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Thread: Today's News - September 25, 2007.

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    Today's News - September 25, 2007.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/fo...nks_27th_.html

    Jets' defense must right ship; ranks 27th in NFL
    BY RICH CIMINI
    DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
    Tuesday, September 25th 2007, 4:00 AM

    Thirteen years ago, the Jets blew an 18-point lead to the Dolphins, losing on a play that will live in infamy - Dan Marino's "Fake Spike."

    On Sunday, they nearly blew another 18-point lead to the same team, avoiding potential disaster by recovering an onside kick (barely) with 75 seconds remaining.

    Why bring up one of the darkest chapters in team history? Despite a 31-28 victory, the Jets allowed Trent Green to put up Marino-like numbers in the fourth quarter, another rocky quarter in an increasingly frustrating season for Eric Mangini's defense.

    It's too soon to reach for the panic button - or an air horn, for that matter - but after three games, the Jets are ranked 27th in total defense and 27th in scoring defense in a 32-team league. Some will try to rationalize Miami's 424-yard output as mostly concessions, a product of the bend-but-don't-break philosophy, but linebacker Jonathan Vilma doesn't want to hear that.

    "I hate that phrase," Vilma said yesterday. "We have too much talent on our side, too many good athletes and players, to have that mentality. We want to be a dominant defense. We know we can."

    The Jets have made a modest improvement in their run defense, as compared to last season, but they're being hurt by a lack of big plays. They have only one sack and one takeaway, both of which came against Miami.

    Maybe that represented progress, but it didn't stop the Dolphins from scoring on five of their last six possessions. Green opened the fourth quarter with 10 straight completions, going 12-for-15 for 151 yards with a touchdown pass in the final quarter.

    And no one ever confused Green with Peyton Manning.

    "It's a matter of consistency," Vilma said. "We put together two good quarters, two bad quarters, three good series, one bad series. The consistency thing is what we're lacking right now."

    The Jets' first three opponents - the Patriots, Ravens and Dolphins - uncovered two weaknesses: Their two-minute defense and vulnerability to screen passes.

    Against the Dolphins, the Jets surrendered 80 yards on four screens, including a 43-yarder and a 22-yard touchdown, both to running back Ronnie Brown. On the 43-yard gain, linebacker Bryan Thomas missed a tackle. On the latter play, they were completely fooled by the call, leaving the middle wide open.

    "It's a tough play if you're not expecting it," said safety Kerry Rhodes, admitting they were caught off guard.

    You think the Bills (0-3) might call a few screens Sunday in Orchard Park? You bet, especially with rookie QB Trent Edwards starting for the injured J.P. Losman (knee).

    "The NFL is a copycat league," Rhodes said. "If they see a play that's working, they're going to come back with it. I'm sure we'll run 1,000 screens in each practice to try and get it right."

    Thing is, the Jets could become so worried about screens that coordinator Bob Sutton might become gunshy on calling blitzes.

    Sutton is calling a fair amount of blitzes (an estimated 40% of the plays), but they're not catching anyone by surprise. It's almost like the offense knows what's coming. (Insert your illegal-spying joke here.) That may explain why they can't stop anyone in hurry-up situations.

    The Patriots and Ravens scored in two-minute situations at the end of the first half, and the Dolphins did it twice in the fourth quarter.

    Until the Jets fix it, the copycats will be at work.

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    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/fo...praise_fo.html

    Chad Pennington earns Mangini's praise for cadence
    BY RICH CIMINI
    DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
    Tuesday, September 25th 2007, 4:00 AM

    Chad Pennington passed for only 124 yards, a career low in a victory, but he was praised yesterday by Eric Mangini for five heady plays that helped the Jets in their 31-28 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday.

    Pennington changed his cadence to draw three offside penalties. Another time, recognizing the defense had 12 men on the field, he called for a quick snap, resulting in a penalty on the Dolphins. That was huge because it came on a third-and-2 from the Miami 20 in the third quarter.

    "You can't ask for a better play than that, where you run up, snap it, catch them and you have a first down in the red zone," Mangini said.

    Later, on a third-and-12 from his 24, Pennington took a delay penalty rather than burning a timeout. He figured the difference between third-and-12 and third-and-17 wasn't big enough to waste a timeout.

    "I thought he made an excellent decision there," Mangini said.

    As it turned out, Pennington converted the third-and-17, hitting Laveranues Coles for 23 yards, his longest completion of the day.

    BUFFALOED: The Jets will face a beat-up Bills team Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. QB J.P. Losman, who sprained a knee in Sunday's 38-7 loss to the Patriots, will miss at least two games. He will be replaced by rookie Trent Edwards, a third-round pick from Stanford. The Bills re-signed Craig Nall yesterday to be a backup.

    Rookie LB Paul Posluszny (broken arm) was placed on injured reserve, becoming the sixth player - third defensive starter - to land on IR.

    RETURN FAVOR: Leon Washington wasn't taking any bows for his 98-yard kickoff return.

    "I feel like it wasn't that hard for me to make that play," he said. "I pretty much ran straight through the hole and got sideswiped by the kicker, and the rest was history. Our guys up front did a good job in the wedge, blocking those guys up."

    The wedge was comprised of two ex-Dolphins, David Bowens and Darian Barnes, and Chris Baker.

    HAVING A BALL: Mangini awarded game balls to Washington (special teams), RB Thomas Jones (offense) and CB David Barrett (defense). ... The Jets were outgained, 424-256, the fifth-largest deficit in team history for a home victory. ... Here's an example of Mike Nugent's improved leg strength: He has three touchbacks in three games. Before this season, he had three in 33 games. ... The Jets have only one sack. On case you're wondering, the franchise low for a 16-game season is 22, set in 1978 and 1979.

