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Jets ready for telltale game

Sunday, October 15, 2006

By RANDY LANGE

STAFF WRITER

EAST RUTHERFORD -- Woody Johnson, nattily clad in sports coat, white shirt, slacks, loafers, Jets cap and key-lime tie, strode up to reporters at Thursday's practice. The Jets' owner had a tough question and had to pose it.

"What do you think our chances are of bouncing back Sunday?" Johnson said. "Two thumbs up? Two thumbs down? One up, one down?"

Probably ©. You've asked the $64,000 question, Woody, assuming general manager Mike Tannenbaum can fit it under the salary cap.

The Jets will find out today whether 41-0 at Jacksonville was a blip, a hiccup, a letdown after a valiant effort to upset Indianapolis the week before or whether it's significant of more deep-seated issues that will persist in the first year of Eric Mangini's franchise-rebuilding project.

There are reasons the Jets are favored for the first time on Mangini's watch. They have dominated the Dolphins in the Meadowlands ever since Bill Parcells (with Mangini as a defensive assistant) arrived in 1997. They have the Chad Pennington passing game to move the chains. Miami has struggled to protect its quarterback, who today is Joey Harrington.

The Dolphins counter with a defense that may well stone the Jets' running game. They have dangerous offensive weapons in Chris Chambers, Randy McMichael and Ronnie Brown, who have been dormant much of the season. At 1-4, they are desperate.

"We didn't do anything to create those expectations around here," coach Nick Saban said of the preseason chatter that touted Miami as a Super Bowl dark horse. "We have to earn those things and we haven't played well enough to do that, and I take responsibility for that."

Saban and Mangini, who worked together on Bill Belichick's last Cleveland Browns staff in 1995, couldn't belittle themselves or praise each other enough. Their styles are slightly different, but they have similar philosophies.

One of their shared tenets is in not responding to popular conceptions. In the Jets' locker room, questions were being deflected with Martin Brodeur flair all week.

The heated rivalry with the Dolphins? "That's what makes it very big," linebacker Jonathan Vilma said, "that it's a division game."

The paramount importance of a victory? "Whether it's Miami or Hempstead High, we're going to try and win," wide receiver Laveranues Coles said. "That's just the way it works."

One issue taking on albatross proportions is Gang Green's failure to score early. Some numbers are staggering. The Jets haven't scored a first-quarter offensive touchdown in 19 games. In those 285 minutes of game-clock time, they've led for 10:51.

The company line: There's no added pressure in today's first 15 minutes.

"It's the whole package," Mangini said. "It's important to execute in the first quarter the same way it is to execute in the fourth quarter. We're looking for consistency, that's the goal."

Outside, Johnson, the self-described fan-owner, bantered with the reporters.

"I'd like to see us score on the first play of the game," he said. "Then I'd like to see us score on the second play."

Yes, that would be nice. The Jets haven't been close to scoring on the first play in a while. The only opening-kickoff touchdown return in franchise history was by Bobby Humphery in 1986, and Justin Miller and his blockers are capable of that.

As for offensive TDs, in the past decade the Jets have had only one first-play score, in 1997 on a 13-yard pass from Neil O'Donnell to tight end Fred Baxter against Baltimore and then-QB Vinny Testaverde.

Then Testaverde came to the Jets. In 1998, his 82-yard screen to Leon Johnson came on the third play against Indy. And Coles took Testaverde's slip screen 40 yards, 57 seconds into their must-win game at Oakland in the 2001 regular-season finale.

A quick strike would fire up the home fans, but it's not essential. What the Jets need is the energy to take charge of the game in the first quarter and to prevent the Dolphins from doing the same.

That would set a solid foundation for the first home win of the Eric Era. It might start a chain reaction that carries them to 4-4 at the break, and then who knows?

It would get two thumbs up from Johnson and everyone else in Jet nation.

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Mangini, Sabin cut from the same cloth

By ANDREW GROSS

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: October 15, 2006)

This is what Bill Belichick has begat.

