David Barrett had other plans for this season. Despite the significant change in those plans, however, Barrett has no complaints.
The Jets' cornerback, who started the first eight games last season before he was injured, figured to be a starter this season.
That hasn't happened, but Barrett has been a key contributor to the Jets' defense anyway. Despite starting only three of the 13 games he's played this season, Barrett is second on the Jets with three interceptions this season.
Barrett has sloughed off the disappointment of not starting and become one of the primary examples of this selfless team filled with key role players. Instead of stepping out and openly complaining about his status, Barrett has quietly gone about his business and performed in whatever role the coaches ask of him.
Last Sunday in the Jets' win over the Raiders, Barrett made the key tone-setting defensive play of the game when he stripped Raiders' receiver Johnnie Morant of the ball early in the game. That turnover gave the Jets' offense a short field with which to work and it responded with a touchdown to give the Jets a 7-0 lead en route to a 23-3 win.
Barrett was starting in that game against the Raiders because starter Andre Dyson was out with a knee injury, and it looks as if he might start against the Patriots in Sunday's wildcard playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
Sunday marks only the second time in his seven-year career that Barrett will have played in the postseason.
"I'm excited to be in the playoffs," Barrett said. "It's only the second time in my career in the playoffs, and you don't get here very often."
He shrugged off his strong performance starting in place of Dyson, saying, "We know whoever is out there is going to be a starter and he's going to hold up his end of the deal. I did the same things I was doing when I got here, and nothing changed for me."
Eric Mangini, who's been emphasizing turnovers and particularly the defensive backs trying to trip the ball from receivers, was delighted to see Barrett's play on Morant, because it was textbook in that he first made sure he wrapped up the receiver and then stole the ball.
"The play that I really liked that David made, and it's something we have been working on for quite some time, when they hit the slant, he came in and made the tackle and ripped the ball out,'' Mangini said. "That's been a real point of emphasis for a while. That was the first one in the game where we've actually gone in and securing the tackle, and you can see the volume of force that he's putting on the ball to get it out.
"That's been a real point of emphasis for a while. That was the first one in the game where we've actually gone in and (stripped the ball) securing the tackle. You can see the volume of force that he's putting on the ball to get it out."
Said Barrett of his season: "It's been pretty steady; it hasn't been really a roller coaster or anything.''
Of his play on Morant, Barrett said he noticed some tendencies on film before the game that tipped him off.
"I noticed watching film and that he kind of holds the ball loosely,'' he said. "It was one of those chances where I took the chance to tried to strip the ball from him.''
INSIDER EXTRA POINTS
The paint from the Jets' victory over the Raiders wasn't even dry yet and Jets' receiver Laveranues Coles was delivering a quiet rant of sorts.
His message was a fair one: Jets have good players; they're not a complete product of the terrific coaching job Mangini has done this season.
"We have good players,'' Coles said. "We have players that can play, who have as lot of experience and we have players who've been on championship teams. I think you have to give credit to the guys in this locker room. We have a lot of desire to win and a great attitude.''
"In fairness to Mangini, who's beginning to gain the kind of Coach of the Year recognition he deserves now that the Jets are in the postseason, he's always very quick to steer the accolades to his players when it's directed his way. Mangini is an ego-less head coach who has endeared himself to his players.
Speaking of Coles, he's delivered a career season to date, setting a career-high in receptions with 91 this season. But he's more proud of the little things he does, like the key blocks he made on some runs.
“That exemplifies me totally,’’ Coles said. “I can go out and make all the catches in the world. I think the most important thing is I do all the little things. I take more pride in blocking and watching the other guys score. I get more excited about that than me actually scoring myself.
"For me, those are the best couple plays I had (Sunday) were blocking for Leon (Washington) and Brad (Smith) on the reverse and Jerricho (Cotchery). Those are the things I remember. I'd rather be noticed for things like that instead of just catching the football.’’