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Thread: Today's News - September 26, 2007.

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    Today's News - September 26, 2007.

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

    D'Brickashaw Ferguson warranted pick, praise
    BY RICH CIMINI
    DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
    Wednesday, September 26th 2007, 4:00 AM

    Picking D'Brickashaw Ferguson with the No. 4 pick in last year's draft has paid off for the Jets, as he is turning into a quality left tackle.

    That D'Brickashaw Ferguson-over-Matt Leinart decision isn't looking too bad these days, is it?

    Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum received criticism last year for passing on the Hollywood QB in the draft, opting for the meat-and-potatoes choice - an offensive lineman. It was the boring play, but boring never looked better than it did on Sunday.

    An ineffective Leinart was benched in the Cardinals' loss to the Ravens and his job is in jeopardy. Maybe he should spend less time with his celebrity friends and more time studying his playbook.

    While Leinart's considerable ego was getting pounded in Baltimore, the man he would have replaced on the Jets, Chad Pennington, was winning for the 11th time in 18 starts since his second shoulder operation. At the same time, Ferguson enjoyed perhaps his best day as a pro, helping to shut down Dolphins star pass rusher Jason Taylor.

    Afterward, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, held to no sacks and four quiet tackles, delivered the ultimate backhanded compliment: "I didn't get to the quarterback. I (stink) right now."

    Ferguson, a serious fellow, managed a small smile when Taylor's comment was repeated to him on Monday.

    "This was our third matchup and the last two matchups weren't as successful as I would've liked," the Jets' left tackle said. "This matchup was a little better for me. We still have a lot of matchups to go, many, many battles."

    That may not read like much of a quote, but for the soft-spoken Ferguson, it's akin to a chest-beating, "I-kicked-his-butt" declaration.

    The Jets, thanks to Ferguson and a sound plan, made Taylor resemble the dearly departed Kimo von Oelhoffen - a statue. A review of the game tape revealed that Ferguson blocked Taylor on two-thirds of his pass plays (23), not allowing him to get close to Pennington. A breakdown:

    One-on-one - 10 plays. In these situations, Ferguson was left on an island, isolated on Taylor. Result: Pennington completed six passes for 34 yards, including two touchdowns.

    A little help - five plays. On these plays, the Jets assigned another player (Leon Washington or Chris Baker or Joe Kowalewski) to "chip" Taylor while he was engaged with Ferguson. Result: Three completions for 36 yards and one sack. (LG Adrien Clarke was victimized by DT Vonnie Holliday.)

    A moving target - eight plays. Here, Taylor didn't rush directly against Ferguson. He either dropped into coverage, stunted to the inside or lined up on RT Anthony Clement.
    Ferguson also blocked Taylor on 24 running plays - pancaked him once, too - but this wasn't a dominating performance. The Jets ran almost exclusively to the right side, away from Taylor.

    But give Ferguson credit for making progress. He still hasn't validated his lofty status as the No.4 pick in the draft, but his Taylor-made performance could be a turning point.

    "When Brick did have opportunities to block him on his own, I think he did a nice job," said Eric Mangini, attributing Taylor's oh-fer to a group effort. "I think Brick has improved steadily."

    Next up: Bills DE Aaron Schobel, Ferguson's nemesis. He was schooled by Schobel last December in a three-sack debacle. This will be another important brick in the building of Brick.

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

    Thomas Jones' performance lobbies for more carries
    BY RICH CIMINI
    DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
    Wednesday, September 26th 2007, 4:00 AM

    Thomas Jones delivered a Curtis Martin-like performance in Sunday's win over the Dolphins - steady, if not spectacular - and it is sure to stir opinions from those who feel Jones should get the ball 25 times every week.

    "My history has been that I get stronger the more carries that I get over the course of a game," said Jones, quickly noting he wasn't lobbying for more carries.

    All backs believe more work means more production. In Jones' case, it's not true.

    In his last two seasons with the Bears, Jones averaged 4.0 yards per rush on his first 10 carries, 4.6 on his next 10 and only 3.3 after that, according to STATS, LLC.

    In three games with the Jets, his averages are 3.1, 4.5 and 1.9, respectively.

