The Jets wrapped up their week at practice as they headed into their Friday situations of third downs and red zone situations. Third downs is an area of specific concern for the Jets after they converted on just three of 14 attempts in their Week 5 game in Jacksonville while allowing the Jaguars to convert on almost half, six of 13, third downs.
“Third downs are always important,” head coach Eric Mangini said. “Whether it’s sustaining the drive or stopping their drive, it’s very important in time of possession.
Also important in time of possession will be the performance of the Jets sputtering ground game. The running attack got off to a very slow start and is still averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, tying them for 29th in the NFL in that category. In the last two weeks, however, Gang Green has gotten a spark from rookie running back Leon Washington, who had his first career 100-yard rushing game in Jacksonville.
“Leon is going to continue to get opportunities if he continues to take advantage of those chances,” Mangini said. “He’s done a nice job but he has to keep getting better and the only way to do that is a strong work ethic.”
The Jets defense will have to face their own unique challenge. Despite the fact that Dolphins coach Nick Saban has announced that back-up quarterback Joey Harrington will start on Sunday, the team still must prepare for starter Daunte Culpepper who may still play. Like they did for the opening game against Tennessee, the Jets defense will again prepare for two quarterbacks.
“It’s tough because each guy has different skill sets,” defensive captain and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. “We just have to prepare for both of them and do whatever it takes to stop their offense.”
The Miami offense has the weapons to give the Jets just about all it can handle this weekend. As Vilma pointed out, they have great skill players across the board. Whether it is running back Ronnie Brown, wide receiver Chris Chambers, or tight end Randy McMichael, the Dolphins have numerous options on how to attack.
Mangini seemed confidence in his team’s ability though. While he stressed that he would like to see more consistency from the defensive unit, he said he has seen progress, particularly from rookies cornerback Drew Coleman and safety Eric Smith.
“Eric has been a core contributor in the secondary,” Mangini said. “And Drew has made some great progress at the corner spot.”
The youngsters will certainly be tested this weekend against the Jets top rival.
-Mangini admitted that he would like to see rookie left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson put on some weight. Mangini jokingly suggested that he and Ferguson should eat dinner together more often. Veteran guard Pete Kendall seemed unconcerned about the first round draft pick’s size though.
“You’d always like to ask size without losing quickness and I think that will happen as his body matures,” Kendall said. “I’ve seen guys like (former Lions tackle) Lomas Brown who have had great success as smaller guys at the tackle spot.”
-Mangini noted that he liked the progress tight end Chris Baker has made this year. Baker worked hard in the offseason to reshape his body and aside from being an offensive weapon, Baker has become a key contributor on the kickoff return team, Mangini said.
-Much of the media buzz around Jets practice was about the long-standing rivalry between the Jets and Dolphins. Several players and coaches shared some of their memories but refused to give the game an added importance beyond the fact that it is a division game. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles remember the “Monday Night Miracle” comeback game, in which he caught his first touchdown reception, but said every game is just as important.
“You got to play every we like it’s the Super Bowl,” Coles said. “There’s 16 games and whether it’s the Dolphins or Hempstead High, we have to play our hardest.”
New York Jets
-FB B.J. Askew (Foot): Questionable
-CB David Barrett (Hip): Questionable
-WR Laveranues Coles (Calf): Questionable
-WR Tim Dwight (Thigh): Questionable
-RB Cedric Houston (Knee): 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 Bobby Hamilton (Knee): Probable
-FB James Hodgins (Knee): Probable
-OL Adrian Jones (Thigh): Probable
-CB Justin Miller (Hip): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-S Kerry Rhodes (Thigh): Probable
-TE Sean Ryan (Chest): Probable
-WR Brad Smith (Thigh): Probable
-S Eric Smith (Knee): Probable
-DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (Knee): Probable
-RB Leon Washington (Hip): Probable
-WR Marty Booker (Chest): Doubtful
-QB Daunte Culpepper (Knee): Doubtful
-CB Travis Daniels (Knee): Questionable
-TE Justin Peelle (Knee): Questionable
-LB Derrick Pope (Hamstring): Questionable
-TE Randy McMichael (Ribs): Probable