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Parcells Puts His Mark on the Jets

Pro football: Coach gets everyone involved in 41-3 victory over the Seahawks.

September 03, 1997|RICHARD OLIVER | NEWSDAY

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Before the regular season, New York Jets coach Bill Parcells spoke repeatedly about an attacking game plan in which everyone would participate in a variety of roles, even if it meant that standout receiver Jeff Graham would return punts, headline cornerback Aaron Glenn would run back kickoffs and linebacker James Farrior, the top draft pick, would help anchor special teams.

On Sunday, that game plan stampeded the Seattle Seahawks.

The Jets used all 46 players in the 41-3 victory, often in unorthodox and, for Seattle, befuddling ways. On the team's first offensive snap, for example, tight end Kyle Brady lined up wide right. On several occasions in the second half, right defensive end Hugh Douglas lined up on the left side. Sometimes, everyone but director of security Steve Yarnell blitzed the quarterback, and even he was looking twitchy on the sideline.

Glenn returned kickoffs and Farrior prowled special teams. Graham was spared from returning kicks, but did catch three balls for 100 yards and two TDs. After all, some things never change.

The most action came on offense, where the Jets piled up 434 yards with a flurry of formations under new coordinator Charlie Weis, including 21 snaps that had three tight ends on the field, usually as receivers. Throughout last season, the team used three tight ends on only 16 plays total.

"I think you saw varied people packages," Parcells said. "We're going to continue to do a lot of that; that's going to be our offense. It's quite a bit different than what I'm used to running, but we're trying to mix a blend of openness and a little power when we need it."

The power, in part, was provided by 6-3, 248-pound tight end Fred Baxter, who often stayed in with the 6-6, 268-pound Brady to blast open running lanes for Adrian Murrell, who ended with 131 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Murrell was one of three backs to accept 40 handoffs, while six players were the targets of 25 passes thrown by quarterback Neil O'Donnell. On six plays, the Jets had at least four wideouts for O'Donnell.

"We're going to attack teams to win football games," Weis said recently.

So far, so good.

While the Jets have put the finishing touches on new contracts for Marvin Jones and Baxter, talks on an extension for star cornerback Glenn are sluggish. The team appears intent on tagging Glenn as a franchise player, a move that he has said he opposes.

"I have mixed emotions about that," said Glenn, in the final season of a four-year, $4.05-million contract. "My feeling has always been, if you really want somebody, sign them. I really don't want to go through that."

If the Jets make that move, they will own exclusive negotiating rights with Glenn, and must give him a salary equal to or more than the top five players at the position. Glenn's agent, Jimmy Sexton, is seeking a deal that would pay his client more than the $3.7 million a year earned by Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn. A franchise tag, at this point, would only ensure $3.3 million to $3.5 million.

Meanwhile, Jones will earn as much as $21 million for his new six-year deal, finalized yesterday, including major incentive clauses and a signing bonus of about $2.5 million. The veteran's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Jones' fine performance in Sunday's opener, including eight tackles, 3 1/2 tackles for 14 yards in losses and a 5-yard sack spurred the agreement.

Jones' deal raises questions about the future of Farrior, a backup on the weakside. Farrior's agent, Ralph Cindrich, downplayed speculation that the rookie would be considered for a future role in the middle, or in a switch to a 3-4 defense.

"As a former NFL linebacker, I can safely say that linebackers can adjust to various positions," Cindrich said. "You really can't have enough of quality. This can only be a positive for the Jets."

The Jets' 38-point win marked the most lopsided road victory in franchise history, topping a 38-7 decision at Seattle in 1986. . . . John Hall's 55-yard field goal on his first attempt as a professional was the longest successful debut kick since Sept. 27, 1953, when Bert Rechichar of the Baltimore Colts set the league mark with a 56-yard score. Hall vaulted past former Kansas City Chiefs great Jan Stenerud, whose first field goal, on Sept. 9, 1967, was 54 yards. . . . O'Donnell's five TD passes against the Seahawks reportedly satisfied an incentive clause in his renegotiated contract that pays him $1 million if he has more scoring throws than last season. O'Donnell, who leads the league with a 146.7 QB rating, had four TD passes a year ago.

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