2006-09-22 / Sports

Jets Still Looking For Answers To Unsolved Questions

By Elio Velez

New Englad Patriots DE Richard Seymour (93) chases N.Y. Jets QB Chad Pennington in the third quarter. Photo By Pete Borriello.New Englad Patriots DE Richard Seymour (93) chases N.Y. Jets QB Chad Pennington in the third quarter. Photo By Pete Borriello. All of the heat for last week's Patriots and Jets clash at the Meadowlands wasn't what was going to occur off the field, but the tension off it. Eric Mangini, the Jets coach and his former mentor, the Patriots' Bill Belichick started the first of their psychological warfare battles.

The game though took precedent and as the Jets made signs of improvement- with a 17 point second half that turned a lackluster first half performance down 24-0 into a respectable finish- it didn't erase the fact that the Patriots still won 24-17/

What the Jets learned was that one half does not make a ballgame. Yes they put 17 points on the board in the second half, waking up a dormant Meadowlands crowd. But the fact they were down 24 points to begin the half, once again raised the point all season that Mangini has insisted must happen. Consistency.

"Consistency is something that we're always looking for, something that I'm always looking for. But we're looking for it as a group..... Being able to handle all those different things, and finishing the game, obviously, with a victory is extremely important," Mangini said.

The loss last Sunday once again raised continuing questions that hasn't been answered since training camp began. Trying to find a running game has been a main concern. RB Kevin Barlow only gained 42 yards in 14 carries and Derrick Blaylock looks as he's more of a third down player, who can catch the ball out of the backfield than a full time starter.

RB Cedric Houston played well in the final pre-season game by rushing for 100 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was inactive the first two games and Mangini did not outright say he might be activated this week as another option to improve the ground game. The offensive line, which still trying to jell because of starting two rookies Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson haven't meshed and hasn't created some opening lanes. Injuries to veteran Pete Kendall meant that Norm Katnik had to fill which didn't help the line to become cohesive as a unit.

With no running game on target, the Jets have to be careful in not overwhelming Chad Pennington, who has responded very well throwing over 300 yards in two games.

Jericho Cotchery and Laverneus Coles provided some dazzling plays at WR and those were encouraging sings of chemistry occurring in the passing game. But in order to get off to a good start against divisional rival Buffalo on Sunday, mixing the run and pass must both be accomplished.

"I think it's important any game you play to try to execute from the beginning. That was a problem last week. It wasn't just a problem offensively, it was a problem across the board.

"We talked about the importance of not getting behind the eight ball there early and then having to fight back."

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