Other than Dick Jauron in Buffalo, every AFC East coach is a member of the Belichick tree. So meetings such as today, when Eric Mangini's Jets (2-3) host Nick Saban's Dolphins (1-4) at the Meadowlands at 4:15 p.m., are going to be frequent.

But unlike Belichick's cold war with Mangini

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IN CHAD THEY STILL TRUST

By MARK CANNIZZARO

CHAD PENNINGTONOctober 15, 2006 -- In the wake of Chad Pennington's three-interception game in last week's blowout loss to the Jaguars, Eric Mangini was asked if Pennington's performance has shaken his confidence in the team's starting quarterback entering today's home game against the Dolphins.

"Not one ounce," Mangini said. "Chad has the competitiveness that we talk about. He hates to lose. He's played a lot of good football. There are going to be games where throws get away from you and decisions get away from you. The important thing is to correct it and move on. But he's played a ton of good football."

Pennington said he put the Jacksonville game behind him as soon as he was handed today's game-plan.

"I take losing hard," he said. "I take pride in what I do and I take pride in how our team performs, and that falls on the quarterback with his performance. When I don't perform well, I look at that analytically and criticize myself and take it very hard and see where I can get better and help our team win.

"I use Monday and Tuesday to look at that and learn from it. I moved on to Miami once I got the game plan."

Pennington conceded "trying to do to much" in last week's loss.

"It was a simple case of a quarterback trying to do too much and trying to make more out of something that wasn't there," he said. "That's why I was disappointed in myself, because that's not normally how I play the game.

"Normally I try to let the game come to me and let those opportunities come when they present themselves, not try to force those opportunities. And that's what I did, I forced those opportunities and it hurt me."

*

Two significant branches of the Bill Belichick coaching tree face each other today in Mangini and Nick Saban. Both worked under Belichick in Cleveland before Mangini worked under him with the Jets and in New England.

Saban actually offered Mangini the Dolphins' defensive coordinator job last year before Mangini was eventually offered the Jets' head-coaching job.

"Eric certainly proved to be an outstanding coordinator with New England and they've had so much success there, and now he's doing a really good job as a head coach," Saban said. "Eric is a really bright guy. He understands football, he's been in a great system for a long time with a great coach in Bill Belichick and obviously we both come from the same tree, root system, professionally and philosophically."

Said Mangini: "I think that Nick Saban is an outstanding coach. He's done well everywhere he has been ... He's very smart, and very detail-oriented.

"I spent a little bit of time with him in Cleveland. It was a cup of coffee there. Then I interviewed with him down in Miami. I respect him as much as I can respect any head coach in the way he approaches things."

*

WR Laveranues Coles took a pragmatic look at the Jets' current situation: "I was always brought up to think that you're only as good as your last game ... Our last game wasn't too good, so were not very good right now."

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The anti-Herm

Players like Eric's low-key style

Dolphins at Jets, at Giants Stadium, 4 pm

By RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Eric Mangini is trying to break from Herm Edwards' way of coaching Jets.

In recent years, whenever the Jets got blown out, Herm Edwards turned into Preacher Herm. Whether it was behind closed doors or in front of the TV cameras, Edwards found his soap box and went to work, delivering fire, brimstone and, occasionally, a little venom.

Edwards motivated his players with words and hugs. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. It was always entertaining.

In Eric Mangini's world, rah-rah is a no-no.

Responding to last week's 41-0 debacle in Jacksonville, Mangini didn't deviate from his usual regimen in preparation for today's home game against the Dolphins, according to several players. There were no emotional eruptions, no marker boards busted in half.

"It's stupid to do stuff like that in the NFL," said Matt Chatham, one of the Jets' captains. "It would've been immature to do it that way. It would've shown no perspective on what the NFL is really about.

"We really got our (butt) kicked and we all felt bad," Chatham added. "The last thing you need when you're down is another kick in the head."

Mangini's philosophy is this: Don't get mad, get even. By this evening, we'll have a pretty good idea of how well the Jets - in the first mini-crisis of the Mangini era - responded to their rookie coach.

It would be an overreaction to call this a must-win game, but for a team that is starting over and trying to change its culture, it's important.

