|Slumping Jets looking to get things back on track against suddenly surging Bills|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 12:30|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -When the New York Jets were preparing for their first game against Buffalo last month, coach Eric Mangini and his players spoke glowingly about a team ravaged by injuries and inconsistent play.|
They ended up looking smart - and disappointed. Nearly a month after losing to the Bills, the Jets are the team struggling to find answers.
``It's frustrating, because we know that we have good players in this locker room,'' safety Kerry Rhodes said. ``We say that all the time, but we really do. We're not getting it done as a team. That's all that it is.''
The Jets (1-6) have lost four straight, a slump that started with a 17-14 defeat against the Bills (2-4) and sent New York's season spiraling. Losses to Philadelphia, the Giants and Cincinnati followed, as did a brewing quarterback controversy.
``We are at one of those points now where we get the opportunity to find out what a lot of the guys that we have on this team are made of,'' wide receiver Laveranues Coles said.
Chad Pennington has thrown seven interceptions in his last four games, including one that sealed the loss at Buffalo. His decision-making and arm strength have come under fire, and members of the media and fans have been calling for second-year quarterback Kellen Clemens to take over.
After taking a few days after the loss in Cincinnati to evaluate the entire team, Mangini opted to go with Pennington as his starter - at least for this week.
``It's the same feeling that I had about Chad, and I've had about him for a long time,'' Mangini said. ``There were a bunch of plays that he made because of the things that he understands within the offense. That really is helpful with whoever you face: the ability to get in and out of good plays.''
The Bills settled their quarterback situation early this week when Dick Jauron made rookie Trent Edwards the starter over J.P. Losman. Edwards, a third-round pick out of Stanford, made his first NFL start against the Jets when Losman was out with an injury, and has been solid since.
``There have been a couple moments where I think about where I was a year ago,'' Edwards said. ``To be at this point in my life has been a major turn for me. I'm enjoying it so far, getting to know the guys on the team, the staff and the area.''
Edwards has led the Bills to two wins in his three starts and could've been 3-0 if Buffalo hadn't allowed nine points in the final 20 seconds to Dallas on Oct. 8. Edwards has done a good job of managing the offense, with the Bills coming out on top in time of possession in all three games he has started. He's also produced four of five offensive touchdown drives and has the team's only TD pass: a 1-yard toss to tight end Michael Gaines against the Jets.
Still, Buffalo's offense is ranked 31st overall, with the passing game second-to-last.
``He's certainly grown up quick and has done a lot of good things quickly, but there is still so much you can do,'' wide receiver Lee Evans said of Edwards. ``That's who we're with. I still think we'll have a pretty high efficiency in the passing game.''
It might help that the Jets are ranked 28th in overall defense, and Edwards and Evans picked on rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis in the first meeting.
``If we can keep the momentum on our side, hopefully that will keep the crowd a little quieter, but we know that with the way football games always go it's not always going to happen that way,'' said Edwards, making his first road start. ``We just need to keep our composure and make sure we're listening all right and hopefully put some points on the board and keep the Jets fans quiet.''
The Jets' offense might have something to say about that. New York played well for just over a half last weekend at Cincinnati, where the Jets scored on their first five possessions. Then, they couldn't get anything more going as the defense allowed the Bengals to get back into the game and win.
``Each guy has to look into themselves and give a little bit more effort,'' running back Leon Washington said. Buffalo's defense also is ranked next-to-last, but has been better of late while overcoming a number of injuries. After allowing 420 or more yards in their first three games, the Bills haven't given up more than 385. Against Baltimore, Buffalo gave up season lows with 308 yards and 15 first downs, and also forced a season-best six punts.
``There's a lot more turning around to do,'' safety Donte Whitner said. ``First of all, we want to go in and win this football game. We want to string a couple of wins together, get a streak of wins together to feel good. We want to get back to .500 first and go from there.''
Getting back to even is a long way off for the Jets, who are focused on keeping harmony in the locker room.
``Either we're going to pull together and try to make the best of a bad situation or things can really start snowballing for us,'' Coles said. ``You want to go in the right direction and try to be positive about everything.''
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