After a win on Sunday the Jets returned to the practice field Wednesday with a little more confidence under their belt. Even though the Jets are coming off a 31-28 win over the Dolphins last Sunday, head coach Eric Mangini still wants and needs his team to get better in certain areas of the game.
Mangini wants to see an improvement in kickoff coverage. Mangini has said his team’s kickoff coverage has improved from week-to-week, but it is still not where it needs to be. The Jets have been pretty vulnerable in that area of special teams. In week one they gave up that disastrous 108-yard game changing kickoff return to Patriots CB Ellis Hobbs. Then the next week they almost got beat again by Ravens WR/KR Yamon Figurs.
The Jets special teams unit did a decent job controlling Dolphins returner Ted Ginn. He recorded 80 yards on three returns which is an average of 26.7 yards return, but mostly importantly they did not allow Ginn to have a game changing return.
“We just got make the tackles. Kickoffs are kickoffs; you cover them the same way all the time. We got the guys out there that can make the plays,” said special teams captain Brad Kassell. “We are just having small lapses that are costing us a lot of yards.”
This week when the Jets face the Bills, the Jets special teams unit will get a look at two explosive returners. CB Terrance McGee has been good on kickoffs, and WR Roscoe Parrish is dangerous during punt returns. Just ask the Denver Broncos special teams unit as during Bills opener against the Denver, Parrish took a punt return back for touchdown. Parrish has only been given two chances to return two punts this season.
“They are a damn good special teams unit and they got the numbers to prove it,” said Kassell. “You look at their return guys, you look at their core guys, punters and kickers, all around they are solid.”
The other improvement Gang Green needs to make is how they defend screens. Miami and head coach Cam Cameron found a weakness in the Jets defense as Gang Green could stop any screen passes. A screen pass is one of the hardest passes to defend in the NFL. There is no call that the Jets defense can make. Defending the screen is about being in the right place at the right time and making the play.
Mangini said that the Jets just like all other NFL teams practice running the screen and defending the screen extensively. And the Jets defense is prepared to see the Bills first round pick RB Marshawn Lynch run the screen pass plenty of times.
When Jets LB Victor Hobson was asked how Lynch is on screen passes he replied “We’ll definitely probably see on Sunday.”
Of all the players in the Jets locker room, backup QB Kellen Clemens should be the one to know how Bills QB and former Pac-10 foe Trent Edwards is feeling. Clemens made his NFL start earlier this season and when Edwards takes the field against the Jets on Sunday he will be making his first career NFL start.
“Are defense is definitely not easy and I am sure he is excited for his opportunity but what he is going through who knows,” said Clemens.
Smith is an around guy
One player who stood out in the win over the Dolphins last Sunday was QB/WR Brad Smith. On Sunday Smith got more playing time than he did in the prior two games. And though his efforts aren’t on the scorecard they are on the mind of coach Mangini.
“Brad’s a dynamic player and I think he can do a lot of good things with the ball in his hand. You’re always looking for ways to incorporate them in and keep other guys fresh,” Mangini said. “His production last week overall was exactly what you’re looking for. A tackle on special teams, two kickoff returns, he carried the ball and caught passes.”
Brick Gets No Time off
Jets OL D’Brickashaw Ferguson might not really like the NFL schedule makers. One week after holding the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor to just three tackles and no sacks, Ferguson will face another one of the AFC’s top pass rushers in Bills DE Aaron Schobel
“He’s a great player. Obviously he’s got a lot of weapons. So its important to watch the tape and put together a good plan,” said Ferguson.
Trusnik A Man of Many Faces
One week after doing his best Jason Taylor impersonation, this week LB Jason Trusnik will try to do his best Aaron Schobel impression. Trusnik was the practice Player of the Week last week. Challenging him for that honor this week is DE Mike DeVito. DeVito will be impersonating Bills DE Chris Kelsay in practice.
Jets Praying for Everett
The news of the injury to Bills TE Kevin Everett not only hit Buffalo hard, but it also hit Everett’s former teammates at the University of Miami. One member of the Jets who was a teammate of Everett, spoke about how felt when he heard the news of his injury.
“We were kind of close. We weren’t the best of friends or anything like that, but to practice with him and be around him and then hear what happened to him was tough,” Jets LB Jonathan Vilma said. “I gave him a call to wish him luck. I just hope he keeps getting better and better.”
S Eric Smith did not participate in bag drills. Smith did his agility work on the side. CB Andre Dyson also had limited participation in practice. While he did participate in bag drills, Dyson walked gingerly up and down the sidelines while the team was working on punt coverage…In the 30 minutes of practice opened to the media the Jets primarily focused on their punt coverage. With Parrish being a very dangerous returner, special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff wasn’t takes any chances. LB’s Jonathan Vilma, Eric Barton and S Kerry Rhodes took more reps with the special teams unit than usual…The defensive backs were also hard at work. They worked on defending the short pass and they were making sure they prevented the big play. They also worked on defending the deep ball.