Even With A W, Jets Still Have Room To Improve
By Joe McDonald
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – When a team changes a coordinator, there is always a period of adjustment. So when Paul Hackett resigned after last season, the players knew a new system would be in order with Mike Heimerdinger taking the helm.
“We’re light-years from where we need to be,” said quarterback Chad Pennington after Sunday’s 17-7 win over the Miami Dolphins. “I think my goal is similar to how our defense progressed last year under Coach [Donnie] Henderson. They started out where each game they played they got better and better until the end of the year I felt like they were probably the best defense in the League. That’s what I want our offense to do.”
In the first two games, the Jet offensive scored only 24 points. They were shut out until the closing minutes of the first game against the Kansas City Chiefs. But they did improve this past week, especially in the second half, when Pennington was perfect on the game sealing touchdown drive in the fourth quarter after the Dolphins cut the Jets lead to just three.
“Once they scored, I think we did a good job,” Head Coach Herm Edwards said. “That was the key, for me as the coach; when they scored, to look at our guys and see how they react. I thought it was important that our offense took it.”
To help the offensive this past week, Edwards and Pennington had Heimerdinger on the sidelines. Edwards said his quarterback requested the move and added, “[Heimerdinger] did a good job; he called a good game and knew the mindset.”
Too often, though, the Jets’ offense stalled on Sunday. They didn’t score the third quarter and had a long clock eating drive in the second quarter negated by a Curtis Martin fumble into the endzone. Even with those gaffs, Edwards stressed to his team to be relaxed and have fun.
“I was pretty focused and I understood what Coach Edwards meant (by having fun),” Pennington said. “Coach and I and the whole team promised ourselves that we were going to enjoy playing this game we love to play.”
Last week, Edwards stressed in practice getting back to the “Jet mindset” when it comes to moving the ball. First and foremost the team needs to win.
“I think they realized what kind of football team we are,” Edwards said. “We have to do the little things well. We have to execute and we have to play physical football. It doesn’t look pretty all the time. Pretty doesn’t win. We want to win and we found a way to win a game.”
Pennington agreed this past week’s practice was crucial for the team.
“It’s very important,” Pennington said. “I think Laveranues (Coles) and myself had the longest week of anybody. It’s been a long week for us and we couldn’t wait for Sunday to get here and start playing again, play well, and make a difference.”
They may have gotten back on the winning track this week, but the Jets still aren’t resting on this victory going into next week against the Jaguars.
“We can play a lot better on both sides,” Edwards said. “We have to if we want to be a good team. We have to play a lot better.”