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4 New York Jets

Sept. 04, 2006
Sept. 04, 2006

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Sept. 4, 2006

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4 New York Jets

The new coach made his name patching up the Patriots' defense, but the holes in this team won't be easily filled

THE BELIEF Looksgrim, folks, but there's a 35-year-old coach, Eric Mangini, one of the cumlaude graduates of the Bill Belichick system, and he's switching the defense toa 3-4 with lots of variations. The Jets are going to be smart and versatileand, hopefully, respectable.

This is an article from the Sept. 4, 2006 issue Original Layout

THE REALITY Whereto start? for a while, nobody was sure who the quarterback would be. Thefeatured running back looks like a memory. The offensive line is minus its ProBowl center (Kevin Mawae, gone to the Titans). The defensive line is withoutits leading pass rusher (John Abraham, off to the Falcons). There is noprototype 3-4 nosetackle to eat up gaps and blockers.

O.K., let's startwith Mangini. His finest moment came in 2004, when he was New England'ssecondary coach and everyone was getting injured. He turned a wideout, TroyBrown, into a nickelback; started a linebacker, Don Davis, at free safety; andfilled in spots with a pair of street free agents. The end product was thePatriots' third Super Bowl victory. "We were scrambling, and we gotlucky," Mangini says. "You can do stuff like that in an emergencysituation, but not for a whole season."

Chad Pennington,the quarterback, has suffered a serious shoulder injury in each of the last twoseasons. He has been carefully scrutinized on every throw and has delivered theball with a more relaxed motion than last year-not trying to drill it."I've always been a passer, not a thrower," he says. "Besides, theshoulder has had four more months to heal this year."

Curtis Martin wasthe team's emotional leader. He's also 33, and only two runners in NFL history,Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton, have carried the ball more. He dragged a badknee through most of last season, finally undergoing surgery in December. Hewas inactive in training camp, and when asked about the knee, he said,"It's hard to talk about it." The Jets picked up Kevan Barlow from the49ers, but without a healthy Martin, there is no serious running game. Andright now there is no healthy Martin on the horizon.

Abraham wastraded for a first-round choice. At the time the move looked bad. Now it looksgood. Kimo von Oelhoffen, the 300-pounder the Jets brought in to replace him,is a typical 3-4 end; Abraham isn't. And the draft choice turned out to be NickMangold, a promising center.

The Jets'defensive star is middle (now inside) linebacker Jonathan Vilma, active andfar-ranging, but undersized at 230. Former first-rounder Dewayne Robertson isthe nose man. He can shoot the gap but has never been called on to control it.That's where coaching comes in.

Mangini, whocoached for 10 years in Belichick's 3-4, isn't stupid. There are a lot ofthings one can do with the inside linebackers, and forcing the 230-pound Vilmato stand tall while the 320-pound guards draw a bead on him is not one of them."He'll figure something out," Vilma says. "The system isn'tinflexible."

Nobody isexpecting great things from this team, which lacks gamebreakers on both sidesof the ball-just stability from the new coaching staff, the right players inthe right spots and concerted effort. It's a rebuilding year. A 7-9 recordwould be good, anything better than that remarkable.

2006 SCHEDULE

SEPTEMBER

10 atTennessee

17 NEWENGLAND

24 at Buffalo

OCTOBER

1INDIANAPOLIS

8 atJacksonville

15 MIAMI

22 DETROIT

29 atCleveland

NOVEMBER

5 Bye

12 at NewEngland

19 CHICAGO

26 HOUSTON

DECEMBER

3 at GreenBay

10 BUFFALO

17 atMinnesota

25 at Miami(M)

31 OAKLAND

(M) Monday

SCHEDULESTRENGTH

NFL rank 28

Opponents' 2005winning percentage .465

Games againstplayoff teams 5

ENEMY LINES

AN OPPOSINGTEAM'S SCOUT SIZES UP THE JETS

> I like twoof the off-season moves, signing Kimo von Oelhoffen to play defensive end anddrafting two offensive linemen, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold, in thefirst round. When you have as many holes as the Jets, it's best to start fromthe ground up, with the meat-and-potatoes players, not the flashy ones.

