Wednesday Whispers: Hackett off-limits

You have to wonder about quarterback Brooks Bollinger's future with the team.

It's quite apparent that Jets coach Herman Edwards holds him in very low regard as a quarterback, after benching him following one game, against the NFL's best secondary. When asked about Bollinger's future on Wednesday, Edwards replied, "That's a good question. Right now, he's the second quarterback. I mean, that's where he's at."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Bollinger contract is up after the 2006 season. He might not make it that long, and maybe it would be the best thing for him to go somewhere he'd be more respected . . .

Guess Bollinger isn't taking his offensive line out to dinner this week. Remember last week he was asked if he planned to take his linemen out, and he replied, "Let's see how they do first."

The Jets couldn't run the ball last week, making the offense one-handed. As for pass protection, Bollinger was sacked five times, and was on the run on several other occasions.

If the mobile Bollinger struggled behind this line, you have to wonder how immobile Vinny Testaverde is going to fair . . .

The Jets new offense is somewhat complicated, so how comfortable can Testaverde possibly be this Sunday against Tampa Bay? He's been with the team less than two weeks.

"Learning a new offense is like learning a new language," said Testaverde. "Whether you're speaking German, Italian or French, when you say ‘hello,' it means the same thing, but it's said a different way. It's the same here. All of the systems I've been in, a hook is a hook, but you call it maybe a different word to get that route run."

How many people can learn a foreign language in ten days? Not many. The Jets will clearly simplify their approach this week. Basically, instead of attempting to teach Testaverde the whole system, they will just teach him the plays in this week's game plan . . .

There is a chance linebacker Eric Barton could miss his second straight game. He is questionable with a high ankle sprain. If he can't go, Mark Brown will make his second straight start. The cerebral Brown is essentially the Jets primary backup at all three linebacker spots. Actually, Barry Gardner is listed on the depth chart as Barton's backup on the weak-side. However, that clearly isn't the case, because Brown was anointed to replace Barton, not Gardner.

While Brown is a solid player, there is a drop-off from Barton to Brown as far as speed. Barton can cover more ground. Brown was beat by Alan Ricard for an 11-yard reception in the fourth quarter against Baltimore. Ricard is a fullback playing on a bad knee. Also, Brown needs to sure-up his tackling. He missed a tackle on tight end Dan Wilcox on his ten-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Then he missed a tackle on running back Jamal Lewis on the next play, a run that went for six yards.

High ankle sprains can sometimes keep a player out 4-6 weeks, but Barton has a high pain threshold, so don't rule him out this week just yet . . .

Testaverde is 8-18 in his last 26 starts with the Jets and Cowboys . . .

Edwards never made a formal announcement to the players in Wednesday's team meeting that he was making a quarterback change. Actually, even after practice, some defensive players weren't aware that Testaverde was taking over for Bollinger.

When asked about the switch by a reporter, safety Erik Coleman responded, "I didn't even know about it until you just told me."

Testaverde found out from Edwards, who is a close friend, on Tuesday.

"I was in the complex watching film, and he came by and said to be ready on Sunday," said Testaverde. "I took that as I was going to play."

Testaverde expects Tampa Bay's defensive strategy to be the same as the team's first four opponents.

"I think all defenses right now are kind of playing us similar," said Testaverde. "They're going to stack up, they're going to make sure we can't run the ball. That's the way it's going to be for a little while until we become more balanced." . . .

Tampa Bay's General Manager Bruce Allen refused to let the media talk to Buccaneer's quarterback coach Paul Hackett this week. There were several requests made by reporters to interview the former Jets offensive coordinator. Hackett is feeling a lot more love in Tampa Bay, than he did in New York, where he was often a lightening rod.

"I consider him to be a great coach and great teacher," said Buccaneer's coach Jon Gruden. "He really helped (quarterback) Chris Simms have a great preseason. He has also helped us with our scheme. He helped me tremendously."

Hackett and Gruden have been friends since 1991, when Gruden served on Hackett's staff at the University of Pittsburgh.

"He trained me in a lot of ways," said Gruden. "So to have him with me is something I'm pleased about." . . .

The Jets might get a huge break this week because it's possible that Tampa Bay's star rookie tailback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams might not play. He is nursing both foot and hamstring injuries. He's listed as questionable and didn't practice on Wednesday. Considering how poorly the Jets offense has played this year, the Buccaneer's might figure they can win without Williams, and give him the week off. They have two good backups in Michael Pittman and Ernest Graham . . .

The Jets elevated safety Jeremy LeSeuer from the practice squad to the active roster, and released cornerback D.J. Johnson. It's likely that another team attempted to sign LeSeuer off the practice squad, and the Jets elevated him to keep him around. Johnson could be re-signed in the future . . .

While the Tampa Bay offensive line, under the direction of former Jets line coach Bill Muir, has done a solid job this year, expect the Jets defensive line, which dominated the Baltimore Ravens, to have their way with the Buccaneer's front five. They have three first-year starters in guards Dan Buenning and Sean Mahan, and left tackle Anthony Davis. Expect, defensive end John Abraham to have his way with Davis, who some scouts think is a better fit at guard . . .

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