Around the AFC East: Week 3 Preview

A look ahead in the AFC East. The Buffalo Bills head coach questions his line and his QB. The Miami Dolphins Ronnie Brown finds criticism motivating. The New York Jets are showing cracks in their foundationw with Pennington and Martin. These topics and more in Around the AFC East.

PHOTO: New York Jets coach Herman Edwards applaudes. Jets 34-28 over the San Diego Chargers Sept 19, 2004 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Week 3 Preview: Around the AFC East
By Scout.com Staff

Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

BUFFALO BILLS

Coach Mike Mularkey understands that until first-year starting quarterback J.P. Losman starts performing consistently, opponents will have nothing to fear. Their strategy will be to put an extra defender or two near the line of scrimmage to stop running back Willis McGahee.

But with an offensive line that averages 327 pounds per man and a star ball carrier that weighs 228 pounds, Mularkey said it's inexcusable for the Bills to average 2.8 yards per carry and total one rushing first down, sins they committed in last Sunday's 19-3 loss at Tampa Bay.

That's why he's called out McGahee, not once, but at least four times this week as the Bills get set to host the Atlanta Falcons at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"We understand teams are going to attempt to take (our running game) away for a while, maybe the whole year," Mularkey said. "But whether a hole is there or not, we need Willis hitting it up into some creases that were available. We should make yards even with an eighth guy in there."

Against Tampa Bay, McGahee gained just 34 yards on 13 carries with 14 yards coming on one run before halftime. He gained just three yards on five carries in the second half. Four times he gained just one yard, another time zero and another minus-2 yards.

What was the problem?

While it hurt losing right tackle Mike Williams to a sprained ankle early in the third quarter, McGahee - for reasons even he can't or won't explain - decided to dance and tip-toe at the line of scrimmage rather than burst into the hole. Against a defense as fast as the Buccaneers, he was unable to bust plays to the outside, or cut back against the pursuit. Linebacker Shelton Quarles and cornerback Ronde Barber combined for nine tackles against McGahee.

"Sometimes patience can be good but most times, especially against a fast defense, you don't have time for hesitation," said Mularkey, who is a stickler for running backs running his plays as he designs them. "I'm not sure what sport hesitation is good in, maybe golf. But against a fast defense, you have to hit things. I've talked to Willis that being as big and physical as he is, even when nothing is there, with his size and strength if you can move the line of scrimmage, we should be making yards."

Lack of production in the run game put the Bills in some challenging third-down situations. They were 4 of 14 on third down and only three of those situations involved picking up four yards or less. Losman went 3 of 10 passing on third down.

McGahee admitted that he danced too much, but disagreed with Mularkey's overall assessment of his game. He said running backs take too much of the blame when a team can't run the ball.

"Well, it's a different story when you're out there on the field doing it yourself," McGahee said. "But everybody's got his or her opinion. Think what you want to think."

McGahee also started slowly in the opener against Houston but warmed up to gain 117 yards on 22 carries, his eighth 100-yard game in 12 career starts. He never got warmed up in Tampa Bay.

Mularkey did shoulder some of the blame. He and offensive coordinator Tom Clements were impatient in establishing the running game, calling run plays for McGahee on first and second down consecutively only once. That was the only time he received back-to-back carries.

"I know that if I don't get it going, it's probably going to be a long day for the team," McGahee said. "I just have to do the things to make myself better and I plan on working on it."

Is Mularkey unfairly singling him out?

"Like I said, everyone's got an opinion," McGahee said. "I'm not going to worry about it or have it correct my running style."

Mularkey said he doesn't want to change the way McGahee plays, but his star ball carrier does need to understand plays need to be run the way they practice them. He sat McGahee down and showed him game tape after the Tampa Bay loss.

"Sometimes that's the beauty of having these games filmed and sitting down and showing him, 'Here's the design of the play,' " Mularkey said. "There are a lot of mechanics that 11 guys have to execute for it to be successful and sometimes you have to show one particular player, 'This is what we're talking about. If you had hit it, here's what would've happened.' Today, there was already a noticeable difference (in practice) in the way Willis ran the ball."