    Moral of the story: The Jets would be wise to keep Leon Washington involved.

    BAKER'S COOKING: Before this year's draft, with speculation swirling that the Jets were interested in Miami TE Greg Olson, under-utilized incumbent Chris Baker said, "I deserve a chance to do something in the passing game."

    Baker is backing up that claim, having made two highlight-film TD catches in the last two games. He's deadly near the goal line - eight of his 11 career TDs have come inside the 5 - but what about the other 95 yards? Baker has the ability to become the No.3 option in the passing game, a void in the offense.

    The coaches evidently don't see him that way. Too bad.

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

    Justin McCareins sees a drop in usage
    BY RICH CIMINI
    DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
    Wednesday, September 26th 2007, 4:00 AM

    WR Justin McCareins, coming off a two-drop game in Baltimore, saw his playing time reduced against the Dolphins. He had only one ball thrown to him (an 11-yard completion), with Brad Smith seeing more time as the third receiver. There are rumors McCareins might be on the trading block....Rookie LB David Harris, used last week in the nickel, is starting to push Eric Barton....The Jets have only one sack; 57 players have more....Bills rookie QB Trent Edwards will make his first start on Sunday, replacing the injured J.P. Losman. The Jets are somewhat familiar with Edwards, having done extensive homework on him before the draft.

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    http://www.nypost.com/seven/09262007..._leon_ball.htm

    WORD TO WISE: GIVE LEON BALL

    September 26, 2007 -- A POIGNANT text message appeared on the screen of Leon Washington's cell phone yesterday.

    It read: "The best is yet to come."

    The author of the note was Terrance Cain, father of the Jets' all-everything running back/punt and kick returner, and his words shouldn't be taken lightly, considering how quietly prophetic he's been.

    "My dad does a good job motivating me each week before games, giving me pointers," Washington told The Post in the quiet of the day-after Jets' locker room Monday, some 24 hours removed from his game-winning performance in a win over Miami that was highlighted by a scintillating 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

    Consider the following message Cain delivered for his son Sunday morning before the Jets and Dolphins played: "Some things a man can't do alone; he needs his teammates, with their cleats laced up hard down."

    Some three-plus hours later, there was Washington, with the help of the blocking of his teammates, bursting through the Dolphins' kick coverage for the return that gave the Jets a 14-7 lead they never would relinquish en route to the 31-28 victory.

    "I call him every Sunday before the game, either talk to him or leave him a message, leave a prayer for him, try to give him some encouraging words," Cain told The Post from his home in Jacksonville, Fla., yesterday. "On Sunday morning, around 10 on my way to church, I called him and left the message. It just came to me. I knew they were struggling as a team and needed a win and everyone was out there trying to make a play."

    Surely, for Washington - any offensive player - to be successful, he needs his teammates rallying around him, whether it's blocking for him on a run out of the backfield, down the field after a reception, or on a punt or kickoff return.

    In turn, if the Jets are going to be successful this season, to borrow a well-worn phrase from our old friend Keyshawn Johnson, they need to get him the damn ball.

    Washington is the closest thing the Jets have to a game-breaker and he needs to be fed the pigskin, unlike the zero touches on offense he had in the Jets' 20-13 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore the previous week, a surprising coaching miscue.

    What makes Washington's success story more impressive is how badly he struggled when he first arrived to the Jets, appearing lost in his first minicamps, unable to cleanly catch punts and kickoffs.

    Subsequently, Eric Mangini and the coaches were all over him. The will of many players might have broken, but Mangini made Washington stronger.

    "If anyone helped me the most it was Coach Mangini, him pulling me to the side and saying, 'Hey, I know I'm hard on you. I know I'm staying on top of you. But I believe you're a good player. I believe you'll do a lot for this team,' " Washington said.

    Even during the most difficult times, Mangini kept telling Washington, "You're here for a reason, because you belong here. It's going to be tough early on, as it is for most rookies and first-year guys."

    Washington said he talked a lot to his father, who, of course, had encouraging words to offer.

    "He called me one day and he said, 'Dad, I had a pretty tough practice,' " Cain said. "I said, it's OK to get down a little bit, but don't ever get discouraged."

