By Tom Kiss
The year was 2002 and second year head coach Herman Edwards (thank you Carl Peterson) was in charge of a team that was 1-3, coming off a 10-6 playoff season.Â Edwards decided to remove a veteran starter, Vinny Testaverde, for an untested third year quarterback, Chad Pennington.Â The Jets went on to finish the season 9-7, and made the playoffs on the seasons last day.Â
Fast forward to this week.Â Second year head coach Eric Mangini is in charge of a 1-4 team, coming off a 10-6 playoff season.Â Now Pennington is the veteran starter and Kellen Clemens the second year player itching on the sidelines.Â Edwards, as much as it kills to admit it, made the right move as Pennington sparked the club as the team turned the season around.Â Mangini should make the same move this week, though it is highly unlikely.Â
Pennington’s advantage over Clemens is that he is expected to make better decisions and manage the offense into the endzone and win games.Â Pennington has made terrible decisions in the last two games, both games the Jets could have and should have won, and he has led the offense to two touchdowns in those two games.Â Terrible.Â
With the Eagles coming into the Meadowlands this week, the Jets face an opponent eager to get past their last game, a drubbing by the Giants at the Meadowlands two weeks ago.Â
When the Jets have the ball:
Unless the offensive line decides to start opening holes, there is zero chance of the Jets running game getting any better.Â The combo of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington should be at least decent, not putrid.Â
Credit should be given, however, to the increased protection that has been given to Pennington in recent weeks.Â Nick Mangold and D’Brick must step up and lead by example in run blocking situations and start taking some people out of plays.Â Pass blocking is technique, run blocking is attitude, and this o-line needs to step it up.
With it likely that Pennington will be taking the snaps again, expect to see the Jets play a little more “aggressivelyâ€?.Â Running some more gadget plays than usual, and increased playing time for Brad Smith.Â Chris Baker will have his usual one catch, one amazing catch game.Â Coles and Cotch will combine for 120 plus yards, and the Jet offense will score 10 points.
When the Eagles have the ball:
The Jets may get a break if Brian Westbrook is less than 100%, but even Correll Buckhalter can hurt the Jets.Â The Jet defensive front played well in the first half last week, but looked disinterested in making tackles in the second half.Â Stopping the run, a problem it seems this team has had as long as I’ve been alive, is a must this week.Â With a strong running game, McNabb should be able to pick apart the Jet defense.Â
Donovan McNabb, however, could be in for a long day if starting LT William Thomas is out again.Â Rookie Winston Justice, of USC, would get the nod again if Thomas can’t go which could spell disaster for the Eagle offense.Â In no way should Jet fans expect to see a 12 sack performance out of this defense, but should Justice be in the starting lineup, there will be pressure on McNabb.
Matchup of the game: Anthony Clement vs. Jevon Kearse
D’Brick should be able to handle Trent Cole for the most part, but sack hungry Jevon Kearse could present a real problem for Anthony Clement and the Jet offense.Â Kearse could very well be harassing Pennington all day.
NYJ 10 – PHI 20