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by: Joe Pietaro | NY Sportscene Magazine | Saturday, November 3, 2007

A 1-7 record in the competitive world of the National Football League may be an indictment on more than one person. The head coach and quarterback are usually the first two heads to be put on the chopping block. So it is quite easy to understand the reasons why Eric Mangini didn

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Jets turn to Kellen Clemens now that season is Ore-gone

Sunday, November 4th 2007, 4:00 AM

"It may be early, and 0-2 isn't the end of the world, but here's a suggestion for the Jets: it better not get much worse." - Me and my computer, Daily News, 9/18/07.

Well, as we now know, the schedule ran a little too long for the Mets and, in other obvious news, it has gotten much worse for the Jets. No, much worse than much worst.

They are 1-7, which is the ugly neighbor to the worse you can do in eight games, and the coach has decided to keep Chad Pennington healthy for the rest of the season by sending him to the bench. The new No. 1 is Kellen Clemens, No. 11, the greatest right arm to come out of Burns (Oregon) HS, enrollment 350.

The head coach at Burns, Scott Smyth, was the offensive and defensive line coach, oh, and the JV coach, when Clemens first walked on Hilanders Field. Burns was running the passer-unfriendly wishbone offense until they saw Clemens whiz his passes. As soon as the previous QB graduated, Burns installed a run-and-shoot offense for Clemens. He passed for 102 touchdowns "and it woulda been more," said Smyth, "but we took him out at halftime a lot."

Today, against Washington, 3,000 miles from his greatest triumphs, Clemens will be making his second pro start. The first came because Chad wasn't healthy. This start comes because the Jets have nothing to lose, because they want to find out about Clemens, because what the hell.

Last week, Buffalo 13, Jets 3, the Jets offense was truly offensive, boring and predictable.

At one point, Chad and the Dismals gained a total of 28 yards on five straight possessions. So it was no surprise, when it was time for Mangini to reveal the name of his quarterback for Game 9, he said Clemens had "earned" the opportunity to start. Earned? Really?

Maybe his three minutes last week were less painful than Pennington's 57. Anyway, this was how Mangini explained Clemens' promotion.

"It's not just one small period of time," he said. "It's all the different things. It starts in the offseason, his practice, his preparation. It's all those things."

And what was it that made Clemens the MVP in practice? The coach: "I really like the way he's improved in terms of his huddle procedure…"

Hey, how can you argue with that?

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Kellen Clemens packed a duffel bag, drove nearly three hours to the nearest airport (in Boise, Idaho) and hopped a plane to Los Angeles - his first solo trip away from his family's 3,500-acre cattle ranch in tiny Burns, Ore.

Picture Jimmy Chitwood, the farm-boy character from "Hoosiers," showing up in SoCal to hang with too-cool Jason Priestley of "Beverly Hills 90210."

It had that feel seven years ago, when Clemens, preparing for his senior year in high school, participated in the Elite 11 quarterback camp in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. It's an invitation-only camp for the best of the best in the country, and that particular group of 11 produced five current NFL quarterbacks - Matt Leinart (Cardinals), Derek Anderson (Bengals), Brodie Croyle (Chiefs), Kyle Orton (Bears) and Clemens.

Clemens was razzed by the others, showing up in a cowboy hat and cut-off jeans. When the young guns piled into a van, he gaped at the four lanes of traffic on the freeway, claiming he'd never seen so much cement in his life. When they went to the beach, he was splattered by a wave while trying to body surf. More laughs. The camp counselors joked that Clemens had arrived from another decade.

After a few days, Clemens won them over with his strong arm, tireless work ethic and take-charge demeanor. One camp organizer said Clemens, who would commit to Oregon, possessed more upside than Leinart, the presumed golden child of that recruiting class.

"Kellen is very unassuming, with a country boy, kind of 'aw-shucks' attitude, but he's sharp - one of the best leaders I've ever been around," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said last week in a phone interview.

The question is, can a cattle-driving, hay-baling, horse-riding cowboy from a three-traffic-light town revive the moribund football team in Gotham?

The answer will unfold over the next two months, starting today when the Jets face the Redskins at the Meadowlands. Clemens is in, Chad Pennington is out, and that's a pretty big deal in these parts - the Jets' first non-injury quarterback change since 2002.

At 1-7, it's too late to save the season, but Clemens can secure the starting job for 2008 by playing reasonably well down the stretch. He also can provide direction for a franchise that made a wrong turn somewhere along the way. That's a lot of pressure for a quarterback with only 60 pass attempts on his NFL resume, but Clemens exudes a "quiet swagger," according to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.

It's a delicate balance, showing confidence without letting your head get too big, but Clemens mastered that at every level.

In high school, Clemens was 31-7 as a starter, leading tiny Burns to the state semifinals as a senior, but he never got caught up in his celebrity. When informed by his coach that he was the only player in Oregon selected to the Parade All-American team, Clemens looked up from a computer screen, nodded and said, "That's nice." And he went back to typing his homework.

Coach Terry Graham, expecting a bigger reaction, explained the enormity of the accomplishment to his quarterback.

"This time," Graham said, "he looked up and shook his head a little longer before he went back to what he was doing."

In college, Clemens' senior year ended abruptly with a broken leg in the eighth game, but instead of sulking in the locker room, he returned to the sideline to help with signal-calling and keep his replacement calm. Teammates were blown away by his unselfishness.

