At 4-3, Gang Green has the opportunity to force a three-way tie atop the AFC East with a win over the 5-2 Bills, who are currently tied with New England. Coming up on the halfway point of the season, the pressure is certainly on to some degree for Eric Mangini’s team, whether or not they want to invest stock in it or not.
“No matter who you’re playing,” Mangini began. “If you go into a game with any type of expectation, ‘this should be a blowout, this should be easy, this is going to be impossible,’ any of those things regardless of what’s being said externally, if you buy into that you lose track of what’s important.”
“All that matters is what we do, how we play on that day, and if you get caught up in anything else, then you’re just—you’re paddling upstream at that point.”
Keeping true to form, Mangini had all sorts of praise for the Bills, referring to their defense as high-motored and intense.
“They get a lot of people on the ball, and do a good job of stopping the run.”
Ranked 4th in the NFL at creating negative plays, the Bills’ defense has just 13 sacks to the Jets’ 24. Overall, the Bills defense is 11th in the league, just ahead of the 12th-place Jets.
“They’re a consistent team,” S Kerry Rhodes said about Buffalo. “I think Buffalo has played well within themselves and have not made a lot of mistakes.”
Rhodes mentioned how the Bills don’t hurt themselves, like a lot of the situations Gang Green has been in and hurt itself.
Favre’s press conference today could be viewed as one part personal, one part football as he was asked about his wife’s blog, his nephew Dylan, who is a top high school recruit from Bay St. Louis, Miss., as well as the Matt Millen phone conversation that won’t seem to go away.
Pertaining to the football-related task-at-hand, the veteran quarterback thinks a win in Orchard Park against a solid Bills team will do a lot for his team’s psyche and character, and “things like that.”
“Buffalo, we’ve been watching film on them, [they] are outstanding, they’re no fluke,” Favre said.
“This being a divisional opponent who is leading the division, playing outstanding, momentum is so important in this game and we need to get the momentum, get it early and try to keep it.”
With a loss to Oakland coupled with non-convincing wins over Cincinnati and Kansas City, a lot of people are thinking this team is the “same old Jets.” But that may be an unfair analysis of a team that is still finding its identity.
“We lost a game we should’ve won against Oakland,” Rhodes said. “If you wanna go back, we could be 5-2.
“As bad as it seems from everyone looking from the outside we know that what we still have here is a team that can get it done, and we’re gonna try and prove it this week. We get this win and we’re still right in the mix. We’re not that bad off.”
Going up against Buffalo is a chance the Jets should be relishing, a chance to prove themselves against an upper-echelon team. After early-season losses to San Diego and perennial power New England, Gang Green has had time to figure some things out and improve.
Favre took the blame for his second interception against Oakland, admitting to having been desperate. A risk-taking quarterback, he said he’s not much of a gambler when asked about Mangini’s blackjack reference to hitting on 20.
“I’m well aware of what is expected of me, how important it is to take care of the ball,” Favre said.
“I’ve played a long time and I understand that turnovers as well as penalties, just little things, there are so many factors that go into winning or losing, and I know statistically speaking, you turn the ball over more than your opponent, you lose. Well, that’s two times in three weeks we’ve won.”
Be mindful, this is coming from a quarterback who has thrown seven picks in his last three games and eleven through seven games, tied for tops in the NFL, so he’s used to rationalizing his mistakes, just like he is with overcoming them. Hence, the game-winning drive against Kansas City after nearly blowing it by means of an interception taken back 91 yards for a score.
Mistakes like that will likely leave Gang Green in Buffalo’s wake come Sunday, but Favre is confident that minor improvements will go a long way for his team.
“To be able to overcome not only the turnovers,” Favre began, “but some of the mistakes we’re making offensively and be as productive as we have been, all we have to look to is ourselves and see how if we can just eliminate some of these mistakes, just a little bit, we can be highly productive.”
The Jets announced that QB Erik Ainge and RB Jesse Chatman were put on injured reserve. RB Marcus Mason was signed to the active roster while LB Brandon Renkart was signed to the practice squad.
With the halfway point of the season approaching, it’s evident that the entire league, especially the AFC East division is wide open. After this week, there could be a three-way tie in the division, something that was unheard of a year ago.
Whether it’s because of Brady going down or teams catching up and creating more parity, it’s anyone’s division.
“A lot of people like to give the NFC East a lot of respect, but I think the AFC East deserves a lot of respect,” Bills QB Trent Edwards said via conference call. “We’re gonna have our hands full like we did last week, [against Miami] and we’re gonna have our hands full this week and again next week against the Patriots as well.”
“The whole NFL is changing right now, especially the AFC,” Kerry Rhodes said. “You gotta lot of teams in the mix that if they get on a roll they can take over this division, so we’re in that mix and we have a chance to do it.”
Buffalo head coach Dick Jauron spoke about the rivalries within the AFC East, calling them well-established and healthy.
“We love our division,” Jauron said. “It’s a very talented division.”
While he said they don’t prepare any differently than they do every other opponent, staying inside the division there is a history being that the teams know each other so well.
“Emotionally it’s a little bit different. I don’t even think you have to talk about it, you just talk about who our opponent is this week, and that it is a divisional game and there’s just a little more bounce.”
Hits on 16
Although he said he’s not a gambler, when told about coach Mangini’s hitting-on-21 blackjack analogy, Favre admitted that he always took hits on 16.
“Depends on what the guy next to you has—I know I can find out. I would sit at the table and everyone would get up because that guy takes hits on everything. If you’re betting $10, who cares,” Favre said with a laugh.
Players of the Week
Coach Mangini announced at his press conference that offensively WR Laveranues Coles was named player of the week, while Kerry Rhodes received the defensive honor. Leon Washington was named the special teams co-player of the week along with Jesse Chatman. OL Rob Turner was the practice player of the week for Gang Green.
OL Damien Woody was excused from practice due to personal reasons, and LB Jason Trusnik got back to practice, beginning his 21-day window in which the Jets will either activate him or keep him out.