NYJ Team Report

The Jets will take a salary cap hit with a few veterans next year (QB Vinny Testaverde, LBs Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis, CB Aaron Beasley) because they can't get much more out of them, but others (SS Sam Garnes and CB Donnie Abraham) may start another year or even stay on as backups. <BR><BR>

INSIDE SLANT

The Jets made it tough for themselves the last two years by having to play through the final minute of the regular season in order to seal their spot in the postseason. This year however, the Jets have fallen way short, all but mathematically eliminated with three games to go.

In the past, coach Herman Edwards had his motivational speeches ready because there was still a carrot at the end of the stick every week. This year, Edwards will have another take on how these Jets need to complete the 2003 season.

"They're going to be up, you don't have to worry about that," Edwards said. "My message is to win. We buy into preparing to win. We're going to prepare this week to win and we're going to play a lot better this week. We have to, period. That's the way it is around here."

It will be important to see how the Jets play out the string. While it's human nature to lag just a bit with nothing on the line, the Jets will have to keep an eye out for the veterans and younger players who stand out over the final three weeks. The Jets will take a salary cap hit with a few veterans next year (QB Vinny Testaverde, LBs Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis, CB Aaron Beasley) because they can't get much more out of them, but others (SS Sam Garnes and CB Donnie Abraham) may start another year or even stay on as backups. Three weeks won't necessarily change anyone's mind about their Jet future but the more information they can gather the better a decision they can make.

Edwards, though, is convinced the Jets will play just as hard regardless of their postseason chances, or lack thereof.

"I don't worry about guys, I really don't," Edwards said. "I think these guys have enough character in them that they have to play for themselves as a football player and the guy that's in the locker next to them. I don't have a concern for this football team at all. These guys are going to play a lot better this week, period. I don't worry about all that other stuff."

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

--DE John Abraham did not play in Buffalo with a strained groin and will miss this week's game against Pittsburgh, making the chances of the Pro Bowler returning this season unlikely. Abraham may go on the injured reserve if the Jets can sign a free agent. Bryan Thomas will continue starting at right defensive end.

--DE Bryan Thomas will continue starting at right end for the injured John Abraham (groin) and will likely do so for the rest of the season.

--WR Jonathan Carter sprained his left knee and ankle in the second quarter on a kickoff return and will likely miss the rest of the season. MRIs taken Monday weren't promising although the Jets aren't sure if Carter will need surgery. The injury is serious enough, though, to keep Carter out the remaining three games. Carter had four catches for 93 yards and a touchdown and averaged an AFC-leading 28.7 yards on kickoff returns. Kevin Swayne took over as the No. 3 receiver and kickoff return man but the Jets will probably sign someone. LaMont Jordan will also return kicks.

--WR Kevin Swayne could take over as the No. 3 receiver and kickoff returner for the rest of the season due to Jonathan Carter's sprained knee, but the Jets may sign a free agent. This has been a tough season for Swayne, who had been thrown to about a half dozen times before making his first catch. That catch, however, was a big one - a 27-yard touchdown two games ago in the win against the Titans. He has two catches for 29 yards.

--MLB Sam Cowart didn't play in the second half Sunday after leaving with a thigh contusion. Cowart made four tackles before coming out. Jason Glenn took over and finished tied for the team lead with eight tackles.

--LB Jason Glenn came in to replace Sam Cowart (thigh), tying Shaun Ellis for the team lead with eight tackles against the Bills. Glenn would replace Cowart in the middle this week against Pittsburgh if the injury doesn't heal.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's important for me as the quarterback to step up and help lead us during this time ... and put us in position to get three wins." -- QB Chad Pennington on what he and the Jets need to do for the final three games with minimal chance at making the playoffs.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. BILLS

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- The Bills proved once again that blitzing Chad Pennington is the way to beat him. He had just 155 yards passing and was sacked five times. Pennington was also hurt by some dropped balls by TE Anthony Becht and WR Curtis Conway after both had improved in that area in recent weeks. Pennington seems like a QB who can play with pressure based on his fourth-quarter comebacks. Yet when it's in his face he falters quickly and dramatically.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- The Jets started well running the ball but then mysteriously just gave up on it. Sure they got behind but not too far where they couldn't keep giving the ball to Curtis Martin, who totaled 84 yards but just 18 over nine carries in the second half. The Jets OL had no answer for Bills DT Sam Adams, who dominated at the line of scrimmage.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- Wasn't much more than mediocre and it didn't have to be because the Bills ran so well they attempted just 15 passes for a total of 72 yards. The pass rush they got on Bledsoe the last time out (seven sacks) wasn't there this time (two sacks). The loss of John Abraham to a strained groin has hurt the Jets pass rush but if they don't come up with another rusher, teams will continue to chip at and double team Shaun Ellis, who had nine sacks in the first seven games but just 2.5 in the six games since Abraham suffered the injury.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- They really did stink this week, letting a running back (Travis Henry) with rib injuries and a broken bone in his leg, and one they bottled up earlier in the season, to rush for a career-high 169 yards and an unmolested touchdown. The Bills averaged just 101 yards a game rushing but totaled 203 against the Jets - a season-high against them.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- This unit committed four penalties, some more costly than others. An unnecessary roughness penalty on rookie Victor Hobson on the opening kickoff set the Jets back 13 yards but they still scored a field goal that drive. J.P. Machado's offsides penalty at the end of the half, however, cost the Jets three points after backing the Jets up five yards for a 50-yard field goal attempt, which Doug Brien missed.

COACHING: F -- Okay, maybe Herman Edwards gets too much credit for willing the Jets to victory and gets picked on too much when the Jets fail in games they're supposed to win. But Edwards is the heart and soul of this team and he is the one that kept everyone believing. The Jets had been fighters up until this point and refused to quit. Yet with their season on the line they fell flat in Buffalo.


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