Jets Team Report

In 2002, the Jets were one of four teams to make the postseason after starting the first seven games under .500 -- Cleveland, Tennessee and the Giants (all 3-4) were the others.<BR><BR>

INSIDE SLANT

Going into Sunday's 1 p.m. game against the Giants at Giants Stadium, the Jets are exactly where they were a year ago, 2-5 and playing for their lives in a game that will almost certainly be a season-breaker to the team that loses.

"When you look at the National Football League, you look at where it's at, there's 17 teams under .500," Edwards said Wednesday. "Some teams are going to dig themselves out of the hole obviously. That's the state of the National Football League, more than half of the teams in the league are under .500. What you have to do is just put a couple wins together. If you can do that, hold on till the month of December, you'll have an opportunity to do something."

History works in the Jets' favor based on this season and last. In 2002, the Jets were one of four teams to make the postseason after starting the first seven games under .500 -- Cleveland, Tennessee and the Giants (all 3-4) were the others.

The Jets are also one of eight teams that made the playoffs last year that are currently playing below .500, including AFC champion Oakland.

So the irony of this being yet another faltering start for the Jets is hitting them over the head like a frying pan.

"We're all sitting here thinking the same things, saying the same quotes. We did it before and I'm sure we can do it again," center Kevin Mawae said. "We know we've been here before we know we've dug ourselves out of this hole before. So we have faith and belief in one another. If you have that you can overcome a lot of obstacles and being 2-5 is one of them."

Yet the Jets are playing under a much different set of circumstances this season with at least three and likely four defensive starters out. Free safety John McGraw (dislocated right shoulder) and cornerback Donnie Abraham (fractured right shoulder) are already out and the Jets will now be playing without Pro Bowl defensive end John Abraham (strained groin) and almost definitely linebacker Mo Lewis (left hip).

The Jets lead the NFL with 26 sacks and Abraham (six sacks) was a big part of that, totaling 3.5 sacks last Sunday against the Eagles before suffering the injury. Now with the underachieving Bryan Thomas -- last year's first-round pick, who has just 23 tackles in 23 games for the Jets -- starting in Abraham's place, the Giants will just double-team Shaun Ellis (nine sacks) and dare Thomas or anyone else to come at quarterback Kerry Collins.

"It's a lot of pressure being put on the whole defense to go out and make plays and get to the quarterback," said Ellis of the absence of Abraham, who could miss as much as 2-4 weeks. It's a big loss for us this game. A player like Abe, you need him on the field."

Then again, teams aren't exactly airing the ball out against the Jets, who still can't stop the run. The Jets' No. 1 ranking against the pass with 152.7 yards per game allowed is misleading because opponents have attempted the fewest number of passes against them (178). The league average is 231.

But against the run, the Jets are still a dismal 31st in the league with 158.9 yards allowed per game. Only Oakland is worse with 159 rushing yards allowed per game.

After allowing just 53 yards rushing to Buffalo three weeks ago, the Jets gave up 169 and 194 yards against Houston and the Eagles the next two weeks.

After averaging just one or two missed tackles a game over the first five games, the Jets defense has imploded with 20 missed tackles over the last two games, including 12 last Sunday in Philadelphia.

"That's the glaring thing," cornerback Aaron Beasley said. "If you watch file were playing hard, we're playing intense. It's just fundamentals. We've all missed tackles and it killed us (in Philadelphia)."

SERIES HISTORY: 9th meeting. Giants lead series 5-4 having taken the last two, including a 41-28 win in 1999. The Jets last regular-season victory against the Giants came 10 years ago, with a 10-6 win in 1993. As much as this is a battle between two New York teams (playing in New Jersey), this has never been a real heated rivalry -- especially with both teams a loss away from ending any realistic hopes for the playoffs.

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

--When defensive end Shaun Ellis sacked Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb near the end of the second quarter Sunday, the belief was he had set an NFL record with a sack in his 10th straight game, dating back to last season.

Only after a debate on the use of half-sacks for streak-keeping purposes -- they can be used -- the Elias Sports Bureau has determined that Tennessee's Jevon Kearse holds the true NFL record with at least a half-sack in 12 consecutive games during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

With the further clarification by Elias, Ellis is now tied with Denver's Simon Fletcher and the Giants' Michael Strahan with a streak of 10 games with at least half a sack. Strahan's streak came last season when he amassed 14 sacks in a 10-game span from Sept. 22 to Dec. 1.

Ellis does hold one record though, with at least a half-sack in each of the first seven games this season (nine sacks total) he ties Philadelphia's William Fuller (1994) and San Diego's Marcellus Wiley (2001). With at least a half-sack against the Giants this week, Ellis would own the record all for himself.

"It's good," said Ellis of records. "But right now I wish we were winning."

--The Jets are hoping to get defensive tackle Josh Evans back to practice next week but they're staying silent about it.