This is the first time McGahee has faced criticism publicly.

"Hopefully he responds in a positive way and comes out and runs the ball real effectively for us," veteran wide receiver Eric Moulds said. "If I know Willis McGahee, he'll respond."

SERIES HISTORY: 9th meeting, series is tied 4-4. This is the first meeting at Ralph Wilson Stadium since a 23-17 Bills victory on Nov. 12, 1995. Jim Kelly threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns while rookie running back Darick Holmes rushed for 100 yards.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Two of the NFL's youngest head coaches square off Sunday. Buffalo's Mike Mularkey and Atlanta's Jim Mora are each 43 and born on the same day (Nov. 19, 1961). Only Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden and Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio, each 42, are younger.

--Buffalo's defense, which allowed 191 yards rushing to Tampa Bay and 318 overall, slipped from No. 1 to No. 2 in the NFL's overall rankings. LB London Fletcher said the loss to the Buccaneers would make the Bills better in the long run. "Pride can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing if you go on thinking that you're better than you actually are," he said. "We haven't made the playoffs here. We haven't done anything to constitute being boastful. You just can't think you're going to win on Sunday. When that opponent comes in here on Sunday, they don't think we're facing the No. 1 or No. 2 defense, they're thinking about winning that football game and doing all they can to do that."

--In a surprise move, the Bills wore their 1960s throwback uniforms at Tampa Bay, a decision that didn't come until game day once they knew the Buccaneers were wearing their whites. The league allows teams to wear their alternate third uniform only twice a year, and Buffalo opened the season with their throwbacks. They may petition the league to wear them another game because the look is so popular with their fans.

--Falcons coach Jim Mora was asked by Bills beat reporters about the decision to cut former Buffalo wide receiver Peerless Price, who signed a huge free agent contract before Mora's arrival last season. Price has since signed with Dallas. "More than anything it was probably a scheme thing," said Mora, who has drafted two wide receivers in the first round the past two years (Michael Jenkins, Roddy White). "When he was playing for Buffalo, with Drew Bledsoe and (Eric) Moulds and he wasn't the No. 1 guy, he ran a lot of option routes from the slot. He came here, to a West Coast offense, and he just didn't fit. Sometimes that happens. I appreciate the way he worked. He was a quality person, kept a good attitude. It just didn't work out and we had to make a move."

--The Bills are mourning the death of long-time college scout George "Chink" Sengel. He was 83. Sengel, a resident Lexington, Ky., scouted players for seven different Bills coaches starting in 1979 and worked in the NFL for 37 years overall. Sengel played and coached for the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant at Kentucky. He also coached high school football in Florida and Kentucky.

BY THE NUMBERS: 112 - Games in a row WR Eric Moulds has caught at least one pass. Only Marvin Harrison (140), Keyshawn Johnson (136) and Terrell Owens (130) have longer streaks among active players.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've seen teams try and contain him and that contain is one guy. Usually it's a bigger guy who has to keep him in the pocket. It can be a spy. ... But imagine yourself on a field with Michael Vick and nobody else? You really have to be patient and do your job keeping him inside. A lot of teams do use a spy but that takes away from your rush and it takes away form the coverage." - Bills coach Mike Mularkey on facing Falcons dynamic quarterback Mike Vick, who this year is averaging almost as many yards rushing per play (5.8) as passing (6.64).

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Getting pulled for a series in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's loss at Tampa Bay was upsetting for first-year starter J.P. Losman but not entirely surprising, he said. By pulling Losman and inserting veteran Kelly Holcomb, coach Mike Mularkey made it clear to him that he won't sacrifice winning over developing a young QB.

"I would definitely not like for it to happen again, but if it does, I have to be prepared for it," said Losman, who held an animated news conference with reporters on Wednesday and ended it by walking away when he didn't like the line of questioning.

"I said it from the beginning, this team is not waiting for some young quarterback to mess up in games and give the excuse, 'He's a young quarterback.' This team is ready to win now and I have to be ready for it."

