Five Days, Two Games, One Goal: Staying Fresh
FLORHAM PARK, NJ – In the NFL, the term “short week” used to refer to playing a Sunday game following a Monday night game. But now, with the inception of Thursday night football, teams have even less time to prepare for their upcoming opponents.
The Jets will face this predicament in the following week when, on Sunday, they will play the Houston Texans at home on 1 p.m. EST before they have to prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals, who will visit the Jets on Thanksgiving night at 8:20 p.m. EST. Five days. Two games. One goal: stay fresh.
The problem is not the amount of gas they will need to get through this stretch. After all, nearly half the league will participate on Thursday night football at some point down the end of the season. But whether they have any left in the tank to put up a good fight.
After the 5-quarter slugfest with the Cleveland Browns and the overtime victory with the Detroit Lions in the week prior, it’s very easy to see the Jets running out of gas heading into the Thanksgiving night showdown. With a team — and in particular the defense — that plays a very physical, aggressive game, one must wonder how long these players can continue at the level of intensity they are used to.
“I think we got to be smart about what we ask our guys to do,” Rex Ryan said in a press conference Thursday. “We’ve got to be smart about keeping our guys fresh, what we’re asking our guys to do if we want the to play physical.”
One way Ryan has tried to keep his players fresh has been adjusting the way practice is run. He has cut down the total amount of plays run in practice. On Wednesday he ran 40 walk-through plays to 34 live plays. On Thursday it was 40 walk-through plays to 30 live plays. In addition to cutting back on the plays, Ryan has also allowed the players to practice without pads for the next week.
“Rex takes care of us,” Trevor Pryce told ESPNNewYork.com. “They do things I’ve never seen around here.” Pryce came over to the Jets mid-season, after spending his first 12 years with Denver and Baltimore.
With the Texans and Bengals sharing similarities, Ryan will carryover some of the Houston game plan to the Cincinnati game. Understandable, considering that the Jets will only practice on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Thursday’s game.