    Washington forged ahead and became one of the most productive and dependable offensive players on the team.

    "What I really like about Leon is his toughness, his inherent toughness," Mangini said. "Early on last year, rookie mini camp and the [organized team activities], the ball was on the ground and there were things he wasn't picking up. He just kept plugging away at it and he got better and better at those things.

    "Each week he carved out a little bit more of an opportunity, and whatever you ask him to do he's done a nice job with. I really like the way that he plays big."

    Washington is listed at 5-8, 202 pounds in the Jets media guide, diminutive by the NFL's land-of-the-giants standards. But he might end up being the biggest player on the Jets' depth chart.

    mark.cannizzaro@nypost.com

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    http://www.newsday.com/sports/footba...,2607877.story

    Jets have to sack their 3-4 defense for now
    BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com
    September 26, 2007

    Eric Mangini said he's been part of "a lot of defenses that have allowed plenty of yards." Not exactly the type of thing that should be printed on the back of inspirational T-shirts. And it's far from comforting for Jets fans who just saw their team give up 424 yards against the Dolphins (who had gained a total of 607 in the previous two games).

    Mangini's point was about points, that those are how a defense is measured. He does have some leverage for his argument. Some.

    In 2001, the Patriots' first Super Bowl season, they allowed a whopping 334.5 yards per game, 25th most in the NFL, and held opponents to 17.0 points per game, which was sixth best. In that case, yes, yardage was irrelevant.

    But in 2003 and 2004, the other two Super Bowl years in which Mangini was an assistant coach under Bill Belichick, the Patriots gave up 291.6 and 310.8 yards per game, respectively, both in the top 10 for those seasons. They were first and second in points allowed.

    In 2005, Mangini's only year as a defensive coordinator, the Patriots' defense went back to giving up big yardage, allowing 330.2 per game, 26th most. That year, they also allowed 21.1 points per game, 17th most.

    It's ludicrous to totally discount the relationship between yardage allowed and points scored. Are there anomalies? Sure. Are there teams that can bend but not break? Absolutely. Can some teams gear up when it counts the most, compensate for big plays with their own big plays, count on their offense to cover up defensive deficiencies? Yes.

    Are the Jets one of those teams? No.

    The Jets' defense is ranked 28th in yardage after three weeks ... and 27th in scoring. They've allowed a 47.3-percent third-down conversion rate, which ranks 25th. Teams have had 10 possessions inside the 20 against the Jets and scored seven touchdowns, with three field goals.

    However you break it down, the Jets have a bottom-third defense. And bottom-third defenses don't win playoff games. They certainly don't win championships.

    The troubling part is they have some top-tier talent that is being wasted in the 3-4 scheme. The Jets have essentially traded in the play-making capabilities of Jonathan Vilma, Shaun Ellis and Dewayne Robertson to make Bryan Thomas the key to the front seven (the same Bryan Thomas who, by the way, has four sacks in the nine games since he signed a late-season contract extension last December and was shut out of the statistics against the Dolphins).

    The 3-4 defense works. We've seen it work. It's just not working with the players the Jets have right now. A year and a half after Mangini brought it to New York, there are no more excuses to be made about getting comfortable in it or learning the proper fits.

    If the Jets and Mangini are so committed to the 3-4 defense, then they need to start feeding that scheme the proper players. Robertson as an undersized nose tackle is a failed experiment; there's a reason no other successful 3-4 team is without a 320-pound cornerstone. Vilma as a handcuffed inside linebacker is reaching that same proportion of disappointment. Neither is the fault of the players.

    The Jets need to abandon the 3-4 as long as they have their current roster. If, during the upcoming offseason, they'd like to return to the 3-4 and make the necessary personnel adjustments, fine. It would be costly but fine. At least then, Jets fans would be able to get a fair sense of the scheme's potential.

    Until that time, there will be more mismatched talent struggling to find a home in an inhospitable environment. And more arguments about yardage and points not being related.

