Last week, many would say the mettle of Gang Green will surely be tested by its arch rival the Patriots. Well, here they are again with another mountain to climb in the Tennessee Titans. The Titans (10-0) are looking to build upon the comeback victory against Jacksonville last week while the Jets (7-3) are trying to ride high on the swagger that’s developed over the past few weeks. This has playoff preview written all over it considering the Titans are first in rushing touchdowns while the Jets run defense hasn’t let anything run so much as a smidgen by them this season.
But the pass defense has been lack luster most of the season, save a good game here (Week 10 vs. STL) and an okay game there (Week 1 vs. Mia). With quarterbacks like Matt Cassel and, dare it be said, Tyler Thigpen throwing all over the Jets, who knows what big-armed Kerry Collins will do if given time in the pocket.
“I think pass defense is coordinated and there were multiple opportunities where the quarterback was able step up into the pocket or get out of the pocket,” head coach Eric Mangini said of last weeks game against New England. “That puts a lot more pressure on the secondary. So that’s an area we have to improve and I think also the coverage, we can make a lot of strides there as well.”
Those strides may be made with the recent comeback of CB Ty Law. He could act as a stop gap and tutor to DB Dwight Lowery. Lowery has been struggling as of late and it’ll be interesting if Lowery and Law are caught on camera talking shop on the sidelines. Law’s presence in the locker room bodes well for the young secondary and could create more unity as December approaches. Law played 57 snaps last Thursday and he held up well against WR’s Randy Moss and Wes Welker. The question of whether Mangini would be comfortable with Law starting this Sunday was floated out there this morning and he, oddly, had no problem in being very honest on that subject.
“I’d be completely comfortable with him starting,” he said. “He’s a guy like I said I have a long relationship with to where were comfortable with his preparation, his level of conditioning, his performance, all of those things. I think last week was a good indication of where he’s at physically. I thought that he played at a pretty good level last week.”
Mangini said that last week, they weren’t going into the game with expectations of playing a lot of plays in substituted defenses when the Patriots went into no huddle during the game. And that Law adjusted well to it.
“He was pretty sore but it was good that we had the break that we had right after the game so pretty unique in how quickly he played, how much he played,” he said.
Law played a key role up until he let Randy Moss make a fingertip grab in the corner of the endzone to tie the game with eight seconds last week. He showed almost no rust and looks as if he hadn’t missed a beat.
“They trust me and they have confidence in me,” Law said. “I’ve been a starter in this league for a long time. I don’t think it’s [starting] that big of a deal.”
Wait! The Jets have a run defense. Gang Green’s affinity for stopping the run this season is a key component to the success of the team as whole. Considering the defensive line has been as solid as rock this season, Sunday’s game against the Titans could be the biggest test yet for the group, considering they’re facing two electric Pro-Bowl-type running backs.
“I think Chris Johnson is an explosive guy,” Mangini said. “He can score anywhere on the field. LenDale White tends to be a little bit more of their inside runner, but he also has an 80yard touchdown.”
With guys like NT Kris Jenkins and DE Shaun Ellis producing up front this year, it’ll be interesting to see if QB Kerry Collins forces one or two into the wrong spots if Johnson or White can’t push through. If Gang Green doesn’t break containment on plays up the middle, it could make the game that much more of a toss-up. Look for Ellis and Jenkins to get after the quarterback if the Titans offensive line slips up.
“They are playing well,” S Kerry Rhodes said. “They are the only undefeated team in the league, so they have to be playing the best ball. It's another chance for us as another measuring stick game. Right now, every game is big. We are trying to get more and more momentum and go from there.”
The momentum from last week hasn’t hurt has it? The Jets will have to stress a point of emphasis that Mangenius and Co. has stressed since training camp: balance. The offense will need that stability in order to give Tennessee its first loss because as the stats go, when the Jets run the ball well, they win. Running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington will have to execute early and often to open up some seams in the passing game. It’s safe to say that all aspects of this team are important to win this Sunday, but these two backs are essential to that balance that Mangini tries to achieve.
“It’s not so much a balance, but it’s attacking a team in the right spots at the right time,” Washington said. “
Mike Nugent and Jay Feely: Possible Danceoff?
Coach Mangini said that Nugent has been getting better by each week and that it’s been a unique injury situation with him coming back and Feely kicking really well. “We have a good kicking situation,” he said. “And I’m going to make my decision at the end of the week.” When asked, jokingly, if it’s based off a kickoff that they haven’t practiced, he said, “Like a dance off?” “No not necessarily. Some of it’s based on the handling time with the field goal operation. Very important how quickly you get the ball off. But I like the dance off kickoff thing,” he said with laughs emanating from the media.
Sutton Sits Down
Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton sat down with the media to discuss this Sunday’s game against Tennessee. Popular topic of discussion: Ty Law. “I think what he did was really remarkable just for the fact that he must have done a good job staying in condition on his own,” he said. “But it’s still difficult to duplicate what it is to be in game condition with your pads on. But I think he did a good job in that regard.” Sutton said that Law’s success is a wealth of knowledge that he share with the players. “He’s close to Darrelle [Revis] anyways since they’re from the same town.” Sutton was asked if there was any concern matching up Law with Randy Moss his first game back. “Ty is a pretty savvy guy and one of the things from the first time he played here is that he’s a highly competitive guy,” he said. “He loves to play and he loves to compete. He likes a challenge and he likes to make plays.” Sutton and Gang Green need to shut down the receiving core of the Titans. Specifically, WR Justin Gage and TE Bo Scaife. Although Gage does not have a ton of receptions (21) he’s second on the Titans in receiving yards (376) to Bo Scaife (450) Scaife also leads the team in catches. “Gage has made some really good plays down field,” Sutton said. “We’ve got to do a good job. We can’t give him an easy play. They’re a very patient group.”
He Just Wants To Go Home
On Fridays, DE Shaun Ellis doesn’t shower so he can go home early on Fridays. His teammates were heckling him in the locker room when he was walking out. DB Darrelle Revis dove at his legs and was yelling, “Don’t do it Shaun, don’t do it.”
Not much change here. LB David Harris and S Eric Smith did not practice. WR Laveranues Coles did drills but was limited. K Mike Nugent worked on kickoffs.