INSIDER THURSDAY TEAM REPORT
By David Fletcher
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
November 30th, 2006
Early this morning, the Newark Star-Ledger published an article that reported the Jets’ coaching staff had decided to switch to a two-back offense after their three-back combo managed just 27 rushing-yards against the Texans. Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini addressed the rumors, insisting that they have no merit.
“[Sunday’s rotation] is gonna be something that comes down to the end of the week,” explained Mangini during his daily presser. RB Kevan Barlow, who was identified in the article as the player losing his spot in the rotation, was equally unfazed by the report.
”When you’re not successful, it causes controversy like this,” said Barlow, referring to the abysmal rushing performance against last week. Then, as a big grin stretched across his face, Barlow added that as long as his team was winning games, “that’s all that matters.”
That attitude is quite a turnaround for the first-year Jet. After being labeled a disruptive and selfish player during his years with the 49ers, Barlow’s first months as a Jet were not better as he complained constantly that he wasn’t getting enough carries.
But now, with a 6-5 record and the playoffs within reach, Barlow seems to be just fine with his diminished role. “When you’re winning,” he told reporters, “everything’s good.”
Mangini also made note of another Jets’ player who has undergone a plethora of changes this season: LB Jonathan Vilma. The former-Defensive Rookie of the Year hasn’t been making many of his signature “big plays” this season, which is a direct result of the Jets’ change to the 3-4 defensive scheme. However, his head coach pointed out, he is playing a huge part in the team’s success.
“Week-in and week-out, Jon (Vilma) is like the quarterback of the defense where he has to talk to the front, he has to talk to the secondary,” said Mangini about his star linebacker. “There’s a lot of moving parts, and you need that guy – that player – to direct traffic; not just direct traffic, but someone has to have the final say and Jon usually has the final say.”
He then quickly added to the statement, saying that when it comes to that final decision, Vilma is “usually right.”
Vilma acknowledged that making those calls on defense while also playing his position is difficult, but said that he doesn’t mind it one bit. “The job calls for it, so that’s what I’ve got to do,” he said, adding, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Even with Vilma’s leadership, the Jets’ secondary has been experiencing a number of problems every week, leading to a variety of roster moves. The most recent victim of these widespread changes is CB-KR Justin Miller, whose shaky play on defense has led to his role there being greatly downsized.
Mangini credited the move to Miller’s lack of consistency, saying that “[consistency] is so important, especially at that position, because if there’s any remote breakdown, usually it’s gonna go for a long way.”
If Miller does not start against Green Bay, look for CB Hank Poteat to step in for the second consecutive week. Poteat has played well since rejoining the team mid-season after being cut by the Jets in September, when he spent a whopping 48 hours as a member of Gang Green. Poteat confirmed that that was the shortest stay he’d ever had with an NFL team, laughing and calling the two-day stay “a record.”
-DL Rashad Moore may not be out of the Jets’ lineup for so long, after all. Moore still has a hard cast on his hand, which looks just like the one Jets C Kevin Mawae once played in when he broke his hand, but today he was suited up with the rest of the team. He was extremely limited in practice, however, and will most likely miss Sunday’s game.
-WR Justin McCareins continues to find new ways to get some extra playing time. On Thursday, McCareins and WR/QB Brad Smith worked with the Jets’ punt-blocking unit. McCareins did an excellent job of pressuring P Ben Graham, and the pressure he put on allowed Smith to come through untouched on more than one occasion.
-Mangini’s practice of playing songs that relate to the upcoming opponent during stretches got rather strange today as the team’s unofficial deejay looked for any songs relating, even remotely, to the Green Bay Packers.
The song that wound up being used was “Big Pimpin’” by Jay-Z. It was presumably chosen because of the line in the song’s chorus that says, “Big pimpin’, spendin’ cheese,” which appears to be an obscure reference to Green Bay’s “cheese-heads.”
-The updated weather.com extended forecast for Sunday’s game in Green Bay calls for a high temperature of 26 degrees with 10-mph winds and a 30% chance of snow showers.
MARK CANNIZZARO FAN CHAT TONIGHT!
You are not going to want to miss this!
Be sure to log on to Jets Insider.com Tonight (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!
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The team continues its preparation for Sunday’s game in Green Bay with a full walk through tomorrow. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for a full game preview!