10 QUESTIONS - Patriots vs Jets Part 2
JetsConfidential.com Insider Dan Leberfeld is this week's guest on 10 questions.
6) As a follow-up to the last question on Curtis Martin; the Jets have a number of backs on the roster with Leon Washington, Kevan Barlow and Cedric Houston. It's the rookie Washington who leads the team in rushing with 86 carries for 397 yards for a 4.6 avg. Is that what was expected from the Jets, or was one of the other backs expected to step up first?
Leberfeld: The Jets will continue to go with a running-back-by-committee. Washington does lead the team in rushing, but he's 5-7, 205 pounds, and his carries have to be limited or he's going to get hurt. He's got tremendous quickness and good moves, but is a limited runner between the tackles. He's been platooning with Barlow over the last month, while Houston has been out with a hyper-extended knee. Barlow doesn't seem to be thrilled with the set. He's having trouble getting into a flow with limited carries. Houston seems ready to return, and he's the team's best power back. He is very good at breaking tackles. He might give them the best chance to succeed running the football against the Patriots physical front seven.
7) The Jets have a few former Patriots on the team, as many Patriots fans are aware of. How have LB Matt Chatham and WR Tim Dwight fared so far this season, and is it more or less than what was expected of them?
Leberfeld: Matt Chatham is a great guy, and a terrific leader, but he hasn't had too much of an impact on the field. His most impactful play was throwing a key block on a kick return for a touchdown by Justin Miller against Cleveland. He wanted a chance to play more linebacker, that is why he left the Patriots, but he has just five tackles in eight games. His role is to spell both outside linebackers, and when he's on the field on defense, he's been very quiet. Dwight has been battling a groin injury. He's done a steady job as the Jets punt returner, and is the Jets third or fourth wideout in most games. His contributions at wide receiver have been minimal.
8) The Jets came out on the short end of the battle between former Patriots defensive coordinators against Romeo Crennel's Browns. Was the loss to the then 1-5 Browns a byproduct of a bad game by Pennington and other Jets, or were the Browns better than advertised? What kind of impact did that game have on the team?
Leberfeld: The Browns are a little better than advertised. They lost close games to the Ravens and Panthers, they should have won. Pennington had a terrible game. His accuracy was very poor, but not helping matters was a substandard running game. And as per usual, the Jets run defense was poor, and Ruben Droughns ran all over them. The Jets run defense is the biggest problem on the team.
9) The Jets have been dealing with a number of injuries this season. What would you say are the main reasons the Jets are at 4-4, is it the injuries, or other factors?
Leberfeld: If you told Jets fans, before the season, they would be 4-4 at the midway point, they would have been ecstatic. Expectations were low for this team entering the season, so their record right now is somewhat impressive. But their biggest problems, when they struggle, is their play in the trenches. They have two rookie starters on the offensive line (C Nick Mangold and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson), and haven't been able to run the ball consistently. Also, the pass protection has been shaky. The Jets defensive line has been a disappointment, and is the root of the team's problems stopping the run. If the Jets intend on playing the 3-4, they need to go out next off-season, and add a bunch of defensive linemen who like Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork. The Jets aren't stout enough up front right now.
10) The Patriots haven't lost back-to-back games since December of 2002. With Tom Brady's 4 interceptions against the Colts, many expect the Patriots and their QB to snap back with a vengeance against the Jets. Even Matt Chatham said the Patriots have an exceptional ability to focus after a loss. What do you think the Jets have to do to knock off the Patriots this week?
Leberfeld: I think people are making too much of this Brady bouncing back off a loss thing. The guy is awesome most games, and had two tipped interceptions last week. I expect him to play great every week, whether it's off a loss or not. The Jets should be able to hang around in this game. They are coming off a bye week, so they should be well-rested and very well-prepared. The loss of Rodney Harrison, the traffic cop of the Patriots secondary, should allow Chad Pennington to do some damage against the New England deep patrol. But if the Jets want to have any chance of winning this game, they need to improve their anemic run defense. If they can't do that in Foxboro, I think they can pull an upset. But if Corey Dillon and Larry Maroney run all over them, they have no chance.
Prediction for the game?
Leberfeld: New England 23 - Jets 16.
Prediction for the rest of the Jets season
After games against New England and Chicago, the Jets have a easy schedule. I think they will finish 8-8.
Top 5 teams in the NFL
5)New York Giants
Special thanks to Dan Leberfeld for being our guest on 10 Questions this week. Look for more pre and post game coverage from Dan and the rest of the Jets insiders at Jets Confidential. Also Don't miss part 1 of Dan's inside look at the Jets here.