Behind Enemy Lines: Bears/Jets, Part II

In Part II of an exclusive four-part series,'s John Crist and Jets Confidential's Dan Leberfield pick up where they left off with their interaction, this time with Dan questioning John. How impressive is Chad Pennington's comeback, is Curtis Martin's career over, and what happened to Justin McCareins? These Q&As and more inside.

John Crist, Editor in Chief, What are the Jets doing to win ballgames despite having a team that is statistically lacking in almost every offensive and defensive category?

Dan Leberfeld, Publisher, One thing that has helped them is that they've played a weak schedule. Before their impressive win at New England, they beat Tennessee, Buffalo, Miami and Detroit. And all those games were close. So the fact that they barely got by these weak teams explains why they can have such a low ranking and still could be 5-4. Also, they have a heck of a quarterback in Chad Pennington, who is now healthy. He can be the tie-breaker in tight games because he makes so many smart plays.

John Crist: How far has Chad Pennington come this season considering he was fighting for his job and his future with the Jets back in training camp?

Dan Leberfeld: It's an amazing story. Not many medical experts gave Pennington much of a chance to come back from two major operations on his throwing shoulder. But so far, he's bucked the odds. He's making all the throws he needs to and has taken a number of big hits with no negative effect.

John Crist: Does Curtis Martin have anything left in the tank, or was his injury a blessing in disguise and his career pretty much over at this point?

Dan Leberfeld: Curtis Martin is done. He is bone-on-bone in his right knee. In other words, he has no cartilage left and has a hard time cutting on the knee. Martin wants to keep playing, but he realizes if he pushes it now, he will have major issues with the knee in the future. He's was put on the PUP/IR list a couple of weeks ago but hasn't officially announced his retirement. That will likely happen in the offseason, and he will go into the Hall of Fame five years after that.

John Crist: Kevan Barlow and Leon Washington seem to be bouncing back and forth as the top tailback, but is either one of them the answer long term?

Dan Leberfeld: Barlow has prove that he can be a starting tailback in this league. On a bad team in San Francisco, he did some good work. He has terrific size (6-1, 234) and speed (4.5). He can run over people and away from them. Washington has turned into a fourth-round steal, but he's best suited to be a situational player, not an every down back. He's just 5-7 and 205 pounds. But he's good for 10-15 touches a game as a runner and receiver. He has excellent open-field moves.

John Crist: Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery have been a solid duo at receiver, but what happened to Justin McCareins and everybody else?

Dan Leberfeld: With the emergence of Cotchery, McCareins - who is from Naperville - has been the team's third receiver. The classy Northern Illinois graduate has dealt with it well. In some ways, the low-key McCareins is best suited for a No. 3 role like he had while with the Tennessee Titans. He's better away from the spotlight. The Jets also have two other receivers in the mix, rookie Brad Smith and veteran Tim Dwight. All five players are involved in the creative mix-and-match offense of coordinator Bryan Schottenheimer.

Be on the lookout for Part III of this four-part series as John will answer five more of Dan's questions.

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