Minnesota's pass rushers will most likely pressure the rookie Ferguson
Simply put, the Jets offense is in rebound mode and the upcoming opponent isn't in a hospitable mood. There is a dangerous group of Vikings on the horizon for the 7-6 Jets, and just like the Green and White, Minnesota is in the playoff mix.
Against Buffalo last Sunday, the Jets mustered just 13 points and 277 total yards. Now, they are preparing to face one of the best defenses in the league. The Vikings have the NFL's top-ranked run defense and they hold opponents to less than 20 points per game.
"It's the combination of the good group up front backed up by some problematic linebackers, and then a very active secondary," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "I think overall they're opportunistic, 31 turnovers. Effectively being able to stop the run, and then being able to take advantage of the opportunities that are there in terms of the passing game with the interceptions makes it difficult."
The Jets did run for 134 yards against the Bills. While this stat initially appears impressive, the accumulation came against the 26th ranked rushing defense. Even with a balanced committee featuring three running backs with at least three touchdowns apiece (Leon Washington 3, Kevan Barlow 6, Cedric Houston 4), the visiting Jets will most likely be running uphill all afternoon, as teams average only 54.1 rushing yards per game against Minnesota.
At this rate, the Vikings defense has a good chance to break an amazing NFL record that was set way back in 1942. In that season, the Chicago Bears defense allowed just 519 rushing yards in 12 contests - an absurd 47.2 yards per game.
If these stats don't speak loudly enough, just listen to defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, a former Viking lineman, who was traded to the Jets in the preseason for quarterback Brooks Bollinger. Mosley was drafted in the sixth round by the Vikings in 2005 and he collected three sacks in just two starts as a rookie.
"They're real good, real stout," said Mosley Wednesday. "They got that big bowling ball Pat Williams and Kevin Williams on the interior and it's hard for offenses to block them, real hard. I talked to Kevin Williams yesterday and he told me to not even try to run that ball."
On Wednesday, the Jets headed into their practice bubble for the first time this season. Perhaps no player was more eager to get back on the field than rookie tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. The fourth overall selection in last April's draft had probably his most difficult game of the season against Buffalo as Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel accounted for three sacks against Brick and the rest of the offensive line.
The even-keeled blocking technician made it clear that he is focused on simply making the necessary adjustments.
"Getting mad won't change the outcome – it's looking at what I did incorrectly and then changing the outcome, looking at what I did incorrectly and applying it to my game. That's what will change things," Ferguson said. "I try to take emotion out of it and just play."
"This is just the way it works," Mangini added. "Some weeks are better than others. That is the nice thing; you get another opportunity here this week to go out and improve. Like with anybody else, what were the mistakes? What things could I have done better?"
Ferguson has now started 13 NFL games. One of the most impressive scouting reports about the Freeport, NY native was his experience and durability at the University of Virginia as he started every game but one in four seasons for the Cavaliers. The 6'6", 312-pound rookie uses some past experiences from his four-year college career as useful tools, but he insists that the speed and complexity of the professional game is like none other.
"You can see where the details can benefit you," Ferguson said of studying NFL game film. "Sometimes as levels go from college or high school, you can get away with a lot more things. But as the level increases, you can see where if you do this one little thing differently, the outcome will be dramatically different."
Mangini, who is adamant about off-field study, is impressed with the progress he has seen in Ferguson.
"One area where I think Brick has improved significantly is he has always been very conscientious, but his attention to detail is improving," said the first-year head coach. "Not that it was bad, but I think it's getting better. It's getting to that thing we talked about - being a pro and your approach.
"A lot of times I'll start on Wednesdays," he continued. "I sort of let him kick the day off with some questions. Very rarely does he get things wrong. I'm pleased with that. That's all part of the maturing process for those guys."
Ferguson and the rest of the offensive line will be in for a true dog fight in the trenches this Sunday. While the Vikings have proven themselves to be a vicious bunch on defense, you can guarantee that this rookie will be ready for the challenge.
"It's a football game. Things are not always going to go well and I don't think you can expect that," said Ferguson. "You have to deal with the adversity at hand, and then when that adversity is over and you have a new challenge and a new test to take, you have to deal with that. This week we have a new challenge and a new test, and now I'll have to deal with that."
Wednesday Injury Report Jets Questionable: FB B.J. Askew (foot), CB David Barrett (hip), LB Matt Chatham (foot), Eric Smith (foot) & LB Bryan Thomas (shoulder)
Probable: *RB Kevan Barlow (calf), *LB Brad Kassell (shin), *WR Justin McCareins (foot), *DL Rashad Moore (hand), *QB Chad Pennington (calf), *DL Dewayne Robertson (shoulder), *TE Sean Ryan (thigh) *WR Brad Smith (shoulder) *S Jamie Thompson (ankle) & *DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (shoulder)
Vikings Questionable: RB Chester Taylor (ribs), QB Brooks Bollinger (shoulder)
Probable: CB Cedric Griffin (neck), LB Napoleon Harris (wrist), WR Marcus Robinson (ankle) & DT Pat Williams (knee)
*Denotes players who participated in practice