Jets QB Chad Pennington knows that the game this Sunday may be his last shot of keeping his job. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The New York Jets held practice on Friday at Hofstra to make their final preparations for the Cincinnati Bengals in what has to be the most crucial game of the season for both teams. It is crucial in the sense that a win could give one of these teams some hope and a chance to climb out of a hole that is all but insurmountable. New York is looking to achieve that victory in order to retain some good faith from the fans, and it starts with the offense.
Throughout the season, head coach Eric Mangini has stressed consistency in all phases of the game, especially the offense. The problem is that his team has not been practicing what he is preaching.
Take last week’s loss to the Eagles for example. The running game, once again an Achilles’ heel for the Jets this season, performed well as Thomas Jones rushed for 130 yards in the game. Meanwhile, it appeared that the passing attack took last Sunday off as Chad Pennington threw for only 128 yards and an interception, and was sacked three times.
In order for the consistency in the overall offense to come, coach Mangini believes that core values must come into play.
“It really goes back to the core values that we have and the concept of trust,” he said. “Trust means that you’re going to be in exactly the spot you’re supposed to be. You’re going to take care of the responsibility that you have to take care of, and you know that the person next to you is doing the same thing. As long as everybody is in the right spot the schemes will function.”
The high level of frustration is evident amongst the fans and the media for the lack of offensive results by Gang Green. The players on the Jets are equally disappointed as well.
“It’s kind of disappointing because we work so hard in practice and throughout the week,” said RB Leon Washington. “We play hard, we work hard, and we practice hard, but at the same time you got to produce those results.”
Washington’s sentiments are also shared by other players on the offensive unit.
“Being an offensive lineman you always want to have a balanced attack,” LG Adrien Clarke said. “When you do well in one and not well in the other, you really can’t sit down and be satisfied. We want to have a complete game.”
Another thing that is shared by all of the players is the need to stay with working on the fundamentals. Emphasis on the offensive essentials will surely be a big help for the Jets if they want to get both the run and the pass clicking together on a consistent basis en route to a refreshing win.
Clarke said in a nutshell: “It’s nothing different than what we’ve been doing, just focusing on the fundamentals. You have to go ahead in the running and to make people stay up for Chad in the passing game. That’s all it really comes down to.”
Sutton chats with the Jets beat
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton spoke with the media after the team’s practice to speak about the issues the defensive unit is harboring, from the need to accumulate sacks to the switch to the 3-4 system.
One such issue is the poor tackling in the last few games. A couple weeks ago, Plaxico Burress was able to break free from Andre Dyson to score the go-ahead touchdown for the Giants. Last week, Kevin Curtis was the beneficiary of bad Jets defense as he broke free from two Jets, Dyson included, en route to the Eagles’, and the game’s, only touchdown.
Knowing full well that the tackling has been the culprit, Coach Sutton has been hard at work to put an end to the epidemic. This is where the tackling drills in practice come into play.
“There are tremendous opportunities in every practice to learn how to be a good tackler,” he explained. “One of the real important parts of tackling is how you enter. That means you have to be able to judge the speed of the person you’re dealing with. The second part is to know who my help is and where he is at.”
If the Jets defense want to beat one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, they can ill afford to have a repeat of the past two weeks occur on the field at Paul Brown Stadium.
Gang Green’s Ocho Cinco
Cincinnati’s Chad Johnson, known far and wide as Ocho Cinco because of his uniform number, is widely known around the league for his talents and his showmanship. James Dearth, also number 85, is only known as the Jets’ full-time long snapper on special teams.
Nevertheless, coach Mangini sung his praises of Dearth in his pre-practice press conference, despite the relatively unknown status of the seven-year veteran from Tarleton State in Texas.
“He’s explosive, and a great guy. What you love about him is he has his role as the long snapper, but he’s always trying to do something more at practice and always trying to help out any way that he can. He’s a selfless guy.”
Dearth may not possess the ability to River-dance or put on a show like his number 85 counterpart in the Queen City, but he is just as vital to the team as every other player.
In the half-hour span given to the media for access to the team practice, there were a few moments of significance. With practice down on the lower fields, the team, dressed in half-pads, foregone their usual individual position drills and performed some semi-tackling drills. During punting drills, Leon Washington inadvertently touched the ball as soon as it was down; Brad Kassell recovered the ball, and afterwards threw the ball in the air to celebrate.
Limited Participation in Practice: TE Chris Baker (back), WR Laveranues Coles (calf), DL Shaun Ellis (foot), QB Chad Pennington (ankle), DL Dewayne Robertson (knee), DB Eric Smith (thigh)
Full Participation in Practice: DL Eric Hicks (knee), TE Jason Pociask (back)
Did Not Participate in Practice: LB Ahmad Brooks (groin), WR Antonio Chatman (hamstring), WR Chad Johnson (ankle), RB Rudi Johnson (hamstring), LB Corey Mays (hamstring), LB Caleb Miller (back)
Limited Participation in Practice: OT Willie Anderson (knee), S Dexter Jackson (knee), TE Reggie Kelly (ankle), CB Deltha O’Neal (back)
Full Participation in Practice: LB Rashad Jeanty (shin), DE Jonathan Fanene (knee), S Madieu Williams (back)