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How Important Is a 'W' on Sunday?

Published: Fri, December 28, 3:43pm EST

By Randy Lange

Lange is editor-in-chief of newyorkjets.com. He covered the Jets for 13 years for The Record of Hackensack, N.J.

File Under: Eric Mangini, Shaun Ellis, Joe Kowalewski, 3-13 4-12 Chiefs

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PREMIER POSITION

THOMAS NOT READY TO HAND OFF ROLE

By BART HUBBUCH

PREMIER POSITION: Jets RB Thomas Jones says he is a premier carrier, and doesn't see himself handing over his starting job to another back next season, even if the Jets draft Arkansas' Darren McFadden (inset).

December 29, 2007 -- Mention Darren McFadden to Thomas Jones and watch the Jets' veteran running back bristle.

Even if the speculation proves true and the Jets take McFadden in the first round of the NFL Draft in April, Jones doesn't see why he would take a back seat to the talented Arkansas runner - or any back, for that matter.

"I'm a premier running back, too," Jones said yesterday when the term was used to describe McFadden. "I've been in the league a while, got a couple of 1,000-yard seasons under my belt. So I'm assuming I'm here (as the starter) unless somebody tells me different."

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound McFadden, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy each of the past two years, is only a junior but is widely expected to turn pro after Arkansas' bowl game next week. He also would be a tantalizing prospect if the Jets, as expected, wind up with a top-three pick.

McFadden began this season with five consecutive games of 120 or more rushing yards and, despite playing only three seasons, is third behind Kevin Faulk and Herschel Walker on the Southeastern Conference's all-time rushing list with 4,485 yards.

McFadden is 10 pounds lighter than Jones and isn't the straight-ahead power back Jones is, which means the Jets might have plans for a Reggie Bush-Deuce McAllister style Saints backfield if they take McFadden.

Jones is used to sharing carries with a high first-rounder after doing so the previous two seasons with Cedric Benson in Chicago. That approach helped the Bears get to the Super Bowl last year, but Chicago's allegiance to Benson because of his draft status also helped Jones end up with the Jets in an offseason trade.

Jones said he isn't going to sweat the Benson situation playing out all over again with the Jets.

"(Jets management) have to do what they have to do," Jones said. "I get paid to play, not make those decisions. Whatever decision they make is on them."

Jones, who despite the Jets' 3-12 record has 1,021 rushing yards going into the season finale tomorrow at home against the Chiefs, doesn't see forcing a trade if McFadden comes aboard.

"I signed a four-year deal here to help this team win games, and that's what I'll continue to do," he said. "I wouldn't have much choice."

*

Second-year defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, under fire for his unit's poor play before the bye week each of the past two years, admitted yesterday he could be part of an offseason shakeup.

Eric Mangini came to the Jets as a defense-first coach and appeared to take over the defense himself this year after a 1-7 start. Sutton, a former Army head coach, received a mild endorsement from Mangini yesterday but still could be on the way out with the Jets poised to finish ranked in the 20s in total defense.

"Everybody in the business knows that changes happen," said Sutton, who added he hasn't had any conversations with Mangini about his job status. "They're part of it, sometimes whether you win or lose."

bhubbuch@nypost.com

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Bob Sutton may be Jets' scapegoat

BY RICH CIMINI

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Saturday, December 29th 2007, 4:00 AM

Weissman for News

Bob Sutton

For the second straight year, the Jets have followed the same pattern on defense: Lousy before the bye week, solid after the bye.

A year ago, it was good enough to get them to the playoffs. This time, it likely will result in a bye-bye for coordinator Bob Sutton, who could be the scapegoat for the Jets' disappointing season.

Eric Mangini, choosing his words carefully Friday before the team's final practice, gave Sutton a mixed evaluation. He praised Sutton for the second-half resurgence, but Mangini made it a point to mention the slow starts - twice in the same answer.

"I've been pleased with the way that Bob has approached things, his consistency, and the defense has made a significant amount of progress," he said. "You're always looking for it to be consistent throughout the whole year. That's what you want."

Failing to build on the momentum from last season's playoff push, the defense was terrible over the first nine games, ranking 31st in yards allowed. During the bye week, they tweaked their philosophy, becoming more aggressive and using the bench more liberally than early in the season.

That, coupled with the emergence of rookies David Harris and Darrelle Revis, has allowed the Jets to climb to 22nd in total defense. But some close to the team believe the improvement can be attributed to Mangini, who has taken a more active role in the operation.