Some say he's Pennington with a better arm, and there are some similarities, starting with their background. Like Pennington, whose father was a high school football coach, Clemens grew up in a football environment. His grandfather, Delmer Clemens, played at Oregon (1950) and his father, John Clemens, was a defensive back for Portland State (1981).

Clemens' biological father, Vernon Vincent, was killed in a mill accident when Kellen was only 6 months old. His mother, Vicky, remarried two years later, and they moved to a cattle ranch that had been in the Clemens family since 1870. The two-story home was the first school house in Harney County before it became a working ranch, populated by 100 cattle and a meadow that goes forever.

Think "City Slickers," sans the city slickers.

Outside Clemens' house, you see will a basketball hoop in the driveway and a wooden sign that says, "Welcome."

Watch your step, though.

"Walking up to the house - and I don't mean to embarrass Kellen - but I had to avoid a lot of cow pies," said Bellotti, recalling a recruiting visit.

Burns (pop. 3,064) is a friendly cowboy town located in the southeastern part of Oregon, where the Alvord Desert meets Steens Mountain. The town ("Is there a town?" Bellotti jokes) is six blocks long, 125 miles from the nearest interstate. It includes six restaurants, a mercantile store, an old-fashioned movie theater and a nine-hole golf course. The bowling alley closed some time ago. It was big news.

"In Burns," said Scott Smyth, the current varsity coach, "you learn how to entertain yourself."

Those close to Clemens believe he became a big-time quarterback because of his small-town values. He worked long hours on the ranch, doing everything from herding cattle to baling hay. In between chores, he found creative ways to help his game. To improve his speed and lower-body strength, he tied himself to a tractor tire and dragged it through hay fields - a rural Rocky moment.

Sometimes he showed up for football practice covered in dirty jeans, exhausted, but that never stopped him from putting in extra work. On weekends, when many of his teammates were chasing girls and living off their Friday-night glory, Clemens was on the practice field, honing pass routes with his receivers.

"He was super humble," said Matt Attleberger, one of Clemens' former receivers. "He never put himself up on a pedestal."

Clemens' arm was so strong that Graham, the varsity coach at the time, junked his beloved Wing-T offense in favor of the run-and-shoot. Instead of running on almost every down, the Hilanders filled the big sky with footballs. As a senior, Clemens passed for 3,464 yards and 37 touchdowns.

"I never had anybody like that before," said Graham, who vividly remembers an under-pressure, sidearm completion in the state playoffs that left everyone's jaws on the grass.

At Oregon, Clemens won the starting job as a sophomore, and played decently for two years, but he didn't blossom until Bellotti opened up the offense, installing a spread-option attack.

They called it a catch-and-release offense: Clemens caught the snap in shotgun, with five players releasing into pass routes. It was the perfect marriage for Clemens, who finished with 19 touchdown passes and only four interceptions in an abbreviated senior year.

"It fit his comfort zone," said Bellotti, who junked his pro-style attack. "He's an accurate passer with a strong arm and he's able to make quick decisions. It was perfect for him."

But his career came to an imperfect end with a horse-collar tackle that caused a fracture in his lower-left leg. He hoped to return for a postseason all-star game, but the doctors told him no way. The bad news pushed Clemens into a bad place, thinking his career might have been over.

"I kind of pouted, moped around for a couple of days," he said. "My wife was tolerant for about a day. She was, 'Look, this isn't you, this isn't the person you are. You need to buck up and get back on the horse.'"

So Clemens made like a true cowboy and bucked up. He got himself drafted in the second round by the Jets, who fell in love with his intangibles and his arm. That he was married in college also appealed to the Jets, who bypassed party-boy Leinart in the first round. Leinart, Clemens' old California camping buddy, wound up in the desert (Arizona). Clemens, raised near a desert, went to the concrete jungle of New York.

After a non-descript, clipboard-carrying rookie year, Clemens made huge strides in the preseason and he played well in his first start, subbing for the injured Pennington in Week 2. But he hasn't blown away too many people with his practice performances, which partly explains the lukewarm endorsements from teammates.

The same thing happened in 2002, when Pennington replaced Vinny Testaverde. Pennington was so unimpressive in practice that former Jet Curtis Martin remembered thinking to himself, "I hope Vinny never gets hurt." When Testaverde got benched, the locker room was filled with Pennington doubters - until he stepped into the huddle and ignited the team.

Back in Burns, where they still buzz about Clemens' arm, they believe their favorite son can make the Jets whole again.

"I guarantee," Graham said, "he'll find a way to make the New York Jets what they think they should be."

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Jets' quarterback an early bloomer

Sunday, November 4, 2007



Terry Graham always had believed in the running game.

As a high school football coach in the middle of Oregon, you pretty much had to. Once the calendar turned to October and November, you never knew how bad the weather might be. That's why Graham always ran the Wing-T.

But Graham had to change his philosophy 180 degrees one day, when he watched a freshman quarterback play for the jayvee team.

"I saw this kid throwing the ball around," Graham recalled. "He had so much accuracy, so much poise."

And Graham knew right then, "the future is not going to be [us] running the ball."

By the next season, Graham had switched to the run-and-shoot.

Beginning today, the Jets also hope to find out something about their future, and it revolves around that same player from Burns, Ore., now grown up.

Kellen Clemens, a second-round pick in 2006, makes his second start when the Jets (1-7) host Washington (4-3) at Giants Stadium. But while his first start was as a replacement for an injured Chad Pennington, Clemens is now "the Man," the one the Jets believe will be their quarterback for a long time.

