The Jets were upbeat in their locker room because of their 20-12 comeback win over the Giants tonight. And they were not beating themselves up over their first offense’s shortcomings.
"It’s good this is happening now and that we can figure things out with two weeks to go," QB Chad Pennington said, "and we’re not trying to look at things three or four weeks into the season and saying, ‘What are we going to do now?’ "
Later, Pennington said of his summer doldrums in particular, "There’s a lot of different factors, and there are no excuses, but to me it’s not alarming."
What the Jets were and will be looking at closely was the left guard situation. Jacob Bender started there and gave up a sack, then Adrien Clarke came in at the start of the second quarter, and the two rotated at the position into the second half. Certainly that was part of the Jets’ struggles: After hitting Leon Washington for a 79-yard touchdown strike on the game’s first play from scrimmage, the Green & White offense managed minus-5 yards, no first downs and 0-for-6 on third-down conversions before Pennington left after the first possession of the third quarter.
Head coach Eric Mangini described the struggles at guard as "part of the process. There were struggles at different points for all different levels of players. … We looked at the tape and we’ll see how it looks going forward. I think the reps that Jacob got tonight and that Adrien got tonight, were really positive."
Bender seemed to make it all right through his baptism by fire.
"My philosophy going into this was I didn’t want to just put my toe in the water — I’m jumping in head first," he said. On the 12-yard sack he yielded to DE Justin Tuck on the Jets’ fourth play, he said, "I didn’t use my technique and he capitalized on it. It was a great move."
Center Nick Mangold, the new leader in the center of the line, talked about building chemistry with the left guard and was pressed about whether that began late in the preseason with Bender, who was a left tackle in college and played a lot at right tackle before moving to left guard last week.
"It’s not so much a position-specific chemistry," Mangold said. "It’s finding out who each guy is, what he’s thinking, how he plays the game."
On Bender’s game alongside him, Mangold said: "I thought he did a great job. He built on each play, got better as the game went along. It was a testament to how he’s studying and learning."
One thing Pennington admits to learning is that the summer games have not been his forte.
"My history in preseason has not been real good," the QB admitted with a tired smile at the interview room podium. "I try to take the preseason games, take the film, learn from it, put it in my memory bank, work on it and learn from it."
Pennington’s recent preseason showing has not been hot, hot, hot. This year he and the first offense have produced seven points on 14 drives. In 2006-07 it’s 13 points on 24 possessions. And in his last three preseason games vs. the Giants, it’s 7 points on 23 drives.
Why is that?
"Sometimes you’re trying to work on your base offense and you don’t want to throw everything out there because you’re saving it for the regular season," he said. "We’re working guys in and out, a lot of guys are playing with the ones so we can see what they can bring to the table."
The Jets need to find out in the next two weeks before the Patriots come calling on Sept. 9.
Tags: Adrien Clarke, Chad Pennington, Eric Mangini, Jacob Bender, Nick Mangold
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