The New York Jets know how important their game is this weekend against New England. Over the last three years, the Jets have been horrid in the second half of the season. The team has lost two or more games in the second half of every one of those years including their playoff year of 2004 where they lost the final two games and three of their final four games, after starting the season 9-3.
Head coach Eric Mangini hopes that all the homework and the progress the team has made so far this season will pay off this weekend. “There is always a new game plan for an opponent, and I really appreciate the players for the work they put in the classroom.” QB Chad Pennington appears to be the hardest working player of them all as he is usually the last player around at night. Mangini loves Pennington’s desire and has never had to tell him to go home because he has done enough for one day. A new motto out of Jets camp, this time for the classroom is, “Knowledge is power.”
Mangini also knows that, “you control your own future by the way you work, study and prepare.” The hope would be that the team has put so much preparation and work into the second half, that the team can avoid going through another losing streak. The Jets might only be a game out of the playoff race but, just as easily out of contention they are right now losing this weekend and then facing the Bears next weekend could really decide the fate of this team for the rest of the season.
As the old football saying goes, “the new season starts today” and the Jets have a new featured back to help them get off in the right direction. RB Curtis Martin is officially done and now RB Leon Washington will have to prove himself as the man who can carry this team into the future.
Washington admitted that early on in trainging camp he struggled while trying to catch on to the pro game and the one key area Mangini saw this, was with catching punts. “When he started catching punts better in practice, I knew he had turned it around,” said Mangini. Also, Mangini said that, “he (Washington) has taken advantage of opportunities given to him.” Washington feels the same way saying, “the more reps and game time you get, the better off you are.”
The true test for Washington and the Jets will be on Sunday in Foxboro and WR Jerricho Cotchery feels this team can handle the pressure. “This team doesn’t care about going on the road, we respond well to away games and the away crowd. We have a lot of young guys and a lot of veterans too at key positions to help the new guys,” said Cotchery.
Hopefully, the Jets won’t need Cotchery to make another sensational catch this week like he did last time the Jets faced the Patriots. That catch brought the team back into the game and this time around, the Jets are hoping to be either winning or neck and neck with the Patriots by the start of the second half.
- While Patriots head coach Bill Belichick does not want to talk about his friendship or lack there of with Mangini, Mangini still regards Belichick as a great friend and mentor.
- Mangini even brought up a memory to show just how close they used to be, “One time when we were playing here in New York, Bill got us backstage passes to Bruce Springsteen. He knew my wife was a huge fan even joking with her, telling her not to faint,” as they were about to walk by the music legend.
- Mangini was in a comical mood today, also joking about S Kerry Rhodes having a “difficult morning after his squad fell last night.” Mangini was referring to Rhodes’ alma mater Louisville losing last night to Rutgers.
- Washington also admitted that he felt uncomfortable the first couple of weeks of training camp because, he was “star-struck at his new teammates.” The one that impressed him the most was Martin, who took two weeks for Washington to gather enough courage to go talk to.
-FB B.J. Askew (Foot): Questionable
-CB David Barrett (Hip): Questionable
-WR Laveranues Coles (Calf): Questionable
-WR Tim Dwight (Thigh): Questionable
-RB Cedric Houston (Knee): Questionable
-WR Justin McCareins (Foot): Questionable
-RB Kevan Barlow (Calf): Probable
-LB Matt Chatham (Foot): Probable
-CB Andre Dyson (Ankle): Probable
-OL Pete Kendall (Knee): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-QB Patrick Ramsey (Thigh): Probable
Game time is at 1:00PM on Sunday, nationally-televised on CBS, local TV on CBS 2 and local radio on 1050 ESPN radio and WCRN 104.3 on Long Island. Be sure to check out our complete Jets - Pats preview on the front page!