"Obviously, this year is not good enough," said Sutton, whose unit finished 20th last season. "You're in this to win and we're not winning. If you talk to the players, they'll have the same feeling. You don't want to put in this kind of time and effort and not be successful.

"I don't think any of us are happy or pleased with where we're at," he continued. "Are there some segments that have done well or players that have done well? Yeah, we'd be crazy not to say that. But it hasn't been done consistently well enough to produce the results we need."

Mangini said he won't consider any potential staff changes until after Sunday's season finale against the Chiefs (4-11) at the Meadowlands. No doubt, he's keeping an eye on the Oakland situation, where coordinator Rob Ryan - a close friend of Mangini - could be in trouble.

It has been speculated that Raiders coach Lane Kiffin may try to hire his father, longtime Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffen, whose contract expires after the season. In theory, that would free Ryan to join Mangini.

"I'd be out of a job for two minutes," Ryan told reporters in Oakland, commenting on his job security. "I mean, who are we kidding?"

CLEMENS READY: QB Kellen Clemens, recovering from rib and shoulder injuries, made it through the week with no apparent setbacks and should start Sunday. ... Thomas Jones said he wouldn't take it personally if the team drafted Arkansas RB Darren McFadden. But he added, "I'm a premier running back, too." ... The Jets auditioned well-traveled CB Ahmad Carroll, a former first-round pick of the Packers. ... C Nick Mangold (personal reasons) was excused from practice for the second straight day. He has been in touch with the coaching staff and is expected to play. ... Rookie OLs Rob Turner and Clint Oldenburg, who made their NFL debuts last week, will be in the line rotation again. ... Injured LB Jonathan Vilma, who has been rehabbing in Miami, may show up to watch tomorrow.

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Mixed emotions for final game

BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com

December 29, 2007

All football seasons end. For one team, it's in a snowstorm of early-February confetti. For others, it's an unanticipated playoff exit that comes as suddenly and fatally as a bolt of lightning. But for teams such as this year's Jets, the conclusion arrives on a date that's been circled on the calendar for weeks now: Dec. 30 - The End.

That's Sunday, the final game of the forgettable 2007 season.

"As a player working so hard throughout the year and the season didn't go the way you planned it, it always hurts to know that you're not going to continue into the postseason," veteran cornerback Hank Poteat said. "But then you look at the other side. Your body is tired at the end of the season, you get a chance to rest, get your body healed up and also get a chance to spend time with your family."

For some Jets, the challenge is to remain focused to the final whistle even while anticipating its merciful metallic chirp.

"Regardless of wins and losses, you have to try to focus that much more on being a professional and taking your job seriously," linebacker Matt Chatham said, comparing it with a financial adviser trying to make money for clients even in a weak market. "Your job description doesn't change because of circumstances around you."

Coach Eric Mangini said he's been pleased with the focus of the team as it has plodded through this final week.

"[They're] not looking at it as the end of the school year where you get to the last couple of days and everybody is watching movies and throwing popcorn at each other," he said.

For Kellen Clemens, this is the first time his season will end on a set date. Last year, his rookie season as a backup, the Jets went to the playoffs, so that final curtain fell abruptly. This year, it's been a long, writhing, Shakespearean death scene. Both Denmark and Weeb Ewbank Hall have had their fix of rotten.

Still, the steel door of the season closed with the same authority. One day, you are practicing, preparing, playing. The next day, the locker is cleaned out and it's over.

"Pete Kendall talked to me last year," Clemens said. "You go into the season, it goes so long, and then you're just shocked by the finality of it all just coming to a screeching halt at the end of the year."

Sutton's last stand? Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton could be coaching his final game with the Jets, and even he said the performance of his unit this season has been disappointing.

"Obviously, this year, it's not good enough," he said. "I don't think any of us are happy or pleased with where we're at."

Twice in two years, the Jets' defense has undergone a major midseason overhaul, and most credit the direction of Mangini for those changes. "You're always looking for it to be consistent throughout the whole year," Mangini said.

The Jets are ranked 22nd in overall defense after being 30th in the league after their Week 10 bye. Adding to the uncertainty, Mangini's good friend Rob Ryan has not been assured that he'll return as the Raiders' defensive coordinator in 2008. Ryan told reporters he'd have a job in "two minutes" if he were fired. Did he really mean a New York minute?

