By Jet MosesÂ
Before the season, there was some criticism that the Jets should not have used their first two draft picks on offensive linemen. Some fans were upset at the Jets for not drafting some â€œplaymakersâ€?. What the critics failed to acknowledge was the fact that the Jets already had (and have) playmakers; they just needed coaches to game plan for them to succeed. The Jets did in fact draft a few more this past April, just not on day one. Despite giving up 475 yards of offense to the Bills in their own stadium, the Jets still managed a victory last Sunday, because of all of these playmakers.
Strong Safety Kerry Rhodes, who was drafted by Terry Bradway, in the 4th round of the 2005 NFL draft, has emerged as a legitimate NFL star. Kerry provides the backbone of the secondary, but also provides the Jets with a pass rush. This is a versatile ball player who assailed Bills QB JP Losman for two sacks, and forced two fumbles. Bills turnovers negated at least 4 potential scoring drives, and Kerry Rhodes was the catalyst each time.
Laveraneus Coles has 24 catches for 331 yards and one TD. Heâ€™s second in the NFL behind the Coltsâ€™ Marvin Harrison. His catches have been nothing short of spectacular. Colesâ€™ counterpoint is Jerricho Cotchery. Also a Bradway draft pick, Cotchery was never afforded an opportunity while Herman Edwards was the coach. Jerricho is averaging 14.6 YPC, and has two TDâ€™s in three games.
Rookie RB Leon Washington had his debut on offense, exploding for 47 yards on a dump off from QB Chad Pennington. On special teams, 6th round draft pick Drew Coleman made some big plays. Not to be outdone by the youngsters, 15-year veteran DE Bobby Hamilton came up huge with a sack on JP Losman for a 9-yard loss on 3rd and goal, forcing the Bills to settle for a FG. As Chad Pennington said in the post-game press conference, the victory was a total team effort.
The Jets right now are in the black, tied for first in the AFCE, at 2-1, in spite of having an anemic rushing attack, a non-existent pass rush (although it is improving), and a defense that has allowed 402 rushing yards in three games. Addressing the struggles with running the ball, The Jets coaching staff is improvising with the H-Back formation, giving TE Sean Ryan an important role on the offense. Although the numbers were modest on Sunday in Buffalo, there was a distinguishable improvement on running plays. Fullback BJ Askew, who never embraced the role of being a lead blocker, might find himself out of work, shortly.
Up next on the schedule, the high-powered Colts visit the meadowlands on Sunday. The Colts, who are undefeated, are ranked number two overall in total offense, but are middle of the pack on defense. The Jets defense, although conceding a lot of yardage, are not giving up a proportional amount of points. In fact, the Jets defense and the Colts defense average giving up 20 PPG. If the Jets can keep the Colts out of the end zone, and hold them to FG attempts in the red zone, they have a chance to pull off a home upset. Not an impossible task, considering the star of the Jets defense is the strong safety. The Colts FG kicker, Adam Vinatieri is out with an injury, replaced by recently acquired Martin Gramatica.
The game within the game scenarios:
Chad Pennington, who hails from Tennessee, did not get a scholarship to play for his home university. Colts QB and Louisiana native, Peyton Manning did receive that scholarship. I think Chad and the rest of the Jets offense are eagerly relishing this showdown with the Colts. Rookie OT Dâ€™Brickashaw Ferguson will also get his first chance to face Colts DE Dwight Freeney. As you will recall, NY Post beat writer Mark Cannizaro made a comment on the first day of Jets training camp that Dâ€™Brick was â€œacting like a timid childâ€? and Cannizaro suggested that Dâ€™Brick would have a hard time facing Freeney.
The moment of truth is upon us.