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    http://www.nypost.com/seven/09252007...r_for_chad.htm

    MANGINI HAS CHEER FOR CHAD
    By MARK CANNIZZARO

    September 25, 2007 -- Eric Mangini on Sunday was quick to talk about Chad Pennington's presence being such a key to the Jets' success. Yesterday, he praised some of the things his quarterback did that didn't end up on the stat sheet.

    "Being able to draw [the Dolphins] offsides three different times; the play on third-and-two where he ran up to the line of scrimmage and we were able to snap the ball and they had 12 men on the field," he said. "That's a first down without running a play. The awareness of how many guys are on the field. You can't ask for a better play than that, where you run up, snap it, catch them, and you have a first down in the red zone.

    "Even something like third-and-12 and time is running out early in the second half and not calling the timeout [Pennington took a delay of game penalty instead of burning a timeout]. It's third-and-12. The percentage of making that third down is not very high. It's probably not significantly different than third-and-17.

    "Now, we did convert on that one, but whether it was third-and-12 or third-and 17, it would have been a conversion. Those timeouts are valuable, and to use them at that point, it's not really a good use of your resources. So the play, should we have gotten off on time? Yeah, that is our goal. But at that point you have to make a decision: Do you waste the timeout or not, and I thought he made an excellent decision there."

    *

    Mangini said he wasn't concerned with the 424 yards of offense the Jets allowed to Miami.

    "Really what you're looking for is points, and points against that opponent," he said. "To make sure that you have more than they do at the end of the game is the key."

    *

    Mangini named his top players of the game yesterday. Running back Thomas Jones, who had 110 yards on 25 carries, was the offensive player of the week, CB David Barrett, who had eight tackles, was cited on defense.

    Leon Washington, who had a 98-yad KO return, was honored on special teams and Jason Trusnik was cited as practice player of the week.

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    http://www.nypost.com/seven/09252007...star_jones.htm

    September 25, 2007 -- THERE is absolutely no chance that Bill Belichick will let complacency seep into his CIA compound, and he's masterfully using Spygate as a means to whip his players into a How-Dare-They-Question-Our-Legacy frenzy, and the sweet smell of a championship and the right arm of Tom Brady has transformed Randy Moss into a model citizen/unstoppable nuclear weapon. The Pats are in a league of their own even without Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison.

    But even as Belichick inevitably recoils at annoying mentions of a possible Perfect Season, even as long-suffering Jet fans and realistic experts wonder if it will take a catastrophic Brady injury to derail the New England Express, Eric Mangini and the Jets are not about to abandon their sights at the division title and settle for any AFC wild-card berth.

    "If you're an athlete," Laveranues Coles was saying yesterday, "that's quitting."

    They may not be the best 1-2 team in football, but they conceded nothing to anyone a year ago, when they were presumed to be doormats, and they concede nothing now.

    "Look at the weapons on this team, I mean the names, and the people," Coles said. "We've been in just about every game we played except for the first one [against the Patriots]. Because they've beaten everybody so badly, everybody thinks they're probably the best team in football, the New England Patriots, so . . . We got a good team. People respect us. You watch us on film; we play physical, play hard . . . you gotta respect the fact that we're a solid football team."

    What will make the Jets a tougher out, once Gang Green figures out how to stop a screen pass and sack the quarterback, is Thomas Jones.

    "It helps open things up in the passing game for us with him running the ball the way he has; they won't be able to sit in two-safety defenses all the time," Coles said.

    Moss has been the single best offseason acquisition in the NFL. If Jones can close the gap on Moss, if Jones can help make Chad Pennington's play-action game deadlier, the Jets can close the gap on the Patriots.

    "I thought we did well the second half, the offensive linemen wore 'em down and gave us some creases to run through, me and Leon [Washington]; the receivers did a really good job of blocking downfield getting some of their defensive backs blocked to give us some more room," Jones said.

    He was 19-92 rushing in the second half against the Dolphins, and 25-110 overall, and if he can get 1,200 yards without the help of Pete Kendall, the Jets will have every right to consider themselves a legitimate playoff team. Mangini seems content on allowing Washington [7-18 rushing] to kill the body and watch the head die at Jones' sweet feet.

    "That's been my history. I get stronger the more carries I get over the course of the game, but I'm not one of the coaches, I don't make those decisions," Jones said.

    He is a 215-pound weather-proof tank who can get you the tough inside yards with a hop-step that enables him to cut on a dime, and he can turn the corner on you as well. After two pedestrian weeks against the Pats and Ravens, Jones was feeling it against the Fish and the force of his will infected his new teammates.

    "You start to get a feel for the game, and you get a feel for how the defense is playing, and then you're able to kind of instinctively do some more things," Jones said.

    The Jets pounded the ball 11 straight times on the ground to open the second half, and Jones was playing smash-mouth on eight of those occasions.

    "It helps to wear the defense down and gives the offensive line to kinda get in a groove just as well as it does for the running backs to help us get in a groove," Jones said.

    He even trotted out a nasty stiff-arm. "I saw the corner coming up on me, and I ran out of room to give him a move on the sideline, so I really was trying to protect myself in case he went to my legs," Jones said.

    Legs that never will stop chasing the Patriots.

    steve.serby@nypost.com

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    http://www.nypost.com/seven/09252007...ruth_hurts.htm

    TRUTH HURTS
    WIN OR LOSE, JETS NEED IMPROVEMENT
    By MARK CANNIZZARO

    September 25, 2007 -- A week ago, as the Jets evaluated their loss to the Ravens in Baltimore, Eric Mangini spoke about the truth. He spoke about the importance of each player, in his self-scouting, being honest with himself when he watches the film.

