Can New York Stand Up to the Bully?

Wednesday’s practice was closed to the media as the team just did a run-through in sweats.

Around the locker room the mood was light, but there was something in the air, a palpable focus of sorts. While Mangini and the Jets do it week in and week out, it’s pretty hard to downplay this Thursday’s showdown at New England.

Laveranues Coles was his usual self to reporters, being stand-offish and short.

“We won more games, that’s about it,” Coles said when asked how his team has changed since week two. “We’re 6-3.”

While Coles makes a good point, he is certainly downplaying what has happened since September 14. How about the game he and Favre had against Arizona? Or the road win at Buffalo, followed by a no-let up effort against a hapless St. Louis team that Gang Green easily could have overlooked with New England on the hrozion just four short days away?

There is a lot of buzz surrounding this game, and mind you, it is buzzing because of what New York has done since they last played New England. They have put themselves in position to take control of a playground bullied by the Patriots. They have come together, playing more consistently and have begun to form an identity that was clearly lacking against Oakland, Cincinnati, and New England the first time. Hell, even the Kansas City win had critics doubting the “same old” Jets.

But make no mistake about it, they’re not the “same old” Jets. At this point last season, the Jets were 1-8 and on a six-game skid heading into the bye week. The fact that terms like “division lead” and “playoffs” are being thrown around the locker room says a lot, and that isn’t going unnoticed.

A newcomer to the AFC East, Calvin Pace said it’s not just about first place but simply the rivalry in itself, but let’s face it, what is this rivalry without playoff implications? It’s just a throwaway game, something the Jets palyed a lot of last season.

I was talking with some friends about this game against New England, and something I found funny was the way they used Brett Favre as a crux for whatever argument they were trying to make.

When I said about how well Favre has been playing lately since getting more and more comfortable with his new offense, someone said about how many interceptions he has thrown and how prone he is to making mistakes.

Later in the discussion I said about how it’s tough to believe that the Jets are 6-3 right now, playing for the division lead against New England when they finished 4-12 last season. My buddy responded by saying, “Well yeah, I mean they have Favre.” Holy contradiction! It’s funny how while one player can be credited for a team’s success, he can just as easily be blamed for its failure.

Favre is that kind of player, one that can keep you in a game just as easily as he can take you out of one, but let’s face it, who doesn’t want him on their roster? I know I sure do, especially heading into New England Thursday during primetime. You need a quarterback that is used to big games and can handle the pressure. You need a playmaker, one that isn’t afraid of taking chances.

Brett aside though, the new-look Jets have several different weapons that are all a part of this turnaround. When asked about any extra pressure knowing this game is why the Jets brought him here, Favre was comical.

“That may be true,” he said. “Then again, it may not be. That may have been why we brought Kris Jenkins in. Let’s put it off on Kris,” Favre said with his signature smile. It’s that familiar Favre-smile, the one that has likely gotten him out of many-a-jam.

Will he be smiling as he leaves Gillette Stadium, or will he be answering questions about the “same old” Jets? Only time will tell, but you gotta like their chances.

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