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INSIDER WEDNESDAY TEAM REPORT

By Andrew Scharff
Jets Insider.com Senior Writer
October 1st, 2008
Jets special teams Guru Mike Westhoff sat down with the media today. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Jets special teams Guru Mike Westhoff sat down with the media today. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The bye week is here!

Maybe earlier than some players may like, but they have no problems with it as the Jets have been pretty much “lights out” after the bye week in each of the two seasons under head coach Eric Mangini.

“In the past few years we have gotten better after the bye week,” said Jets S Kerry Rhodes. “We’ve been pretty much lights out after the bye week on the defensive side of the ball. Hopefully we can do the same thing now and get ourselves a substantial amount of wins.”

"Physically, I would like to have it in the middle of the season, but right now we have been banging since camp and through the first few games. I feel like it came at the right time," added Jets DE Shaun Ellis.

From an injury standpoint the Jets wish the bye would come later in the season. Besides K Mike Nugent and WR David Clowney, the injury bug has not really hit the Jets hard this season. So instead of getting healthier this week, Mangini is giving his players off (starting Thursday) for the weekend but more importantly he is making this week an assessment week for his players.

“It’s always good to have a bye. It’s always good to have a chance to go back and do a self-assessment,” said Mangini. “We do a study initially of what the weaknesses have been, and how we are going to correct them and then we enforce it practice. So the next time it comes up – because usually whatever has been a weakness is repeated throughout the rest of the season until you show that you can handle those things and correct those things.”

For Mangini this week is all about assessment of performance and technique. Both Mangini and his players (new and old) know that the Jets have turned around their season after the bye. While players like Rhodes and Ellis say because of simplification of schemes is the reasons why the Jets have improved after the bye, Mangini says because of the process the team goes through during the bye is the reason for their success.

“I wish I knew exactly what it was,” said Mangini about exactly what the Jets do during their bye week. “We’ve gone through the same process that last few years and we’re going through the same process this year. And we’re just asking for each guy to be brutally honest with themselves, the coaches to do that, to go through and look at the stuff and look at it as critically as you possibly can, not to the point of over-analysis, but just an objective, honest assessment of where we are.”

Mangini said during he has face-to-face communication with the players this week, as he has meetings with them to discuss their assessment. In these meetings with players he discusses why they have a certain role on the team and what they have to do if they are not satisfied with their role.

"If you have any questions or feel uncomfortable about your situation you can talk to Eric about it. He can be brutal to a point where he can say, ‘You need to do this better.’ He can show you plays and point things out," said Ellis.

Insider Tidbits

A Champion Welcomed

The Jets were visited by “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya on Wednesday afternoon. Gang Green tried to get De La Hoya to stop by last season but they were unsuccessful. But with De La Hoya in New York for press conference, the Golden Boy made time to visit the Jets at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.

“Any time you have a chance to talk to a great champion, athlete, someone who has been successful for as long as he’s been, in terms of his discipline, his training habits; I think regardless of what sport you’re in, there’s common themes, there’s common threads,” said Mangini.

Favre Named Player of the Week

QB Brett Favre earned his first AFC Player of the Week award for six touchdown performance against the Cardinals. In his 257th consecutive start as an NFL quarterback, Favre threw for a career-high six touchdown passes as the Jets beat Cardinals 56-35. He completed 24 of 34 passes for 289 yards with six touchdowns and a 123.7 passer rating. Favre’s six touchdown passes tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Namath (6 at Baltimore Colts on 9/24/72) for most touchdowns by a Jets quarterback. Favre’s previous career high was five touchdowns, which he accomplished three times. This also marked the 20th time in his career that Favre recorded four or more touchdowns. The Jets’ 56 points were the second-most points scored in a game in franchise history, trailing only the 62 scored against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11/17/85).

This was Favre’s 13th career Player of the Week award. Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week and Pittsburgh’s Jeff Reed was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Westhoff’s Reasoning

On February 20th Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff underwent complex leg surgery. The procedure took 10 hours and he stayed in the hospital for six days. Normally for a person undergoing his surgery it takes about nine months to a year before they can return to work. For Westhoff, he was back coaching at six months.

“It is a pretty radical surgery for someone my age. But it has been tremendous and it was the smartest move I have ever made,” said Westhoff. “Most of my femur is metal. My bone on top, my bone on the bottom and the rest is artificial. It has changed my whole life. It took an entire process to do and I am glad I did it.”

Westhoff, who addressed the media for the first time since returning to the sideline, said he was surprised that he was able to return this fast. Even though he “retired” after the Jets win over Kansas City last season, Westhoff knew he was going to return to coaching at some point. He said he kept in frequent contact with Mangini during the off-season. And when he was medically cleared to come back both the Jets and Westhoff agreed the New York is place for him. “He’s been an asset,” said Mangini. “He was an asset to me obviously from a special teams perspective. But from a head coaching perspective he’s spent years with Don Shula, Jimmy Johnson and he’s been in a lot of different situations. Westhoff, he’s not afraid to be brutally honest and you appreciate that honesty.”

Dancing With the Stars

The hit ABC primetime show “Dancing With the Stars” has had a successful history with football players. Emmitt Smith, Jason Taylor and currently Warren Sapp are all people who traded in the cleats for dancing shoes. Well a possible player for next season’s show could be Jets CB Dwight Lowery. While the Jets were stretching, blasting on the speakers at practice was the hit song “Apache” (a.k.a Jump On It). Lowery was displaying all his moves and after the song defensive coordinator Bob Sutton came over to shake his hand on his job well done.

Practice Report

WR David Clowney practiced with the team again, but he was wearing a red pinney which meant he could not participate in any contact drills…K Mike Nugent was also out on the field doing some light running with the team. After the team split up to start practice Nugent worked with strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi and injured LB Jason Trusnik…RB Leon Washington and TE Dustin Keller worked primarily with the first team. RB Thomas Jones, who did get some reps with the first team, took many his reps with QB Kellen Clemens and the second team…P Reggie Hodges had an up and down practice. During the punt coverage portion of practice, Hodges looked good in the beginning as he had a lot long and high kicks. But as that portion continued Hodges performance became poorer as he even shanked two punts.

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