The Bills had the NFL's No. 1 special teams and No. 2 defense last season when they finished 9-7. They're hoping that the move to Losman, who replaced Drew Bledsoe, will improve their No. 25 offense but after two games, Buffalo ranks 30th. Losman played well in a victory over Houston but went only 12 of 29 for 113 yards in a 19-3 loss at Tampa Bay. Seven of Buffalo's 10 possessions ended in four plays or less. The first five under Losman produced a grand total of 20 yards on 16 plays and the offense was outscored 2-0 by Tampa Bay's defense, which nailed Losman for a safety.

Losman was upset to be benched, but he said he's over it. He likes for the coaches to be blunt with him, and that was blunt.

"Anytime I'm challenged I play better," Losman said. "I don't like coaches to sugarcoat anything. I don't want them to say, 'It wasn't that bad of a play J.P." Tell me straight up, 'That was horrible.' I'm not a shaky guy. I want to know exactly what the problem is. Let's fix it, let's talk about it. Hearing that from the coach isn't going to shake me up.

"I play better when people yell at me," Losman said. "I'm telling the coaches, 'Coach me hard-nosed. Let me know. I want the pressure on me. I play better when the stakes are higher.'"

When told that Losman said he does better when screamed at, Mularkey said, "Do you have that in writing? But yeah, that's his personality. He's a competitive guy. He likes to be challenged and we've challenged him."

WR Lee Evans said the brief benching of Losman didn't send any mixed messages.

"No. That wasn't an issue for anybody. I don't know what you'd call it, but it didn't send mixed messages in the huddle or on the sideline."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--TE Tim Euhus, who has missed the year's first two games with a shoulder/pectoral injury, has returned to practice. He's doubtful for the Falcons game but should be back by next week.
--WR Roscoe Parrish, still wearing a cast on his injured right wrist, has been ruled out of the Falcons game Sunday. Reports that the University of Miami rookie would return by the third game were overly optimistic.
--LB London Fletcher, who strained his right hamstring in the loss at Tampa Bay, did not practice Wednesday but he does expect to play Sunday against Atlanta.
--PK Rian Lindell's 6 for 6 start has raised his career percentage for the Bills to a team-record 81.03 percent (47 of 58).
--WR Eric Moulds needs one more catch to hit 600 for his career.

GAME PLAN: The Bills have never faced Falcons dynamic QB Michael Vick, who last season rushed for 902 yards, third most by a QB in NFL history. He didn't play when the team's last met, a 33-30 Falcons victory in 2001 when he was a rookie. In other words, this could get very interesting. Vick is nursing a sore hamstring and may not practice all week, but he does expect to play. Every team knows beating Atlanta starts and ends with containing Vick and making him beat you with his good-but-not-great arm and not his legs, but, "Easier said than done," Bills coach Mike Mularkey said. The Bills will need a complete team effort to stop Vick, healthy or not, and their tackling has to be much better than it was in last week's loss to Tampa Bay. Offensively, the Bills need to get RB Willis McGahee involved early and often and avoid the slow starts he's had in order to take some pressure off of QB J.P. Losman. The line has got to show up as moving Atlanta's tough front seven, led by Rod Coleman, Patrick Kerney and Keith Brooking won't be easy. Seattle was able to get Shaun Alexander on track for 144 yards on 28 carries last week, and hung on for a 21-18 victory.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Bills WR Lee Evans, who had five catches of 50-plus yards a year ago but has been quiet so far, vs. Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall. This is a matchup of first-round picks from a year ago.

Bills RG Chris Villarrial vs. Falcons DT Rod Coleman, who had a career-high 11.5 sacks and five forced fumbles last year. Villarrial will need some help from fullback Daimon Shelton to move Coleman out of the way in the run game.

Bills SS Lawyer Milloy vs. Falcons' TE Alge Crumpler, who leads his club with seven catches for 107 yards. Bills veteran FS Troy Vincent thinks Crumpler is the best TE in the league and Milloy may have to play with a soft cast on an injured right thumb.