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    http://www.nj.com/sports/ledger/inde...800.xml&coll=1

    Dave Hutchinson's Jets Insider
    Wednesday, September 26, 2007
    BY DAVE HUTCHINSON
    Star-Ledger Staff
    INSIDE THE PLAYBOOK

    THE SITUATION

    The Jets are leading 14-13 with 7 seconds left in the first half with a third-and-goal from the 4. They have time for one more play before kicking a field goal. QB Chad Pennington had engineered a flawless 2-minute drive and the Jets desperately wanted to cap it off with a touchdown.

    TE Chris Baker turned out to be their man.

    "Yeah, that was a designed play to go to me," Baker said. "When Chad called it, I was pretty happy about it. It was a pretty important time of the game. It was kind of a momentum thing going into halftime for us."

    WHAT HAPPENED

    Baker ran a quick slant pattern to the middle of the end zone and Pennington lofted a pinpoint pass to him. Baker tipped the ball to himself with his outstretched right hand as Dolphins S Travares Tillman blanketed him. Baker made the catch with both hands and then somehow dragged his second foot to get both feet in bounds. The play gave the Jets a 21-13 lead with 2 seconds left in the half.

    Pennington called the catch "unbelievable" and praised Baker for "coming up with big, big plays, week in and week out."

    Baker, who made a nifty end-zone grab against the Ravens two weeks ago, has a knack for making clutch catches in the end zone and getting his feet down in bounds.

    "It's just something that having played for so long you develop a feel for," Baker said. "You kind of have an idea of where you made your break and how close you are to the sidelines."

    WHY IT HAPPENED

    The Jets had this play earmarked for a big spot and got the matchup they wanted.

    "It was a real good play call," Baker said. "We kind of manipulated the defense with our formation and I was isolated on the safety."

    NEXT OPPONENT

    The Bills (0-3) are hurting. They have nine defensive players injured, including five starters, and starting quarterback J.P. Losman (knee) is out. Losman is expected to be sidelined at least two weeks and rookie Trent Edwards will get his first NFL start against the Jets. LBs Paul Posluszny (forearm) and Keith Ellison (ankle), CBs Jason Webster (forearm) and Terrence McGee (ribs) and S Ko Simpson (ankle) are injured, with the rookie Posluszny (Penn St.), Webster and Simpson out for the season.

    The Bills' 24 points scored are the third-fewest after three games in team history and ranks last in the NFL. Buffalo also ranks last in yards gained (600) and yards allowed (1,375). Rookie RB Marshawn Lynch (57 carries, 228 yards, two TDs) is a good one. He's tough, decisive and hits the hole with authority.

    KEY MATCHUP

    DE Aaron Schobel vs. LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson

    Ferguson, who shut out Miami's Jason Taylor on Sunday (no sacks), gets no break this week with Schobel. Last season, Schobel owned Ferguson, notching three sacks and forcing a fumble in the Bills' stunning 31-13 victory at Giants Stadium in December. Can you say payback?

    QUICK HITS

    The Jets are an impressive 8-for-9 in the red zone this season with six TDs and two FGs. ... Quietly, Brad Smith (three catches for 24 yards and two rushes for 14 yards against the Dolphins) moved ahead of Justin McCareins as the third wide receiver after McCareins' meltdown against the Ravens in Week 2. ... DE/LB Bryan Thomas, who signed a $25 million contract extension last season, has just 10 tackles and no sacks this season. He didn't record a tackle against Miami. ... Jets superfan "Fireman Ed" Anzalone underwent surgery after suffering a knee injury fighting a fire recently and hasn't attended the first two home games. ... QB Chad Pennington's 124 yards passing were the fewest in a winning start in his career.

    UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

    Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is on the hot seat. His, er Eric Mangini's, defense has been an embarrassment, ranking 28th in the NFL and allowing 386 yards per game. Sutton could pay with his job. The Jets have yet to surprise an opponent with a clever scheme and have been repeatedly caught off guard (i.e. screen passes by the Dolphins). The Bills' anemic offense with rookie QB Trent Edwards making his first start could be the perfect tonic.

    INJURIES

    Jets -- No serious injuries reported.

    Bills -- QB J.P. Losman (knee), LBs Paul Posluszny (forearm), Keith Ellison (ankle) and Coy Wire (ankle), CBs Jason Webster (forearm) and Terrence McGee (ribs), S Ko Simpson (ankle), DE Ryan Denney (foot) and OL Jason Whittle (hamstring).

