Ken Berger of Newsday and Mark Cannizaro of the New York Post have focused on how the Jets plan on stopping Dante Hall and the return of Derrick Blaylock to Arrowhead and of course the match up of Curtis Martin vs Priest Holmes.
Dateline New York – Newsday's Ken Berger
Newsday - Depending on the flip of a coin, the Jets' first play of the 2005 season could be one of the most dangerous they'll attempt all season: kicking off to Dante Hall. And if their offense sputters a bit, as can reasonably be expected because the system is new and the quarterback is still getting his bearings, they will deliver the ball (much to their chagrin) a few times to Hall with a punt, that fine American (and Australian) art form.
When you play the Chiefs, as the Jets do Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, you have to be mindful of two things: the noise and Hall, whose kick-returning exploits typically create even more noise. Hall is widely considered the best returner in the game, with five touchdowns on kickoff returns and four on punts in his five-year career. Few players understand the threat he presents better than Jets running back Derrick Blaylock, who blocked for Hall on kickoff returns the past four seasons. On Sunday, he'll be the kind of guy he used to pity: one trying to tackle Hall.
"You've just got to break down and tackle Dante, because you never know what he's going to do," Blaylock said. "He's very shifty and unpredictable. They could have the wedge going one way and he could go the other way."
Many teams do their best to kick away from Hall when possible. Not Mike Westhoff, the Jets' special-teams coach, who said recently, "We're going to kick it to him and cover it." Easy for him to say.
"It's tough tackling him," Blaylock said. "But if you get enough guys around him, it's possible."
From the Stables - Berger has no idea just how dangerous it's going to be at Arrowhead on Sunday afternoon. The Jets also have no idea what the atmosphere will be like on Sunday either, because they haven't played there since 1998. Derrick Blaylock and Herman Edwards know and I'm sure they are telling the Jets what to expect, but telling someone something and actually experiencing it are two different things. I can bet you that the Jets have watched the X-Factors many returns on tape and Blaylock has been a key cog in most of those returns. "I'm going to be pretty pumped up, but not too much to where I get myself out of synch," Blaylock said. "I'll calm down once I get in there." We'll find out Sunday if Derrick has calmed down enough to catch Dante or not.
Dateline New York – New York Post's Mark Cannizaro
New York Post - Many eyes on Sunday in Kansas City will be on Curtis Martin and Priest Holmes, the Jets' and Chiefs' featured backs and two of the most prolific performers in the game. Holmes was asked what his scouting report on Martin would be if he were defending him.
"The biggest thing you need to do defensively with Curtis Martin is to make sure he is running north and south," Holmes said. "When you give him the capability to slash from left to right, that causes havoc in the backfield. Keeping him north and south and causing him to look straight ahead without too much cutting, that's when you move them into a box and you can contain him."
For his part, Martin said he doesn't compete against Holmes individually, but added, "I want our team to out-rush their team. That's definitely in the back of my mind. Priest is good, and they're usually going to run the ball. We'd like to out-rush them."
Derrick Blaylocks adds later on in the story this little tidbit: "I'm hoping that he'll muff all of them," Blaylock said of Hall, his good friend. "He's a good returner, but I don't know if he's seen anything like Ben's punts. It will be a big challenge for him to try and catch Ben's punts."
From the Stables - I think most Chiefs fans are going to be watching to see how the Chiefs defense stops Martin on Sunday. Stopping the run has been Job One in OTA's, training camp and practices since they began last April. Going up against one of the most prolific running backs in NFL history will be a good barometer to see just where the Chiefs rush defense stands to start the season. How fantastic would it be to see linebackers Kawika Mitchell, Derrick Johnson and Kendrell Bell in the backfield laying some wood on C-Mart? I think Arrowhead would explode if the Chiefs defense comes out and puts a hurting on quarterback Chad Pennington, Martin and the rest of the Jets offense? I think most Chiefs fans expect Da Padre (Priest Holmes) to return to his old ways and maybe even better with the extra rest he'll be getting while Larry Johnson is in the game. If the Jets out-rush the Chiefs on Sunday…I don't expect a happy Arrowhead or Warpaint Nation come Monday. All I'll say about Blaylock's comment about Dante not having seen anything like Coleman's punts is that Blaylock has not been around to see Dustin Colquitt's amazing punts either! I know Colquitt's punts have given Dante some problems, so I'm sure he'll be ready for them. The question that remains to be seen is….are the Jets ready for Arrowhead on Sunday?
Check back in on Monday when "From the Stables" reviews what the New York writers have to say about the game.
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