> I don'tthink Curtis Martin will be back, and if he is, he'll be far from the oldMartin. They don't have the kind of receivers to give them the big strikedownfield, and who knows when Pennington's arm will be right, if at all. Theyneed to establish some kind of ball control.

> Theirstrongest position is inside linebacker. Jonathan Vilma's probably their bestplayer, but Eric Barton, whom they moved inside, will surprise everyone in hisnew position.

They can't haveChad Pennington go down. Patrick Ramsey is just a backup; rookie Kellen Clemensisn't ready.

BREAKOUTPLAYER

JerrichoCotchery

WIDE RECEIVER

The 2004fourth-round pick from North Carolina State made a name for himself on specialteams as a rookie, and last year he started gaining note as a receiver."I'd be breaking down Jets films," says coach Eric Mangini, thePatriots' defensive coordinator in 2005, "and I could see him start toemerge in their offense. When I got here, he caught my eye again for his workin our off-season program. If he keeps working like he did, he's going to be animportant guy in our offense."

PROJECTEDSTARTING LINEUP

WITH 2005STATISTICS

COACH ERICMANGINI (0-0 in NFL), first season with New York

OFFENSE

LAVERANUESCOLES
POS WR
REC 73
YARDS 845
TD 5

DERRICKBLAYLOCK
POS RB
RUSH 17
YARDS 53
TD 0

CHADPENNINGTON
POS QB
ATT 83
COMP 49
PCT 59.0
YARDS 530
TD 2
INT 3
RATING 70.9

B.J. ASKEW
POS FB
RUSH 13
YARDS 59
TD 0

JERRICHOCOTCHERY
POS WR
REC 19
YARDS 251
TD 0

MIKE NUGENT
POS K
FG 22-28
POINTS 90

CHRIS BAKER
POS TE
REC 18
YARDS 269
TD 1

D'BRICKASHAWFERGUSON (R) -- NEW ACQUISITION
POS LT
HT 6'6"
WT 305
G 9

PETEKENDALL
POS LG
HT 6'5"
WT 280
G 16

NICK MANGOLD (R)-- NEW ACQUISITION
POS C
HT 6'4"
WT 300
G 12

BRANDONMOORE
POS RG
HT 6'3"
WT 295
G 16

ANTHONY CLEMENT-- NEW ACQUISITION
POS RT
HT 6'8"
WT 337
G 14

DEFENSE

SHAUN ELLIS
POS LE
TACKLES 38
SACKS 2 1/2

ERIC BARTON
POS WILB
TACKLES 21
SACKS 0
INT 0

DEWAYNEROBERTSON
POS NT
TACKLES 43
SACKS 3 1/2

JONATHANVILMA
POS SILB
TACKLES 169
SACKS 1/2
INT 1

KIMO VONOELHOFFEN -- NEW ACQUISITION
POS RE
TACKLES 36
SACKS 3

JUSTINMILLER
POS CB
TACKLES 42
SACKS 0
INT 0

BEN GRAHAM
POS P
PUNTS 74
AVG 43.7

ANDRE DYSON --NEW ACQUISITION
POS CB
TACKLES 20
INT 1

BRYANTHOMAS
POS WOLB
TACKLES 37
SACKS 3 1/2
INT 0

ERIKCOLEMAN
POS FS
TACKLES 121
SACKS 0
INT 2

VICTORHOBSON
POS SOLB
TACKLES 80
SACKS 1
INT 0

KERRYRHODES
POS SS
TACKLES 105
INT 1

NEWACQUISITION
(R) Rookie (college statistics)

2005 RECORD4-12
NFL RANK (RUSH/PASS/TOTAL)
OFFENSE 31/28/31
DEFENSE 29/2/12

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PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER (VILMA) INSIDEJOB Vilma excelled in the middle of the 4-3, and Mangini will school him to bejust as effective in the new 3-4.PHOTOJOSEPH ROGATE/WIREIMAGE.COMPENNINGTONPHOTOJIM TURNER/WIREIMAGE.COMPHOTOHELMET PHOTO BY DAVID N. BERKWITZ TWO PHOTOS