Bills run defense vs. Falcons QB Mike Vick. When talking about stopping the NFL's No. 4 rushing attack, you have to count stopping Vick, who is second to Warrick Dunn (171 yards) in rushing with 111 yards. Vick is nursing a hamstring tweak.

Bills KR Terrence McGee, who is fifth in the NFL in kick returns with a 30.3 average, vs. Falcons kickoff coverage unit, which also ranks fifth, allowing 17.7 yards.

INJURY IMPACT: SS Lawyer Milloy underwent surgery this week to repair a damaged right thumb and he could miss Sunday's game unless he can be fitted with a soft cast. It's sure to affect his tackling ability. If he can't go, the duties will fall upon second-year man Rashad Baker and veteran Coy Wire. The Bills plan a rotation of both players, but regardless of who is in there, it's a mismatch against two-time Pro Bowl TE Alge Crumpler, whose 16.1 yards per catch last season was tops among NFL tight ends.

Tackle Mike Williams (ankle), meanwhile, is not likely to get much quality practice time in this week as the Bills rest him in hopes that he'll be ready to suit up. If he can't go, free agent Greg Jerman would get the start. Jerman has started only one NFL game in his career and would be squared off against Falcons DE Patrick Kerney. Again, a potential mismatch exists as Kerney, who has great speed, has 43.0 sacks since 2001, sixth best in the NFL.

LB London Fletcher (hamstring) does plan on playing but he could be less than 100 percent. The Bills sorely missed his presence in the second half at Tampa Bay. Rookie Carnell "Cadillac" Williams finished with 128 yards. Warrick Dunn and Michael Vick will keep the Bills busy and Fletcher's backup, Angelo Crowell, struggled last week.

"I'm a fast healer," Fletcher said. "I'm going to listen to the medical staff and I'll do everything within my power. I'm planning on being out there. We'll see come Sunday."


MIAMI DOLPHINS

On the same day Dolphins players and coach Nick Saban tried to shoot down unfavorable comparisons between Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and their own rookie tailback, Ronnie Brown told the South Florida media that he isn't bothered by the criticism entering Sunday's game against Carolina.

"I use that as motivation," Brown said Wednesday. "I think that it is more helpful than it is hurtful."

So far, Williams has proven more hurtful to opposing defenses for Tampa Bay. Williams has gotten off to a sizzling start with 276 yards in two games as compared to Brown's 92.

Even though both players have barely gotten their feet wet, there already is a media buzz that the Dolphins may have chosen the wrong tailback with the No. 2 overall pick in last April's draft after Brown rushed for just 35 yards on 12 carries in last Sunday's 17-7 loss to the New York Jets.

"When you guys start comparing him to Cadillac and all of that stuff and start putting the pressure on, it is going to be increasingly difficult for him to overcome that if he doesn't have the kind of success that everyone is pumping up for him to have," Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor said. "Ronnie has only been around for three or four weeks. He missed a lot of training camp and he'll get his legs and get going. I am confident that he is going to prove everybody wrong. I just think that the pressure that everyone is trying to put on him is a little ridiculous."

Fortunately for the Dolphins, Brown is accustomed to such comparisons from playing in the same backfield as Williams at Auburn. Although enjoying an impressive college career, Brown was never able to best Williams for a starting position. Brown, though, was selected ahead of Williams in the draft because of better pre-draft workouts and the feeling that he can be a better all-around back in the NFL.

"Coming out of the same college and being drafted around the same time in the draft, we knew there were going to be comparisons," said Brown, who is close friends with Williams. "But it is different. He is in Tampa Bay and I am in Miami. He has a different line and different scheme. Things are going to be a little bit different."

Like Taylor, Saban believes Brown's three-week contract holdout in training camp set him behind Williams, who reported on time to Tampa Bay after getting his deal completed.

"It affected his timing, conditioning and everything else in terms of working into the offense," Saban said. "We just need to continue to develop that. We are not frustrated in the guy. He shouldn't be frustrated in himself because focusing in on expectations is what I call clutter.

