Defense not up to par

Ray Mickens, and the rest of the Jets defensive players, are using their time off to take an introspective look at how they can improve their performance. <p>

"The bye week is good," said Mickens. "I get to look at film, on my technique and how I play. You go out and practice and correct those things. You get healthy that is what a bye week is for. Correcting mistakes and getting healthy to finish the season."

Gang Green found themselves in a similar predicament last year, when they entered their bye week.

After a win to open the 2002 season, the Jets had four loses in a row before their week off. The defense did not play well during this period. They had five consecutive games of giving up at least 29 points.

This season their defense has again looked out of sync.

The 2002 bye week turned the season around, as Gang Green won 8 of their final 11 games.

They hope the same thing happens again in 2003.

"When we came into the bye week last year we just came in and looked at ourselves," said Mickens. "Each individual critiqued each other's performance, and the coaches look at the overall picture, access the team and what we need to get done. And we changed some things and we got it done, and it is no different this year.

"We have critiqued ourselves (this week), and coaches critique how we are playing. We go out there and work on techniques and fundamentals, and work on things we have been doing wrong."

As a unit in 2003, the Jets defense ranks 13th overall in the AFC.

Only three teams in the AFC have a worse defense than New York. Those teams are Oakland, San Diego, and Houston. For the Jets defense, multiple questions remained to answered.

They are:

A) Do they lack talent?

B) Are they putting their players in the proper situations to be successful, (an area that Herman Edwards talked about on Wednesday when addressing changes that needed to be made.)?

C) Is the coaching staff not putting the right personnel out on the field?

Part of the reason for the Jets turnaround last season, was the changing of personnel during the bye week.

The coaches named quarterback Chad Pennington the starter. This move sparked an unlikely sequence of events. The Jets went from 1-4, and won the AFC East.

It is unclear if the Jets have another savior this season. However, that doesn't mean they are not willing to try.

Edwards has come out and stated that nobody's job is safe. The roster is now open for competition. And that includes every position on a defense that ranks last in the AFC against the run.

According to Mickens, it might not be that bad to change the current personnel and incorporate the younger players, especially when these younger players are making veterans work harder, in fear of losing their spot.

"Any time you get young guys in there that are capable of playing, they should be playing," said Mickens. "When you get them into the rotation, it will energize the whole team. Competition always does that. If you are a competitor you live for competition. Everybody is open to competition, we need it, and as a unit it makes each other better. It (competition) makes you as a person, and as a player better. You get to challenge yourself. I truly believe that."

If there is a player on this roster who can make the Jets better, they will likely be on the field soon.

"We find out a lot of things (during the bye week)," said Mickens, "and it's all in the works right now. We are working on things right now, and we have been the last couple days. And it will continue tomorrow."


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