The Jets (2-3) have dropped two straight - they've never lost three in a row in Chad Pennington's tenure as the starting quarterback - and they're facing perhaps the most disappointing team in the league. The Dolphins (1-4) haven't scored more than 17 points in a game, and they have Joey Harrington at quarterback.

In his typically even-tempered style, Mangini refused to attach any greater significance to this game. He didn't launch into a "You play to win the game" speech for the media. (See Preacher Herm, 2002.) His buzzword of the week was "consistency," one of the "core Jet values" that he constantly relates to the players.

"The best thing about (Mangini) is his same-approach attitude," Pennington said. "As players, we don't go from one extreme to another. It keeps us on an even keel, too."

Asked to described Mangini's motivational style, tight end Chris Baker paused a moment.

"That's not what he really does," Baker said.

Indeed, Mangini might not score many style points, but there's plenty of substance to his method. He prefers the analytical approach, pointing out mistakes (sometimes rather harshly, according to players) and correcting them.

Like his mentors, Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells, Mangini uses fear as a motivational tool. If a player doesn't do his job, he might not have it for long.

Mangini already has used 31 different starters, a departure from Edwards' philosophy. Some of Mangini's decisions have been performance-related, some game plan-related, but he's not afraid to shake up the status quo. Edwards rarely benched a player. In 2004, he used only 30 starters. The number grew to 37 last season, but only because of injuries. At the rate Mangini is going, he might hit 37 by midseason.

This past week, Mangini opened some eyes in his locker room by releasing well-liked defensive back Derrick Strait, a starter only two weeks ago. That didn't sit well with some players, but nothing gets their attention more than job security.

"A lot of guys already know that deal," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "Everybody is working hard, trying not to be that guy."

Dolphins coach Nick Saban also is a Belichick disciple, and he can appreciate Mangini's style. In fact, he interviewed Mangini before the 2005 season for his defensive coordinator job.

"When guys are bright and good teachers, like Eric is, that's how they gain the respect of their players and that's how the players respond positively to them," Saban said.

So, how will the Jets rebound from last week's embarrassment against the Jaguars? Chatham, ever the realist, said he's not sure.

"We're all anxious to see how we'll respond, to be honest with you," he said. "These are situations where it could go real bad one way or it could go the other way. In believe in these guys; we have some really good leaders. They're anxious. That's a good sign. Guys know that wasn't them last week."

Playbook

BY HANK GOLA

VITALS

THE LINE: Jets by 2

TV: Ch. 2 (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)

RADIO: WABC 770 AM, WEPN 1050 AM (Bob Wischusen, Marty Lyons), Nationwide on USA Radio Network (Howard David, Tim Pernetti)

FORECAST: Partly sunny, upper 50s.

INJURY IMPACT

Miami is hurting. Besides QB Daunte Culpepper, who is back to rehabbing his knee, the Dolphins could be without No. 2 WR Marty Booker (chest), starting CB Travis Davis (knee), backup LB Derrick Pope (hamstring) and third TE Justin Peelle (knee). Rookie Derek Hagan would replace Booker with Andre' Goodman in for Daniels, moving Michael Lehan and Eddie Jackson into the sub packages. TE Randy McMichael has sore ribs but will play. Jets RB Cedric Houston (knee) returned to the practice field this week but is not expected to play.

FEATURE MATCHUPS

DT Dewayne Robertson vs. C Rex Hadnot: The Dolphins need to get Ronnie Brown going against a leaky run defense and they have a size advantage up front they'd like to exploit. Unfortunately, their offensive line has underachieved all year when it comes to getting a push or protecting the quarterback. Robertson has someone he can beat in Hadnot.

WRs Laveranues Coles and Jerrico Cotchery vs. CBs Will Allen and Andre' Goodman: Coles was cranky after the loss to the Jaguars but he could have a big day against a beat-up Miami secondary, particularly in the nickel. Allen, the ex-Giant, has been the Dolphins' best cover corner but he's been flagged on a couple of interference calls. The knock on Goodman, a longtime Lion, is that he has problems with bigger, more physical receivers and Cotchery can hold his own in that department.