    "I've found that most successful people are very critical of themselves, and they're critical because they want to get the things corrected and they want to continue to improve," Mangini said. "Another point that I made to the team is just the importance of being brutally honest with everything that you can do better in your preparation, whether it's to your film study, meeting time, practice or about performance in the game."

    Yesterday, in the wake of their 31-28 win over the Dolphins at Giants Stadium, the 1-2 Jets' first win of the season, there was need for perspective again.

    Despite the win, the Jets must look at themselves in the film room and be brutally honest with themselves. When they do that they'll realize that, while they played well and deserved to win the game, the Dolphins helped them along the way.

    Several moments in the game sabotaged the Dolphins' chances, beginning with the Dolphins' ridiculous decision to squib kick their kickoffs after being spooked by Leon Washington's 98-yard return for a touchdown. A squib kick near the end of the first half gave the Jets such good field position it helped them score a touchdown before the intermission.

    Bad penalties, too, hurt the Dolphins, as did an abandonment of the running game, which was killing the Jets at the time, at one point during a drive that ended up in a field goal.

    You can bet the Dolphins flew home Sunday night bewildered by how they could lose a game in which they outgained the Jets 424-256 in offensive yards, including 312-124 in passing yards.

    So the Jets, who play the 0-3 Bills Sunday in Buffalo, aren't exactly in the clear.

    "We looked at the film today and talked about (the flaws in the game) and even after a win sometimes it seems like you lost," Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said.

    One area of particular alarm for the Jets was their complete inability to cover the screen passes the Dolphins threw at them.

    "I don't know how many yards they made on screen passes, but it seemed like a million," Mangini said.

    One thing is for sure in the wake of the Dolphins shredding the Jets defense with the screen passes: Their opponents are going to keep throwing screens on them until they can prove they can stop them.

    "The NFL is a copycat league, so if they see plays working and having success they are going to come back with it," Jets safety Kerry Rhodes said yesterday. "I'm sure we will run 1,000 screens each practice to try and get it right."

    Mangini said he expects to see more screens against his defense.

    "Each (coach) has their own philosophy, and you try to identify the fingerprint of the coordinator," he said. "Some people are true copycat coordinators where if you get beat on a play they're going to run exactly that same play to see whether you got the problem fixed.

    "Other people will copycat in the sense that they have their playbook and their system, and they'll get the play that's closest to the play you got to beat on that's in their system. Like with most issues, if you do expose something people are going to figure out whether or not you fixed it."

    Jets cornerback David Barrett said, "It's more of everybody trying to get to the ball. We need to get more guys running to the ball to make tackles. I feel like we still have a lot to do to get to where we want to be. We still have a lot of steps to take to be the defense that we want to be."

    That's the kind of perspective that permeated from the Jets yesterday, an honesty they hope will lead to improvement, better play and more victories.

    mark.cannizzaro@nypost.com

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    http://www.nypost.com/seven/09252007...in_it_done.htm

    JETTIN' IT DONE
    September 25, 2007

    QUARTERBACKS C+

    Chad Pennington (15-22, 124 yards, 2 TDs, 112.7 rating) made his presence felt and was his usual efficient self. He was flawless in the two-minute offense.

    RUNNING BACKS B

    Thomas Jones (25-110) finally got on track. He ran for 92 yards in the second half, helping the Jets take control. Leon Washington (7-18) never really got loose from behind scrimmage.

    WIDE RECEIVERS B

    Jerricho Cotchery had 5 catches for 54 yards, but Laveranues Coles (3-30) gave the Jets a 7-0 lead. Brad Smith caught three passes.

    TIGHT ENDS B+

    Chris Baker made one catch and, as usual, it was a beauty - a critical 4-yard TD reception at the end of the half. Blocking in the run game was good, too.

    OFFENSIVE LINE B

    Pennington was sacked once. Protec tion was good. Run blocking was better in the second half. Though he had help at times, LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson did a terrific job neutralizing Miami DE Jason Taylor, who had three offsides penalties.

    DEFENSIVE LINE C

    DE Shaun Ellis set an early tone, sack ing Trent Green. The run defense, though, was suspect, as Miami RB Ron nie Brown blew through the line way too often. DE Kenyon Coleman led the way with 6 tackles.

    LINEBACKERS C

    The marquee play was a big hit by rookie David Harris on Brown. He had 5 tackles. Victor Hobson had 6 tackles and Jonathan Vilma and Eric Barton had 5. Very quiet game from Bryan Thomas, who didn't even appear on the stat sheet.

    SECONDARY C

    S Kerry Rhodes (5 tackles) had an INT. S Erik Coleman had a team-high 12 tack les, which is an indication of how often Brown got through the DLs and LBs. CB Dar relle Revis had a tough day covering Chris Chambers (6-101).

    SPECIAL TEAMS B+

    Washington's 98-yard KO return was a key, as was its spook-effect impact on the Dolphins' staff, which had K Jay Feely squib after that. The Jets' KO coverage, save for one 39-yarder return by Ted Ginn was much better. Harris had two solo tackles.

    KICKING GAME B+

    K Mike Nugent, who made a 21-yard FG, had two touchbacks on KOs. P Ben Graham (46.7-yard gross and 44.7-yard net) had an excellent game.

    COACHING B

    Eric Mangini's team finally put together four pretty good quarters, which was his message all week. Credit Mike Westhoff for having his groups as sharp as they were.

