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Strong "D" Starts With Blitz

By Mark Cannizzaro
Jets Insider.com Head Writer
November 21st, 2006
Here's hoping the Jets' coaches keep dialing up the blitz.

Here's hoping that Eric Mangini and his defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, do not become gun shy with the blitz because rookie cornerback Drew Coleman slipped and missed that crucial tackle on Bears' receiver Mark Bradley in Sunday's loss to Chicago.

Here's hoping the Jets stay as aggressive as they've been for the last two-and-a-half games, because their defense actually looks disruptive when they do what they've done against New England and Chicago.

For goodness sake, the Jets' defense confused Tom Brady so badly two games ago it forced him to call a timeout - after the two-minute warning.

To be sure, the players want to keep the aggressiveness going on defense.

The defensive players, too, understand they've got to be solid enough in their base defense assignments before the coaches will call the more intricate stuff.

"The main thing for us is to execute the defenses that are called," Jets' linebacker Victor Hobson said. "If we don't go out there and execute as a team we don't give the coaches the ability to feel comfortable enough to keep calling different pressure defenses.

"We're learning on the run; we're still learning for the most part. With us feeling more comfortable, the more comfortable they feel about calling the pressure."

The downside to the pressure comes when a routine tackle is missed such as the one Coleman didn't make on Bradley, who took a short pass inside of 10 yards and turned it into a 57-yard touchdown. Coleman was beaten on a Bradley inside move and he slipped and, because the Jets were in an all-out blitz, there was no safety help behind Coleman to help out and Bradley was gone, giving the Bears an insurmountable 10-0 lead.

So, too, were the Jets' chances of winning the game.

"Those are the chances you take when you pressure a team," Hobson said. "It puts those different guys (cornerbacks) on an island. Those are the chances you take. You win some and lose some."

Mangini sounded as if he likes what he's seen from the pressure fronts the Jets have been employing of late, but he, too, is wary of the kind of result the Jets got on Sunday.

"It's always the same equation," Mangini said. "It's been something that we've talked about since training camp. When you blitz, you have to do it well. You have to hit the right gaps. You have to execute it effectively.

"On the flipside, if they're able to complete the pass, you now have to limit the six-yard gain from being the 57-yard gain. Those are things that tie in with the front and the coverage.

"We've been blitzing quite a bit since the beginning. It's all based on risk-reward. (Sunday) was a good example that at some point you do have the opportunity with less bodies back there to turn a six-yard play into a big play.

"It comes back to you where you have to hit more than you miss. You have to make it work. With anything like that, it's even more important that everybody is in the right spot, everybody's hitting the right gaps. One small mistake, the exposure increases, especially for the coverage unit."

Look for Mangini to keep dialing up some creative stuff up front, knowing that he simply does not get enough pass rush pressure from the likes of defensive ends Shaun Ellis (who has three sacks this season) and Kimo von Oelhoffen (one sack).

The proof of the Jets' being more successful while blitzing more often is in the final scores of the last two games. The Patriots and the Bears, with a combined 16-4 record, have been held to a total of 24 points by the Jets' defense.

"I've been pleased defensively over the past two weeks in the sense that two of the better offenses in the league, scored a total of 24 points," Mangini said. "There were a lot of mistakes in both games defensively. There were a lot of things we could do better defensively. But to hold two teams like that to a total of 24 points and have that many things that we need to work on I think is in a way good news because there is room for improvement.

"That being said, you need to be able to hold up across the board in order to keep dialing that (blitz) stuff up. There's going to be some games where you may want to blitz, but it's just not effective. It's not worth it to do it. It will be catered based upon the opponent."

****

The expectations for the Jets rose dramatically with their victory over the Patriots two weeks ago. So when the Jets lost to the Bears, who've lost only one game, there were Jets fans who were angry despite the fact that the Bears are the NFC's - and probably the NFL's - best team.

One Jets player who's all for the fans having high expectations is veteran left guard Pete Kendall.

"I don't think anyone wants to operate in an environment where the expectation is that you're going to win six games," Kendall said. "That's not what we want. So certainly I understand that our fans want more and our players want more than that. And if people are upset when we lose games that means they expected more out of us, and that's fine, because we expect more out of ourselves, which is why we're upset when we lose a game.

"Our job is to go out there and win games and when we don't do it, no one's more disappointed than we are."

****

The one Jets' player who's been taking the brunt of the blame for the loss to the Bears has been Chad Pennington, who threw two critical interceptions that directly prevented the Jets from scoring.

What a difference a few months make. After all, Pennington was being hailed for making it all the way back from his second shoulder surgery to winning back his starting job. Now, of course, that's not enough.

Kendall, for one, said he's hardly surprised to see the fans turn on Pennington so quickly.

"It's not a surprise," Kendall, who grew up south of Boston, said. "I'm from the Northeast, too; I'm with you win or tie. That's the nature of the beast, that's the way it goes around here. I didn't seem to hear to many complaints last week (after Pennington and the Jets upset New England). It's a part of the business. Chad's been through it before. We've all been through it before."

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