SCOUT SAYS

"When Miami's quarterbacks have had time to throw, they've moved the football in the air. Joey Harrington, who has a tendency to telegraph his intentions, played well in New England last week, especially out of the shotgun. He had good pocket presence, released the ball quickly and his touch was very accurate. Like the Jaguars, this is a physical Miami defense but (Chad) Pennington should be better. He will try to exploit the Dolphins' underneath coverage, which has given up big plays to tight ends and receivers out of the backfield."

INTANGIBLES

The rest of the Jets' season takes shape here, depending on how they rebound from a disastrous performance in Jacksonville. Losing to the 1-4 Dolphins could start a spiral. Miami has had a tough time winning in East Rutherford, where the Jets have taken seven of eight.

PREDICTION

JETS

Pennington had a miserable week but he's better than Harrington. That should be worth a touchdown. 24-17

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JETS GAMEDAY

Belichick's disciples

Mangini, Saban have same mentor, but their styles are vastly different

BY TOM ROCK

Newsday Staff Writer

October 15, 2006

Eric Mangini and Nick Saban fall from the same tree, but you'd never know it by watching them.

While Mangini maintains an even keel, even through the aftershocks of last week's 41-0 loss to the Jaguars, Saban is a ferocious competitor whose emotions are about as plain as his glaring expression. One has a poker face, the other the face of a hot poker.

"I think they obviously do have different styles, but at the same time they have formulas for success, even though they may do it a little bit differently," Jets quarterback Chad Pennington said. "They've been successful and they know how to win football games and they know how to reach their players and get their players to respond."

The two alumni of the Bill Belichick Coaching Academy and former "colleagues" with the Cleveland Browns will square off today in a duel of dispositions. No matter who wins or loses, expect Mangini to walk off the field with the same expression he would have walking through the aisles of the local supermarket. Expect Saban to look as if he just finished a triathlon.

It adds another fold to the already wrinkled history between the Jets and Dolphins. When the two teams meet, something odd usually occurs. Now the odd couple of coaching will take the rivalry to its next installment.

Jets tight end Chris Baker has experienced both ends of that style spectrum. He was recruited by and played under Saban for three years at Michigan State before Saban left for LSU and a national championship.

"You see some of that stuff on the sideline, but he's a good guy who really cares about his players. He just has a fiery side to him when things aren't going right," Baker said.

Baker visited Saban and the Dolphins last year when he was a free agent. He said he incurred Saban's wrath once in their time in East Lansing.

"He was basically just telling me to shut up," Baker said, "so I decided to shut up."

When Saban was hired as Dolphins coach last year, he interviewed Mangini to be his defensive coordinator. Mangini was hired as the Patriots' defensive coordinator.

"I respect him as much as I can respect any head coach in the way he approaches things," Mangini said of Saban. "He's incredibly thorough in everything that he does. He's very detail-oriented. He works extremely hard and he's smart. That's a pretty good package."

Mangini's relationship with Belichick has deteriorated since he took the Jets' job, but Saban remains close to the guru.

"Bill is a great friend and has done a tremendous job for a long time," Saban said. "He certainly taught me a lot and has been a real positive mentor to me."

The Patriots have a bye this week. When asked which team he thinks Belichick will be rooting for, Saban said it probably will be the Dolphins because they are further down in the AFC East standings. There probably are other reasons as well.

Mangini and Saban were together in Cleveland, though Saban was Belichick's defensive coordinator and Mangini was the ball boy, just getting his foot in the coaching door. Mangini described their time frame together as a "cup of coffee," and he chuckled at the idea that he might literally have been running to get Saban a cup of coffee.

"I probably drove him to the airport when he went to Michigan State," Mangini said. "That's the magic of the NFL."