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    http://www.newsday.com/sports/footba...0,671665.story

    Jets' TE Baker can catch, when given the chance
    BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com
    9:17 PM EDT, September 24, 2007

    It's a story that seems to pop up two or three times each year.

    Tight end Chris Baker will make a few catches -- usually in key situations -- and folks get a glimpse of his ability as a receiver. They start talking about his smooth route running and his soft but solid hands. Then he's ordered back into blocking obscurity.

    Baker's name is never mentioned in conversations about the top tight ends in the league: Antonio Gates, Kellen Winslow, Tony Gonzalez and even (clear your throat) Jeremy Shockey. Baker won't be putting up big numbers in your fantasy football league. But he does have a knack for making clutch plays and pretty catches.

    "We have a lot of weapons on this offense, so sometimes you can get lost in the shuffle," Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said of Baker, "but he's definitely underrated."

    Underrated but not underappreciated. At least not by his ... teammates.

    "This guy just keeps coming up with big, big plays, week in and week out," Chad Pennington said after the Jets' 31-28 win over Miami on Sunday.

    Monday, Baker was still clutching the ball from his latest big, big play, an acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone in which he tipped a pass from Pennington into the air, secured it and planted both feet in bounds for a touchdown with two seconds remaining in the first half. It was a difference-maker; instead of going into halftime with a one-point lead, the Jets were up 21-13.

    On the play, Baker was covered by safety Lamont Thompson one-on-one. He was able to create some space by hinting to the outside, then coming back toward the middle. Fellow Jets said the team worked on the play all week leading up to the Dolphins game, and some receivers had taken to calling it the snail route.

    "He's so laid-back and smooth, he makes it look effortless," Cotchery said.

    But it was Baker's only catch of the game. He's made four catches this year, two for touchdowns and the other two for first downs.

    "Honestly, I would love to get the ball more," Baker said. "But it's one of those things where I just have to roll with it and whenever something comes my way, make the play."

    Last week, he made a play, too, just as athletic and significant as Sunday's. He caught a touchdown pass from Kellen Clemens in the corner of the end zone in the fourth quarter against the Ravens that made it a one-score game. And going back to last year, he caught the winning pass against the Titans in the opening game and nearly caught a critical touchdown against the Browns.

    "There have been some difficult balls that he's come down with," Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "He continues to improve there."

    But when push comes to shove, Baker is more likely to be pushing and shoving as a sixth offensive lineman, helping cover gaps on a rather inexperienced unit. Mangini gave him props on his play Sunday, helping block Jason Taylor and Joey Porter and making each of them non-factors for the Dolphins. He stays back and adds to the pass protection, which allowed only one sack Sunday. And he was a large part of running back Thomas Jones' breakout second half.

    Being a tight end is living in two worlds. "That's the job," Baker said of being a blocker first and a receiver second. Yet there's a part of him that undoubtedly wishes he could show off those ball skills, maybe build a nice pile of stats, get a few more highlights and a few more souvenirs for his growing collection of touchdown catches. Ironically, if he were not so adept at blocking, he might get a few more chances to measure up statistically to the elite players at his position.

    "I sit there and watch games and I'm like, I know I can do some of those things that I watch other guys do," Baker said. "Hopefully, I'll get the chance to do that at some point. I can't do too much about it right now except make the plays I'm asked to."

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    http://www.newsday.com/sports/footba...7164326.column

    Jets' Pennington shows Clemens how it's done
    Bob Glauber
    9:54 PM EDT, September 24, 2007

    I hope Kellen Clemens is watching Chad Pennington. One day in the not-too-distant future, Clemens will be in the same position. And if he behaves anything like Pennington in these kinds of circumstances, then Clemens and Jets fans will be better for it.

    Pay attention, Kellen. You're witnessing how a consummate professional is supposed to behave. Especially under the kind of duress Pennington has been under the last two weeks.

    Clemens trotted onto the field at Giants Stadium after Pennington suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago, and the kid got a hero's welcome, only because he was someone other than Pennington. But Clemens should note that Pennington never once referred to the cheers for what they were -- a repugnant example of the mob mentality that Jets fans should be ashamed of.

    And the second-year quarterback out of Oregon should keep the tape of Sunday's game against the Dolphins to see how a quarterback is supposed to deal with adversity. Pennington gave his young teammate a perfect lesson in establishing ownership of your huddle.

    You do it by taking your 0-2 team onto the field and playing with the kind of desperation the situation calls for. Nothing fancy, just taking charge and getting it done. A first-quarter drive with a 3-yard scoring pass to Laveranues Coles. A clinical drive near the end of the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown to tight end Chris Baker.

    And then a 2-yard scoring run by Pennington himself to cap a 15-play, 74-yard drive in the fourth quarter to essentially put the game away. You run it into the end zone, and then you spike the ball and show the crowd that wanted you gone two weeks ago the meaning of perseverance. In your face, people.

    Keep watching, Kellen. Pennington will teach you all you need to know about playing the toughest position in sports in the toughest sports town in the world.

    "At times, the stats may have looked ugly, but as far as putting points on the board, that is what is important, and we were able to do that," said Pennington, who was 15-for-22 for 124 yards and two touchdowns. "When I get in there, I hope that the guys can feed off of my energy. I try to be really energetic and enthusiastic, and lead the way."

    It's always been like this for Pennington, who learned how to be a professional from Vinny Testaverde, and who is now imparting the same kind of wisdom to his eventual successor. Pennington was the guy Jets fans cheered for as they ushered Testaverde aside, and he responded with a brilliant run to the 2002 playoffs with 22 touchdown passes and six interceptions, and plenty of comparisons to Joe Montana.