"Do you know what clutter is? It is focusing on the wrong stuff to have success and performance. Like when you shoot foul shots in a basketball game and everybody in the [crowd] is waving whatever was passed out for them to wave. Are you supposed to look at the basket or look at those? If he is thinking about expectations, he is looking at these things, so he is not going to make the basket. He needs to focus on what he needs to do to improve as a player and be technical about it."

Brown is adjusting to the speed of the game while trying to carry the team's rushing load in light of the absence of tailback Ricky Williams, who still has two games remaining on his NFL-mandated drug suspension.

"I don't really think I am behind," Brown said. "I just have to get that edge to where I reach that comfort-level. Right now, everything is on instincts. I feel myself trying to make too many plays occasionally or trying to make too much out of a play where you can get a sure three or four yards. I might try to do too much and get only like two or three."

SERIES HISTORY: 3rd meeting. The Dolphins hold a 2-0 all-time advantage, with their last victory coming by a 23-6 margin in 2001.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Dolphins quarterback Gus Frerotte is quickly developing a chemistry with tight end Randy McMichael, who has 14 catches in the first two games. Eight of those receptions came against the Jets.

"We have plays in for everybody. It just so happened that in the last game they gave us coverages where we had to throw it underneath a lot," said Frerotte, who completed 20 of 43 passes against the Jets. "Randy was making big plays for us. Sometimes when guys get hot in games, quarterbacks have a tendency to stick with them, put the ball into them and know they're going to make plays for you."

--Although he became a member of the Dolphins in the off-season, ex-Tennessee defensive end Kevin Carter is still maintaining close ties to charitable causes in Nashville. Carter is purchasing 25 tickets for underprivileged children for each Titans and Dolphins home game.

--What has been good-natured verbal sparring with the media - at least so far - continued Wednesday when a reporter pointed out that wide receiver Chris Chambers was looking forward to his first 1,000-yard receiving season.

"That's probably bad because it is an expectation, so we don't focus," Saban said. "How about let's focus on the next catch and accumulate those catches until they are great numbers, but never think about results. Think about the next catch. That's the frustration that gets created and affects confidence and develops anxiety in the guy because he is not getting the success that somebody created for him or he created for himself.

"Goals are great, but when you start thinking about the goals and not what it takes to get the goals - running the right routes, running at the right depth and catching the ball properly, body catching - what does that tell you? Does he have confidence in his hands? That's what I'm interested in, what the guy's confidence is.

"You know this game [rock, paper, scissors]? Confidence trumps anxiety just like rock trumps scissors or scissors cuts paper. That's what we need to be building and not worrying about the results. If we build that, we will get results. You guys will do everything you can and these guys will believe everything they read and that's the clutter that messes them up. That's what I fight every day -- the clutter."

BY THE NUMBERS: 21 - Penalties committed by Miami in their first two games, which is the NFL's fifth-highest total behind Tampa Bay (26), Oakland (23), Cincinnati (22) and New Orleans (22).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's just little technical things, the details that we talk about to try to get the kind of consistency that we need. That's what the players need to be believing in. It's amazing. I told them all to get their college T-shirts out - Wisconsin, Ohio State, or whatever it was -- put them on and say, 'I am the same guy I was there. That's how I got here. Let me go play that way.'" - Coach Nick Saban when talking about the aftermath of a mistake-filled loss to the Jets.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Until satisfied with the play of his offensive line, the Dolphins may continue with a three-headed tackle combination of Damion McIntosh, Vernon Carey and Stockar McDougle against Carolina.

McIntosh and Carey are expected to start at left and right tackle respectively, but both players have gotten benched during the first two games. Stockar McDougle replaced Carey at right tackle for one series in the opener against Denver and played almost the entire second half against the Jets. Shortly after being yanked, Carey was inserted at left tackle with McIntosh struggling to contain defensive end John Abraham.

