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INSIDER MONDAY TEAM REPORT

By Dan Powell
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
October 30th, 2006
The Jets won't make a decision on Curtis Martin's fate for at least another week. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets won't make a decision on Curtis Martin's fate for at least another week. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets will have two full weeks to think about their disappointing loss to Cleveland. The team returned to Hempstead to begin their bye week today and the air seemed filled with frustration and thoughts of what could have been after they squandered an opportunity to enter their bye week at 5-3. Instead, Gang Green stands at a lackluster 4-4 and at the halfway mark of the season seem with two brutal games ahead of them.

“We were 2-2 in the preseason and now we’re 4-4 here,” Mangini said of where the team stands. “We’re 3-3 at home and 3-3 on the road. Our turnover ratio is zero. So that’s where we are.”

The defense has not been horrible, but there have certainly been plenty of growing pains as the rookie head coach has tried to install a 3-4 system with limited success. The defense has shown flashes of brilliance. In games against Buffalo and Miami, the defense made strong statements, generating 3 turnovers in each game and even returning a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the Week 3 match-up against Buffalo. There have been times when the squad has struggled though. There was of course the 41-0 debacle in Jacksonville and then a poor showing against Indianapolis when the Colts hung up 17-fourth quarter points to defeat a Jets team that seemed powerless to stop them. After this week’s game, Browns quarterback Charlie Frye said Cleveland knew they could run all over the Jets.

“Until we do a better job of stopping the run, I think there’s going to be more comments like that,” Mangini said. “We’ve had some success but we need a more consistent effort.”

The offense seems to have a bit of an identity crisis itself. The passing game has been strong for the most part but in recent weeks, quarterback Chad Pennington has had a couple hiccups. In the Week 5 loss in Jacksonville, Pennington completed 10 of 17 passes for a paltry 71 yards while throwing three interceptions. The veteran bounced back though and had to pretty stellar games against weak Miami and Detroit teams in Weeks 6 and 7. However, in Sunday’s loss to the Browns, Pennington was an ugly 11 for 28 for just 108 yards and threw two interceptions bringing his touchdown-to-interception ratio to just a plus one at nine to eight.

In the victories, however, Pennington has been the clear leader of this football team. He and star receiver Laveranues Coles seem to be the only certainties on this Jets offense. Though the offensive line, featuring rookies D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold as starters, has been a pleasant surprise, the running attack is yet to get started for the Jets. With the exception of the Detroit games, the ground attack has not been dominant for the Jets this year and there seems to be confusion as who is “the man” in the Jets backfield. Rookie Leon Washington has been outstanding but he has shared carries with veterans Kevan Barlow, Derrick Blaylock, and Cedric Houston. It seems that on any given Sunday, any one of four guys could be used as the feature back. Even the players themselves seem somewhat confused as Barlow, who had just five carries in Cleveland, was recently quoted as saying he would get his share of carries.

There is no help on the horizon either. Although Mangini had said that Monday was the earliest future hall-of-fame running back Curtis Martin would come off the physically unable to perform list and start practicing with the team, in his press conference, Mangini pushed the date back to next week. The Jets have until November 7 to have Martin start practicing with the team, otherwise he will have to be placed on the injured reserve.

“There will be no decision made on Curtis until next week,” Mangini told reporters. “We feel that that gives us the maximum time to have Curtis work and get ready to come back.”

The Jets have 21 days of practice after Martin begins working with the team until he must join the active roster. It seems peculiar that Mangini and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have decided to use the full window before bringing Martin back. Unless Martin’s knee injury is so serious that he is nowhere near ready to play, he could bring the stability and consistency to a team that seems to be severely lacking it.

INSIDER TIDBITS

-There was no complaining by the coach about the questionable call on Chirs Baker’s catch on the Jets' final offensive play yesterday that would have likely tied the game despite replays that clearly show that Baker was pushed out of bounds.

“There were over 130 plays prior to that play,” Mangini said. “There were a lot of things we could have done better so it doesn’t come down to that. Foot-stomping over one play or one call is counterproductive.”

-Mangini said the team will work out on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, then he will give the players off until early next week to begin preparation for their November 12th game against the rival Patriots in New England. The rookie coach plans to spend time with his family during the bye week.

-Several players seem anxious to hit the road once their Wednesday practice is over. Guard Pete Kendall said he is excited about getting to spend an extended period of time with his young children.

-Mangini also discussed his Halloween plans. He said he will go trick-or-treating with his children on Tuesday. Originally Mangini said he planned to go as Marlon from the movie “Finding Nemo” to stay with the same theme as his children’s costumes but then said he was also considering being a penguin, either the Batman character or Chilly Willy.

As mentioned above tomorrow which is usually a day off will be a practice day. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for a full report!

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