Tuesday Whispers - Hackett and Pennington's plan

Jets offensive coordinator Paul Hackett and quarterback Chad Pennington employed a smart strategy in the Jets win over Houston.<p>

They picked on the Texans rookie left outside linebacker Jason Babin in the passing game. On both of the Jets second half passing touchdowns, Babin was victimized. First, Curtis Martin beat Babin down the right sideline on a four-yard touchdown catch at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Then four minutes later, Babin bit on a play-action fake, and tight end Anthony Becht was wide open in the end zone for a two-yard touchdown grab.

The reason Babin is a such a desirable target to exploit is that he was a college defensive end at Western Michigan. He is learning on the job to play linebacker during his rookie year in the NFL. That is quite a tough chore, and the Jets were smart to go after him.

"That is what we tried to do," Pennington told Jets Confidential after the game . . .

While Herman Edwards says that defensive end John Abraham is week-to-week with his knee injury, it's possible the organization has a more definitive idea of how long the Jets star defensive end is going to be out. Edwards said recently he doesn't want give the media timetables on how long an injured player will be sidelined because it puts pressure on the team doctors and the player. So how long will Abraham truly be out? Newark Star-Ledger Jets beat writer Hutch Hutchinson was told by an NFL source the defensive end will be out three weeks. That sounds about right. And if the Jets clinch a wildcard spot during that time, they would likely hold him out until the playoffs. Abraham told reporters as he was leaving the stadium that he didn't think the injury was particularly serious. He was seen leaving the stadium walking with no limp.

The Jets signed defensive Joey Evans to their practice squad. This is an insurance policy and also to help their scout team. Since the team only as three healthy defensive ends, they don't want to wear them out by running the regular defense and the scout team during practice. If there is another injury, they will elevate Evans to the main roster. He was in training camp this summer, but didn't get much of a chance to show what he could do because he was injured. He had a good rating coming out of North Carolina (4.79 forty), and played fairly well in NFL Europe last season.

With the great job he's doing as the team's defensive coordinator, Donnie Henderson could emerge as a head coaching candidate on the NFL or college level, in the near future. But we hear the Jets aren't afraid of losing him after this season. According to one Jets source, Edwards and Henderson are "attached at the hip." After Edwards gave Henderson his first coordinator gig after 20 years in coaching, he's not going to leave after just one year and put "Herm" in a bad spot.

Expect a bigger role for middle linebacker Sam Cowart this week. The Jets will need him against the Steelers power running game. Cowart is 15 pounds heavier than the Jets starting middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Plus the Jets will likely use more 3-4 defense since they have just three active defensive ends now due to the Abraham injury. In a 3-4 look Cowart and Vilma could play together inside. Cowart is feeling better about his problematic knee this week after his own doctor in Florida checked it out.

All these rumors about the Jets interest in former St. Louis Rams punter Sean Landeta are a big far-fetched. While Landeta is still an effective punter, he doesn't have much experience holding for placekickers. There is no way the Jets are going to mess with placekicker Doug Brien's head and give him a novice holder like Landeta or backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger. The Jets current punter, Toby Gowin, is an excellent holder, and Brien is extremely comfortable with him.

Plus Gowin helped his job security with his brilliant third quarter punt that was downed on the three-yard line.

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