INSIDER MONDAY TEAM REPORT
By Douglas Bonjour
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
November 10th, 2008
ALSO...BREAKING NEWS: Just when you thought the border war couldn't get any thicker, the Jets bring back an old friend of both Mangini and Bellichick.
Thomas Jones doesn't need to be reminded about the magnitude of Thursday's showdown with the Patriots.
"It's a huge game. It's a divisional rival first of all and it has a lot of implications for us, who's going to be in sole first place in the divison which leads into other things as the season goes along. It's a really big game for us and we look forward to it," Jones said.
No playoff tickets will be handed out after Thursday, no trophies will be awarded to the victor, but the Jets' running back knows what's at stake. After yesterday's 47-3 trouncing of the Rams, the Jets sit at 6-3 in the standings and aside from them with an exact record are the mighty Patriots.
Jones noted that the Jets aren't looking at Thursday as "trying to surpass the Patriots," but that's exactly what a win in Foxboro will do for a franchise that has lost 13 of the last 15 meetings with the Patriots.
The last meeting between the two teams, which resulted in a 19-10 Jets' loss back in early September, was especially painful for the Jets. Even with the legendary Brett Favre quarterbacking Gang Green, the Jets left the Meadowlands on the losing end. This time around, Mangini holds the same perceptions of the Patriots.
"They've been consistent in all the different phases and actually have improved in quite a few phases. So thought it was going to be a challenging game the first time we faced them. And I don't expect it to be any different," Mangini said.
In September's showdown, Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel made his first career start and was relatively effective in managing a short passing game. Cassel completed 16-of-23 passes for 165 yards and has only improved since then. While the Jets now have more film to prep themselves for Cassel, Mangini explained that in-game adjustments will be key when facing the New England signal-caller.
"It is good to have more film in terms of looking at his style, looking at just being able to evaluate him as a player," Mangini said. "The characteristics, the patterns aren't as strong. So you have to feel it out during the course of the game as opposed to be able to go in with some assumptions that you can either prove right or wrong."
With a win the Jets not only can claim sole possession of first place in the AFC East, but they can prove to their rivals who the team to beat will be in the season's final months. Despite the magnitude of Thursday's matchup, Mangini insists that his team is not looking to make any type of statement.
"Not really looking to make statements one way or another. We're just looking to win the game," Mangini said.
Jones, who tied a Jets' single-game high with his three touchdowns yesterday, understands what a win against the Patriots will do for the team's psyche.
"At the end of the day you want to win because it puts us in first-place in the division and helps us for what we're trying to do later in the season," Jones said.
While Jones knows the victory will do the Jets wonders, he also knows that the Jets view Thursday as "just another game."
"Honestly we're not even looking at it as 'beating the Patriots, rivalry and all that other stuff. It's a football game. It's a game that we have to go out and play well and try to win," Jones said.
But with the stakes set higher, is Thursday's battle a must-win?: "Every game we play is a must-win," Jones said. "You put all the work in during the week of practice and prepare for the game so you want to win."
Jets bring Law back
Just as the Jets-Patriots border war has heated up to a two year high, the NFL Network is reporting that the Jets have signed cornerback Ty Law. JI confirmed the signing late Monday and Law will be at practice for the Jets tomorrow and should get some playing time on Thursday.
After spending his first ten seasons in New England where he won three Superbowls, Law signed with the Jets in 2005 for Herm Edwards, when he intercepted ten passes in 16 games and was voted to the Pro Bowl. He spent the last two seasons with the Chiefs, where he recorded six interceptions in 32 games. Both the Jets and Patriots as well as the Saints have been talking to Law since the season started.
Players of the Week
Today Mangini named the Jets' players of the week for their 47-3 trouncing of the Rams. On offense, rookie tight end Dustin Keller received honors. Playing in his ninth career game, Keller set career highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (107) and also caught a one-yard touchdown from Favre. Mangini explained that Keller has "made a lot of strides" thus far and that having a reliable recieving threat at tight end is a luxury.
"I've always liked tight ends in the passing game. I think when you have that element of a threat in the middle of the field, it puts some pressure on the defense that it's a little different in terms of adjusting [defensively]," Mangini said.
On defense, linebacker Eric Barton was honored for his ten tackle, 0.5 sack performance. Through the season's first nine games, the ten-year veteran leads the Jets with 56 tackles. On special teams, kicker Jay Feely received honors for his perfect afternoon. Feely nailed all four field goal attempts (22, 49, 46, 55) and connected on all five of his extra points.
"I think Jay did a great job," Mangini explained. "That last field goal before the half [55 yards] was pretty impressive. I think it would have been good from even a little bit further out. He had three long [field goals]. I like the way he's competing, I like the way he's producing," Mangini said.
Feely's 55-yard field goal tied the record for the longest kick in franchise history. Pat Leahy (Dec. 14, 1985 v. Chicago) and John Hall (August. 31, 1997) were the other Jets to connect from 55 yards.
Defensive end Ropati Pitoitua was recognized as the team's Player of the Week in practice.
Nugent Ready for Thursday?
Last week Mangini explained that Feely's production (16-for-20 FG) has provided the Jets with the "luxury of time" to allow Mike Nugent to fully recover from his right thigh injury. Yesterday Nugent missed his eighth consecutive game since injuring himself in the season-opening win over the Dolphins and his status for Thursday at New England remains uncertain.
"We'll take a look at Nuge," Mangini said. "We'll make a decision Wednesday, Thursday, whenever it is."
Jets Hope History Doesn't Repeat
As the Jets prepare for Thursday's battle in New England, Gang Green can only hope that history does not repeat itself. Having lost 13 of the last 15 matchups with the rival Patriots is one statistic the Jets hope to throw out the window, but another is their recent past in the short week. Last season the Jets had their taste of a Thursday game, as they were annihilated by the Cowboys 34-3 on Thanksgiving Day. But in reviewing the preparations within that short week, did Mangini find any flaws that the team can learn from this time around?
"Looking back at that week and talking to the coaches and looking back at the things that we had written, didn't feel like the schedule, there was an inherent flaw in it," Mangini said. "I think that was just a function of us not planning very well on that day and not playing very well, unfortunately, in all the major areas. And it snowballed."