Published reports had Evans, currently under suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, nearing a meeting with the league to get reinstated but Jets officials are mum on the issue.

"No, I'm out of that loop," coach Herman Edwards said. "I can't (comment)."

Evans, who had a career-high six sacks last season and was key in the Jets run defense in the second half, has been suspended since the beginning of the season but it was believed that he would be reinstated after eight games. Evans would almost immediately join what should become a solid rotation that also includes first-round pick Dewayne Robertson, veteran Chester McGlockton, nose tackle Jason Ferguson and up-and-comer James Reed.

--Going into the Sunday's game against the Giants, the Jets have just one win in their last 10 games against NFC East teams.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Ranking of the Jets against the pass with 152.7 yards per game allowed, which means a lot less when opponents have attempted the fewest number of passes against them (178). The league average is 231.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're just trying to tackle him first." -- Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell on whether the Jets will try and take advantage of Giants' running back Tiki Barber propensity to fumble.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The lack of speed among the linebackers is the primary problem, especially when opposing backs go outside and create lanes they can cut back into, forcing the Jets into a footrace they can't win. The Giants' Tiki Barber is exactly this type of back, which is why the Jets may be better off starting rookie Victor Hobson in place of Lewis, who had 103 straight starts for the Jets but will likely be eased out of his job as the season goes on.

PERSONNEL/INJURY NOTES

--DE John Abraham has a strained groin and won't play against the Giants Sunday. He's week-to-week. Bryan Thomas will start in Abraham's place and rookie Matt Walters will move up the depth chart. DT Chester McGlockton may also get in on some plays at the end position.

--DE Bryan Thomas will start for John Abraham against the Giants this week while Abraham sits with a strained groin.

--DE Matt Walters will be elevated to the backup on both the left and right sides while John Abraham is unable to play this week because of a strained groin.

--LB Mo Lewis did not practice Wednesday and is questionable for Sunday's game against the Giants with a sore left hip. He was bothered by the same hip as well as his hamstring for most of last week but still played against the Eagles last Sunday and had two tackles. His doesn't appear likely to play this week because the Jets plan on starting rookie Victor Hobson regardless of the severity of Lewis' injury. In fact, this could be the official start of the Jets easing Lewis out. Lewis had started in 103 straight games.

--LB Victor Hobson, who had three tackles in Philadelphia last Sunday, will start for Mo Lewis this week against the Giants. His main concern will be stopping Giants TE Jeremy Shockey, a role the faster and stronger Hobson will do better in than Lewis.

--CB Donnie Abraham will not play Sunday against the Giants because of a fractured right shoulder and will remain out for at least 2-3 more weeks. Ray Mickens will continue to start in his place.

--CB Ray Mickens will continue starting for the injured Donnie Abraham this week against the Giants.

--FS Jon McGraw did not play last Sunday in Philadelphia because of a dislocated right shoulder and is expected to miss the next 2-3 weeks. Tyrone Carter will continue to start in his place.

--FS Tyrone Carter will continue starting for the injured Jon McGraw this week against the Giants.

--CB Jamie Henderson returned to practice Wednesday after missing the last two weeks with a sprained right knee. Henderson will return to his role as the corner in the Jets' nickel defense.

GAME PLAN: The Jets will have to pay more attention to the opposing team's running game, especially against Tiki Barber -- another stocky, compact back the Jets have had trouble bringing down all season. The Jets tackle everyone high, which usually results in a missed tackle or the back gaining another yard or two because his legs are free.

On offense, the Jets are going to keep giving the ball to Curtis Martin, who is finally back on track after 110 yards against the Eagles last week. In addition, the Jets will keep going with the short passing game off play-action fakes from quarterback Chad Pennington.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Jets LB Victor Hobson vs. Giants TE Jeremy Shockey -- As the strong-side linebacker, it's Hobson's job to line up over the tight end, so he'll get a handful and an earful of Shockey. Hobson is faster and stronger than Mo Lewis so he's a better match against Shockey but Hobson has been prone to mental errors that could cost him. He won't face Shockey alone and the Jets plan to give him a lot of help.

--Jets WR Santana Moss vs. Giants CB Will Allen -- Moss is having his best season and has emerged as a playmaker. Allen has the reputation for having lapses, like when he gave up two touchdowns to Minnesota's Randy Moss in the first half last week.

INJURY IMPACT: The loss of DE John Abraham will hurt the Jets pass rush, which has been key to the few successes they've had this season. Teams will now just focus on Shaun Ellis because the Jets just don't have another consistent pass rusher.

CB Donnie Abraham and FS Jon McGraw's absence will also continue to cause problems for the Jets secondary but since teams keep running the ball against them, it isn't nearly the concern it should be.

Mo Lewis' absence could be a blessing since it forces the Jets to play rookie Victor Hobson, the heir apparent to Lewis' job who probably should have been starting much earlier this season.


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