    But Pennington found out quickly that this would not be a sustained meteoric rise, because injuries set him back repeatedly. A broken wrist in 2003. Shoulder injuries in 2004 and again in 2005. Pennington knew no quarterback before him had recaptured his form after two shoulder surgeries. Yet there he was in 2006, starting every game and getting the Jets to the playoffs. And here he is again, battling through an ankle problem, and now the .Clemens factor, as well.

    Kellen, this is how you behave if you want to make it in this town. Just watch Pennington.

    And listen.

    "It's important that we all play with passion," Pennington said. "This game has to be played with passion and energy no matter what's going on around you and what situation you are in."

    And what about those fans, the ones Pennington has every right to chastise for how they behaved two weeks ago? The ones who cheered him on Sunday in the same building?

    "I love Jet fans," he said. "They are passionate, loyal. They really appreciate when players play with heart and physical toughness and really give it all they have. Ever since I have been here, that has always been my goal, no matter what the situation, to give it all I have. That's all I can ask of myself and that's what they ask of each individual player. It was nice. I really enjoyed it and I appreciated it."

    Keep watching, Kellen. Pennington is showing you how it's done.

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    http://www.newsday.com/sports/footba...,6687118.story

    Jets must get bugs out of screen defense
    BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com
    September 25, 2007

    Think the Bills are filling their playbook with some screen passes this week?

    After the Dolphins exposed the Jets' defense by running the short pass play for big yardage Sunday, there's little doubt that Buffalo will try to attack the same vulnerability.

    "It's a copycat league," was the copycat quote from several Jets defenders yesterday, all well aware that they have to fix the problem or have it exploited again.

    Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who snuffed out a screen with a tackle for a loss, said the key is to concede the short yardage.

    "It's like running the hitch," he said. "They're going to hit it, you just have to make the tackle and move on to the next play and don't compound it."

    The Jets did compound it, allowing four successful screens and giving up 99 receiving yards to running back Ronnie Brown, including a 22-yard touchdown on a screen. On that play, Vilma was in position but had two offensive linemen between him and Brown. The rest of the defense could not close in quickly enough to prevent the TD that made it 31-28 with 1:23 left. They also allowed a 43-yarder in the second quarter to set up Miami's first touchdown.

    "You have to be in the right spot because there is no magic call for the screen," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "I'm sure we will run a thousand screens each practice to try and get it right."

    Jet streams

    Mangini named his players of the week: Thomas Jones on offense, Leon Washington on special teams and CB David Barrett on defense. He named Jason Trusnik practice player of the week for his impersonations of Jason Taylor ... The Jets saved a timeout and took a delay-of-game penalty with the play clock dwindling on third-and-12 in the third quarter because, according to Mangini, the percentages are not drastically different converting from 12 or 17 yards. A 23-yard pass from Chad Pennington to Laveranues Coles prolonged a TD drive ... The Bills re-signed QB Craig Nall, who will likely back up rookie Trent Edwards against the Jets. J.P. Losman is expected to miss two weeks with a sprained right knee. The Bills also placed LB Paul Posluszny (broken arm) on injured reserve. He's the sixth Bill and third defensive starter to have his season ended by injury.

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/25/sp...ll&oref=slogin

    Jets’ Line Brings Offense Together
    By NATHANIEL VINTON
    Published: September 25, 2007

    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., Sept. 24 — With an average height around 6 feet 5 inches, the Jets’ offensive line could walk even a little taller Monday, knowing it contributed greatly to a 31-28 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

    The line neutralized Jason Taylor, one of the N.F.L.’s top pass rushers, and allowed running back Thomas Jones, an off-season acquisition from the Chicago Bears, to meet expectations.

    “The offensive line wore them down and gave me some creases to run through,” said Jones, who gained 92 of his 110 yards in the second half.

    The Jets’ line also shielded quarterback Chad Pennington, who returned from a high ankle sprain and was sacked only once. Credit for that goes largely to the second-year left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who made Taylor look like something other than the Pro Bowl defensive end that he is. Taylor was limited to two tackles and no sacks.

    “It definitely was a team effort,” Ferguson said. “There’s so many different guys that step up at critical times, so it’s hard to pinpoint, but it’s just a great unit.”

    The Jets’ offensive line strives for cohesion, meeting up for weekly dinners and off-season cookouts.

    “Whatever it is, communication can solve any problem that you face,” Coach Eric Mangini said. “And it’s better that you’re all wrong together than half right or half wrong.”

    One concern for Mangini, though, was how his defense allowed Miami to rally for 15 points in the fourth quarter. For the game, running back Ronnie Brown gained 99 yards receiving — primarily on screens — and 112 yards rushing.

    Mangini said he would not be surprised if the Buffalo Bills (0-3) tried to exploit that apparent weakness in the teams’ matchup Sunday.

    “Some people are true copycat coordinators where if you get beat on a play they’re going to run exactly that same play to see whether you got the problem fixed,” Mangini said.

    EXTRA POINTS

    Thomas Jones, who memorably straight-armed Miami cornerback Travis Daniels on one fourth-quarter play, said that the move was simply a method of protecting himself as he came close to the sideline. ... In naming the backup defensive end Jason Trusnik the practice player of the week, Eric Mangini praised Trusnik for spending last week mimicking the style of Jason Taylor.

  11. #11
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    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/24/sp...l?ref=football

    A Jet Who Led With His Head, and His Heart
    By WILLIAM C. RHODEN
    Published: September 24, 2007
    East Rutherford, N.J.