SCOUTING THE DOLPHINS

THE PLAYER

Joey Harrington was introduced to New Yorkers when his image famously hovered above midtown Manhattan on a building-sized billboard promoting his Heisman Trophy candidacy. His only other time in New York he appeared equally as large, leading the Lions to a 28-13 win over the Giants in 2004, a game in which he completed 18 of 22 passes for 230 yards, two TDs and a nearly perfect 140.5 rating. Now Harrington, booted out of Detroit and picked up as a Dolphins' insurance policy, will get his second start for Miami. He's always been big in the Big Apple, and he'll need to be this time if the swooning Dolphins hope to correct their course.

Sunday: 4:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Radio: WABC (770), WEPN (1050)

THE PLAY

1 The receiver runs up the field about 15 yards, and then cuts toward the goal-post. Dolphins' receiver Chris Chambers has plenty of speed.

2 CB Andre Dyson will cover Chambers for the first part of the route. S Kerry Rhodes is assigned coverage of Chambers in the deeper portion of the field.

3 In pure man-to-man alignment, Dyson will remain on Chambers, and Rhodes offers deep help.

"DEEP POST"

The Dolphins like to keep things as basic as possible, and one play that fits that mold is the deep post.

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Breaking down the gameWhen the Dolphins pass the ball: Good things started to happen last week when Joey Harrington was decisive in his reads and avoided sacks, the main reason the Patriots stopped blitzing. No blitzes resulted in only one sack against a Miami team that previously had allowed 21. But Harrington threw two interceptions. That must stop for Miami to succeed. The problem today is that Marty Booker is out, giving New York the ability to double Chris Chambers. That could mean a big day for Wes Welker or Derek Hagan, but that isn't necessarily a great thing for Miami.

ADVANTAGE: Jets

When the Dolphins run the ball: The Jets rank 28th in defending the run. In the past month, New York has yielded no less than 147 yards rushing in a game. That suggests the Dolphins will take advantage of the weakness, but Miami has been unable to get Ronnie Brown involved most of the season. Brown has rushed more than 20 times once this season, and not coincidentally, it was Miami's only victory. Last week was Brown's worst performance of the season, not so much because he averaged only 2.3 yards per carry, but because he fumbled and seemed tentative at times.

ADVANTAGE: Dolphins.

When the Jets pass the ball: Led by a healthy Chad Pennington, the Jets are perhaps the best passing team Miami has faced. Aside from presenting a deep threat with Laveranues Coles, New York (200.2 yards per game, third in the AFC) has found a complementary receiver in third-year player Jerricho Cotchery. The Dolphins are likely to be without cornerback Travis Daniels, who is nursing a right knee injury. That means Andr

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Ferguson faces a big challenge in tough Taylor

Sunday, October 15, 2006

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

The parade of marquee defensive ends keeps coming for Jets rookie left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, each trying to kick in the door to his office and sack his quarterback, Chad Pennington.

First, it was Patriots Pro Bowler Richard Seymour. He was followed by Colts Pro Bowler Dwight Freeney. Then, it was the Jaguars' Paul Spicer, who notched three sacks against the Jets last season, including one on which Pennington suffered his second rotator cuff injury that required career-threatening surgery.

Advertisement

On deck is Dolphins Pro Bowler Jason Taylor, a notorious Jets-killer who has 12 1/2 career sacks against the Jets and countless big plays.

The pair will square off this afternoon when the Jets (2-3) meet the struggling Dolphins (1-4) at the Meadowlands.

"I think that's what keeps me so focused," Ferguson said of the Murderers' Row of defensive ends he has faced this season. "I know week-in and week-out I'm going to have a really tough defender I'm going to have to go against. Whether I have a poor performance or a great performance, I know next week I have to show up."

And show up Ferguson has.

This season, Ferguson, drafted fourth overall out of Virginia, has been beaten for only one sack, a strip sack by Colts defensive end Robert Mathis that led to an Indianapolis TD. Last week, he shut down Spicer and took pride in his effort because he was aware that Spicer had taken out Pennington last season.

"It felt good that he didn't go out there and do the things he did last year, but at the same rate we didn't necessarily do the things we wanted to do," Ferguson said of his team's 41-0 dismantling by the Jaguars.