Clemens has matured mentally and physically since that day, but the people who know him best say that down deep, he is the same.

"He's never changed his approach," Graham said. "He treats everybody the same. He's just a genuine person."

A lot of that has to do with Clemens' upbringing. He was raised on a farm, and learned at an early age the chores that included baling hay and feeding the cows. Compared to that, an Eric Mangini practice must seem like a breeze.

Clemens accounted for 52 touchdowns as a senior at Burns High School, including 15 rushing. He went to the University of Oregon and became the starter by his sophomore year. He was on his way to a spectacular senior season, having already thrown 19 touchdown passes and only four interceptions, when he suffered a broken left ankle when he was sacked in the eighth game against Arizona. He had surgery the next day.

"I thought maybe I had a chance to come back for a bowl game," Clemens recalled. "Then when they said, 'You're done,' the reality hits you that your playing career may be over. It's not an easy thing to hear.

"I kind of pouted and moped around for a couple of days," Clemens added. "My wife [Nicole] was tolerant of it for about a day and then said, 'Look, this isn't you or the person you are. You need to buck up and get back on the horse.' That's kind of what I did. I just put my mind to it and said, 'I'm going to give myself the best chance I can to hopefully play again one day,' and here I am."

In fact, when the Ducks returned to action two weeks later against California, Clemens was on crutches on the sidelines, doing whatever he could to help Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf, who rotated at quarterback the rest of the season in place of Clemens.

"That's just the way Kellen is," Graham said.

His current teammates see those same qualities.

"He's a natural leader," veteran running back Thomas Jones said. "When he comes into the huddle he has a presence. He's a smart guy and he knows the offense really well. He's one of those guys that is here all the time [studying] the playbook and watching film."

Said Graham: "He's unique. He's one of a kind."

That's what the Jets are hoping.

DAVIS PROMOTED: Rookie wide receiver Chris Davis was moved from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, another sign that wideout Laveranues Coles (concussion) almost certainly won't play today.

E-mail: pelzman@northjersey.com

* * *

Jets (1-7) vs. Redskins (4-3)

Giants Stadium

Today, 1 o'clock

TV: Ch. 5

Line: Redskins by 3½

What's at stake?


A victory would snap a five-game losing streak and give them something positive going into their much-needed bye week. The organization also would like to see a turnover-free game from second-year QB Kellen Clemens, who will get the chance to show he's the man to lead the offense into the future.


Washington is looking to bounce back from a 52-7 pummeling by New England, and keep pace in the increasingly crowded NFC wild-card picture as most teams reach the halfway mark in their seasons. And Redskins LG Pete Kendall could have extra incentive, although the former Jet says he doesn't.

Key matchups

Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery vs. Redskins CB Shawn Springs

Cotchery quickly got on the same page with Clemens when Clemens started in Week 2 against Baltimore with Chad Pennington (ankle) sidelined. Cotchery had seven receptions for 165 yards in that game, including catches of 50 and 44 yards in the fourth quarter. With Laveranues Coles (concussion) likely not to play, Cotchery figures to get the bulk of the receiving load.

Redskins TE Chris Cooley vs. Jets SS Kerry Rhodes

Cooley has 23 receptions this season, but had nine for 105 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay on Oct. 14. The Jets had trouble earlier this season covering Baltimore's Todd Heap, a similar player. Cooley has had one touchdown reception in five of the past six games.

How they'll win


The insertion of Clemens enables the Jets to take more shots downfield, opening up the running game for Thomas Jones. Clemens displays the poise he showed against Baltimore in the fourth quarter. On defense, the Jets send a lot of blitzes at Washington QB Jason Campbell, and rookie LB David Harris helps contain RB Clinton Portis, forcing Campbell to throw more than the Redskins would like.


Portis, who has struggled in his past three games, bounces back with a big effort, helped by some timely blocks by Kendall. Campbell thus has time to throw in favorable situations. The Redskins' defense sends plenty of blitzes at the learning-on-the-job Clemens, who was sacked four times by the Ravens. The 'Skins also cut off Jones' cutbacks.

-- J.P. Pelzman

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Justin McCareins

November 4, 2007 -- It's been 42 days since the Jets last tasted victory. That came on September against the still-winless Dolphins, so it almost doesn't count.

Today against the 4-3 Redskins, who are coming off a 52-7 shellacking by the Patriots, the Jets have an opportunity to taste victory again.

And, based on the 35-16 combined record of the Jets' remaining opponents (not including 0-8 Miami), this might be the easiest pickin's the Jets have the rest of the way.

The Jets will do it with a new quarterback, Kellen Clemens, who they hope he'll provide not only the spark they desperately need, but a positive glimpse into the future.

"I'm curious to see some kind of spark," Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "It doesn't matter where it comes from or what position it comes from. I just want to see a spark, period. Hopefully, we can ignite a spark throughout the team and get a win."

Here's an inside look at whether the Jets will get that elusive second W:


Redskins LG Pete Kendall vs. whoever starts at left guard for the Jets. This is a tweak of our "best battle" category, because Kendall will not literally be going up against either Adrien Clarke (who's expected to be benched) or Will Montgomery (who may start in Clarke's place). But figuratively, he will be because the Jets have struggled at that position since Kendall was traded away amidst contract-dispute controversy. Many discerning eyes will be on that position because there's been a definite scar on the Jets' season left by the ugly divorce between Kendall and Jets management. Now Kendall is, by all accounts (including the Jets'), playing well this season. A strong performance by Kendall and more struggles from the Jets at left guard will provide further embarrassment to this season for the Jets.