Notes & quotes: RB Thomas Jones said this has been one of his most difficult seasons in the NFL. "Coming from a Super Bowl team and then to be in a situation like this, where you are not winning as many games, is a tough transition," he said. Asked about the possibility of the Jets using their high draft pick to select Arkansas RB Darren McFadden, Jones felt the need to flash his resume. "I'm a premier running back too," he said. "I've been in the league for a while, a couple of thousand-yard seasons under my belt." ... C Nick Mangold missed the last two days for personal reasons but Mangini said he expects him to play Sunday ... Mangini expects LB Jonathan Vilma to show up this weekend.

Sunday

Chiefs at Jets

4:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Radio: WEPN (1050)

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T-Rock's Take: Inside the Jets

Breaking news, commentary and insider information on the New York Jets

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December 28, 2007

2008 SOS: It's up to the Jets

By Tom Rock

How difficult will the Jets schedule be next year? Well, that could be up to the Jets.

Right now their opponents have exactly a .500 record. They are a combined 110-110 (counting the records of division opponents twice since they play them twice). Obviously everyone plays this weekend, but the Jets control their own strength-of-schedule destiny in a way. They play the Chiefs on Sunday, and will play the Chiefs next year.

So essentially, if the Jets win on Sunday, their schedule next year gets easier.

Just something -- anything -- to add a bit of significance to this game.

Thanks to Dave Tratner for that insight by the way.

Posted by Tom Rock on December 28, 2007 11:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

December 27, 2007

At least the Jets don't have Trent Dilfer

By Tom Rock

Eric Mangini was asked today if a team can win with a quarterback who completes 52 percent of his passes. Hmmm. That just so happens to be the percentage of passes that Kellen Clemens has completed this year.

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Jones has no regrets with Jets

By DENNIS WASZAK JR.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Original publication: December 29, 2007)

HEMPSTEAD - Thomas Jones was preparing for the playoffs at this time a year ago, ready to lead the Chicago Bears on a Super Bowl run.

This offseason will come a lot sooner for the veteran running back, who'll head home in a few days - his first season with the Jets over and the team's lofty expectations unfulfilled.

"It's been one of my most difficult years," Jones said yesterday. "Coming from a Super Bowl team and then to be in a situation like this, where you're not winning as many games, is a tough transition."

Jones rushed for 1,210 yards for the NFC champion Bears last season and was acquired by the Jets in March to provide a boost to the Jets' running game. Despite compiling his third straight 1,000-yard season, Jones hasn't been as big a factor in the offense as expected.

Jones heads into the Jets' game tomorrow against Kansas City 12th in the league with 1,021 yards on 285 carries, a mediocre average of 3.6 yards per rush. The most eyepopping number is in the touchdowns column: Jones has one, and he didn't get that until Week 13 at Miami.

"I don't have any regrets," Jones said. "I played as hard as I could this year. I tried my best to be a leader and to be as optimistic and positive as I could. ... I worked hard in practice, trying to set a good example. I tried to do those things this year."

Coach Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer have been criticized for misusing Jones by moving away from the run too quickly in games. Jones has carried the ball 25 or more times in just two games, the last when he gained 117 yards on 30 rushes against Pittsburgh on Nov. 18.

Whether Jones is the primary ball carrier again could come into question if the Jets, who might draft as high as No. 2 in April, go after Arkansas' Darren McFadden. The big back is considered a can't-miss offensive threat in the same vein as Minnesota's Adrian Peterson. If the Jets opt to go with McFadden, their backfield would suddenly be a bit crowded with him, Jones and Leon Washington.

"They have to do what they have to do," the 29-year-old Jones said. "I get paid to play football, not to make those decisions."

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Jets QB Clemens questionable for Chiefs' game

(Original publication: December 29, 2007)

HEMPSTEAD - Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens was listed as questionable yesterday for the Jets' game against Kansas City because of a rib injury that sidelined him last week.

Clemens was injured at New England two weeks ago, when he was hit hard by Richard Seymour while throwing a pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. He appeared to land directly on his left shoulder and was replaced by Chad Pennington, who also started last Sunday at Tennessee.

Clemens, who assumed the starting job in Week 9, was severely limited last week in practice, standing to the side as Pennington threw during most of the media availability. He's looked much better this week, showing good velocity on his throws and appearing as though he'll be ready to play against the Chiefs.

Center Nick Mangold was excused from practice for personal reasons.