    Yesterday was a good day for Wayne Chrebet. In fact, it was a great day.

    Chrebet, the former Jet who redefined the role of possession receiver, was honored at halftime of his former team’s first victory of the season, 31-28 against Miami.

    Chrebet received the usual retirement fare: a watch, a pair of first-class airline tickets, an aerial photograph of a military fly-over at Giants Stadium, and his No. 80 jersey in a frame.

    What Chrebet needs is what the Jets, the N.F.L. and the game cannot give back: a reliable memory, a life without throbbing headaches and the ability to go on amusement park rides with his young sons. A condition of the Faustian pact between the N.F.L. and its players is that players lease their bodies to the league for the sake of the game, the pursuit of glory and a lucrative livelihood.

    Chrebet, 34, has become the most recent face of the N.F.L.’s burgeoning concussion conundrum. During his 11-year career, Chrebet had six concussions diagnosed.

    Fortunately, there is a new, civilized environment in the N.F.L. pertaining to concussions. When Chrebet entered the league, physicians often left critical decisions about whether to return to games up to the players. Increasingly, that decision is being made by physicians (although Lions quarterback Jon Kitna was inexplicably allowed to return to a game last week after sustaining a concussion).



    Chrebet was the ultimate underdog (Keyshawn Johnson disparagingly once referred to him as a mascot). This was the motivation behind his repeatedly throwing himself back into the fire. He was afraid to miss a play.

    Chrebet was supposed to retire after his ninth season. He said the Jets warned him that if he sustained another concussion, he would be done. Chrebet played two more seasons but never changed the way he played, fearlessly catching passes in the heart of pass coverage despite knowing what might — and ultimately did — happen. He was undone by a concussion sustained during the 2005 season.

    If Chrebet were a rookie in 2007 and sustained concussions, there probably would be no third, fourth and fifth chances. Team physicians, in theory, would not permit it.

    “If they took it out of my hands, there’s nothing I could do about it,” Chrebet said. “I’d have to do what they said.”

    On the other hand, if he were not permitted to come back, there might not have been a Wayne Chrebet with the Jets. He was an undersized receiver from Hofstra, an obscure college by N.F.L. standards, who felt he did not have the luxury to miss a game.

    “Especially players who were in my situation, you can’t afford to take a play off,” he said.

    Chrebet cited the story of Wally Pipp, who was replaced in the Yankees’ starting lineup by Lou Gehrig and never regained his spot. In the N.F.L., nonguaranteed contracts add to the normal competitiveness and insecurity.

    “You take one play off, and somebody takes your spot,” Chrebet said. “They make a play, it could be over.”

    Yesterday was a great day for Chrebet, but a bittersweet afternoon for the N.F.L., in which younger and younger retired players are left battered by a brutal game.

    At what point, I often wonder, will football fans be repulsed by the routine, play-to-play violence of a game that leaves so many players with serious disabilities?

    As long as so-called old-timers were the face to the N.F.L. concussion syndrome, there was little chance for a fan backlash. Now younger retired players like Chrebet are beginning to show the effects of a murderous game.

    What does life have in store for Chrebet?

    According to a study by the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes at the University of North Carolina, players sustaining three or more on-field concussions were three times more likely to experience depression in retirement than other retired N.F.L. players. Chrebet sustained at least six.

    Yesterday, he talked about the limitations imposed by the concussions: he cannot engage in any activity that forces blood to rush to his head, and cannot do certain workouts or work out in a certain way.

    “Sometimes, you don’t want to get out of bed,” he said. “Sometimes, the sky is blue and everything smells good. There’s just no rhyme or reason to it. Some days are worse than others, and you just hope for the good days.

    “What’re you going to do?” Chrebet shrugged. “Like I said, it was all worth it.”



    Someone asked Chrebet whether he hears from former opponents, especially defensive backs he battled over his career.

    He said he had. “They told me I’m the baddest white boy that ever played the game,” he said. Chrebet smiled, and we all laughed.

    This was a good day for the Jets, a great day for Chrebet.

    E-mail: wcr@nytimes.com

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    http://www.nj.com/sports/ledger/inde...890.xml&coll=1

    Chalk up another problem with Jets defense
    Tuesday, September 25, 2007
    BY DAVE HUTCHINSON
    Star-Ledger Staff

    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Eric Mangini's ballyhooed 3-4 defense sprung another leak in the Jets' 31-28 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Giants Stadium, and the Bills will have plenty of legally obtained videotape to view the breakdowns as they prepare for Sunday's matchup in Buffalo.

    First, the Jets couldn't stop the run, and still can't on a consistent basis. They haven't held an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing this season.

    Then, the Jets couldn't get to the quarterback or force a turnover. They didn't notch their first sack or first turnover until the Dolphins game. Opponents have dropped back to pass 99 times and completed 68. That's a 68.7 completion percentage.

    Now, the unit can't stop the screen pass. The Dolphins schooled the Jets on the art of executing the play, with running back Ronnie Brown (six catches, 99 yards) doing the damage. One screen pass went for a 22-yard touchdown, another was a 43-yarder that set up a touchdown and yet another was a 16-yarder that set up a field goal.

    Miami finished with a whopping 424 yards total offense.

    The Jets' subpar defensive performance against a struggling Dolphins offensive line, anchored by rookie center Samson Satele, sparks anew the debate that they simply don't have the personnel to play a 3-4 scheme and Mangini is tying to force a square peg into a round hole.

    On paper, there seems to be no way that a team with as much defensive talent as the Jets have -- nose tackle Dewayne Robertson, defensive end Shaun Ellis, an above-average linebacking corps led by Jonathan Vilma, sensational rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis and talented safety Kerry Rhodes -- should be giving up huge chunks of yardage every week.

