As reward for their big 38-10 win in Green Bay this weekend, Jets head coach Eric Mangini gave the team the day off. In his weekly Monday presser with the NY Media, Mangini reflected on the win but even though the Jets are clearly in the thick of the playoff race the coach refused to look any further than Buffalo this Sunday.
Talk around the NFL is that Gang Green is very much a contender for a playoff berth and yesterday won with a strong offensive performance for the second week in a row. The Jets were perhaps more statistically dominant against the Packers than they have been in any game thus far this season.
Quarterback Chad Pennington had his second straight strong game as he threw for 263 yards on 25 of 35 passing with 2 touchdowns. He got help from wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery again, who fell a yard short of his second 100-yard game, running up 99 yards on 9 receptions, both team-highs for the game. However, the surprise of the game was second-year running back Cedric Houston, who had is first career 100-yard rushing game with 105 yards on 22 carries with two first-half touchdowns.. Despite the performance, Mangini said he has no plan of abandoning the three-man carousel in the ground game.
“I’ve been content with the competition at the position,” Mangini said of the work by Houston and fellow backs Leon Washington and Kevan Barlow. “All three of those guys have been important for us.”
Despite all the solid individual efforts, Mangini was most pleased with the effort when the team hit some adversity in the second half.
“When thing weren’t going the way we wanted in the second half, the offense responded with an 81-yard touchdown drive,” Mangini said.
Sunday’s performance seems to make it clear that the Jets are the class of New York football. With the Giants sitting at 6-6 after a fourth straight loss and Gang Green chasing a wild card spot at 7-5, these are two teams heading in different directions.
“We’re not worried about that,” Mangini said of being the toast of the town. “Just feels like any other week here.”
While Mangini was finally willing to admit that the Jets are in the mix for the playoffs, he stressed that it is important to stay focused on the task at hand.
“We still have a quarter of the season left, and that’s how we’re approaching it,” Mangini said. “If we lose track of the games we play, that’s when you start to let games slip away.”
With that said, the Jets have shifted their focus to the Buffalo Bills. They will start watching film and return to the practice field Wednesday to begin preparation.
-Mangini announced the players of the week. Houston got the honors on offense, while linebacker Jonathan Vilma was the defensive player of the week and Cody Spencer being the special teams player of the week. The most important award, the practice player of the week, went to offensive lineman Ed Blanton.
-With wide receiver/kick returner Tim Dwight out for the remainder of the season, Mangini acknowledged that wide outs Brad Smith and Justin McCareins would likely split his snaps. He also said that practice squad player Wallace Wright has an opportunity to move up and carve out a role for himself.
-Mangini admitted that he and his coaching staff have scaled back practices somewhat as the season wears down. The team has had some practices without pads and has not had as many long days in an effort to keep the squad fresh.
MEET NY JETS STARS ON LONG ISLAND!
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Tuesday December 5th, 6:30-8PM
WR Jerricho Cotchery
RB Leon Washington
Tuesday December 12th, 6:30-8PM
TE Chris Baker
DE Shaun Ellis
DT Bobby Hamilton
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The team has tomorrow off then returns to begin preparation for the Bills on Wednesday. Be sure to check back to JI for a complete report!