2007-10-26 / Sports

Reeling Jets Need Quick Answers To Get Victories

By Brian Bohl

HEMPSTEAD, NY- Eric Mangini's tenure as Jets' coach isn't even through the two-year mark, yet already he's experienced the dichotomy of emotions.

His inaugural campaign turned into an acclaimed success story, with Mangini leading his team to a winning record and playoff appearance, despite minimal preseason expectations coming off a poor 2005. That set-up a positive atmosphere around Weeb Ewbank Hall this summer, as the Jets were billed as legitimate contenders to make it back to the postseason as a wild card, with an outside shot to hang with the Patriots for the AFC East title.

After last week's 38-31 loss in Cincinnati, the only incentive left to play for is restoring the pride. At 1-6, it would probably take a nine-game winning streak though to the end season to make it back to the playoffs.

But with the lone victory coming against the winless Dolphins, Mangini said his only goal is to coax consistency from a team experiencing a full-blown quarterback controversy and a defense that can't generate turnovers or sacks, while demonstrating a penchant for costly penalties.

"It's consistency. That's the main thing," Mangini said. "It's consistency and the ability to play a complete football game. If it was just one area, then that would be something that you could address with complete certainty and change that or do whatever you need to do."

Coming off three straight subpar contests, Chad Pennington threw for three touchdowns and 272 yards. A defensive breakdown in the second-half couldn't prevent the Jets' losing streak from extending to four games. Despite Pennington playing his best game in a month, there is a chance second-year Kellen Clemens could get the start against the Bills this Sunday at Giants Stadium.

"I'm going through the process of evaluating everything," Mangini said Monday, refusing to officially name the starter. "With Chad, I thought he did a lot of good things. (He) got us in and out of some really good checks and made some really nice throws."

Clemens owns one career start, which came in a Week 2 loss to Baltimore after Pennington got hurt in the season opener.

Regardless of who lines up at quarterback, the defense will need to improve, especially since Buffalo's rookie QB Trent Edwards, already beat the Jets once this season.

Kerry Rhodes recorded just three tackles against the Bengals. As one of the leaders of the secondary, the former Pro Bowl defensive back will look to generate pressure to avoid a season sweep to a 2-4 Bills squad.

The Jets rank 28th in total defense, mostly because the unit recorded only five interceptions this year- the same amount as Washington's Sean Taylor. Part of that stems from a lack of pressure off the line, which owns a collective seven sacks. For comparison purposes, that is one less than the Giants' Osi Umenyiora's season total thus far.

"It is frustrating because we know that we have good players in this locker room," Rhodes said. "We say that all the time, but we really do. We are not getting it done as a team.

That is all that it is."

Buffalo is next-to-last in the 32- team league in total offense, though Edwards threw for 234 yards on 22-28 passing, in a 17-14 victory at Orchard Park during the last meeting between the two teams on September 30. While Edwards is taking over the job that once belonged to J.P. Losman, rookie running back Marshawn Lynch continues to accelerate his maturation to the professional game. Lynch registered 457 yards on 127 carries, netting a 3.6 yardsper carry average.

Snapping a losing streak could help relieve the tension that's been building around the team. Rhodes said everyone is still on the same page, and suggested that experiencing a sustained stretch of difficulty for the first time under Mangini is not leading to any dissension.

There are plenty of chances that we could have blown up at each other on the sideline or questioned what was going on, but we can't do that," Rhodes said. "If you do, it will make things even worse. Things are not good enough as they are, so you don't want to start anything else."

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