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Running Debate - Jordan-Martin lingers


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Running debate

Jordan-Martin lingers



Return of running back LaMont Jordan, who left Jets for Raiders as free agent after last season, means new round of second-guessing for Gang Green because veteran Curtis Martin is enduring a subpar year.

It's LaMont Jordan week, which means one thing: The second-guessers will be out in force, bashing Jets GM Terry Bradway for letting the talented runner bolt to the Raiders last March as a free agent.

There's no shortage of ammunition. The naysayers will point to Curtis Martin's slippage, saying Bradway should've seen this coming. They will say he misused the franchise tag, that he should've slapped it on Jordan, not defensive end John Abraham, who isn't having a franchise kind of season.

It's easy to make those judgments now. At the time, the Jets made the right call.

Martin was coming off a career year - he won the NFL rushing title - and there was no way to predict his production would decline this dramatically. (By the way, not all of it is his fault.) Abraham, despite his injury problems, was the most dynamic player on a young, emerging defense. It would've been foolish to let him walk.

The Jets made a competitive offer to Jordan, a proposal that included $6 million in guarantees and salary escalators that would've kicked in when he took over for Martin in 2006 or 2007. The Raiders, hot for Jordan since 2004, gave him a guaranteed starting job and $10 million in guaranteed money.

It was a "Godfather" offer, too good to refuse.

"When they made that offer," Herm Edwards said this week, "I was like, 'What are you going to do?'

"At that point, it was time for him to take that opportunity," Edwards added. "That's what he had to do. I understood that."

On Sunday, Jordan returns to Giants Stadium, hellbent on running all over his former team. (He told a friend recently that he's been looking forward to this game "since the schedule came out.") By the way, Jordan's replacement, Derrick Blaylock, has been sidelined since September with a broken foot.

So the Jets aren't looking too smart on this Jordan thing. But don't blame Bradway. You can criticize some of his other offseason moves, starting with ex-Raider tight end Doug Jolley, but the Jordan departure is one of those things that happens in the musical-chairs world of the NFL.

Jordan isn't exactly having a monster year in Oakland. His rushing total (844 yards) and average per carry (3.6) aren't dramatically better than those of Martin (735 and 3.3). Jordan has only two 100-yard days to Martin's one.

But say this for Jordan: He has scored 11 touchdowns (the entire Jets offense has 14) and has 61 receptions (four more than the Jets' leader, Laveranues Coles).

There haven't been any grumblings in the locker room about the loss of Jordan, who turned off some people with his moodiness. But that doesn't mean the front office gets a gold star for its overall offseason performance.

According to a former player, who speaks regularly with current Jets, some in the locker room have questioned Bradway's moves. Another ex-Jet, Ray Mickens, spoke openly on that subject, saying he's "not shocked at all" by the team's disastrous season.

"A lot of decisions they made were questionable," Mickens said, claiming they jettisoned too many veteran leaders. "I'm just being honest. For them not to live up to expectations, it's not a surprise.

"I don't think (injuries) are a factor," he continued. "Even when they had Chad (Pennington) in Kansas City, they got blown out. Every team has injuries. New England is playing with people off the street in their secondary. If they're using injuries as an excuse, it's sorry to hear something like that."

Bradway gets the upcoming offseason to fix the mess. Maybe he can land Reggie Bush, which would make everybody forget about Jordan.

Testaverde: Put me in coach!

With only four meaningless games remaining, it would be a nice gesture if Herm Edwards lets Vinny Testaverde start another game for old time's sake. What do they have to lose?

Testaverde, 42, who will retire after the season, deserves another moment in the spotlight. His ankle and calf injuries are just about healed, and he believes he's ready to step in again. On Monday, in his usual WFAN radio spot, the popular quarterback seemed to be lobbying for another shot.

"I would love to be in there, playing," said Testaverde, who thought he might get summoned from the bullpen last Sunday in New England. "Hopefully, Herm is listening and he'll do that."

Standing behind the Jets' offensive line can be hazardous to one's health, but Testaverde, a sitting duck, believes his quick release can compensate for his lack of mobility. Say this for Testaverde: He's got guts.

Bottoming out

The Jets are approaching some all-time marks for futility. They've lost seven straight, one shy of the franchise record. It's getting Kotite-ian....Don't be shocked if CB Ty Law makes his fifth Pro Bowl. Despite the penalties, he has five interceptions and a sterling reputation among his peers.

No joke

Let's throw Kerry Collins' name into the Jets' QB rumor mill. Collins, expected to be benched Sunday in favor of Marques Tuiasosopo, has a $13 million cap charge in 2006 and is a candidate to be released....Rookie Justin Miller is developing into a solid bump-and-run corner, but he still struggles in zone coverage.

Jets on track for USC star

Right now, the Jets hold the No. 2 position in the draft, aka the Bush/Leinart sweepstakes. The Texans (1-11), who have blown fourth-quarter leads the last two weeks, seem intent on keeping the No.1spot. The Jets, Packers and 49ers are tied at 2-10. The strength-of-schedule formula is used to break ties. The Jets' opponents' winning percentage is .526. The Packers and 49ers stand at .552.

The clipboard

Hot seat: Every player and coach on offense. One touchdown in four games? We know you're banged up, but this is getting ridiculous.

X's and O's: DE Shaun Ellis isn't pressuring the QB the way he did last season. In nine third-down passing situations against the Patriots, he had no sacks, no pressures. And he was double-teamed only once.

Whispers: Barring a remarkable recovery, QB Jay Fiedler isn't going to play again this season. It would be foolish to force the issue.

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