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The Jets 30th Ranked Secondary, 1 sack in 82 passing attempts

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Defensive backs are concern for New York Jets

by Dave Hutchinson/The Star-Ledger Wednesday December 03, 2008, 7:34 PM
CJ Gunther/European Pressphoto Association

The Jets and defensive back Kerry Rhodes have had their hands full recently defending against the Patriots' and Broncos receivers, and the Niners present yet another challenge.The Jets' embattled secondary must look like red meat to a starving man these days. And if the unit doesn't right itself soon, the Jets could make a quick exit from the playoffs -- provided they qualify -- with possible first-round opponents like the pass-happy Colts, Broncos, and even the Patriots looming. The Jets have the NFL's 30th-ranked pass defense, having allowed a stunning 249.2 yards per game, a number that has only grown the past three weeks as Matt Cassell of the Patriots and Jay Cutler of the Broncos each threw for more than 350 yards. Outside of cornerback Darrelle Revis, no one is making plays consistently.

Furthermore, the Jets' pass rush, which often bailed the secondary out, has just one sack in 82 passing attempts in the past two games.

San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz will take aim at the Jets' slumping secondary Sunday, and chances are he'll hit his target. The architect of the St. Louis Rams' Greatest Show on Turf act has a new address, but he's up to his old tricks.

And he has a familiar face performing for him in ageless wide receiver Isaac Bruce, the 36-year-old ex-Ram who has found new life with the 49ers.

San Francisco (4-8) ranks second in the NFL with 53 plays of 20-plus yards (45 passes and eight runs). Bruce, in his 15th season, has 39 catches for a team-high 625 yards and six touchdowns. His receptions and touchdown are tied for the team lead.

"He (Martz) has always been very creative with his formations, with his shifts, with his motions, with the different ways that he creates personnel matchups," Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "Always had a big-play offense, and they do again."

Asked if he thinks the 49ers will come after the Jets secondary, safety Kerry Rhodes said, "Why not? Why wouldn't you try to attack us that way?"

The 49ers, however, aren't exactly the old Rams.

Quarterback Shaun Hill, a seventh-year pro and career backup, is far from Kurt Warner -- this year's version or the one who was NFL MVP in 1999. Instead, Hill is a game manager, completing 60 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and just three interceptions since taking over for turnover-prone J.T. O'Sullivan (11 interceptions, six lost fumbles).

Also, Martz relies more on the running game with the presence of the hard-charging Frank Gore (926 yards and six touchdowns). Gore can catch the ball, too, with 39 receptions for 354 yards and one touchdown.

"Martz likes to get vertical in the passing game, a lot of double moves with his receivers, but he'll try to establish the running game as well," Revis said.

Added cornerback Ty Law: "Their average route is deeper than the average route, if you know what I mean."

While the secondary has struggled all season, the team has won because of a fierce pass rush that still ranks fifth in the league with 35 sacks despite sputtering of late. The Jets had just one sack the past two games while going against the league's top two pass protection teams; Tennessee and Denver have allowed a league-low eight sacks each.

Linebacker Bryan Thomas had 4 1/2 sacks in the Jets' first five games, but hasn't had one since. And defensive end Shaun Ellis, whose seven sacks are second-most on the team, hasn't gotten to the quarterback in the past five games.

"We've been playing a little bit more coverage, I know I have," said linebacker Calvin Pace, who has just 1 1/2 sacks in the past seven games. "Obviously, that's not my decision, it's more game plan. (But) we've been winning with it."

San Francisco has yielded 43 sacks, tied for second-most in the league, but Hill has been sacked just 11 times in five games (four starts).

"I envision the (sack) numbers will pick (back) up," Pace said. "It's not that we're just getting blocked."

The sooner, the better, for a secondary that is under siege.

"It's not just the secondary," said Rhodes, who has only one interception. "In pass coverage, everything has to be in sync. Not just the defensive backs. It's the front, we have to get pressure; the linebackers have to get their drops and make sure they have the right man. It's multiple things."

Heres my question. How do we have Law,Revis and Rhodes and we still suck? Most teams that are this bad have rookies at corner or nobodies. We have like pro bowlers at corner yet we are getting burnt to a chrisp. We have Calvin Pace,B. Thomas and shaun Ellis.

This is were I blame Mangini. Mangini is playing ULTRA conservative and playing not to lose and it's not really working. We need to have a revalation like we had against the Browns 2 years ago. Remember that?... Mangini needs to let the dogs off the leash and get after the Q.B.

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That is a problem that has to be addressed i don't like sutton at all and after this season they need to get a new defensive coordinator.


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