Under coach Nick Saban, the Dolphins have switched to a 3-4 scheme and Taylor has become a defensive end/linebacker. He'll rush the passer, drop back in coverage or take on other responsibilities in the defense.

At 32, Taylor can still bring it. He has four sacks, 20 tackles, three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a pass defensed this season. Taylor, in his 10th season, is the playmaker on a Dolphins defense that ranks fifth in the NFL.

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October 15, 2006

Miami hopes Harrington can spark the offense

BY CARL KOTALA

FLORIDA TODAY Post a Comment

Miami Dolphins (1-4)at New York Jets (2-3)

When: Today, 4:05 p.m.

Where: The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV: CBS

Radio: AM-1240/1350

The Line: Jets by 2

Series history: Jets lead 41-38-1

Injury report: Miami Dolphins -- DOUBTFUL WR Marty Booker (chest); QB Daunte Culpepper (knee); CB Travis Daniels (knee); TE Justin Peelle (knee); LB Derrick Pope (hamstring); PROBABLE TE Randy McMichael.

New York Jets: QUESTIONABLE -- FB B.J. Askew (foot); CB David Barrett (hip); WR Laveranues Coles (calf); WR Tim Dwight (thigh); RB Cedric Houston (knee); OL Pete Kendall (thigh); OL Trey Teague (ankle); PROBABLE DL Dave Ball (hand); RB Kevan Barlow (calf); LB Matt Chatham (foot); OL Anthony Clement (shin); DL Bobby Hamilton (knee); FB James Hodgins (knee); OL Adrian Jones (thigh); CB Justin Miller (hip); QB Chad Pennington (calf); S Kerry Rhodes (thigh); TE Sean Ryan (chest); WR Brad Smith (thigh); S Eric Smith (knee); DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (knee); RB Leon Washington (hip).

Storyline: The Dolphins talk about how much better they played last week. Well, unless the score was somehow reversed, that doesn't mean a whole lot right now. This is a game Miami can win.

3 keys for Miami: Quick passes are nice, but mix in a big play every now and then; Miami drafted Ronnie Brown for a reason, and it wasn't 12 carries a game; Get some turnovers on defense.

3 keys for New York Jets: Do what every other team does, put Miami in an early hole; Wait for another Harrington mistake; Chad Pennington needs to spread the ball around.

Key matchups: New York LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson vs. Miami DE Jason Taylor; Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery vs. Dolphins secondary; Miami LT L.J. Shelton vs. New York DE Bryan Thomas.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Randy McMichael knows this about playing with Joey Harrington:

"It's fun," the Miami tight end said. "He's real fun. I always smile. That's one thing I always know about Joey. No matter when it's good or bad, Joey always has a smile on his face.

"I always respect that, because I'm right across in the huddle so I get to see him more than anybody. It's just fun to look at that smile."

Smiles have been in short supply for the Dolphins through the season's first five weeks. Miami is 1-4 as it tries to salvage its season beginning today against its AFC East nemesis, the New York Jets, at 4:05 p.m. at the Meadowlands.

Harrington will make his second start at quarterback for the Dolphins, while Daunte Culpepper continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired right knee.

Although the Dolphins lost 20-10 at New England last week, there were encouraging signs under Harrington's direction. Most notably, he was only sacked once. Culpepper had been sacked 21 times in Miami's previous four games.

However, lest one think that proves Harrington is a better fit for the Dolphins than Culpepper, it should be pointed out Miami went to a quick passing game against the Patriots. That switch called upon Harrington to take shorter drops and get rid of the ball more quickly than Culpepper had been asked to do.

Quicker passes also meant Miami's offensive line, which has failed to distinguish itself this season, didn't have to hold its blocks as long.

"I think when I get rid of the ball quickly, then it gives them the confidence," Harrington said. "I don't think what everybody realizes is, everybody feeds off of each other. It's not one player that makes a difference. It's not one player that wins or loses a football game. Everybody feeds off of each other on offense and on defense. If I can get the ball out a few times, get it out of my hands, it makes the offensive linemen feel good.

