HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -The New York Jets put lots of pressure on Eli Manning last weekend and almost sacked him a few times.
That's been the problem this season. Almost hasn't been cutting it.
The Jets have a grand total of three sacks in five games, and only Carolina (two) and New Orleans (one) have less.
``You'd obviously like to have more,'' defensive end Eric Hicks said Thursday. ``There are other things you can do to the quarterback than the actual word 'sack' to get him off his rhythm and get his timing messed up. We put stock in it in that we want to get more, but we're not going to live and die with it.''
Or will they? The Jets are 1-4 and ranked 28th in total defense heading into this weekend's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. They held Manning to 22 yards passing in the first half last week, but the Giants made adjustments at halftime and finished with 374 total yards, including 164 passing in the last two quarters.
``Sacks are a fickle thing,'' Hicks said. ``They come in bunches in the NFL and that's how it historically is. They come in bunches for players and they come in bunches for teams. If you just stay the course and you do your technique and what your game plan is, they're going to come. Those hits are going to turn into sacks and strips and things of that nature.''
Hicks knows a bit about sacks. The veteran lineman had 14 in 2000 with Kansas City and has 44 1/2 in his 10 NFL seasons, ranking him second behind Shaun Ellis (49 1/2) on the team in career sacks among active players. He's come up empty, though, this season. Ellis has two and linebacker Victor Hobson has the Jets' only other sack.
``I can't really say what's not going right,'' linebacker Bryan Thomas said. ``I can speak for myself and say that I have to go out there, work harder, be more productive and go out there and take care of business. I take a lot of that responsibility on myself because I'm part of the D-line.''
Thomas had a breakout season last year, his fourth since being chosen in the first round in 2002, setting career highs with 77 tackles and 8 1/2 sacks. He appeared to be a perfect fit in Eric Mangini's 3-4 defense, lining up at defensive end and linebacker. The hefty production garnered a big contract extension, but he's been disappointing so far - as has the rest of the defensive line.
``He's doing what we're asking him to do,'' Mangini said. ``Sometimes those opportunities are there and sometimes they aren't there. You can't really design a defense specifically for Bryan Thomas to get sacks, Shaun Ellis to get sacks or anybody else to get a certain statistic. It's about playing good, sound, team defense, being in the spots where you're supposed to be in and that's what you want everybody to do. When you do that, those things naturally come.''
The problem is, that hasn't happened this season. New York has been mixing in more blitzes lately and has 13 quarterback pressures, but it's been inconsistent. The Jets are also allowing 127.6 yards rushing per game, which ranks them 25th.
In Philadelphia's last game, Donovan McNabb was sacked 12 times by the Giants. While a few of the Eagles' regular linemen were out with injuries, the Jets are hoping to take a few tips from what they saw.
``When I watched the film, I saw that their front four or their whole front seven was very active,'' Thomas said. ``They were running around and they looked very energetic.''
In an effort to perhaps raise the intensity a bit, Mangini resurrected some training camp tackling drills Wednesday and Thursday. They weren't full contact drills, but there was enough hitting for the Jets to get the message.
``This previous game, we struggled against the run,'' Thomas said. ``So we took a lot of that stuff that we weren't successful with on the field, we brought it into practice and tried to work on the things that we needed to work on.''
As far as increasing the number of sacks they get, the Jets insist they won't deviate from their game plan just to make the stat sheets look better.
``You can go out there and have a thousand sacks and lose, so what difference does it make?'' Thomas said. ``The main thing is being victorious out there on the field. That's the No. 1 priority. Individual accolades are going to come as things go along.''

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