After losing to the Giants, 35-24, this afternoon, head coach Eric Mangini and the members of the Jets offense wanted to make one thing clear to Chad Pennington: They still have faith in the eighth-year veteran to turn their ship around.
"You can't say anything about Chad," wide receiver Laveranues Coles said. "You can't put Chad out in front of this team. We lost as a team and if you have to try to blame somebody or are looking to point the finger, it's definitely not at him."
Mangini, too, believes in Pennington regardless of today's performance and made it very clear in his postgame news conference. The second-year Jets coach quickly deflected two questions about his confidence in Pennington and even his status as the team's starting quarterback with short replies.
Pennington's unusually inconsistent performance in Week 5 will summon much criticism throughout the coming week. The Jets quarterback threw three interceptions to just one touchdown after throwing two picks the week before at Buffalo.
Regardless of these mishaps, Mangini and the rest of the Jets offense still hold the same faith in him they always have, citing that the interceptions should not be solely his burden.
"It's never about one person," Mangini said, "All those plays, we could have run the routes more effectively and the blocking could have given him more time."
"Yup, we're behind anyone we line up with — we all stick together," said Coles, who led the Jets with eight catches for 89 yards. "That's one of the great things about being a part of this team. I don't like the record but I do like this group of guys, that's the main thing. We've just got to stick together and fight through this."
After a typically standard first half for Pennington in which he threw for 142 yards on 12 completions in 19 attempts, the Giants defensive backs came out of the locker room determined to halt the streaking quarterback.
Leading by three in the final quarter, the Green & White offense had a chance to put the game out of reach after the Giants managed an impressive comeback. At the Giants 23, Pennington went for the kill, letting one loose toward the goal line, hoping to connect with WR Jerricho Cotchery.
"He did a great job of sitting back and watching the ball," Cotchery said of the goal line pick by Giants rookie CB Aaron Ross. "He jumped the route and made a good play"
"A lot of times people get on defensive backs saying the reason they aren't receivers is because they can't catch," Pennington said. "These guys we played today have really good hands."
Prior to the snap, Pennington picked up on the Giants formation and liked what he was seeing. The Jets had seen a previous scheme by Big Blue's stout and checked out of the original called play.
"I give credit to them on that particular play," Cotchery said. "We checked to something else and at the last minute they backed off and played a soft coverage and it was just a good defensive call."
Cotchery, behind an obvious amount of disappointment in his performance, took responsibility for that pick. Each of the Giants' three interceptions were intended for the Jets' fourth-year receiver.
"A lot of times when there are interceptions it's not just one guy," Cotchery said. "The QB is throwing the ball and he's the one that gets most of the attention."
Cotchery couldn't disrupt Ross and the end result was the first of Pennington's two costly fourth-quarter interceptions. The Giants took over at their 2-yard line and went the length of the field for a touchdown to take their first lead of the game.
"You just have to do everything in your power to prevent the interception," Cotchery said. "We didn't do a good enough job to prevent the interceptions today and that goes on me also."
Following a quick Jets series, the Giants managed one first down on the ensuing drive before punting it back to the Jets offense. This gave Pennington another shot at redemption with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter, but Ross struck again, this time for a 43-yard pick-six.
"I saw improvement in me as a quarterback with being able to make some throws down the field and stepping up with confidence and making some good throws," said Pennington, who finished 21-for-36 for 229 yards. "Then two plays just ruined that whole thing. That is probably the most disappointing thing."
"I didn't play to my capabilities, and when you have guys not playing up to their capabilities throughout, then that's the kind of results you get in the end," said Cotchery, who had four receptions for 31 yards. "We just have to continue to work and believe in what we're trying to get accomplished."