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Jets @ Cheifs Pregame Scouting

By Mack Rosenberg

Posted on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 11:37:16 PM EST

(4-11) @ (3-12)

Here are a couple of scouting notes on the Jets Chiefs game this Sunday. Game time is 4:15 P.M. EST. I will be posting an open thread of the game later on.

Offenses : The most important thing that the Jets need to do to have a chance on the offensive side of the ball is to have a solidified running game. There isn't enough weapons that run routes for Kansas City to have an affective passing attack. Now, the reason why the Chiefs were a playoff team last year was because they had Larry Johnson, who busted his gut and played the whole season. This year, Johnson got hurt and the team features a run defense that is last in the league. The good news is, the Jets run defense isn't to good. New York is 29th in the league is rush defense, so it could be a shoot out or it could be a 20 yard game on the ground for the Chiefs.

Moving to the Jet offensive outset, Gang Green will look to use Thomas Jones and Leon Washington in order to crack down on a weak and undersized Kansas City front four. However, it won't be easy with an offensive line that has weak and unphysical tackles in the middle so it may be hard for them to be able to run between the tackles. Also, I saw a lot of 1-2 yard runs for T.J. last week, something that makes me very uneasy coming into this game, especially with an offensive line like ours. Kellen Clemens, if he starts, will be playing with a sore shoulder and sore ribs. I still think Pennington is the better decision because of his performance last weekend and the status of Clemens isn't certain. I like the idea of using guys like Jerricho Cothery and Chris Baker to compliment a very solid passing game for the Jets. Even McCareins can contribute. Continue to make due with the short, medium gains in the passing attack and things will come our way. DE's Tamba Hali and Jared Allen may give us trouble due to their quickness after the first step and their ability to strip the ball from the quarterback.

Defenses: The important thing that the Chiefs will have to do in this game is make sure they can get to the quarterback, whoever that may be for the Jets (signs point to Kellen). Again, Hali and Allen are the two main factor off the edge of the line for K.C., and they will wreck havoc for Clemens and his mindset. Clemens isn't as quick to get rid of the ball as Pennington is, so he's going to have to adjust and get rid of it. If the line can hold the Chiefs front four, than we can beat their secondary long because we have more depth than them at WR than they do in the secondary. Bernard Pollard, Jarred Page, Patrick Sertain, and Ty Law aren't the greatest bunch of pass deflectors.

K.C. also has a poor defensive line, and may force Brodie Croyle to throw into some tight spots or throw the ball too deep. Jet safety Kerry Rhodes may be brought in with the linebackers to help against the run, or he may blitz which may put Croyle in a situation where he has to throw it and he's going to have to make the right throws in those situations.

Final Say: Look, both of these teams have young, inexperienced quarterbacks that will be immensely pressured by the defenses because their offensive lines are inadequate. This means that there may be quite a few scores that are the result of interceptions which means shootout to me. The running game for both teams will play a huge part in how each team does, as one team is without their main starter for the eighth week in a row. The other team which is the Jets, are going to have to really stack the line with guys on running plays, so they can cause fumbles and get the ball back for the offense.

It's the battle of Herman Edwards returning to New York to face his old team. Let's get this party started! Update [2007-12-29 0:2:3 by Mack Rosenberg]:: The New York Daily News has reported that Kellen Clemens is likely to start this Sunday at quarterback for the New York Jets.

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Draft position

December

29 Based on what happens tomorrow the Jets (3-12) can draft as high as second or as low as seventh. It depends not only on whether they beat the Chiefs but what other teams do to each other as well. NFL draft order is based on records, with the first tiebreaker being strength of schedule (SOS). The team with the worse strength of schedule drafts first.

If the season ended today, the Jets would draft third. If they beat KC on Sunday, they would probably move down to sixth, and possibly seventh based on Baltimore

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THOMAS NOT READY TO HAND OFF ROLE

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound McFadden, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy each of the past two years, is only a junior but is widely expected to turn pro after Arkansas' bowl game next week.

6-foot-2, 205?

No wonder he looks like he is running too upright. That high center of gravity is going to get him hurt in the NFL. he really doesnt seem to have the build to be an every down back- 205 is on the light side.

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6-foot-2, 205?

No wonder he looks like he is running too upright. That high center of gravity is going to get him hurt in the NFL. he really doesnt seem to have the build to be an every down back- 205 is on the light side.

Depends on where the info is gathered from...this piece says he's 215.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darren_McFadden

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