The Clemens era will begin for the Jets, and all eyes will be on how he performs in his second career NFL start. Clemens was shaky early and got better in his first start, Week 2 in Baltimore, going 19-for-37 for 260 yards and nearly engineering a big fourth-quarter comeback. He's a confident player with a stronger arm than Chad Pennington, so look for more long passes down the field today.


With Clemens likely to air it out deeper, and with starting WR Laveranues Coles likely out with a concussion, look for Justin McCareins to be brought back into the offense. Clemens and McCareins had excellent chemistry together in preseason, and Clemens went to McCareins in big spots in his one start. Unfortunately, McCareins had a couple of key drops in that game and has been a forgotten man since. Look for a McCareins comeback today.


Redskins LB London Fletcher is a one-man wrecking machine. He not only has an incredible 89 tackles (52 solo) in only seven games (on pace for 203 for the season), but he has two interceptions, as well. He's probably the most complete player on the field today and could be a nightmare for Jets RB Thomas Jones. The Jets are going to have to get a hat on Fletcher as often as possible. Though he was inactive last week, today would be a good day to have FB Darian Barnes seeking out Fletcher on every running play.


As it is every week, the kick-return game is one of the few strengths of the Jets. Leon Washington leads the NFL with a 34.2-yard average. The Redskins, however, have some top special teamers of their own. They, too, are dangerous in the return game with Rock Cartwright ranked first in the NFC and fourth in the NFL with a 29.2-yard average. Antwaan Randle El, though he averages only 6.8 yards on punt returns, is always a threat to take one deep. The 'Skins rank second in the NFC in average starting field position (30.8-yard line).


Though he has 557 rushing yards on 147 attempts and 15 catches, Jones has yet to score his first TD as a Jet.


Free safety Sean Taylor leads the NFL with five interceptions in seven games and is on a pace for more than 11 this season.


17 and 7. The Redskins have fumbled the ball 17 times this season, losing 7 of them. The Jets have fumbled 7 times, losing 2, though one was on a bad shotgun snap.



JETS - 16

The Jets will get a lift from Kellen Clemens, who'll make some plays and excite the crowd. In the end, though, the Jets' offensive line won't protect him well enough, and the opportunistic Redskins' defense will force a couple of turnovers.


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HAVE PATIENCE WITH GREAT GREEN HOPE Kellen Clemens November 4, 2007 -- LET us all take the pressure off Kellen Clemens right here and now on the first day of the rest of his career and guarantee that he will not be The Next Joe Namath.

He will not show up today against a well-regarded defensive coordinator named Gregg Williams and laugh in the face of a heavy blitz and yawn and light up the scoreboard.

Vince Young has regressed in his second season and disabled Matt Leinart had taken a step back and Jay Cutler is playing through growing pains, and here comes Kellen Clemens taking over for Chad Pennington and starting his second game in the NFL.

No one should expect miracles, or the start of a green-and-white fairy tale that will wind up with the kid getting a pantyhose commercial.

But Chad Pennington didn't have enough arm to carry everyone drowning around him to safety, and with the Patriots in a league of their own, it is clearly time for Eric Mangini to find out whether Clemens is the rocket quarterback who can eventually withstand the icy stare of Bill Belichick and not blink should he find himself in a gunslinger shootout next season and beyond with Tom Brady.

Clemens stands as the Hope Diamond for a franchise desperately in need of hope, and playmakers, and toughness in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

So today isn't about today as much as it is about tomorrow.

To all you long-suffering Jets fans since Super Bowl III, be patient with me when I urge patience with Kellen Clemens.

"It's gonna take time," Ken O'Brien was saying by cell phone. "I think there's always a knee-jerk reaction if things don't go well. When cooler heads prevail, I think they're gonna be patient."

The O'Brien Era started in 1984. O'Brien, drafted ahead of Dan Marino in 1983, has some advice for Clemens.

"I would say, 'Think about what you've wanted to do, and why you want to it.' I don't know anybody who says, 'I want to be a backup quarterback in the NFL,'" O'Brien said. "You want to be The Guy. Every kid in America, that's what you want to do. And you've gotta believe in yourself that you're gonna get the job done because if you don't, nobody else is. And just go out and let it fly. Don't dwell on the bad things; dwell on the good things. It's a lot better life that way."

It was the season when Vinny Testaverde ruptured his Achilles on Opening Day, after Rick Mirer could not hold the fort, when Bill Parcells walked in on a gloomy Monday morning to address his sagging 1999 Jets.

"See that kid in the front pew?" Parcells said. "I don't care if we lose the rest of our games, we're going with him."

And when Ray Lucas marched downstairs, there were Depends waiting for him at his locker. And now a new babe shall lead them eight years later.

What should Jet fans expect from Clemens?

"Laser-beam arm," Lucas was saying. "Very mobile in the pocket ... great pocket presence, but not afraid to run. Chad could get you into the right play; Kellen's gonna take a little time. He can only get there from game-time experience. There's a lot of things wrong right now with the Jets. They haven't played four quarters at all in one game yet. Kellen Clemens is not the answer for everything."

