FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Even before Jim Leonhard was lost for the season with a fractured right tibia a week ago, the Jets' secondary was springing leaks that would've made the world's best plumber turn in his plunger.
Those leaks looked more like geysers by the time Tom Brady was done carving them up Monday night. He threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns, forcing the Jets to try to quickly plug those holes before Sunday's game against the Dolphins at New Meadowlands Stadium.
"This week, we made sure we emphasized that a lot more, about guys' communication and doing their jobs and just doing the things that we all need to do," Antonio Cromartie said Friday. "We all have to step up another level. Coach Rex [Ryan] said to take it up two levels, but I feel like us on the back end - me and [Darrelle] Revis and Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, Kyle Wilson - we feel that we've got to step up actually another four levels."
The Jets say the communication in the secondary throughout practice this week is the best it's been all season. It had better be. They're going to be without reserve James Ihedigbo because of an ankle injury, which might force them to use cornerback Dwight Lowery more at safety. They also brought in free-agent safety Emanuel Cook, who hasn't been around since training camp.
"From last week to this week, it has improved a bunch," Pool said of the communication. "Jim went down late in the week last week and we were kind of scrambling back there. But I think this week, it's been a big difference. Communication has been on point and the game plan is straightforward."
He added: "In this defense, if one person is off, that means the next person can be off, and it kind of messes things up."
There have been times when Pool himself hasn't been in the right position. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine admitted the safety's play has been a little inconsistent through the first 12 games, in part because he's still grasping the system.
"That's the one thing about what we do with our safeties - there's a lot of communication," Pettine said. "There can be moving parts. Brodney's made some plays. He made the play at the end of the Miami game, he had the interception against New England the first time. He's done some good things for us in the run game. I think he'll only get better with more repetition.
"I certainly wouldn't say he's underachieved for us, but - and I've used this phrase a bunch in here - it's just growing pains."
Growing pains that Ryan hopes get smoothed over soon. He wants things to start mirroring what he saw in practice these past few days.
"We'll have to prove it on Sunday, but our communication has been good," Ryan said Friday. "Our play back there has been good, so we'll see how we do."
Notes & quotes: RT Damien Woody (knee) is listed as questionable . . . RB Joe McKnight on trying to make the most of his playing time: "I feel like I shouldn't even be here right now, the way I performed in camp and in preseason. But they gave me an opportunity, so I just want to take advantage of it."