Coach Callahan on the Jets

Raider head coach Bill Callahan spoke to the New York media this week about Monday night's showdown with the Jets.

What do you think about a young QB coming into the hostile environment provided by your fans?

 

I really don't play into that very much because of the fact that the Jets have been out here and Chad has been in this environment twice in the last year.  I think those guys handle crowd noise situations very well.  And under Herm Edwards, I think they have done an outstanding job on the road.  Here is a guy who has an outstanding road record.  I believe it is 10-3, I am not sure.  But he has an outstanding record for two years in the league.  These guys have great focus, and they have tremendous preparation and poise right now, so I don't know if the crowd will be a factor for them.

 

What have you seen from the Jets defensively since last year?

 

I think they are vastly improved up front.  They have a lot of guys that they are mixing in there now.  They look like they are very stout against the run, and it is tough to score points early on them.  They have done a tremendous job mixing their fronts and their coverages up and playing with strength.  When you've got Evans in there, and you've got Webster, it really adds to their internal strength.  And of course, with John Abraham and Ellis, they have done an excellent job.  In that capacity, I see the front being stronger internally, and I think the LB's have done an outstanding job for them this year.

 

Are you surprised at how well Chad Pennington has taken to the starting role?

 

Not really.  He was quite a talent coming out of Marshall.  We looked at him very strongly and had great interest in him.  The system he is playing under, and the coach he is playing under in Paul Hackett, they have done a tremendous job.  I have known coach Hackett from a long time ago and I have tremendous respect for his ability to tutor QB's, to teach fundamentals, and to get them to understand the system and understand defense in general.  I think it is a system where it is a high-percentage, decision-making type of system.  And he is making the right decisions, he knows where to place the ball, and they take their shots when they take them and they are very calculated about that.  HE is very intelligent with the ball, very similar to our guy, he takes great pride in securing the ball and not turning it over, and his decision-making process is built into that. 

 

Have you noticed the Jets running game starting to come around?

 

Yeah, I know he (Curtis Martin) was hobbled by that ankle early, but he has really come on and shown signs of his old form again.  That is scary.  Because we are going to have to stop the run.  That is first and foremost on our plate, and that is the main agenda as we go into the week.  And they do so many things well.  They have the ability to misdirect you, and they have the ability to power you, and also get outside.  And he is such a big part of that.  He is the franchise back, and he really carries that load for them.  It is going to be a challenge for us to stop him. 

 

Are you concerned with their special teams?

 

We have great respect for the Jets special teams.  Here is a team that creates field position on both ends of the spectrum.  Obviously, we have great respect for Mike Westhoff, we think he is one of the finest special teams coaches in the league.  Week in and week out, he has an array of schemes and all types of different adds to his package that creates problems and confusion for people.  It is going to be a challenge to our team, because that is an area that we are working hard to improve.  Obviously we did so last week against Arizona, but we have a long way to go yet.  A guy like Mike Westhoff and the [talent] that he brings in here is going to present one of our greatest challenges of this season.  I think this game will come down to special teams and our ability to protect the punter, to cover, and obviously create field position for ourselves.  So it will be quite a battle.

 

How different is the Jets defense without John Abraham and what does he bring?

 

If memory serves me correctly, I believe he played some early downs in that playoff game.  I recollect that he did, but I am not positive.  But the game prior to that, we had problems blocking him.  He has great athletic ability, and he reminds me a little bit—he has some of the techniques of Charles Haley in that he is very quick with his inside move, and his double moves are executed very well.  So he presents a full agenda for an offensive tackle because of the fact that he has the speed, and he has the power.  And he does have that lateral quickness in his stunts to really disrupt.  So he is a real factor and of course they use him as that elephant end.  They try to give you some different pictures to try to utilize his ability.  They line him up in different ways.  So I think they are utilizing his skills and talents very well.  He presents probably our most difficult challenge up in that front.       

 


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