Jets offense faces "real" test on Sunday

Everything up until now has been just a precursor to the live show. A test audience to experiment with and see if you get laughs or applause. The only laughter Jets fans want to see on Sunday will have to be accompanied by tears of joy as the offense takes its first step in redifining itself after the Stone Age, aka the Hackett Era.

Quarterback Chad Pennington and the offense looked fine during training camp and most of the preseason, exploding for 37 points in the exhibition finale against the Eagles. But the unit goes at it for real this Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs.

That will be the first test for a revamped unit that will have a new No. 1 receiver (Laveranues Coles), tight end (Chris Baker and Doug Jolley), right tackle (Adrian Jones), backup running back (Derrick Blaylock) and offensive coordinator (Mike Heimerdinger).

Pennington's surgically repaired shoulder proved durable and fully healed during training camp and preseason action, but it was the only time he got on the field with Heimerdinger's new playbook.

While Pennington has always been good at keeping the ball in the Jets' hands longer by precise passing with few interceptions, this new offense will have him taking more chances. The Jets will still use an east-west style offense that relies on NFL rushing leader Curtis Martin and the running game. Yet they'll be calling for a north-south play on several occasions, something Pennington didn't do much under former coordinator Paul Hackett.

"It's going to take time and every day I try to make progress. Bottom line, when Sunday comes, you find a way to win," Pennington said. "Throw everything out the window and not worry about how far we've come, just try to get a win no matter how ugly or pretty it is. It's going to be a process throughout the whole year, but I think we've established a good base to where we can go and win football games now."

The Jets will scale things back a bit on offense to allow Pennington and the others to get into the flow enough early in the season, allowing them to get comfortable quickly so the Jets can add more as the season, and even the game, goes on.

"You put a lot of stuff in and guys start thinking too much. You don't want to do that on opening day because guys' nerves are going, everything else is going," said coach Herman Edwards, who got his start in pro coaching with Kansas City. "Sometimes you have to simplify things even for pro players on opening day. You don't want to give them too much. We are going to do what we do. As the game goes on, if we want to add something, we can add it on."

The Jets will need the points going against the high-octane offense of the Chiefs, led by running back Priest Holmes and quarterback Trent Green, who is likely to start despite experiencing numbness in his leg.

"Obviously they had the No. 1 offense last year in the league," Edwards said. "They averaged around 33 points at home. During the season, I guess they averaged about 30 points a game. They're a very, very potent offense."

The Jets will take their shots early, especially against a Chiefs defense that has several new players trying to learn a new system. Pennington won't be throwing 50 yards downfield every time, nor does he have to with this offense, but with Coles back on board he has an acrobatic target he can utilize along the sidelines and deep when needed.


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