    This season the Jets rank 27th in the NFL in total defense, allowing an embarrassing 386 yards per game.

    After the Dolphins game, one Jets player just shook in his head in disbelief when asked how a defense with so much talent could give up so many yards.

    Mangini's inability to get a 350-pound nose tackle to anchor the defense has been criticized.

    Against the banged-up Bills (0-3), the Jets can expect a healthy dose of screen passes and running plays. Rookie quarterback Trent Edwards, a third-round pick out of Stanford, will make his first NFL start in place of the injured J.P. Losman (sprained left knee) and Buffalo is sure to keep it simple. Rookie running back Marshawn Lynch (57 carries, 228 yards, two TDs) will be busy. He has also caught five passes for 36 yards.

    "The NFL is a copycat league, so if they see plays working and having success, they're going to come back with it." Rhodes said yesterday. "I'm sure we'll run 1,000 screens each practice (this week) to try and get it right."

    Said linebacker Victor Hobson: "One thing about this league is that if there's something you have a problem with, you can definitely expect to see it the next week. That's something we'll expect to see. I mean, why not? We didn't show that we could stop it."

    Mangini said poor tackling -- Bryan Thomas and Kenyon Coleman missed tackles on Miami's 43-yarder -- and the Dolphins' ability to use Brown on a variety of different screens attributed to the success of the plays. He said the screens were difficult to defend because there wasn't a pattern of when the Dolphins would use them.

    "Miami did a good job of disguising it," Jets defensive end/linebacker David Bowens said.

    The Jets say they don't know what to expect from the Bills and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild.

    "Each guy has their own philosophy and you try to identify the fingerprint of the coordinator," Mangini said. "Some people are true copycat coordinators where if you get beat on a play, they're going to run exactly that same play. Other people will copycat in the sense that they have their playbook and their system and they'll get the play that's closest to the play you got beat on. Like with most issues, if you do expose something, people are going to figure out whether or not you fixed it."

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    Jones is picking up steam just in time for beat-up Bills
    Tuesday, September 25, 2007
    BY DAVE HUTCHINSON
    Star-Ledger Staff

    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- After facing the Patriots and Ravens in the first two weeks, the first- and fourth-ranked run defenses in the NFL, Thomas Jones finally got the chance to rev up the Jets' running game against the Dolphins, finishing with 110 yards on 25 carries in the Jets' 31-28 victory at Giants Stadium.

    "It (his performance) is definitely something that can give us confidence in the running game as far as the offensive line and the running backs," Jones said yesterday. "The first couple of weeks were pretty tough. We played two really good run defenses and they were doing a lot of different things that were giving us some problems. It's a long season and every week isn't going to be the same."

    It'll be interesting to see how the Jets use Jones. His hard-charging style, one in which he gets stronger as the game goes on, seems contrary to coach Eric Mangini's insistence on rotating Jones with Leon Washington.

    Against the Dolphins, Jones rushed for 92 yards on 19 carries in the second half.

    "My history has been that I get stronger the more carries that I get over the course of a game," Jones said. "I'm one of the guys on the offense and I'm here to do my job. I take advantage of my opportunities and I'm not one of the coaches who makes those decisions. All I do is try to play and do my best when my number is called.

    "You start to get a feel for the game (in the second half) and how the defense is playing, and you're able to instinctively do some more things. That's what I was feeling in the second half. It felt good to have some success running the ball."

    The Bills (0-3) are a medical disaster. They have nine players injured on defense, including five starters, and starting quarterback J.P. Losman is injured.

    Losman is expected to miss at least two weeks with a sprained left knee suffered when Patriots NT Vince Wilfork dived at his knees on the first play of Sunday's 38-7 loss. Wilfork was penalized for a late hit.

    The five injured defensive starters are LB Paul Posluszny (broken forearm), CBs Jason Webster (forearm) and Terrence McGee (ribs), S Ko Simpson (ankle) and LB Keith Ellison (ankle). Webster, Simpson and Posluszny are out for the season.

    "In all my years, I don't think I've ever been associated with such a number of injuries on one team this early in the season," Bills GM Marv Levy told the Buffalo News.

    CB David Barrett (defense), KR Leon Washington (special teams) and Jones (offense) were the Jets' players of the game, Mangini said.

  14. #14
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    http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?...Y3dnFlZUVFeXk2

    Jets’ ‘D’ studies errors vs. Miami
    Tuesday, September 25, 2007
    By J.P. PELZMAN
    STAFF WRITER

    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The members of the Jets' defense had some private screenings Monday, following some very public screenings Sunday, courtesy of the Dolphins.

    Miami had 424 yards of total offense in its 31-28 loss to the Jets, so the Dolphins obviously had some successful plays. But their biggest gain of the day was a 43-yard screen pass from Trent Green to Ronnie Brown, which led to the Dolphins' first touchdown.

    Their last touchdown came on another screen from Green to Brown, this one for 22 yards. Brown also had a 16-yard reception on another screen.

    It doesn't take a gridiron genius to figure that Buffalo, the Jets' upcoming opponent Sunday, will likely give New York another screen test. Or two. Or three, or even more.

    "There's no doubt they're going to do it," linebacker Eric Barton said Monday. "Why wouldn't you? They're not going to stop running it until you show you can stop it."

    Plus, the Bills' quarterback Sunday will be a rookie making his first NFL start. Trent Edwards, a third-round pick from Stanford, takes over after starter J.P. Losman injured his left knee against New England. Losman is expected to miss at least two games.

