Behind Enemy Lines: Jets Part I

The New York Jets hope to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss in Cleveland when they play the New England Patriots this Sunday. Jets Confidential insider Dan Leberfeld answers some key questions about the team, what he expects to see on Sunday, and how things have gone so far for the AFC East rival Jets under new head coach Eric Mangini.

10 QUESTIONS - Patriots vs Jets Part 1 Insider Dan Leberfeld is this week's guest on 10 questions.

1) Scott: How do you view Chad Pennington's return from shoulder surgery been now that he's completed one half of a season? Is he back, or is he still dealing with the injury issues?

Leberfeld: He seems to be over the shoulder issues, but only he knows for sure. He's been able to make all the throws. Though against Cleveland, his accuracy was terrible, and some people wondered if it was his surgical shoulder acting up. Jets offensive coordinator Bryan Schottenheimer said it was related to mechanics. But overall, Pennington is the biggest reason the Jets are 4-4. He's carried an offense that hasn't had much of a running game this year. He's the type of smart, instinctive leader you need to win. When he's on his game, he's a poor man's Tom Brady.

2) Mike Nugent has drawn criticism for missing some kicks early on. Has he improved, or do the Jets still have concerns in the kicking game?

Leberfeld: Nugent is a lot like the Patriots kicker, he isn't used much. He had a rough opener against the Titans, but it really doesn't matter, because they won. He has kicked fairly well since. A bigger problem are his kickoffs which are very average and hurt the Jets in the field position game.

3) Who has had the biggest impact for the Jets on defense this year?

Leberfeld: Clearly safety Kerry Rhodes. The former Louisville Cardinal, looks like he could have a Pro Bowl or two in his future. He leads the team in sacks (remember he sacked Tom Brady in the first matchup), and is the quintessential centerfielder at the safety spot with great size (6-3, 217) and speed (4.5). He's a tremendous athlete, who made an outstanding leaping pass defensed in the end zone on Ben Watson in the first matchup.

4) How would you describe the Jets first half of a season under the guidance of Eric Mangini? What are some of the things he (or his coaching staff) have done well and some he may need to focus on?

Leberfeld: Mangini has done a solid job. He's extremely bright, and is a good game-planner. He's very focused, and has this has trickled down to his team. The biggest criticism I would have of him is that he's playing mainly the 3-4 defense on a team that lacks the right personnel for the system. This has resulted in the Jets run defense being one of the worst in the league with a 31st ranking.

5) Tell us about the Curtis Martin situation. He is done for the season, but do the Jets think he'll be back. Do they want him back? (see part 2 for followup)

Leberfeld: Martin is done for the year with a bone-on-bone condition in his right knee. His career is likely over as well. They'd love to have him back, but he can't cut on his right knee, and this will likely end his great career.

Look for part 2 where Dan addresses the Jets running game, the impact former Patriots have had on the team, his prediction for the game and the top 5 teams in the NFL .

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