Tuesday Morning Quarterback

By Kevin Newell
Jets Head Writer
September 30th, 2003
KR Michael Bates reacts as the Jets lose to Dallas
KR Michael Bates reacts as the Jets lose to Dallas
There is a scene at the end of the movie Wall Street when Hal Holbrookís character, Lou Manheim, has a heart-to-heart talk with Charlie Sheenís Bud Fox just before the latter is arrested by the Securities & Exchange Commission for numerous trading violations.

Basically, he tells Bud that there comes a time when a man finds himself staring into the abyss and it is then that the man finds his character, which in turn, keeps him out of the abyss.

Well, the New York Jets are not only staring into the abyss but they are staring up at the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and New England Patriots in the AFC East, firmly entrenched in last place at 0-4. As the Jets enter their bye week, team morale is down, confidence is low, and the coaching staff and players are scrambling to make adjustments to try and save an otherwise season on the brink.

Aside from Chad Penningtonís return, now slated for Nov. 9 in Oakland of all places, there is no ray of hope on the horizon in the form of a player making a difference. That said there are several personnel changes the Jets can make to not only inject some new blood into the lineup but into their collective hearts.

To that end, Iím tossing my player personnel/assistant coach/frustrated fan hat into the ring and suggest the following lineup changes be enacted before itís too late.

First is the running game. Anemic to a fault, it is time to lessen Curtis Martinís roll and see what Lamont Jordan can do with 20+ carries a game. Jordan is the heir apparent anyway so whatís the problem with accelerating the transition? We all saw what happened with the quarterback position a year ago. How did that work out?

Martin, being the good solider and team player that he is, has even suggested as much. He has obviously lost some tread on his tires and coupled with the pathetic run blocking of the offensive line, cannot get the job done on a consistent basis. Jordan has done very well when given the chance. Itís inexcusable that he has just 10 carries through four games.

Now Iím not suggesting that we toss Martin aside. To the contrary. What I envision is using him more along the lines the way the Jets had used Richie Anderson. As a situational back who can catch the ball out of the backfield. That is, after all, the offenseís bread and butter play. And Curtis excels at running after the catch. The best part: he wonít have to worry about the O-line opening any holes in the secondary.

Next I would banish Anthony Becht to the bench. It has become obvious that this guy is not a starting NFL tight end. But he has made falling down after the catch an art form. Itís time for Chris Baker to get some serious reps.

As for the offensive line, thereís not a whole heck of a lot we can do there. Especially with only two viable candidates to fill-in at guard: Jonathan Goodwin, in his second year out of Michigan, and J.P. Machado, who was cut and brought back prior to the season opener. Goodwin should get the nod over an aging Dave Szott, who is not the answer. His surgically repaired knees are a detriment and he cannot sustain blocks long enough to open holes for the ground game. The same can be said for Brent Smith, a converted tackle.

Of course, thereís always the venerable Lance Nimmo and Dave Yovanovits. Get the picture? The O-line is a shambles. Depth is a major concern and needs to be addressed via the draft and free agency.

Defense is major concern, particularly the sieve that is the run defense. I think I could get about 40 yards on this unit Ė in flip-flops. I digress. Seriously, Herm Edwards and Ted Cottrell need to take this Humpty Dumpty unit apart and put it back together again Ė ASAP!!!

Hereís what I would like to see: Move John Abraham to outside linebacker. Heís got more than enough speed to excel as the LB in the cover 2. And itís not like he hasnít played the position before, having done so at the U. of South Carolina. His main problem on the defensive line is his constant over-pursuit of the running backs and quarterback.

He also seems to get winded fairly fast as he constantly battles larger offensive linemen. If he was moved to LB, he could be our version of Lawrence Taylor. A sack machine. I donít know how well he would do in pass coverage, but he couldnít be any worse than what is there now. And we all know LT wasnít the ultimate ball hawk. If Edwards is looking for a Derrick Brooks-type LB to be the centerpiece of his coveted cover 2, he should look no further than No. 94.

I would team Abraham with Victor Hobson and Sam Cowart, which I think would and could be a formidable unit. A hard-hitting, menacing trio with enough speed to keep the opposition honest. Mo Lewis and Marvin Jones will just have to get used to the fact that they are more of a hindrance than a help and accept their roles as back-ups. This would also add depth to a depleted group that only had Jason Glenn and Khary Campbell, who didnít see his first NFL action at LB until the Patriots game, as the previous primary subs.

The play of Shaun Ellis, who leads the AFC with five sacks, lessens the severity of moving Abraham from defensive end to LB. Cottrell could then give Bryan Thomas mucho reps at the other end and continue to rotate Chester McGlockton, Dewayne Robertson, and Jason Ferguson inside until Josh Evans returns in Week 8.

As for the secondary, this is another problem child. One that does not have an immediate solution. Losing Donnie Abraham to injury exposed this unitís soft underbelly even further. Jon McGraw has done an admirable job as a first year starter at safety. But Iím afraid Sam Garnes is not getting the job done on the other side. Thereís been talk of using rookie Derek Pagel more. But Iím not sure that the former Iowa Hawkeye is the answer either. I might be wrong but he doesnít have the speed to start. Tyrone Carter, at 5-foot-8, keeps me up at night. What did Terry Bradway see in this guy?

Ray Mickens, while talented and tries hard, doesnít have the necessary size at corner to keep todayís big wide receivers in check. Aaron Beasleyís days as a ball-hawking corner were left in Jacksonville. Unfortunately, this is all we have.

In closing, the coaches need to take a long hard look in the mirror. Coaching 101 suggests that you design your system to fit your playersí abilities. Not the other way around as has been the case here. You canít put a square peg in a round hole. End of story!

On offense, coordinator Paul Hackett must go to more of a spread and let Vinny Testaverde work within his comfort zone. Vinny is happier in an East Coast offense than the West Coast variety. Plain and simple. Defensively, Cottrell must loosen the reigns and blitz more. Heís got guys who can rush the passer in Abraham, Ellis, and Cowart. I can see McGraw blitzing from his safety position a la John Lynch. And letís not forget that while Lewis is on the downside of his career, he was a pretty good blitzer in his day.

The Jets are teetering at the edge of the abyss. They could go either way beginning with Buffalo in two weeks. Yes, we all know that they recovered from 1-4 last season to win the division. But there are only so many rabbits Coach Edwards can pull out of his hat.

He is, after all, an NFL coach, not a miracle worker. And the team he has is in dire need of divine intervention.

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