Lucas, after suffering a sprained ankle that briefly sidelined him, rallied the Jets to an 8-8 finish in Parcells' last season on the sidelines in New York, but was back on the bench the next season when Testaverde returned and Pennington was a No. 1 draft choice. Lucas, a rising star these days on SNY, advises Clemens to make sure that one bad play does not become two bad plays.

"Like Parcells used to say, 'Have that quarterback amnesia,'" Lucas said. "Everything's not gonna go right. As long as you're cool with that, just keep it moving."

From his California perch, O'Brien observed Clemens at Oregon.

"I liked his leadership," O'Brien said.

The kid is the only reason to watch the Jets.

"He can definitely [bleepin'] play," Lucas said. "They didn't draft him that high [second round] for him to be a disappointment."

He's a long way from Broadway Kellen.


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It's Clemens' team as he starts for Jets

BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com

November 4, 2007

Kellen Clemens has started an NFL game before. This, however, is a little different.

Clemens no longer is stepping in for an injured player, as he did in Week 2 when Chad Pennington was out with a sprained ankle. Even in that game, even in that fourth quarter - when he almost led the Jets back against the Ravens - he was the understudy getting a sniff of the spotlight.

The way Clemens tells it, he wasn't even told that he would be the starter for that September game in Baltimore. He just jogged onto the field when the Jets had the ball, he said with a grin, and no one stopped him.

This afternoon, he'll jog out there against the Redskins not half-expecting someone to stop him, but with the entire weight of the franchise thrusting him.

Coach Eric Mangini didn't hesitate to name Clemens the starting quarterback this week (though whether he hesitated too long in the season remains to be seen). On Monday morning, hours after he yanked Pennington from a 13-3 loss to the Bills, he tapped Clemens for the job of guiding this 1-7 team out of its misery - conceivably for the next nine weeks and beyond.

"The biggest difference is coach Mangini saying who was going to start as early in the week as he did," Clemens said of taking the reins of the team now. "That brings about a different atmosphere this week just leading into the game."

It means taking most of the snaps in practice. It means time with the offensive coaches tailoring a game plan specific for him and his liking, as opposed to a hand-me-down. It means having everyone look to him to determine how to act and what to do. And today it'll mean stepping into a huddle, taking the place of a popular team leader, and branding his initials into the Jets' offense just as he used to do while growing up on a ranch in Oregon.

"Really where that stood out was in college," Mangini said of Clemens' command in the huddle, a skill that can't really be taught or coached. "That's what you saw on tape, that presence."

Clemens said he worked on that presence by calling every huddle with a game-time intensity, even when it was in the middle of the week and he was running the plays of the upcoming opponent on the scout team.

"You don't ever want to lose that confidence as a quarterback," he said. "I tried to talk to those guys as if we were going out there on Sunday. How good of a job I did is up for them to tell you, but that's the way I tried to maintain that confidence or quarterback swagger."

The Redskins are expecting that swagger, and coach Joe Gibbs, who has won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks, said it's never easy to face a young player trying to make an impression.

"When most young guys get an opportunity, they play their rear end off, so that is what we're expecting," Gibbs said.

Will that translate into a much-needed win or a fifth straight loss? While it's true that Pennington was not solely responsible for putting the Jets in a 1-7 hole, they clearly felt he was not the player to get them out of it, either.

That job falls to Clemens, and it starts today.

Davis called up, Coles out? WR Chris Davis was signed from the practice squad to the active roster yesterday, a signal that Laveranues Coles (concussion) likely will be unavailable against the Redskins.

Coles missed every practice this week and was listed as doubtful for the game. Davis played at Wake Forest and spent parts of the last two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.


Jason Fabini and Pete Kendall, guards

Meet them? You already know them well. The fact that 40 percent of the Redskins' anticipated starting offensive line is former Jets will only add to the, um, drama and, er, thrill ... What time does the Colts-Pats game kick off again? Kendall, of course, forced his way out of the Jets with harangues of team management after it became clear he would not be getting the $1-million raise he not only believed he deserved but was owed to him. He said he wanted to be traded or released, and just when it seemed as if he would be stuck in New York, the Jets traded him to the Redskins. Fabini was a fourth-round pick of the Jets in 1998 and played here for eight years, all of them as a starter.


Jets 3, Redskins 0

Dec. 11, 1993

On their opening drive, the Jets went 59 yards on 14 plays and scored on Cary Blanchard's 45-yard field goal. From there, running back Johnny Johnson and a surly defense took over in what remains the lowest-scoring game in Jets history (the Redskins have played four scoreless ties, but none since they blankety-blanked the Giants in October 1939). Johnson ran for 155 yards on 32 carries as the Jets held the ball for 41 minutes. The Redskins managed only 150 yards of offense. The shutout kept the Jets' playoff hopes alive even though they hadn't scored an offensive touchdown in three weeks. Like the Patriots last week (OK, not quite the same), the Jets had a chance to pile up the points on that chilly, windy day at RFK. A field-goal attempt at the end of the half failed when Roger Duffy snapped the ball to unsuspecting holder Louie Aguiar and plunked him in the side of his helmet.


The Jets have a bye next week and return Nov. 18 to host the Steelers. - TOM ROCK

Redskins at Jets, 1 p.m. TV: Ch. 5 Radio: WABC (770), WEPN (1050)

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November 4, 2007 -- Eric Hicks doesn't remember the exact moment, but the Jets' defensive end remembered being taken aback by what he saw.

Hicks, a 10-year NFL veteran, was speaking about rookie linebacker David Harris, who made his first start as a pro last Sunday against the Bills.

