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Jets Receivers Size Up Titans' Pass Defense


Fantasy football owners have got to be drooling over the idea of picking up any Jets player that could factor into the passing game Sunday against the Titans.

Whether it's Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey, Dustin Keller, Leon Washington, Thomas Jones or even Brad Smith or David Clowney, the Jets will be looking to attack a defense that ranks 32nd and last in the NFL against the pass.

Even though they were a run-first team through the first two games (73 rushes, 55 pass plays) the Jets will stick to their game plan.

"We're going to do whatever is working," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said Thursday. "They're a great defense. They're good at everything."

Of the Titans' four starting DBs, three — cornerback Cortland Finnegan and safeties Chris Hope and Michael Griffin — went to the Pro Bowl last season after the Titans ranked ninth against the pass, giving up 199.8 yards per game in the air (217 to the Jets in the Week 12 home loss, their first of the season) and posting 20 interceptions.

Through two games this season Tennessee has allowed 339.0 passing yards with two interceptions. Andre Johnson, the same Pro Bowl receiver the Jets held to four catches for 35 yards in Week 1, a week later burned the Titans for 149 yards and two TDs on 10 receptions.

"We've had some breakdowns," head coach Jeff Fisher said in a conference call with Jets reporters this week. "We've had some people with some eyes in the wrong place trying to do too much and we hope that we can fix that.

"It's still early. I've got a talented secondary that's got a great deal of pride. They'll do whatever they can to make sure that we stop these types of big plays."

Jets receivers will not underestimate the Titans' secondary nor the team's 0-2 record, each loss coming by a late field goal.

"I think they definitely want to bounce back from last week," said Cotchery. "Last week they gave up a lot of yards in the passing game, they gave up a lot of points, and I think they definitely want to come back and bounce back against us."

"They want to get back on track," said Stuckey. "No one wants to be 0-2. They definitely want to try and make a statement against us so what we want to try to do is counter and make some plays."

Brad Smith hasn't been much of a factor in the receiving game yet but he has rushed twice for 22 yards and two first downs in two games. He doesn't mind his absence on the stats sheet and knows he can get hot at any minute.

"We're winning, I've been blocking I've been doing my job whether it's blocking or running routes, pulling other guys open, a couple of reverses or Wildcat [Seminole] formation," he said. "I'm just about winning. When opportunities come my way, I'll make plays and go from there."

The Titans' play vs. the pass is balanced by their No. 2 NFL ranking in run defense. They've given up only 49.5 yards per game in facing RBs Willie Parker and Steve Slaton in Weeks 1 and 2 respectively. This has prompted QBs Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Schaub to throw a combined 82 passes. What does this mean for Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez?

"Early in the game, first and second down, they tried to really load the box," Schottenheimer said of Tennessee. "I'm not holding Mark back. I know he's a really good player. He's a big catalyst of the offense in the passing game."

Sanchez is averaging 8.21 yards per pass attempt, which ranks sixth among NFL quarterbacks, and much of the yardage has come after the catch. Unofficially the Jets wide receivers are averaging a healthy 6.7 yards after each catch. And Cotchery has caught 10 passes for 177 yards, with 75 coming after the catch, a strong 7.5 YAC average.

"Up until high school I played running back all my life," J-Co said. "I was familiar with having the ball in my hands a lot, being able to make a guy miss or just be able to pick up those extra yards. I love getting the ball in my hands. The play is not done once I catch it. I'm always trying to make they play after I catch it."

"I think Mark already had two big weeks," said Stuckey. "He's coming along really well. We don't want to put too much on him and I think he's taking what Schotty and the coaches are giving him and making the best of what we got."

Whether the offense calls on Sanchez to air it out or not, Cotchery will be looking to get his first TD of '09.

"A lot of teams know we have an incredibly good running game so I think teams are going to try and stop our run and just try and make us beat them," he said. "We look forward to that. That's just more opportunities for the receivers."

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