of the no-huddle was to catch the opponent off-guard and tire them out, but “you get a little winded yourself.”
The additional hustle that the no-huddle requires might be a contributing factor to the extremely-slow healing of Coles’ left calf. Coles injured the calf in the Jets’ Week Two loss to the Patriots but has not missed any game time, despite being listed as questionable on the team’s injury report. The injured calf didn’t look any better today, with Coles limping noticeably for the first time since the initial injury. LC also reportedly injured his right arm on the last play of the Colts game but don't expect the durable WR to miss any time. Coles is know for playing through pain after suffering with a sore toe for the last 3 seasons. He hasn't missed a game since his rookie season.
Jets RB Kevan Barlow seemed to have a much more favorable impression of Pennington’s no-huddle offense. “It doesn’t bother me either or,” Barlow said of the offense that’s allowed him to score four rushing-touchdowns in the team’s first four games. “It’s basically the same thing as huddling, but not huddling… we just call it from the line of scrimmage.”
A true fan of football history, Mangini ended the morning conference with a small speech on the evolution of the no-huddle offense. The first time it was used was “sort of by accident,” said Mangini. “As you got hurt by it, you adapted to it. You sort of embraced it.”
Hopefully Jets’ opponents won’t adapt too quickly, since the no-huddle offense has been working better than anyone could have expected for the Jets and their oft-injured QB.
-After being inactive for the last 2 weeks, RB Derrick Blaylock will almost certainly be in the lineup this week with Cedric Houston likely out with an injured knee. After Blaylock averaged just 1.8 yards per carry on 25 attempts this season, Mangini thought it was best to shake up the lineup and activate Houston and rookie Leon Washington over the veteran Blaylock. Both Houston and Washington have showed promise with Washington showing Dave Meggett type running style and Houston averaging 4.2 yards per carry before hyperextending his knee against the Colts.
-Despite being upgraded from doubtful to questionable on yesterday’s injury report, OL Trey Teague did not practice on Thursday. It appears very unlikely that he will be ready to play by Sunday.
-Mangini spent a good portion of his press conference praising the work of the team’s offensive line. He said that the rookies (C Nick Mangold and LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson) had been doing a good job and that veteran O-linemen had played a huge role in helping new players develop. G Pete Kendall, T Anthony Clement, and G Brandon Moore were the veterans singled out by their coach.
-Jets G Pete Kendall will face a much larger opponent against Jacksonville, but neither he nor his coach appear overly anxious. Mangini attributed Kendall’s success at guard despite being undersized to his excellent technique.
Kendall spoke to reporters about Mangini’s comments in the locker room just minutes afterwards. “I’ve spent hours and hours of my life hitting sleds,” Kendall told reporters after hearing about Mangini’s comments. He then added with a laugh, “most of the time against my will.”
-RB Kevan Barlow spent a portion of practice working with newly-acquired power-FB James Hodgins. This could be a glimpse of the starting RB/FB combination of the future, as Barlow has emerged as the starting RB for the time being and Hodgins has a long history of being a strong blocking-FB.
-A reporter from an Australian newspaper attended practice today. The woman traveled from Australia to interview Australian-native P Ben Graham and watch him live at a football game. She will be covering various NY-area sporting events over the next week before covering the Jets’ October 15th home-game against the Dolphins and then returning to Australia.
THE OAKLAND RAIDERS ARE ON THE CLOCK!!
MARK CANNIZZARO FAN CHAT TONIGHT! Be sure to check out a Fan Chat with NY Post/JI writer Mark Cannizzaro Tonight (Thursday 10/5) at 8PM in the Jets Insider Chatroom.
Mark will be giving all the latest info on all the happenings at Weeb Ewbank Hall including reaction to the Colts game and news leading up to the Jags game.
Be in the chatroom tonight at 8PM! Don't miss it!
New York Jets
-RB Cedric Houston (Knee): Doubtful
-CB David Barrett (Thigh): Questionable
-WR Laveranues Coles (Calf): Questionable
-WR Tim Dwight (Hamstring): Questionable
-OL Pete Kendall (Thigh): Questionable
-OL Trey Teague (Ankle): Questionable
-DL Dave Ball (Hand): Probable
-RB Kevan Barlow (Calf): Probable
-LB Matt Chatham (Foot): Probable
-OL Anthony Clement (Shin): Probable
-DL Shaun Ellis (Hip): Probable
-DL Bobby Hamilton (Knee): Probable
-FB James Hodgins (Knee): Probable
-OL Adrian Jones (Thigh): Probable
-CB Justin Miller (Hip): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-WR Brad Smith (Thigh): Probable
-S Eric Smith (Knee): Probable
-S Kerry Rhodes (Thigh): Questionable
-DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (Knee): Probable
-WR Matt Jones (Hamstring): Out
-DT Marcus Stroud (Ankle): Out
-DE Marcellus Wiley (Groin): Out
-RB Derrick Wimbush (Knee): Questionable
-S Donovin Darius (Knee): Probable
-LB Nick Greisen (Ankle): Probable
-CB Rashean Mathis (Knee): Probable
-G Chris Naeole (Knee): Probable
The team has a walk through tomorrow before traveling to Jacksonville on Saturday. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for a full game preview!