"I remember looking up at the scoreboard during a TV timeout and seeing that he had 11 tackles and the second quarter wasn't even over," Hicks said. "Obviously, he's out there doing a lot of good things."

Obviously. So obvious, in fact, did Harris' performance in his first NFL start stand out (17 tackles and a sack) that you couldn't help but notice just how invisible incumbent starter Jonathan Vilma had been before a knee injury ended his season.

Vilma, who was a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine in the previous regime's 4-3 defense, simply had not been the same player in the current 3-4 scheme before he was hurt two weeks ago in Cincinnati.

Harris, playing the same inside linebacker position, was a force at the point of attack and he was active, all over the field - the way Vilma used to be.

The one common assessment you hear from Jets players when asked about Harris is how un-rookie-like he is.

"A lot of guys who are rookies go out there and show a lot of nerves and get flustered," Hicks said, "but you can tell David played in a big-time program at Michigan."

Jets linebackers coach Jim Herrmann was Harris' defensive coordinator at Michigan, perhaps affording the rookie a comfort level that is making opposing running backs uncomfortable.

"David's a pretty confident guy," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "He came in and didn't really get blindsided by all the hoopla of him starting his first game. Starting for the first time, he was comfortable with the situation and he had a good debut."

The Jets aggressively traded up to draft Harris in the second round last April. He might hit hard, but one thing you won't get out of him is flash. So if big talk and on-field celebrations are what you're looking for in a linebacker, go look elsewhere. Harris is one of the quieter players in the locker room. "Ted Johnson's a pretty quiet guy and he split a few helmets," Eric Mangini said of the the former New England linebacker.

"I just try to stay humble and try to work hard," Harris said, crediting his success last Sunday to the coaches and his fellow linebackers.

His assessment of his dominant performance against the Bills?

"I think I played OK stepping in for Jonathan Vilma, but there were some things I could have done better and I'm looking to continue playing well," he said.

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Jets' season of change continues



(Original publication: November 4, 2007)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It couldn't be any more obvious than it will be today that there's been a changing of the guard with the Jets.

Whether that's a good thing is yet to be determined since, so far this season, just about everything has gone wrong for the team.

The Jets (1-7), who have lost five straight and are off to their worst start since 1996, host the Redskins (4-3) at the Meadowlands at 1 p.m. Inserting second-year pro Kellen Clemens at quarterback for the struggling Chad Pennington has given a definite rebuilding feel to the rest of this season.

"I think if you get too caught up in the future or too caught up in the past, that's when you lose track of what's important - and that's right now," said Jets coach Eric Mangini, who led the team to a wild-card berth last season. "We've got to make improvements. It's not going to be about next year or last year."

Still, the team needs to see what kind of spark Clemens can provide, never mind getting him acclimated to life as an NFL starter in advance of the 2008 season.

But quarterback is just the most obvious change. Rookie David Harris is starting at inside linebacker for the injured Jonathan Vilma. Harris made a team-high 17 tackles in his NFL starting debut in last week's 13-3 loss to the Bills.

And somebody has to start at left guard - either incumbent Adrien Clarke, second-year pro Will Montgomery or rookie Jacob Bender - since former starter Pete Kendall will be on the other sideline.

"I thought the Jets were going to have a very good football team again this year," said Kendall, who was traded to Washington during training camp after a bitter contract dispute. "I thought that they were going to have a very good record. I don't look at that team on film, particularly as well as I know them, and think that they are a 1-7 team."

Kendall didn't want to answer questions about the so-so play the Jets have received at his old position.

But, more so than Pennington, the offensive line has been at the center of the Jets' problems. The Bills recorded three sacks and 10 quarterback hits against Pennington and Clemens, and Clarke gave up two of those sacks.

Plus, in his brief 3:32 of playing time, the sometimes-undisciplined Clemens threw two interceptions.

Redskins safety Sean Taylor has an NFL-best five interceptions this season and former Bills linebacker London Fletcher has two in his first season with the Redskins.

There seems little doubt the Redskins will try to rattle Clemens, making his second NFL start after playing in place of an injured Pennington in a 20-13 loss at Baltimore in Week 2.

"It will be interesting to see how they approach it," Clemens said. "If they decide to pressure and to blitz, I'm fine with that. If they want to sit back and play more of a defend coverage, we'll try to attack them accordingly to how they're playing."

The Redskins are about a year ahead of the Jets in terms of breaking in a new quarterback. Third-year pro Jason Campbell started the final seven games of 2006 and has completed 121 of 204 passes for 1,378 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

At times he's looked in command. Other times, not so much.

"Any young quarterback during their first experience are normally excited about things," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "Jason and Kellen haven't started a lot of games. You have two young guys that, from what you can tell, are really talented. It's a matter of how quick they grow up and progress."

And though Jets rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis has started all eight games this season, he's part of the changing of the guard this week as well, subbing for Vilma.

Each week, Vilma and safety Kerry Rhodes watch game film together. Obviously, Rhodes was going solo this week, something he did not enjoy.

"I'm so used to him being there that I was like, 'Where is he?' " Rhodes said. "It was like he wasn't there yet because usually at 7 o'clock he isn't there. It was kind of weird but I have to move on and try to keep myself occupied. I think I'm going to try and get Darrelle over to see what he can do."

Note: The Jets signed wide receiver Chris Davis off their practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Reach Andrew Gross at apgross@lohud.com and read his Jets blog at www.jets.lohudblogs.com.

