INSIDER TUESDAY TEAM REPORT
By David Fletcher
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
October 31st, 2006
Halloween Fright: The Jets press-room was abuzz this morning after a Monday-evening news report claimed that RB Curtis Martin had decided to call an end to his illustrious career. Coach Eric Mangini and numerous Jets players attempted to quiet the terrifying rumors.
”We’ll review (Martin’s situation) here until the end of the week,” Mangini told reporters during his morning presser. While Mangini was unable to disprove the rumors with absolute certainty since he doesn’t know everything the veteran-RB is thinking, he insisted that he and Martin speak often and that Martin had made no mention to him of retiring from the NFL.
The coach also took an uncharacteristically-open shot at the integrity of the “facts” in the story, insisting that a passage which claimed Martin had stopped attending evening-meetings was pure fallacy.
Martin could not be reached for comment, but many of his teammates gave their takes on the situation. Among them was LB Jonathan Vilma, who said that “every time I ask him he says he’s doing well.” However when Vilma, a third-year Jet, was asked about his three seasons playing with Martin, he quickly noted that it had only been “two years,” implying that this season he doesn’t feel like they’ve even played on the same team.
QB Chad Pennington explained that Martin was a “very personal” individual, which he said was the reason that not many people truly know about his condition. Pennington said that Martin hadn’t informed him of any intentions to retire, but added that the two didn’t talk much. This sentiment was echoed by most Jets players, including WR Laveranues Coles and G Pete Kendall.
With all Martin-related questions out of the way, the focus shifted to making necessary adjustments over the bye week. Mangini stressed that first-and-foremost, the team needed to get back to basics. He even allotted extra time practice time to individual work, hoping to get the team “back to a training camp mentality.”
Practice was, in fact, run almost exactly like it was during training camp. QBs Patrick Ramsey, Kellen Clemens, and Chad Pennington took relatively equal reps, first handing off the ball and then later passing it. Pennington and Ramsey worked with the receiving corps while Clemens practiced passing to the team’s running backs and tight ends, an area that has been severely lacking in recent games.
Ramsey’s passes were crisp but erratic, much like his throws during training camp. He was bailed out on bad throws by WR Jerricho Cotchery more than once, but many other passes soared well out of the reach of any receiver. Clemens looked sharp, although the RBs he was throwing to ran very short routes.
Pennington’s passing accuracy hasn’t been terrific either lately, declining steadily since the beginning of the season. In last week’s loss to Cleveland, Pennington actually had the lowest single-game completion-percentage of his career, as well as multiple interceptions. The star-QB attributed this downfall to the diminishing “me-to-you” communication on the offense.
Mangini defined the me-to-you factor as “where you just know where the guy is going to be,” an attribute the applies to both the QB and the receiver. According to Pennington, that chemistry has been weak during the past few weeks.
“The me-to-you factor hasn’t been as consistent as it was earlier in the season,” Pennington explained. “I don’t know if that was because we really tried to hone in on our running game and make a conscious effort there, and also to make a conscious effort of getting off to a faster start.”
WR Laveranues Coles took a different stance than Pennington and Mangini on the issue of the me-to-you factor. “Well you want to know what I think, I think we’re putting too much emphasis on it,” he stated frankly outside of his locker.
He then explained his position to the swarm of reporters. “Working on it ain’t helping none, so maybe we should go back to what we were doing before,” Coles said, adding, “you can’t force things.”
Pennington couldn’t agree more. “You work on the things that you know you’ve got to get better at,” he said to reporters, making sure to note that “you’ve got to keep those things that make you who you are.”
-In his morning presser, Coach Mangini was asked why he hasn’t had rookie-WR/QB Brad Smith throw a pass yet this season. Mangini replied that many of the plays involving Smith have passing options worked in, but added that “when in doubt for Brad, run.”
During practice, however, Smith participated solely as a WR during early offensive-drills despite rarely being used at the position on a Jets’ team with a deep receiving corps.
Mangini also took the time to compliment Smith on his special teams contributions during last week’s game: “A college QB with eight-zillion records as a quarterback downing a ball on the one, making a special teams tackle… that’s what we’re looking for.”
-CB Andre Dyson, who left the Jets’ Sunday game in Cleveland with an undisclosed foot-injury, was suited up for practice today. He appeared unhindered by his ailment and was able to participate in all drills.
-RB Derrick Blaylock might be trying to earn his way back onto the active roster through special teams work. Blaylock, who has been inactive for over a month after putting up anemic rushing numbers in his first few games, laid a number of big blocks for P Ben Graham in practice.
-Mangini was asked whether he had fun watching CB-KR Justin Miller, who leads the league with two kickoff-return touchdowns, return kickoffs. With a smirk, Mangini replied, “It was fun on the kickoff-return for a touchdown; it wasn’t fun on the kickoff-return on the nine-yard line.”
The unorthodox bye-week practice-schedule continues tomorrow with the Jets following a standard Thursday routine before getting the rest of the week and weekend off. Check back with Jets Insider.com for all the latest Jets news!