BY ERIK BOLAND |[email="email@example.com?subject=Newsday.com%20Article"]firstname.lastname@example.org[/email] November 28, 2008 Kerry Rhodes said he would attack the Jets' defense the same way.
"The way we're stopping the run, I can't complain; why not pass against us?" the Jets safety said. "Teams have to resort to the pass. That's just how it is. We just have to step up on the back end and try to hold up our end of the bargain."
The Jets enter Sunday's home game against the Broncos as the league's third-toughest team to run against, allowing only 78 yards per game. They're coming off a 34-13 victory in Tennessee in which they gave up 45 rushing yards to the then-unbeaten Titans.
But defending the pass has been a different story. The Jets rank 26th against the pass, allowing 239.4 yards per game. The scouting report, from the early part of the season to now, has read about the same: Against the Jets, pass, pass, pass.
Which is what the Broncos do best.
Led by quarterback Jay Cutler, Denver ranks third in the league in total offense (382.5 yards per game), including third in passing yards (273.0).
"They throw the ball a lot. I think it's like 60 percent of the time," cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "We're expecting it and we know it's coming, so we just have to focus up on what we have to do. But we're definitely looking forward to this game. We can get a lot of hands on the ball and try to make plays."
Translation: The Jets think they'll have some chances to pick off Cutler.
The confident third-year quarterback out of Vanderbilt has thrown for 3,036 yards with 19 touchdowns, but also has thrown 12 interceptions this season.
"He's a young guy, so maybe he's a little more brave in what he's doing out there, he'll take some chances," Rhodes said. "He's kind of a young gunslinger anyway, so he comes out, throws the ball around, runs around, trying to make plays. That's the type of player he is, so I think we'll have the opportunity to make plays."
Sounds a bit like Brett Favre. Cutler has been compared to the Jets' quarterback, and his statistics are pretty close to this year's version. Favre enters Sunday's game with 20 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions, though he has thrown only one pick in his last three games.
But Cutler steered clear of that beyond saying he admires Favre. Perhaps he still is mindful of the criticism he took this season when he was quoted as saying that "hands down," he has a stronger arm than Broncos icon John Elway.
"I have a long way to go," Cutler said Wednesday, addressing the Favre comparison. "You're talking about Brett Favre, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. He's accomplished a lot throughout his career. I'm just kind of getting started. We'll see. Hopefully, I'm still a starter five to 10 years from now."
Flanking Cutler are two receivers who have helped him emerge this season. The 6-4, 230-pound Brandon Marshall, whom Jets coach Eric Mangini compared to Randy Moss - Revis said he's more like Terrell Owens - leads the Broncos with 67 receptions for 887 yards and four TDs. The speedy Eddie Royal has 58 receptions for 673 yards and four TDs.
"That's a combination where you have physicality on one side [Marshall] and you have speed and shiftiness [Royal] on the other side," Revis said.
Rhodes acknowledged the Jets' struggles defending the pass, though he said the various moving parts at cornerback and safety - other than himself and Revis - have played a role.
"That has a little bit to do with it," Rhodes said. "In the secondary, you have to have a feel for each other. There's times where Darrelle and I will look at each other and know what we want to do. When you have another guy in or a young guy in who's not used to getting those reps with us, it's kind of tough. But I think now as the season's going on, we're kind of figuring out how we want to approach it and how we want to match up with different people. It's starting to get better."
For the Jets to keep rolling, that will have to continue Sunday.
Broncos at Jets
TV: Ch. 2,
Radio: WEPN (1050), WABC (770), WRCN (103.9)
Like I said. This game scares me!