Kris Jenkins isn't going to point fingers for the Jets' defensive breakdowns in Sunday's 34-17 loss to the Broncos. The Jets run defense had its worst day of the season, allowing 129 rushing yards to rookie running back Peyton Hillis. Today the big man in the middle of the Jets' defensive line took the blame for Denver's success.
"I can take full blame for the fact that I didn't get it done," Jenkins said. "The responsibility on me is big and I've always known that both ways. If I'm doing good then it's good and if I'm doing bad then it shows. It's just one of those things that I've got to take it like a man and suck it up."
It was a rare day for Jenkins, who had anchored the Jets' defense to the heights of the NFL for run defense. Prior to Hillis' big day on the ground, the last running back to rush for over 100 yards against Gang Green was Tennessee's LenDale White (106 yards) last season. Jenkins paired his tough day besides the Oct. 19 loss to Oakland as his worst two performances of the season.
"Between that and Oakland...I think those are the two bad performances I've had this year," Jenkins explained.
"It was a hard pill to swallow," Jenkins said. "Sometimes you've got to deal with the reality of the situation and find a way to deal with your mistakes and move on."
Jenkins explained that he "thought long and hard" about the Jets' struggles and whether taking the blame was fair or not, but regardless, he knew it wasn't his best day.
"I didn't do the best that I could and if I would have done better, would it have changed some of the outcome? Who knows," Jenkins said. "I just know when I looked at the film afterwards there were some things that I could have done better."
Jenkins had gotten the better of Titans' Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae in his previous matchup, but Broncos center Casey Wiegmann dominated the 6-foot-4, 349 pound Jenkins up front. Wiegmann only weighs 285 pounds, but the 13-year veteran limited Jenkins to only three tackles. Jenkins credited Wiegmann's technique for the center's effectiveness.
"I can say this or that or other things, but bottom line is, his technique was better," Jenkins explained. "He played better than I did."
Even with the Jets' struggles last Sunday, Jenkins' presence has loomed large in the Gang Green defense. The Jets have allowed an average of 82 yards on the ground (fourth in NFL). Turning the rough afternoon around will be no easy task, as 49ers running back Frank Gore will handle the workload.
"You've got to roll with the highs and lows. It's part of being a professional," Jenkins said. "I'm not going to be perfect, I want to be...I haven't had a perfect season yet so it's something that you have to deal with and you use it [as motivation]."
It's been a long season for the 49ers besides Gore, who has carried the ball 215 times for 926 yards (4.3 avg) and six touchdowns.
The Jets will have to wait until Sunday to see if Jenkins responds from last week's struggles, but the nose tackle can be assured of one fact.
"I can assure you one thing, my feet are back on planet Earth," Jenkins said with a laugh.
Linebacker David Harris practiced and head coach Eric Mangini remains "optimistic" that Harris will play Sunday in San Francisco. Harris has missed the previous five weeks after injuring his groin in the Oct. 26 win over the Chiefs...Quarterback Brett Favre connected with tight end Dustin Keller for a touchdown pass...Reggie Hodges boomed punts to Leon Washington. Hodges' kicks consistently sent Washington backpedaling.
The Right Way to Travel
With the Jets' preparing for their third West Coast trip of the season, Mangini was asked about whether there are benefits for leaving a day earlier on the trip to San Francisco. He explained that "everybody does it different ways" and the coaching staff listed multiple options for the players to choose from earlier in the season.
"Over 30 guys voted and it was pretty unanimous to go out a day early," Mangini said.
The Jets' head coach provided a humorous response when asked if there are any physical or mental effects on players during West Coast trips.
"It doesn't sneak up on us. We're not heading on a safari or anything. It's the West Coast. It's three hours. I don't see the big deal," Mangini said. "Now it's just a couple hours different, with a little extra sunlight."
Guard Alan Faneca explained that he had left for the West Coast at several different times while with the Steelers, even as late as 4 p.m. ET Saturday for a 1 p.m. Sunday game in California.
"It's football. Once you get there and you put on your cleats and your uniform you're going to play football," Faneca said.
Faneca explained that he was one of the few veterans to vote against leaving for the West Coast one day early.
Willis Always in the Middle
Last season, 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis recorded 174 tackles and was named the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. In just his second season, Willis hasn't faced a sophomore slump as he leads San Francisco with 111 tackles. Mangini explained that even when Willis is not making tackles, he's causing trouble for offenses.
"He's one of these guys that you turn on the game and there's 15 or 20 tackles a game, and if he's not making a tackle he's causing a problem.
Lowery Remains Resilient
Rookie cornerback Dwight Lowery has faced his share of ups and downs in recent weeks. In the midst of watching Cutler pass for 357 yards, Lowery recorded his first-career interception. Mangini explained that Lowery has proven to be resiliant through his first 12 games. Lowery even split time with Hank Poteat in the "star" position, focused on the slot receiver.
"He went in and played some 'star,' which he really hasn't done. I thought he did a nice job there. That's what you're looking for is, whether you're starting, whether you're backing up, or whether you have to go into a different spot, knowing the assignments and being able to go and do that effectively," Mangini said.