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Safeties Smith, Elam Train Their Sights on Seattle


Abram Elam and Eric Smith view the sharing of their safety position as a strength, not a weakness.

"That's the scheme the defensive coaches have been using and it's been paying off effectively for us," Elam said Wednesday. "Anything I can do to go out and help our team I'm willing to do."

"It might give us an advantage," said Smith, "Say he's playing in base. He can focus more of his film study on the base groups. If I'm playing in nickel or dime that week, then I can focus more of my film study on the passing game. So it might be an advantage, where we don't have to necessarily put all our attention on the whole scheme of their offense."

The Jets secondary had struggled in recent weeks, but they shored up their pass defense Sunday, holding Buffalo to 119 net passing yards. However, running back Marshawn Lynch and the Bills were successful running the ball, gaining 187 yards on the normally stout Jets run defense.

During his Monday news conference, head coach Eric Mangini talked about ways the DBs can tweak their game to help ensure that other teams aren't as productive running the ball.

"On some of those outside plays, the secondary element could have been more aggressive," Mangini said. "You have to take a harder angle and set that edge much tighter than it was. When you're able to create space there on the perimeter with a guy like Lynch, whose most productive runs come on the perimeter, that creates a problem. You have to be more aggressive on those types of runs.

"I think the initial alignment for the cornerback or the safety in those situations could be a little wider to give him a better path to the lead blocker."

"It poses a challenge," said Smith, "because when the team brings in a lot more receivers, say they go three or four wide, most teams bring in more DBs. The guys in the box — the linebackers and the D-line — it lessens that number. So then you have less people to play the run and more people playing the pass, and when teams run the ball, guys are a little farther away, so it takes more time to react to it.

"You try to just change up your calls, maybe, I want to say down and distance, where you think they're going to run the ball," he said on how to adjust. "You may leave in your base group and just try to match up that way or maybe bring a safety down into the box. There's a bunch of different things you could do with it."

The Jets DBs will have another test as they head to Seattle and try to continue their playoff push against the Seahawks, coming off their first win since Week 8. WR Deion Branch is always a threat and rookie John Carlson (no relation) is a top-10 tight end in receptions so far this season.

"He has really good hands and runs very good routes and they use him a lot in their offense," said Elam. "He plays a big role for them.

"We've played against a bunch of good tight ends. I think he's in a league of his own because he does a lot of things well. And especially being a young guy, I think he has a great future ahead of him."

"They're a West Coast team — they spread the ball around," said Smith. "Carlson is doing a great job getting open and [Seneca] Wallace is doing a good job getting him the ball. They have a lot of receivers with a lot of catches, so it's going to be a challenge for us."

Wallace said Wednesday he still doesn't know if he or Matt Hasselbeck will quarterback the Seahawks vs. the Jets. Wallace has been effective in eight games this season and has thrown only one interception in 174 passes.

"He's making good decisions and he's really mobile, so that's helping him a lot," said Smith. "Say if things break down, he's doing a good job getting out of the pocket looking for things to open up or taking off running."

"Wallace is playing real well," said Elam, who contributed his latest big play against the Bills with the strip-sack of J.P. Losman that Shaun Ellis returned for the winning touchdown. "He's able to extend plays, move around, and he's able to get them out of bad situations with his legs.

"We know that Seattle over the years has had a great offense, so that's something that's going to be a big challenge for us defensively."

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