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Scouting the Jets and RedskinsJets (1-7) vs. Redskins (4-3)

When: Today, 1

Where: Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV/radio: Fox/ESPN 1050, WABC 770

The line: Redskins by 3 1/2

Fast fact: The Jets have beaten the Redskins just once in eight regular-season meetings, a 3-0 win at RFK Stadium Dec. 11, 1993.

Key names

Jacob Bender: The Jets fooled many into believing the sixth-round pick from Division I-AA Nicholls State was in line to replace the traded Pete Kendall at left guard. Instead, he wasn't active until last week's 13-3 loss to the Bills, and was in for one play. Ironically, with Kendall returning to the Meadowlands, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Bender might finally get his chance with Adrien Clarke struggling, though second-year pro Will Montgomery was taking snaps at left guard, and Bender might play some right tackle for Anthony Clement. The Jets are 24th in the NFL, averaging 90.9 rushing yards per game. But if Bender plays, he'll be tested in pass protection, which is where he needs to show the most improvement.

David Harris: The second-round pick out of Michigan took over a starting inside linebacker spot when Jonathan Vilma was placed on injured reserve. And Harris lived up to his hype against Buffalo, recording a team-high 17 tackles. Harris was only one component of a more aggressive defense last week as both rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Kerry Rhodes frequently blitzed. The Jets should be able to pressure the Redskins and quarterback Jason Campbell, who has completed 121 of 204 passes for 1,378 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

London Fletcher: The Redskins' middle linebacker has been a tremendous acquisition after signing as a free agent from the Bills. He made a team-high 19 tackles in last week's 52-7 loss to the Patriots and leads the Redskins with 89 tackles, including three for a loss, as well as two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Fletcher could be the difference maker if he helps shut down Jets running back Thomas Jones while harassing new starting quarterback Kellen Clemens. Fletcher is supported by safety Sean Taylor, who has an NFL-best five interceptions.

Key injuries

Jets - WR Laveranues Coles (concussion) is doubtful. TE Chris Baker (back), DL Mike DeVito (shoulder), S Kerry Rhodes (knee) and NT Dewayne Robertson (knee) are questionable. OL Adrian Jones (personal reasons), S Abram Elam (neck), DL C.J. Mosley (shoulder), QB Chad Pennington (ankle), CB Hank Poteat (chest) and S Eric Smith (thigh) are probable.

Redskins - RG Randy Thomas (triceps) is out. OL Mike Pucillo (back) and LB Marcus Washington (hamstring) are questionable. RB Rock Cartwright (quad), CB Fred Smoot (hamstring), TE Todd Yoder (ankle) and WR James Thrash (hamstring) are probable.

Andrew Gross

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Jets looking for lightning

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Star-Ledger Staff

Every week, it seems, begs this question: Why doesn't Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer put away his bag of tricks and simply give the ball to running back Thomas Jones?

And every week, it seems, Schottenheimer insists on using everybody but Jones in critical situations. Schottenheimer has thrown fade passes on a fourth-and-one. He has run a double reverse when the offense is going nowhere and no one is fooled. He has lined up quarterback Chad Pennington at wide receiver and put Brad Smith at quarterback on a third-and-one.

All Schottenheimer has to show for his gadget plays is a 1-7 record and an offense that is ranked 30th in the NFL, averaging 284.3 yards per game. The Jets haven't scored a touchdown in two of their past three games.

"The coaches coach and I play," says Jones, who nonetheless has rushed for 557 yards on 147 carries (3.8-yard average) this season. He ranks eighth in the NFL in rushing, though he hasn't scored a touchdown.

After surprising opponents last season with semi-no huddles, pre-snap shifts and different personnel packages, Schottenheimer's offense stalled under quarterback Chad Pennington this season. Opponents studied it and were ready to counter it. To date, Schottenheimer hasn't adjusted to the moves made by opposing defenses.

With strong-armed second-year quarterback Kellen Clemens replacing the benched Pennington and making his second career start against the Redskins (4-3) today at Giants Stadium, Schottenheimer may turn to Jones, who is a bona fide franchise running back. Also, he may try to stretch the field with the deep ball. By all accounts, Clemens is smart and can handle the complex checks at the line of scrimmage that Pennington was so adept at.

With wide receiver Laveranues Coles (42 catches for 473 yards and a team-high six TDs) out with a concussion, veteran Justin McCareins, Clemens' favorite target, is expected to start. McCareins gives the Jets a deep threat.

"What we're looking for, whether it's Kellen or Chad, is to operate the offense effectively and to make sure that you're making good decisions," said coach Eric Mangini.

The Redskins will likely do a lot of blitzing in an attempt to rattle Clemens. Washington ranks 12th in the NFL in total defense, allowing 306.7 yards per game. The unit is an opportunistic bunch, with eight interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and 17 sacks. Hard-hitting safety Sean Taylor has an NFL-leading five interceptions. Middle linebacker London Fletcher has a team-high 67 tackles and two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown.

"It'll be interesting to see how (the Redskins) approach it," said Clemens, who was poised in the face of repeated safety blitzes by the Ravens in his first start in Week 2. "If they decide to pressure and to blitz, I'm fine with that. If they want to sit back and play more of a defense coverage, we'll try to attack them accordingly."

In the Jets' 13-3 loss to the Bills last week, Jones was running well (16 carries, 70 yards) but the Jets refused to feed him the ball and pound the Buffalo defense. That has been a recurring theme this season, and Jones has repeatedly held his tongue when asked about it.