    "They'll probably try to keep the game plan simple for" Edwards, linebacker David Bowens said.

    In that case, a screen pass is a safe, low-risk type of call for a young quarterback. And it proved to be a high-reward play against the Jets on Sunday. The Jets also allowed a 37-yard play on a screen to Baltimore tight end Todd Heap in Week 2.

    "The NFL is a copycat league," strong safety Kerry Rhodes said, "so if [opponents] see plays working and having success, they are going to come back with it. I'm sure we will run 1,000 screens each practice to try and get it right."

    Rhodes said the toughest thing about defending against the play is that "you really don't have a man that is assigned to the screen unless it is man coverage. You have to be in the right spot because there is no magic call for the screen. You just have to be in the right spot to make the play and when you're there, you have to make the play. It's a tough play if you're not expecting it and they did a good job of running and executing it."

    Screen passes also are effective against the blitz, although the Jets weren't bringing that much extra pressure when Miami used the play effectively. The Jets used a five-man rush on Brown's touchdown reception and a four-man rush against the Dolphins on his 43-yard catch. On the latter one, Miami did benefit from the fact that an illegal block in the back by Chris Chambers on Darrelle Revis wasn't called, although that block didn't happen until near the end of the play.

    "You've got to tackle," Barton said. "We missed a couple of tackles [on screens] that led to long runs."

    The Jets did get it right on one second-quarter play, when linebackers Jonathan Vilma and David Harris dropped Brown for a 1-yard loss.

    "It will be a focal point this week," Barton said. "I think we'll fix it."

    But that isn't the only problem for the Jets, who are ranked 27th in total defense after three games and have only one takeaway, Kerry Rhodes' interception against the Dolphins.

    "We've still got a lot of steps to make," cornerback David Barrett said, "to be the defense we want to be."

    E-mail: pelzman@northjersey.com

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    Jets notebook
    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Going batty

    Had Miami been able to finish off its comeback attempt Sunday, the Jets might have rued the most infamous illegal bat since the corked one belonging to Sammy Sosa.

    An "illegal bat" was the penalty called when tight end Chris Baker, who also had a second-quarter touchdown reception, leaped high and punched Jay Feely's attempted onside kick out of bounds. The 10-yard penalty against the Jets gave the Dolphins another try. Baker was unable to hold onto that one, either, but teammate Eric Smith recovered it to preserve the Jets' win.

    According to NFL rules, Baker's play would have been legal if the ball had gone out of bounds backward rather than forward.

    Coach Eric Mangini said the Jets "practice it, [but] it's hard to simulate those guys [coming] down at you, the ball coming and knowing exactly what angle to bat it out. Those are tough ones to generate at practice."

    Barrett impresses

    Cornerback David Barrett, who had eight tackles and one pass breakup against Miami, was the Jets' defensive player of the week, selected by Mangini and the coaching staff. Barrett has had a lot of passes thrown his way this season as teams have tried to avoid rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis through the first two games. The Dolphins threw the ball Revis' way more often.

    "I love having that adversity of people wanting to try and challenge me," Barrett said. "It feels good. As a defensive back, you should always live for that."

    Posluszny out

    Buffalo placed rookie middle linebacker Paul Posluszny on injured reserve, and filled the roster spot by signing quarterback Craig Nall, who was cut during preseason. Posluszny's starting spot will be taken by second-year player John DiGiorgio, whom Posluszny beat out in camp.

    -- J.P. Pelzman

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    Jets game report card
    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Running game: B-plus

    Thomas Jones finally shook loose Sunday, running for 92 of his 110 yards in the second half. The offensive line wore down the Dolphins in the second half and Jones was quite physical as well, stiff-arming Travis Daniels to the ground on one play.

    Passing game: B

    Not a lot of yardage (only 115 net counting Miami's one sack), but a lot of results as Chad Pennington threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions. The offensive line played better than it had in the first two games, and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson did well when matched one-on-one with Jason Taylor, who was sackless.

    Run defense: D-plus

    The Jets consistently were beaten at the point of attack as Ronnie Brown had 112 yards on 23 carries, including 76 in the first half. The Jets had no tackles for loss on rushing plays, after having one apiece in each of the first two games.

    Pass defense: C-minus

    The Jets finally recorded a sack (by Shaun Ellis) and an interception (by Kerry Rhodes) but didn't get much pressure on Trent Green after Ellis' sack on the first possession. Green was 11-for-14 for 144 yards on the two fourth-quarter TD drives.

    Special teams: A

    Leon Washington's 98-yard kickoff return was a momentum-changer and quite timely, especially with injured Justin Miller done for the season. The Jets' own kickoff coverage unit improved, although Ted Ginn Jr.'s 39-yard return led to a Miami field goal. Ben Graham had a 44.7 net on three punts.

    Coaching: B-plus

    Brian Schottenheimer called an excellent game on offense and made the right move in pounding the Dolphins on the ground with Jones in the second half. Bob Sutton's defensive calls weren't as good, as the Jets were unable to slow down Miami's screens.

    -- J.P. Pelzman

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    That's it for today. I know GJ&H is going to love hearing that Trusnik was named practice player of the week. :-) Enjoy!

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    Thanks for posting these. It is hard to believe that the Marino Spike play was 13 years ago.

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    Mangini said he wasn't concerned with the 424 yards of offense the Jets allowed to Miami.

    "Really what you're looking for is points, and points against that opponent," he said. "To make sure that you have more than they do at the end of the game is the key."
    When exactly Mangini got herminitus infection?

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    Tnxs a lot!

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