"We have three guys. We may play them all," Saban said. "We may just play two. We may play the guys that we feel match up best against their guys, so that doesn't mean somebody else is doing something bad. It's not a punishment deal."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--RB Sammy Morris is listed as questionable but participated in Wednesday's practice wearing a non-contact jersey.
--LT Damion McIntosh is expected to start against Carolina after being replaced by Vernon Carey in the second half last Sunday against the Jets.
--RT Vernon Carey is expected to start against Carolina after being replaced by Stockar McDougle in the third quarter last Sunday against the Jets. Carey returned to the Jets game at left tackle in place of Damion McIntosh.
--RT Stockar McDougle played at right tackle in the second half against the Jets but is expected to return to a backup role Sunday against Carolina.
--RB Travis Minor could get snaps as a backup Sunday against Carolina with Sammy Morris listed as questionable with a shoulder injury.

GAME PLAN: Dolphins players believe they would be 2-0 if able to eliminate a rash of mistakes they committed against the Jets. Miami committed 11 penalties and five players dropped passes, both of which served to stall an offense that entered the game ranked atop the NFL after a season-opening victory against Denver.

"We are a team, and when one guy commits a penalty, it's not just him. It's the whole team that is affected by it," Frerotte said. "When guys make mistakes and things like that, you never harp on it and you just move on and try to progress as a team and get better."

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Dolphins LT Damion McIntosh vs. Carolina RDE Mike Rucker - McIntosh said his poor outing against the Jets stemmed from technical mistakes he was making that can be rectified. McIntosh will need to be in good form to stop Rucker, who is a half-sack away from tying Kevin Greene's all-time franchise record of 41.5.

Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown vs. Carolina MLB Dan Morgan - The spotlight is on Brown to see how he responds to the criticism that the Dolphins may have made a mistake drafting him instead of Carnell "Cadillac" Williams. But Brown will be working against one of the NFL's top defenses bolstered in the middle by Morgan, a South Florida native who also starred at the University of Miami.

INJURY IMPACT: Morris is the only player on the team's injury report.


NEW YORK JETS

The Jets (1-1) are having enough problems getting quarterback Chad Pennington assimilated into the new offense, but now they'll have deal with running back Curtis Martin being limited by a strained right knee as they prepare to face Jacksonville's tough defense Sunday at the Meadowlands.

Martin could still start the game but the bulk of the carries will go to Derrick Blaylock, who offers the Jets running game a good change of pace. Blaylock can get the hard yards inside but quickly bounce outside.

But the problems the Jets are having on offense could be magnified even more considering they're facing the Jaguars, Ravens, Bucs, Bills and Falcons over the next five games. Four of those teams are ranked in the top 10 against the pass and three of them are in the top 10 in fewest points allowed.

"It could be ugly football for us," coach Herman Edwards said. "What you saw (against the Dolphins), the next five weeks could be like that because it's going to be field position, don't turn the ball over, defense where you have to punt and play field position."

The Jets had always been able to rely on Martin and the running game in the past when the offense struggled. But the first two games of the season thus far have produced just a serviceable running game, a passing attack that took seven quarters to come alive, and spotty offensive line play.

With Martin hurt, it's up to Pennington to speed up his learning curve a little faster than either he or the Jets wanted, and he's still adjusting to the offense after not being on the field all off-season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

"Every day I feel like I'm making progress," Pennington said. "Every day the plays are starting to become a little easier to me. It doesn't necessarily seem like a foreign language anymore. While I'm going through this process, I'm trying to manufacture wins the best way I can."

Yet footwork and familiarity with the playbook can't be Pennington's only issues. Since most quarterbacks say it takes a year to recover fully from rotator cuff surgery, Pennington is almost definitely having physical issues - even though he and the Jets deny it.

If it's any consolation, Pennington was able to lead the Jets over the second half of the season to keep them in line for a postseason spot - all with a torn rotator cuff.

SERIES HISTORY: 6th meeting. Jaguars lead series 3-2. This will be the fourth time in the last five meetings that the Jets get to play host and they've won two of the last three, including a 34-24 win over Jacksonville in a Divisional playoff game in 1998.

NOTES, QUOTES

--QB Chad Pennington will oppose his good friend Byron Leftwich for the second time. The two former Marshall quarterbacks first faced off two years ago, when Pennington led the Jets on a 94-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes for a 13-10 win.

--The Jets have something of an exchange program with the Australian Rules Football League, where P Ben Graham used to play. Graham's Jets jersey will be sold in Australia while the Jets have made Graham's old AFL jersey available on their web site.