Mangini said the reason the Jets didn't get Jones the ball more often last week is because of their poor third-down efficiency. The Jets converted just 3 of 12 third-down situations.

"It's difficult to get multiple carries when you don't have a high third-down conversion rate," Mangini said. "It means the amount of plays that you have in a game are significantly less. We need to improve that area to increase the amount of drives."

A deep ball now and then would certainly loosen up the defense and provide Jones with more running room, and that's what the Jets are hoping Clemens can do. In his first start against Baltimore, he routinely threw 20-yard passes, whereas Pennington threw mostly short, check-down passes. Wideout Jerricho Cotchery (46-592-1) and McCareins, who has just four catches for 49 yards, can each get down the field, as can Smith (14-169-1).

Note: With Coles (concussion) out, the Jets yesterday signed WR Chris Davis off their practice squad to the active roster.

Dave Hutchinson may be reached at


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Jets-Redskins Gameday

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Star-Ledger Staff


QB Kellen Clemens doesn't have great stats (29-of-59, 362 yards, one TD and four INTs) but he has a strong arm, poise, smarts and leadership ability. The Jets are hoping that translates into a much-needed victory. RB Thomas Jones should be busy and the Jets should be able to stretch the field with their passing game. The offensive line must step up against a stout Redskins defense, anchored by MLB London Fletcher.


Washington has been running a conservative attack this season, ranking 28th in the NFL (293.0 yards per game). QB Jason Campbell (121-of-204, 1,378 yards, six TDs and six INTs) has been kept under wraps. RB Clinton Pottis (433 yards, five TDs, 3.8-yard average) is working behind a banged-up offensive line. TE Chris Cooley (five TDs) is a playmaker. WRs Antwaan Randle El (26 catches, 465 yards, no TDs) and Santana Moss (20-248-0) are dangerous.


Jets KR Leon Washington has been quiet is recent weeks but still leads the NFL in kickoff return average at 32.4 yards with two TDs. K Mike Nugent has a career-high seven touchbacks after having just three in his first two seasons. He has hit 11-of-15 FGs, with a couple of key misses. Redskins KR Rock Cartwright is averaging 29.2 yards per return, with an 80-yarder. K Shaun Suisham has converted 7-of-10 FGs.


-- How will WR Justin McCareins fare replacing the injured Laveranues Coles?

-- McCareins' season -- and the Jets' for that matter -- has been defined by the Baltimore game in Week 2, when he dropped two potential TD passes in the final two minutes of a 20-13 loss. McCareins is QB Kellen Clemens' favorite target and will likely get several balls thrown his way. He could replace Coles in the starting lineup.

-- Will the Jets shake up their offensive line?

Rookie Jacob Bender, whom the Jets are high on, and veteran Will Montgomery have been working at right tackle and left guard, respectively. Starting RT Anthony Clement has been okay but starting LG Adrien Clarke is struggling. The unit is under pressure to get RB Thomas Jones untracked and protect Clemens.

-- Can Jets C Nick Mangold contain Redskin MLB London Fletcher?

-- Fletcher, a 10th-year pro, may be one of the most underrated players in the league. He has 67 tackles and two interceptions, one returned for a TD this season. The former Bills standout has had at least 135 tackles in each of the past eight seasons.

Will the Jets defense play aggressively again?

The Jets defense played perhaps its best game of the season last week against the Bills, repeatedly blitzing with CB Darrelle Revis and S Kerry Rhodes. Rookie LB David Harris (17 tackles, including a sack) looks like a future star. He replaces Jonathan Vilma (knee), who is out for the season.


The Redskins lead the all-time series, 7-1.


Besides G Pete Kendall, former Jets on the Redskins roster include WR Santana Moss, G Randy Thomas (out with a tricep injury) and G/T Jason Fabini, who will start for the injured Thomas.

PREDICTION: Redskins 20, Jets 14

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WR Chris Davis Signed to Active Roster

Published: 11-03-07

By Jets PR Department

Regular Contributor

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The New York Jets signed wide receiver Chris Davis to the active roster. The announcement was made by Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

Davis (5'10", 180) was re-signed to the practice squad Oct. 29 after he was released from the practice squad Oct. 25. He was originally signed by the Jets as a rookie free agent July 26, waived Sept. 1 and signed to the practice squad Sept. 3.

In four season at Wake Forest, Davis had 62 receptions for 721 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 175 yards and one score in four seasons at Wake Forest. He spent portions of the past two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, tallying nine catches for 83 yards.

The New York Jets signed wide receiver Chris Davis to the active roster. The announcement was made by Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

Davis (5'10", 180) was re-signed to the practice squad Oct. 29 after he was released from the practice squad Oct. 25. He was originally signed by the Jets as a rookie free agent July 26, waived Sept. 1 and signed to the practice squad Sept. 3.

In four season at Wake Forest, Davis had 62 receptions for 721 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 175 yards and one score in four seasons at Wake Forest. He spent portions of the past two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, tallying nine catches for 83 yards.

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Change has come and hopefully we will learn our lessons well! Can we beat the Redskins? IMO I believe that we can! Their QB is young and talented but can be rattled into making mistakes. Ours is an unknown quantity but we did see some positive results against a great defense in Baltimore. I expect to see our run game used wisely and productively! I expect to see our DEFENSE blitz from every angle! Enjoy the game! GO JETS!

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