A week ago this time, Weeb Ewbank Hall was full of whispers that it was time to pull starting quarterback Chad Pennington and allow rookie Kellen Clemens to begin his future as the Jets franchise quarterback. As the Jets return to Hofstra fresh off their biggest win of the season, a 15-point defeat of the Houston Texans, Pennington is the toast of the town.
After a shaky game against the Bears last week, a game in which the Jets offense was shut out, Pennington rebounded with a vintage game to put Gang Green back above .500 for the season. The veteran was superb all game, consistently finding targets all over the field, often for good yardage. Although Pennington did give the fans at Giants Stadium a scare as he squirmed on the turf gasping for air after absorbing a hit from defensive end and first overall pick Mario Williams, he had enough wind left to blow away the Texans and put the Jets right back in the mix for an AFC wild card spot.
“There’s no blueprint for what he’s gone through,” head coach Eric Mangini said of Pennington, referring to his two shoulder surgeries. “He’s the type of guy who is not going to be denied.”
Pennington, who was named the offensive player of the week by his coaches, did get a little help from his friends though. Wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery each had over 100 yards receiving as they combined for a total of 16 catches for 221 yards on the day. It was the first time two Jets receiver had racked up 100 yards each since Wayne Chrebet and Keyshawn Johnson accomplished the feat in 1998, when they did it twice. Mangini said he believes Cotchery’s improvement this year is due to his increased role in the passing game.
“He earned that right in training camp,” Mangini said of Cotchery’s position as the team’s second receiver. “He’s had more opportunities and he’s taken advantage of those.”
Mangini did admit, however, that the Jets had must improve on their running game yet again. The Jets managed a mere 27 yards on 26 carries with rookie Leon Washington leading the way with only 17 yards on five carries. He did not point fingers or suggest that he may stop the carousel of back and pick one guy, he simply stated that it has to be a collective effort from everyone involved.
“We had some good plays there but we also missed some opportunities,” Mangini said of his ground attack. “It’s everybody from the backs, to the offensive line, to the scheme.”
The focus has shifted, though, and now the Jets sole concern is the upcoming showdown with the Packers at Lambeau Field next week.
-Aside from Pennington, Mangini also named linebacker Victor Hobson defensive player of the week while kick Mike Nugent and wide receiver Justin McCareins split honors on the special teams unit. Mangini took some time to praise the effort McCareins made throughout this week.
“He came to the coaches and said he wanted to contribute some on special teams, then he worked hard all week in practice and got in their and made two tackles on kickoffs,” Mangini said of the veteran wide receiver. “That’s exactly what we’re looking for organizationally.”
-Although Pennington only addresses the media after games and on Wednesdays, he did tell reporters that he feels just fine today. He admitted he tested his surgically repaired right shoulder all last night and this morning but that he feels perfectly normal. Pennington landed on the shoulder after taking the hit from Mario Williams.
-Although Nugent’s family could not attend Sunday’s game because his sister gave birth to a baby boy over the weekend, he said they were able to watch the whole game live at his aunt and uncle’s house. He said his inbox was filled with voicemails from his family when he turned his cell phone on after the game.
JETS SCHEDULE CHANGE: Due to the NFL's new Flex-Scheduling the Jets home game against Buffalo on December 10th was moved from 1:00 PM to 4:15 PM. Please adjust your schedules!
MARK CANNIZZARO FAN CHAT THIS THURSDAY!
You are not going to want to miss this!
Be sure to log on to Jets Insider.com on Thursday (Nov 30) at 8:00 PM for a live online fan chat session with Jets Writer Mark Cannizzaro. Mark will take your questions and talk about all the doings at Weeb Ewbank Hall leading up to the Jets - Packers game this Sunday.
Chat is open to everyone!
The team has tomorrow off then returns to practice Wednesday to begin preparation for the Packers. Be sure to check back to JI for all the latest news!