Rhodes prepares for the tackle
Kerry Rhodes has upped the ante at Jets practices. He wants his defensive teammates thinking takeaways.
"Even at practice yesterday, I said, 'Whoever gets a turnover in this period gets $100,' " he said prior to today's workout.
But despite that green carrot dangling in front, Jets defenders weren't able to get the ball away from the offense during the specified allotted time. So Rhodes planned a repeat offer.
"Today, I'll do it again just to get a little fire started," he said. "Hopefully somebody can get it done."
Takeaways have been an issue for the Jets in the early going. They don't have any and they are still searching for their first win. Last season they started 1-1 and recorded five takeaways in their first two outings.
"That is something we emphasized all training camp and every day at practice is getting the ball out and turning the ball over," said S Eric Smith. "It is a little bit disappointing that we don't have any right now and it's something we have to overemphasize this week."
The Dolphins are Sunday's opponents and they are likely stressing ball security. They've already turned it over six times, including a five-spot in last week's loss to the Cowboys. Quarterback Trent Green, brought in to be a steadying presence, was picked off four times.
"I'll take the blame for all of them," Green said. "The quarterback ultimately has that role. I've got thick skin and big enough shoulders."
The Jets' secondary could be busy this weekend. The Dolphins, using a two-man committee at running back with Ronnie Brown and Jesse Chatman behind an offensive line that has yet to impress, haven't had success rushing the football. Their two-game total of 127 yards ranks last in the league and they average only 3.1 yards per attempt, 29th overall.
If the run is again neutralized, first-year head coach Cam Cameron will put the ball in Green's hands. The Dolphins' pass-to-run ratio is almost 2-to-1 (78-41) and Green has completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 506 yards.
"He is a veteran guy. If we give him time and clear coverages, he can make every throw," Rhodes said. "We know that, so we are going to try to get him a little bit and hopefully he won't have those clear reads and he won't be able to sit easy in the pocket and pick us apart."
The Jets have familiarity with the Dolphins' offensive system. Brian Schottenheimer, the Green & White's offensive coordinator, was the Chargers' QB coach from 2002-05 when Cameron was the 'Bolts' coordinator.
"To know that we see this offense every day and to see all the shifts and the motions they like to do, it helps us out a lot because we see it so much during the year and training camp," Rhodes said.
"We have worked a lot against an offense like that with a lot of shifts and motions, some of the same route concepts," added Smith. "I think it will help."
Green has already established a good connection with Chris Chambers. In two games, Chambers has 15 catches and a 13.4-yard average. Wideouts Marty Booker and Derek Hagan have seven and two catches respectively while the Dolphins backs have combined to catch 18 balls.
"He does it all, he runs all the routes," Smith said of Chambers. "He has good speed, great hands. He is their go-to guy right now. He is going to be a problem for us. We have to take care of him."
Rhodes, who had four interceptions and one fumble recovery last season, wants the Jets to get back to their stealing ways. Take the ball away and make teams pay, and then Rhodes might be shelling out some dough himself.
"I think confidence-wise it would be great to come out and do what we want to do on defense," he said. "We have to get everything going in the right direction and play a full game."