"I got hit one time and I kind of joked around with one of our O-linemen, and he said, 'It's not going to happen again.' I came up to him after the game and said, 'Hey, you know what? It didn't. You played a great game. Good job.' So when I can get the ball out of my hands quicker, it gives the offensive linemen that much more confidence."

It also discouraged the Patriots from blitzing as much as opponents had in the first four games. New England blitzed heavily to start the game, but in the second half, that number dropped dramatically. That could be the case again today.

Because there is no timetable for Culpepper's return, there is no telling how long Harrington will be the starter.

One Dolphin who probably doesn't mind is wide receiver Wes Welker, who caught a career-high nine passes against New England.

Welker said Harrington and Culpepper are similar in that both have strong arms and are good competitors.

"He studies the game," Welker said of Harrington. "He knows what's going. He's got a great arm, really accurate. I feel there's some plays where I was turning around and the ball was there, and he does some really impressive things out there."

Harrington drew criticism in Detroit because of his laid-back manner off the field. One of his nicknames was "Joey Blue Skies" because he would put a positive spin on a loss and not display frustration.

Dolphins coach Nick Saban cautioned it's probably a good idea for players to have a different persona on the field and off.

"Chris Evert's probably as nice a person as God ever created, but as a tennis player, she was pretty competitive," the coach said. "I think when you get between the lines, your competitive disposition changes. It starts with wanting to be good. It's important to you, and you're willing to work and invest your time in doing what you need to do to be good. That doesn't mean that your personality has to have some set of characteristics off the field.

"Most of the time, you're much better off if you have guys that don't carry what happens, especially in football, on the field to off the field."

The Dolphins likely will be without starting receiver Marty Booker today. Booker injured his chest against New England and is listed as doubtful. If he can't go, rookie Derek Hagan likely will make his first NFL start.

Although Miami's defense will face a challenge from the Jets' no-huddle offense, the Dolphins offense may not have to look much farther than last week's tape to guess what the Jets will do defensively.

First-year New York coach Eric Mangini was the Patriots defensive coordinator last year and worked extensively under New England coach Bill Belichick.

"The Jets are a spin off of New England's defense," Harrington said. "(Mangini) has taken a lot of the stuff that they do in New England to what they do with the Jets. We are going to see very similar stuff. I don't want to give you too much, because they may hear it and change it. We're going to be very prepared."

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SCOUTING REPORT

By Greg A. Bedard

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, October 15, 2006

60 SECONDS with Randy McMichael

How are your bruised ribs feeling?

"I'm fine. You know me. It's showtime."

What is the scene like at Giants Stadium when you play the Jets?

"Probably next to the Georgia-Florida game, probably one of the greatest games to be a part of. Just to be hated like that is always fun. One thing about when the Dolphins and Jets get together, no matter what the records are, the stats, anything, it's all about the dog fight. They don't like us. We don't like them. It's real personal when we go up there."

Do they have the most aggressive fans?

"That I've been around, yeah. Some people say that Philly is probably a little bit worse. Where I've been, without a doubt, they are definitely the most aggressive."

Speaking of the Bulldogs, what happened to your alma mater in the 51-33 loss against Tennessee?

"Man, we got stomped. I don't know what happened. We were up by seven when I fell asleep. And then when I woke up we had given up 50 points. It's all right. We're going to bounce back.

You finally broke out with six catches for 84 yards against the Patriots. Do you think that will create some momentum for you?

"Who knows? I just want to win. If I have a good game individually and lose, that makes it even worse because you feel like you could have done some more for you to get that win."

Are you still being asked to stay in a block a lot, or are you involved more in the passing game?

"I'm being freed up a little more, but that's just the play calling, not necessarily me having to stay in and block. In New England, they weren't doing a lot of things other teams were doing that caused me to stay back and block. The O-line did a great job picking up the blitz when they were trying to come."

CHAD PENNINGTON, Jets QB

By the numbers

Ranks fifth in the AFC with an 89.2 passer rating. Has completed 92 of 139 passes for 1,086 yards and six TDs with five INTs. ... With 71 yards and three INTs, Pennington posted a 28.9 rating in last week's 41-0 loss to Jacksonville.. ... Has missed 22 games in the past three seasons because of injury.