--The Jets offensive line improved last week against the Dolphins over the season opener but still has work to do. Curtis Martin was tackled 11 times last week for a loss or no gain, that's the most times in a game since 1998.

--Even though Pro Bowl DE John Abraham is off to a great start after missing all of training camp, the Jets apparently are making no moves to sign him to a long-term deal.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 - The number worn by Ben Graham both as the punter for the Jets and as a member of the Australian Football League.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "What you saw Sunday, the next five weeks could be like that because it's going to be field position, don't turn the ball over, defenses where you have to punt and play field position. If you can just stay in the game and keep it close, hey, you've got a chance to win." - coach Herman Edwards on what could be a slew of ugly, low-scoring games as the Jets face some of the better defenses in the league over the next month.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Jets used SS Oliver Celestin a lot against the run last week over rookie Kerry Rhodes and the move made a difference, so look for the Jets to continue. Celestin may even start this week at FS if Erik Coleman (surgery to repair a fractured right thumb) can't go.

The Jets also switched to a 3-4 alignment on some downs, bringing in LB Mark Brown to replace NT James Reed and moving DT Dewayne Robertson to the nose.

Curtis Martin (strained right knee) may very well play against the Jaguars but the Jets don't want to risk him unnecessarily and will likely give a lot more carries to Derrick Blaylock.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--TE Doug Jolley may get his chance this week. With FBs Jerald Sowell and B.J. Askew nursing ankles injuries, the Jets may employ more of the two-tight end set to help the run blocking. This could create some pass-catching opportunities for Jolley as well.
--RB Curtis Martin didn't practice Wednesday and will be limited this week even though the MRI on his strained right knee was negative. The Jets don't want to risk hurting Martin further against a tough defense like Jacksonville's so Derrick Blaylock will get a good number of carries.
--RB Derrick Blaylock will certainly get more than the two carries for 14 yards he got last week against the Dolphins. With Curtis Martin nursing a strained right knee, Blaylock will benefit with a heavier workload.
--FS Erik Coleman had surgery to repair a fractured right thumb but could still be in the lineup considering he played almost three quarters with the injury last week with his hand wrapped in a heavy cast.
--CB Ty Law seems to have finally given the Jets the shutdown corner that they've coveted for years. The Dolphins threw at him four times in their opening drive last week - connecting twice - but went after him just four more times for the rest of the game.
--RB Terry Butler was signed to the practice squad.
--LB Dennis Haley was waived off the practice squad.

GAME PLAN: The Jets' running game will get a bit of a makeover with Derrick Blaylock getting a bulk of the work. The Jaguars are tough inside so the Jets won't risk Curtis Martin and his sore right knee too much. While Martin tends to go outside more, Blaylock can get some of those hard yards inside and still be able to spring outside.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Jets RG Brandon Moore, playing well in his second season as a starter, vs. Jaguars DT John Henderson. This matchup really extends to LG Pete Kendall and C Kevin Mawae as well. While the offensive line played much better last week against the Dolphins and opened up some holes for the running game, it mainly had to contend with just DE Jason Taylor. Now the Jets will have to deal with a lot of pressure inside coming from Henderson and DT Marcus Stroud.

Jets WR Wayne Chrebet, likely to get more work with Curtis Martin injured, vs. Jaguars S Deke Cooper, starting in place of the injured Donovin Darius. Chrebet's strength is going over the middle and Cooper has been thrust into the starting lineup. Chrebet has always been a crafty veteran, can he take advantage of the fourth-year pro Cooper?

INJURY IMPACT: RB Curtis Martin (strained right knee) could very well play but if he's ailing too much at the end of the week, his workload will be scaled back. FBs Jerald Sowell and B.J. Askew (sprained right ankles) are heading in different directions, with Sowell likely to play while Askew will probably sit out. FS Erik Coleman is questionable after surgery to repair a fractured right thumb, however, he played three quarters with the injury last week while wearing a heavy cast and played well. DE Trevor Johnson (concussion) won't play.


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