By Drew Buono
Jets Staff Writer
January 3rd, 2007
<b>BABY STEPS</b> Both Eric Mangini and Bill Belichick actually referred to each other by name today.
BABY STEPS Both Eric Mangini and Bill Belichick actually referred to each other by name today.
The Jets returned to work today and began preparing for their big showdown aganst their bitter rival Patriots. In a sign that maybe ill will has softened a bit, both Jets coach Eric Mangini and Pats Coach Bill Belichick actually referred to each other by name.

Gang Green is preparing for another match-up against the playoff version of Goliath. The Jets, having already played the role of David will need to defeat the New England Patriots for the second time this season, but this time with a chance to move on to the AFC Divisional Playoff. Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick split their first two match-ups, but again are steering the focus away from their relationship and are focusing their attention on the opposition.

Mangini commented on the Patriots by saying, “they’re going to attack weaknesses, minimize strengths, and play to their strengths.” Mangini also had nothing but praise for his former boss and his star quarterback Tom Brady. “Extremely well-coached. You can see that consistently in the level of play and the level of execution week in and week out,” said Mangini about Belichick.

Brady like Belichick is a person the Mangini believes will be going to the Hall of Fame. “Tom Brady does a tremendous job of orchestrating the whole offense, getting them into good plays, getting them out of bad plays, understanding what the defense is doing, understanding what the offense is doing, directing the protection.”

The goal of both teams will be to not over analyze the opposition leading into Sunday. The two teams know each other so well from their coaches, that it seems inevitable that Sunday’s game will become a match-up of who can out coach who. Mangini said that the knowledge of the two teams, “works both ways. You know, you can work on things that you may think they’re going to exploit, but maybe it turns up somewhere else.”

Belichick said it will, “definitely be a challenge to anticipate the Jets offense, because the team’s consistent and you have to learn everything you get against them.” He also said that, “you learn something from everything, but you have to be careful not to over analyze.”

The Jets will at least be anticipating Patriots SS Rodney Harrison not playing on Sunday. His injured right knee will keep him out of this game and maybe even more if the Patriots can move on. Belichick called Harrison’s loss an “unfortunate one,” but the defense will still be hard for the Jets to match-up against.

Jets players seemed remarkably calm heading into the wild card game. K Mike Nugent is one of many Jets players who will be making his postseason debut. Nugent might be under the most pressure come Sunday, especially if the game comes down to a last second field goal like the 2004 divisional game against Pittsburgh. Nugent though, is not worried about the game and feels that he will be ready, “for every kind of situation.”

RB Leon Washington feels fresh heading into the postseason. “It’s a plus not to have so many touches,” said Washington about not being overused during the regular season. It might be tough to go back to New England, but Washington has sought out the advice of his veteran teammates to prepare for the atmosphere on Sunday. “(FB) James Hodgins told me to prepare myself and be relaxed as possible,” said Washington about the playoffs.

Even if players won’t admit to it, this game, like the previous two is about the two coaches and who can out-coach the other. The Jets have already won in New England and are not afraid of traveling as their 6-2 road record proves. The weather will not even be a factor, because as of right now, it will be 49 degrees and sunny in Foxboro Sunday afternoon. The Jets are riding high and don’t look as if their expecting a downfall on Sunday.


- The New York Jets announced the following roster moves: signed offensive lineman Ed Blanton to the active roster; signed defensive back Alfonso Hodge and offensive lineman Charles Missant to the practice squad; placed defensive back Jamie Thompson on Injured Reserve due to a foot injury; released defensive back Andre Maddox from the practice squad.

- S Kerry Rhodes talked about his team making the playoffs by saying, “the proof is in the pudding, we’re here now and we’ll see what happens.”

- Rhodes' sore knee was fully wrapped in ice during today's locker room session but later he was fully participating in practice without a brace and no noticable limp.

- DE Shaun Ellis said that the goal of the Jets against the Patriots is to “try to be aggressive and be committed to our game plan. They’ve been where we are trying to be.”

- Belichick was still defensive about questions posed to him about his relationship with Mangini. At one point, he kept saying that he has “never said anything bad about Eric (Mangini)” even though the question posed to him was about the coldness regarding their end of game handshakes or lack thereof.

- Belichick further refused to comment when Jets asked him if this was indeed a "Nightmare Game" for him due to the prospect of his former protoge' having the opportunity to knock him out of the playoffs.

- Surprisingly, the two coaches did make baby steps by finally referring to each other by first name. The media almost broke into applause when Belichick uttered the word "Eric". Mangini also referred to Belichick as "Bill" and instead of using "the other place" he actually said New England.

- When asked about this breakthrough, Mangini said he was "developing".

- "We all evolve and change", said the Coach. "I had a lot of great experiences in New England and we can talk about it now."

- CB Andre Dyson (Knee) was participating in drills today without a brace and looked to be limp free. It's not known however, if he'll be able to play on Sunday.

- WR Laveranues Coles looked fine and was fully participating in practice today.

- The word "Playoffs" is no longer a prohibited word around the Jets complex however according to Mangini today, the word "Superbowl" has taken it's place.


New York Jets
-FB B.J. Askew (Foot): Questionable
-RB Kevan Barlow (Thigh): Questionable
-CB David Barrett (Hip): Questionable
-WR Laveranues Coles (Jaw): Questionable
-CB Andre Dyson (Knee): Questionable
-FB James Hodgins (Knee): Questionable
-C Nick Mangold: (Thigh): Questionable
-OL Brandon Moore (Ankle): Questionable
-S Kerry Rhodes (Knee): Questionable
-DL Dewayne Robertson (Knee): Questionable
-LB Matt Chatham (Personal): Probable
-RB Cedric Houston (Calf): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-DB Eric Smith (Foot): Probable
-DE Bryan Thomas (Shoulder): Probable

The Jets return to the practice field tomorrow in preparation for Sunday’s playoff game against the New England Patriots. will have a complete recap following Thursday’s practice.