By Bob Bonett
Jets Staff Writer
October 18th, 2007
Jets WR Laveranues Coles intends to help the Jets break out of their slump. (Jets Photo)
Jets WR Laveranues Coles intends to help the Jets break out of their slump. (Jets Photo)

Seven weeks ago, looking at this weekend’s match-up, it was assumed that the Jets and Bengals would be in the middle of their respective division races. This game was circled as a big game for Gang Green, a make-or-break opportunity to establish themselves among the elite in the AFC, or fall to one of the conference’s best offenses.

Now, with each team sputtering along with just one win, the game has turned from a game pitting two contenders against one another to two teams looking to avoid falling into an insurmountable hole.

The reason for the struggles of these two clubs has been the holes in the two team’s attacks. Each organization has had issues in one aspect of the game, enabling their opponents to jump on opportunities and record wins.

For the Jets, the holes on the roster are clear; the team has had trouble on the defensive side of the ball, with the secondary looking shaky at times and the defensive line failing to get any sort of pressure on the opposing quarterback. Head coach Eric Mangini attributed the poor statistical showing for the defense a result of the streaky nature of NFL defenses.

“In terms of sacks we’re three different from last year, and those vary,” Mangini said. “Sometimes they come in bunches like with Philadelphia and Giants, sometimes you get periods when you don’t get as many

“That can skew your averages over 16 games,” he added.

Cincinnati, on the other hand, other than looking very beatable defensively, has looked very sub-par in kick coverage. In each of the season’s first three games, Cincinnati succumbed to a kick return of at least 47 yards in each game. Mangini refused to suggest that the special teams will be overconfident, though.

“I’ve been really happy with [the Jets’ kick return] group and the strides that they have made,” Mangini said. “With Darren [the Bengals special teams coordinator], since he’s been there, he’s only given up one kickoff return for a touchdown and they were in the top-10 last year in kick coverage, so I know that he does an excellent job with the scheme and putting his players in good places to be successful, so I expect it to be challenging like it is every week.”

Kick returner Leon Washington followed up Mangini’s statements by saying that sometimes, bad kick return numbers are simply a statistical anomaly.

Just like us we gave up a long one in a game and they’ve been fighting back to get back on track and get their average down,” Washington said. “They’ve got guys on their kickoff team that are more than capable of being able to play.”

While the Bengals do have a handful of weaknesses, though, there is no doubt that QB Carson Palmer will undoubtedly look early and often to his high throttle receiving duo of Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. CB Darrelle Revis and the secondary will look to try to limit the effectiveness of the pair, but know that it will be a tall task.

“They are one of the best receiving corps in the league,” Revis said. “They know how to get open, they are deep threat guys.”

Sunday’s game will feature two of the league’s biggest disappointments this year. Each team has a substantial amount of holes, so it will be up to Mangini and the coaching staff to ready his players, amending the issues they are having defensively to tally a big victory over Cincinnati.

Insider Tidbits

Coles a captain for a reason

WR Laveranues Coles is not the typical team captain. Coles is not afraid to speak his mind, often supplying a good amount of sound bytes for reporters in the locker room.

However, the outspokenness of the veteran wide receiver is one of the reasons he was voted on by the team to represent the offense as one of its captains.

“I don’t think they look up to me, I think they respect the fact that I will step up and say something if I’m asked to,” Coles said. “If it’s something that truly needs to be said, they know I’ll say it, and that’s one of the reasons that some of the guys wanted me to be a captain.”

Coles’ calf was wrapped up in the locker room, but he did participate in practice.

Contingent of “questionable” players addressed

Each week on the Jets’ injury report, Gang Green features a substantial amount of players under the “questionable” category. Mangini was asked if this decision to place players under the section that suggests there is a 50 percent chance they would play was a strategic move to throw off the opposing coaches.

“We just go off of what we get from our trainers and our doctors, and assess it and list it accordingly,” Mangini said. “We have questions whether or not they’ll be active to play.”

Last week, of the 10 players on the injury report for New York, nine were under the questionable group.

What’s with the fade?

Playcalling has been an aspect of the Jets’ offense that fans have taken great issue with. Last Sunday, specifically, New York’s decision to run a fade pattern on fourth and one from the Eagles’ four yard line has drawn substantial criticism. Mangini stood by his play, though, saying that the fade is a play that the Jets have experienced success with, and assume they will continue to see success with.

“It’s not a function of always going out with the intetntion of throwing that ball,” Mangini said. “Some it’s based on a match-up you like, it’s an opportunity you like.

Mangini continued, saying “It’s very similar to a blitz on defense. You may hit it really big, get a sack, a strip sack, something like that, but you’re taking a chance in terms of not having the second layer of the defense[…] With a fade, you’ve got a chance for a home run, but you also have a change for an incompletion at a higher percentage.”

Cincinnati’s got their own rookie CB

When the Jets traded up in the draft to select a cornerback, they had two options; Revis or Michigan product Leon Hall.

After Gang Green opted to go with the Panther, Hall dropped down to the Bengals, where he was selected.

Now, several months after the draft, Gang Green will get their taste of the player they bypassed on draft day.

“We liked both players a lot and I think that Hall has had a really good rookie season to this point,” Mangini said, “and I think he’s going to have a great career.”

On the season, Hall already has two interceptions, a forced fumble, and 15 tackles.

Injury Report (as of 10/17/07)

New York Jets

Full participation in practice

DE Eric Hicks (knee), TE Jason Pociask (back)

Limited participation in practice

TE Chris Baker (back), WR Laveranues Coles (calf), DE Shaun Ellis (foot), QB Chad Pennington (ankle), DT Dewayne Robertson (knee), S Eric Smith (thigh)

Cincinnati Bengals

Full participation in practice

DL Rashad Jeanty (shin), DE Jonathan Fanene (knee)

Limited participation in practice

T Willie Anderson (knee)

Did not participate in practice

LB Ahmad Brooks (groin), WR Antonio Chatman (hamstring), RB Rudi Johnson (hamstring), TE Reggie Kelly (ankle), LB Corey Mays (hamstring), LB Caleb Miller (back)