Bryan Thomas has a sack in five of the last six games
The New York Jets signed running back Stacy Tutt from the practice squad to the active roster and waived linebacker Ryan Riddle. The Saturday announcement was made by Jets' General Manager Mike Tannenbaum.
Tutt, from the University of Richmond, was first signed by the Jets as a rookie free agent May 12. He was waived Sept. 2 and signed to the practice squad a day later. Tutt, 6-foot-1, 233 lbs. from Fredricksburg, VA, was a quarterback at Richmond, finishing with 5,318 passing yards and 36 touchdown passes as a three-year starter.
What a difference a week makes! The same Minnesota offense that could not do anything right against Chicago in Week Thirteen scored on their first three possessions last week and the Vikings are still in the NFC playoff picture. The Jets, who were flawless in the first half of their Green Bay game, were completely out of sync against the Bills and lost an opportunity to close on New England for the AFC East lead.
New York likes to move their offense around like chess pieces while the Vikings prefer a more conservative approach. But both clubs are only going as far as their quarterbacks will take them, and both Chad Pennington and Brad Johnson have had enough highs and lows in the last two weeks to fill a season. With the loser of this game likely out of playoff contention, the pressure will be on both clubs to produce on every play.
LB Jonathan Vilma (6'1", 230 lbs) vs. LG Steve Hutchinson (6'5", 313 lbs).
Two marquee players square off in what will determine Minnesota's ability to control the time of possession. Hutchinson is relentless in sustaining blocks, especially at the second level. Vilma has played better against the run in recent weeks but was unable to close or wipe off blocks at the point of attack last week. Regardless of who carries the ball, look for the Vikings to run behind Hutchinson to keep the chains moving.
C Nick Mangold (6'4", 299 lbs) vs. DT Pat Williams (6'3, 317 lbs).
Williams plays the bulk of the snaps over the center in Minnesota's 4-3 under front. Williams has exceptional quickness, can beat the reach block and can tackle the ball-carrier from behind on away runs. The Jets rookie center has faced some of the best nose tackles in the league since midseason, holding the Browns Ted Washington and Patriots Vince Wilfork to a combined four tackles. If Mangold needs help from the guards, one of the Vikings linebackers will be roaming free to stop the run.
WR Jerricho Cotchery (6'0", 207 lbs) vs. LB Napoleon Harris (6'2", 255 lbs).
The Vikings play a base Cover Two, but they will mix coverages often, making use of zone dog blitzes and alternately rushing the passer and dropping into coverage with their LB's. Cotchery will run the short crossing routes behind the LB's, forcing Harris to drop on most plays. Cotchery doesn't have breakaway speed, but he is fast enough to shake Harris and is very good at finding the open areas in zone coverage. If he can get Harris trailing in coverage, he will also have plenty of opportunities to gain yards after the catch.
Things to Look For:
Teams: The Jets lead the all-time series six games to one and have won the last five meetings between these teams…The last game between the teams came in a 20-7 Jets win in October, 2002. Chad Pennington threw for 324 yards and a TD in that game…The Jets have won five of their last eight contests and can double their 2005 win total with a victory this week…The Jets have had six games with 40 penalty yards or less and have won four of those contests…The Jets defense has given up just three rushing TD in the last eight games…The Vikings defense is first in the NFL in rushing yards allowed…Minnesota has 11 takeaways (6 INT, 5 FR) in the last two weeks.
Chad Pennington: Pennington needs 502 passing yards over the last three games to surpass his single-season career high of 3120 set in 2002.
Leon Washington: Washington has 566 rushing yards on the season, the 5th-most by a rookie in Jets history. He needs just 58 more yards to move past Freeman McNeil into 4th place.
Laveranues Coles: Coles is a combined 9-123-1 TD in two career games against the Vikings…He and Jerricho Cotchery can become the first Jets WR tandem to both reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark in a season since Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet did it in 1998.
Bryan Thomas: Thomas is having a career year and has a sack in five of the last six games.
Shaun Ellis: Ellis needs 1 ½ sacks to reach 50 for his career.
Kerry Rhodes: Rhodes has 4 sacks on the season. He has forced a fumble on three of those four plays.
Brad Johnson: In his only game against the Jets as a Viking, Johnson had 312 passing yards and 3 TD passes for a 124.9 passer rating…his teams are 10-2 when he produces a passer rating of 120 or better.
Chester Taylor: Taylor has a career-best 1,098 rushing yards and needs just 202 yards to become the second Viking to rush for 1,300 yards in a season.
Marcus Robinson: Robinson has four touchdowns in nine games, three of them for 20 or more yards.
Jermaine Wiggins: Wiggins, who started his career with the Jets in 2000, is tied for 5th among NFC TE's with 41 catches on the season.