The Jets will need to slow down Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger this Sunday if they want any chance of beating Pittsburgh. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
There is no secret as to the player the Jets will need to most be on the lookout for in Sunday’s contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers; it’s QB Ben Roethlisberger.
The fourth-year quarterback, with a career record of 42-16, has emerged in the NFL as one, if not the, premiere quarterback in the league.
Yet, while his 110.2 quarterback rating coupled with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions are terrific numbers, Roethlisberger’s most dangerous weapons are his feet.
“He’s got a significant amount of plays where if that seam opens up, whether it’s in the middle, off the edge, he’s going to take a look down field and see if [the pass] is available,” head coach Eric Mangini said, “and if it’s not, he can go ahead and make plays with his feet.
Last week against the Browns, Roethlisberger showcased his speed with his second 30-yard rush on the year. Averaging 7.5 yards per rush this season on 18 carries, Mangini knows that the Jets will need to be wary of Roethlisberger’s uncanny combination of patience in the pocket with a fearlessness of running the ball.
“I would say now, with the added experience, there’s even more poise. So in the pocket, he’ll wait a little bit longer,” Mangini said. “He’ll let things unfold a little bit longer, and maybe not take off as quickly as he used to, and find the players that are open down field.
Another issue with Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense is their ability to disguise plays, causing the defense to not know the look they are getting until the last second.
“They disguise both offensively and defensively,” Mangini said. “Offensively, there will be shifts in and out of different formations. They will motion to different things to create sets, whether it goes from a one-back set to a two-back set or three-by-one to two-by-two.
“It’s about the final formation, as opposed to what they start with,” he added.
Thus, when the heavily favored Steelers come to Giants Stadium on Sunday, the onus will be on the defense to try to slow “Big Ben.” A proven winner, the secondary and front seven will look to combine to try to succumb the dual-attack of Roethlisberger, as the linebackers and defensive line will look to keep pressure on him and prevent him from running, while the secondary will need to be aware as to what the quarterback is looking to do each play, whether it is running the ball or passing the ball.
Who knows? By containing Roethlisberger and reducing him to a one-dimensional quarterback, Gang Green may be able to tally up their second victory.
Revis progress report
Nine games into his rookie season, CB Darrelle Revis has already emerged as the New York Jets’ premiere cornerback. Mangini attributes this quick maturation process to the fact that Revis has an uncanny worth ethic.
“He’s like a sponge,” Mangini said. “He wants to learn as much as he can. He wants to take it in, not just from the coaches but the players. He’ll talk to the receivers about, well, ‘what did you see that I did here; why did you think I was doing that.’”
Opposing the Pittsburgh native on Sunday will be WRs Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, one of Revis’ friends on the Steelers.
Revis currently leads the team with 47 tackles, followed closely by fellow rookie LB David Harris, who has 45.
All-Star O-Line meeting
Mangini had a meeting with some substantial characters yesterday to talk about the offensive line; former running back Curtis Martin, all-time boxing trainer Teddy Atlas and former world champion Michael Moorer.
“Teddy is showing Curtis how to jab, and then Michael Moorer is demonstrating it; it was a pretty impressive group of athletes,” Mangini said. “I was obviously bringing up the rear significantly, but it was fun to watch.”
The emergence and reason barrage of media attention to TE Joe Kowalewski sparked from his first touchdown reception against the Washington Redskins two weeks ago. However, his touchdown celebration was not the reason Kowalewski survived mini-camps as a roster invite.
“Joe stuck out that first weekend; his motor, his intensity, every single play was the same way, and that got him the contract initially,” Mangini said. “Once he was here, it was consistent. He was the same player every day, and that’s what you’re looking for. You want that consistency, because when you have that, you can reasonably expect a certain performance, and you can reasonably expect a certain timeline of development.”
Based on his consistency and work ethic, combined with the desire he has displayed in game action, Kowalewski may be one of the younger players that sees increased playing time down the stretch.
Another challenge for Kellen
If anything is certain regarding QB Kellen Clemens, it is that he has not been eased into the role of starting quarterback. The coaching staff did not aim to slot Clemens into games against sub-par defenses in his first season, instead opting to throw him into the fire against the likes of the Ravens, Redskins and now Steelers. However, WR Laveranues Coles said that early challenges are what a player needs to expect when entering the NFL, alluding to the fact that there is no way to avoid quality opposition in the NFL.
Pittsburgh currently leads the NFL in rush defense, pass defense and total defense.
Injury Report (as of Wednesday)
New York Jets
Limited Participation in Practice
WR Chris Davis (shoulder), DL Dewayne Robertson (knee)
Full Participation in Practice
TE Chris Baker (back), OL Anthony Clement (knee), TE Joe Kowalewski (shoulder), DL C.J. Mosley (shoulder), QB Chad Pennington (ankle), WR Brad Smith (back)
Did Not Participate in Practice
RB Willie Parker (hip), RB Gary Russell (personal), T Marvel Smith (coach’s decision), WR Hines Ward (coach’s decision), LB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring)
Limited Participation in Practice
LB Andre Frazier (groin)