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

    Pennington still has a lot going for him
    Wednesday, September 26, 2007
    By J.P. PELZMAN
    RECORD COLUMNIST

    He'll never be a swashbuckling, gunslinger kind of quarterback. So if that's what floats your football boat, then you'll never warm up to what Chad Pennington brings to the table.

    But look a little bit closer, and you'll see why his teammates respect him and believe in him so much.

    First, consider his quick recovery from a severely sprained right ankle suffered on opening day. Through constant rehab in the days afterward, Pennington got himself healthy enough to be available for the game at Baltimore seven days later, and was well enough to start and play the entire game against Miami.

    Pennington's hard snap counts helped draw four offside penalties against Miami, and that's only one of the ways in which Pennington changes the game while he's managing it.

    "He's always on top of what we want to do in handling certain situations," backup quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo said. "He does a great job of getting us out of bad plays [at the line of scrimmage].

    "He's very alert," Tuiasosopo added. "He's very smart and he's got a great feel for this offense."

    A case in point occurred late in the second quarter, with the Jets leading, 14-13. On second-and-goal from the 9, wide receiver Brad Smith appeared to be open momentarily in the end zone. A less experienced quarterback with a stronger arm might have tried to force the ball into that narrow space, which closed quickly.

    Pennington instead threw to Jerricho Cotchery on a crossing route. Cotchery made a great one-handed catch for a 5-yard gain, followed by Chris Baker's 4-yard touchdown, also on a one-handed grab. Both passes were put where only the receiver could catch it. And if they hadn't been completed, the Jets still had the option of an easy field goal.

    Pennington doesn't have a cannon, and never will. But he does possess pinpoint accuracy, is cool under pressure and handles the mental aspect of the game as well or better than any quarterback in the league.

    All of that should count for something.

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

    Jets look ahead
    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Jets (1-2) vs. Bills (0-3)
    Ralph Wilson Stadium
    Sunday, 1 p.m.
    TV: Ch. 4

    Early line
    Jets by 3

    This marks the fourth time in the last six years that the Jets have been favored at Buffalo. They won and covered in both 2001 and 2002, but lost, 22-17, in 2004 when Chad Pennington suffered the first of his two serious shoulder injuries. The Jets' victory there in 2006 was their first in upstate New York since 2002. The absence of Buffalo QB J.P. Losman (knee) probably didn't affect the point spread, because he hadn't moved the Bills' offense much in the first two weeks anyway.

    On the hot seat

    Jets left guard Adrien Clarke

    The Jets' offensive line finally has established some continuity and chemistry, as evidenced by Thomas Jones' first 100-yard game of the season against Miami. But Clarke, a third-year player who inherited the job when the disgruntled Pete Kendall was dealt to Washington, has been spotty. Against the Dolphins, he had a false-start penalty and allowed Miami's lone sack. Second-year player Will Montgomery, signed last week after being released by Carolina, could challenge Clarke soon.

    Game plan

    The Jets' defense needs to do a better job against the screen pass, which the Dolphins used successfully. Buffalo probably will keep its offensive plan conservative, with Stanford rookie Trent Edwards making his first start in place of the injured Losman. If Jones again can run the ball effectively, that will open up play-action for Pennington, who thrives in such situations. The Buffalo defense also is hurting with rookie MLB Paul Posluszny (fractured arm) out for the season.

    -- J.P. Pelzman

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    That's it for today. Beginning to love Wednesdays, for it seems to be the lightest Jets news content day of the week. Enjoy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by scott dierking II
    A review of the game tape revealed that Ferguson blocked Taylor on two-thirds of his pass plays (23), not allowing him to get close to Pennington. A breakdown:

    One-on-one - 10 plays. In these situations, Ferguson was left on an island, isolated on Taylor. Result: Pennington completed six passes for 34 yards, including two touchdowns.

    That....is....AWESOME!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by scott dierking II
    That's it for today. Beginning to love Wednesdays, for it seems to be the lightest Jets news content day of the week. Enjoy!

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    thanks, scott. You rock.

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    Quote Originally Posted by freestater
    thanks, scott. You rock.
    Indeed. Thanks Scott.

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