Vinny Looks To Spark Gang Green Against Bucs
With their season hanging in the balance, the Jets (1-3) are putting their faith in 42-year-old quarterback Vinny Testaverde to give their offense a spark Sunday at 1 PM against undefeated Tampa Bay (4-0) at Giants Stadium.
When he takes a snap, Testaverde will become the fourth oldest QB to ever start a game in the Super Bowl Era behind Steve DeBerg, Warren Moon and Doug Flutie.
Without Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler last week at Baltimore, the Jets struggled to get much done, only scoring three points and just eight first downs in a 13-3 loss.
With Curtis Martin (226 rushing yards) stymied on the ground thus far, Testaverde knows that the offense isn't clicking on all cylinders.
"Our lack of success has hurt our confidence a little bit offensively," Testaverde said. "We just have to get it up a little bit."
Coach Herm Edwards wants to see Testaverde find more of a rhythm with receivers than Brooks Bollinger did last week, just completing four-of-16 their way.
"At this point, I feel that Vinny's a veteran guy, we need a change a little bit as far as making some plays in the passing game," Edwards noted. "I think he can provide that."
It will be an uphill battle for the offense against the NFL's number one rated defense (220.3 total yards-per-game). The Bucs have allowed just 45 points (11.3 average) this season. They have eight sacks (Simeon Rice-3) and have also picked off six passes- Brian Kelly (3), Will Allen (2), Derrick Brooks (1).
The Jets defense looks to contain Brian Griese (6 TDs) through the air. Griese has two primary targets in second-year receiver Michael Clayton (17 receptions) and vet Joey Galloway (17-for-316, 3 TDs).
They could catch a break though in the backfield. Rookie Carnell Williams (447 rushing yards, 2 TDs) was held to just 13 yards on 11 carries last week against Detroit. He is questionable with a sore hamstring. If he can't go, Michael Pittman (79 rushing yards, 116 receiving) will get the call.
The Jets need big games from leading tackler Jonathan Vilma (48 tackles) and team leader John Abraham (three sacks). Eric Coleman (24 tackles, Int) and David Barrett (17 tackles, Int) also must come up big in the secondary.
But all eyes will be on local favorite Testaverde to see if he can provide a lift against a tough D. One thing is certain. It won't be easy.