What he does

A smart and accurate passer, Pennington excels in the short to medium passing game. "Chad always plays well against us," Dolphins DE Jason Taylor said. "No one has ever said he had the 'rocket arm,' but he's been very efficient in his offenses before and I think he's doing fine now."

How to stop him

Pennington doesn't have a strong arm and likes to get rid of the ball quickly, so the Dolphins will try to jam the receivers and pressure Pennington. "We have to be on our game, and we have to get pressure," LB Zach Thomas said. "He's one of the better quarterbacks to know when a blitz is coming and where to throw the ball."

Jonathan Vilma, Jets LB

By the numbers

Tied for fifth among NFL linebackers with 44 tackles (31 solo). Followed up 2004 season, in which he was named defensive rookie or the year, by making his first Pro Bowl last season after leading all players with 187 tackles. ... Has 349 tackles in 37 career games.

What he does

An athletic playmaker with great instincts, the former UM standout always is around the ball and is excellent in coverage. "I think he's probably one of the most complete linebackers that we face pretty much all year long because he can play the pass and the run equally," said Dolphins TE Randy McMichael.

How to stop him

Vilma relies on quickness rather than strength, so he can be pushed around. "He makes a lot of plays because he uses his speed well," McMichael said. "One thing he does, he gets to the football at any cost."

D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets LT

By the numbers

Along with C Nick Mangold, is one of two rookies to start each game on the Jets' offensive line. ... Was selected fourth overall in the 2006 draft out of Virginia, where he started all 49 games in his four-year career.

What he does

Has good size at 6-feet-6 and 312 pounds, and his 87-inch wingspan allows him to keep rushers at bay. "He's obviously a big, athletic guy," Taylor said. "You watch some tape of those guys, and he did some good things against good players."

How to stop him

Ferguson still has a ways to go with his technique, so Taylor should be able to get him off balance. "He's still young," Taylor said. "He's got a lot of things to learn in this league."

POST PICKS

Greg A. Bedard (3-2)

The Jaguars showed that the young Jets do not react well to physical play. The Dolphins' defense can certainly push the Jets around, so it will be up to the offense and RB Ronnie Brown to dish out some punishment.

Dolphins 13-10

Dave George (4-1)

Thanks to parity, and the New York Jets, Miami tastes sweet victory again. What, you think a team that lost by 41 points last Sunday can't get beaten by one today? Behold, the Joey Harrington Era, an afternoon to remember.

Dolphins 20-19

Greg Stoda (2-3)

It's about time for Miami's defense to produce a performance dominant enough to win a game. This is it. A touchdown and a couple of field goals is enough.

Dolphins 16-10

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Jets Ready For Harrington

by: Brian Bohl | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Sunday, October 15, 2006

HEMPSTEAD, NY - After a blowout defeat that sent their record one game under the break-even point, the Jets are not in a position to take the personnel of any opponent lightly.

While the Dolphins may have appeared to weaken themselves when they announced former Lions draft bust Joey Harrington will start at quarterback over former Pro Bowl passer Daunte Culpepper, a victory for the Jets (2-3) is not assured when both teams take the field Sunday afternoon at Giants Stadium.

Culpepper, who came over from the Vikings in the off-season, has been slowed by a knee injury. So Dolphins coach Nick Saban turned to Harrington last week, but the third overall pick in the 2002 draft could not gain a victory in a 20-10 loss to the Patriots.

Harrington entered the league with Detroit with high expectations that he would finally make the Motor City a relevant football team again. The former Oregon star struggled to live up the challenge, and brings a disappointing career passer rating of 67.9 into the Meadowlands this weekend.

At 6-4, 220-pounds, Harrington has the physical tools to be an elite quarterback. He gave the Dolphins (1-4) a little spark last week when he finished 26-41 for 232 yards. But two interceptions gave New England all the momentum they would need. Still, Jets coach Eric Mangini said he was impressed by some of the things done offensively from his AFC East divisional rival, praising Harrington

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