By Bob Bonett
Jets Staff Writer
November 29th, 2007
The Jets hope that WR Laveranues Coles will be ready to go against the Dolphins. (Jets Photo)
The Jets hope that WR Laveranues Coles will be ready to go against the Dolphins. (Jets Photo)

Last season, one of the units most instrumental to the Jets’ surprising playoff run was their offensive line. With a combination of talented young players and experienced veterans, QB Chad Pennington and the running backs-by-committee were given opportunity after opportunity to make things happen on the offensive side of the ball.

However, this year, despite the fact that the unit has one more year under their belt, QB Kellen Clemens and RB Thomas Jones have had a tough time generating any momentum, often having little time to make plays happen in the backfield.

Mangini and the offensive line, however, refused to acknowledge that it was due to the loss of former lineman Pete Kendall.

“I think it’s different looks,” coach Eric Mangini said. “Each year you get different looks, you face different types of defenses. You have different running backs. We’ve had different quarterbacks. It’s all going to be a function of them working in unison. Really it comes down to the run fits, as well, defensively.”

Brandon Moore, who managed to restructure his contract in the offseason, refused to attribute the decline to Kendall, opting instead to point to the fact that the entire team is struggling.

“Look at our team this year compared to last year. It’s the same guys; that doesn’t do anything for this year. We have a lot of work to do and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing this week,” Moore said. “We moved on from [the Pete Kendall situation] and I’m not concerned about who Pete’s got; we’ve got to block Keith Traylor and Vonnie Holliday and all these other guys.”

Fellow lineman D’Brickashaw Ferguson echoed Moore.

“Our goal is always to improve and always to make progress, and every game we try to do that,” he said. “We just take steps in the positive direction, and this week we’ll just try to put it together.”

This week against the Dolphins, New York will look to buy Clemens some time in the pocket, hopefully helping him emerge from the basement of the NFL’s quarterback ratings. In addition, it will be key for the Jets to pave running holes for Jones, enabling the Jets to use the run game to set up downfield opportunities for Clemens.

Otherwise, Gang Green may earn the dubious distinction of granting the Dolphins their first win of the season, 13 weeks into the year.


Coles, Cotch hurting

One week following the Cowboys exposing the Jets’ lack of receiving depth at the top of their chart, Mangini noted that WR Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are still battling injuries as the Dolphins game approaches.

“We’re still looking at it, and we’ll be looking at it throughout the course of the week to see where he is,” Mangini said regarding Cotchery’s right index finger injury. “You want everybody to be there, and we’ll work them through the normal game plan like we do with anybody who is in that situation.”

Against Dallas, the lack of a true No. 1 wideout caused Clemens to have trouble executing plays, and enabled the usually slipshod Dallas secondary to press forward with Coles, New York’s primary deep threat, being sidelined.

If Coles or Cotchery cannot play, the Jets will look to players such as Chris Davis and David Clowney to have an increased role in the receiving game.

Gang Green underdogs against winless ‘Phins

Opening lines on Sunday’s AFC East match-up range from giving the Jets one to three points against the 0-11 Dolphins. Both Moore and Ferguson said that being an underdog did not bother them, specifically since they have been insulted on more than one occasion in Vegas this year.

“We’re underdogs every week I think,” Moore said. “We’ve got a lot of insults this year; it is what it is, guys are just trying to go out and get another win.”

“We’ve been underdogs to many other teams, and our mindset is to go out there and try to be successful, and not pay attention to those things,” Ferguson added.

The Jets won their previous match-up against Miami at home, 31-28.

Mangini still won’t look beyond Sunday

Despite the fact that New York is well out of the playoff picture, and in essence, experimenting with Clemens at quarterback right now, Mangini is still refusing to give any hints as to whether or not the team is looking beyond this year; he even stopped short of saying Clemens has the starting job locked up for the final five games.

“The focus is purely on Miami,” Mangini said. “It’s getting the experience, continuing to make progress and the offense continuing to make progress.”

Sunday’s game will essentially be Clemens’ first game against a lower-tier defense; his opponents thus far have been the Cowboys, Steelers, Redskins and Ravens.

Baker stepping up in receiving game

Mangini received some heat from the media earlier in the year when TE Chris Baker was typically absent from the receiving game. Notorious for his good hands, when thrown the ball, Baker usually made highlight-reel catches, often resulting in touchdowns. Since Clemens has taken over the reigns at quarterback, though, Baker has seen his role increase in the passing game.

“I really like what Chris has done, and I think Chris has made progress over the course of two years with the route running, and he’s a guy that has a good feel for man and zone, has a good feel for getting open against man coverage,” Mangini said. “Kellen is going to develop chemistry with different guys and see things within the context of the system.”

Baker has had 11 catches for 112 yards and one touchdown in the three games since Clemens took over as quarterback.

INJURY REPORT (as of 11/28/07

New York Jets

Did not participate in practice

WR Jerricho Cotchery (finger)

Limited participation in practice

CB David Barrett (hip), WR Laveranues Coles (ankle), LS James Dearth (foot), DT Dewayne Robertson (knee)

Full participation in practice

TE Chris Baker (back), WR Chris Davis (shoulder), TE Joe Kowalewski (shoulder), DT C.J. Mosley (shoulder), WR Brad Smith (back)

Miami Dolphins

Did not participate in practice

DT Vonnie Holliday (ankle), LB Zach Thomas (migraine)

Limited participation in practice

RB Jesse Chatman (ankle)