It has been a long time since Oakland, hasn’t it? Remember when the Jets were 3-3, just coming off an embarrassing overtime loss to the lowly Raiders on the road? Fast forward five weeks and five wins later, three of which were on the road, two of which were against first place, or potential first place teams, and the Jets are 8-3, sitting in first place of the AFC East, in the hunt for a bye in the, dare I say… playoffs.
With the 40-year history that the Jets have, this success does not come without doubts and uncertainties. There have been pats on the backs of players, which calls into question how they have been handling all the positive attention and also pressure.
“I’ve been happy with their approach, but also their mindset after each game,” head coach Eric Mangini said. “Whether it’s been win or lose, there hasn’t been a sense of, you know, ‘here we go again.’”
You know, that ‘same old Jets’ mentality that is often heard around the New York metropolitan area. It’s come and gone, but lately it seems rather quiet. Brett Favre is all about staying the course at this point.
“I really don’t think that the success we’re having right now will affect us,” Favre said. “As we struggled early in the year, I don’t think it really affected anyone, because look where we are now.”
“We as players, the only thing we have to fight is ourselves. If we continue to do what we have been doing, and in the process get a little bit better, we’ll be fine.”
While Favre is not quite sure what “fine” is, he is confident in the personnel with which he has to work.
“This organization has been a blast to work with. It’s a winning environment.”
But let’s get to the task at hand, which this Sunday is the Denver Broncos who are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Raiders. Beware though Gang Green fans, two of the three Jets’ losses this season have come against teams that are coming off losses, both of which, just like Denver, hail from the AFC West—a division whose winner very well may have a worse record than the last place team in the East come season’s end.
Keep in mind that both of those losses to AFC West opponents were on the road. New York is 1-0 at home against the West, and this Sunday at Giants Stadium, the crowd should be very warm and welcoming of their Jets after coming home from two big wins on the road.
“I missed the little guy with the fire hat, doin his little signs on the video screen,” Kris Jenkins said. “He gets me excited. Players are always askin’ me, ‘Why you get all excited like that?’ But I never got to experience something like that.
“We have some intense fans here, and I’m glad to be a part of that experience. I’m excited to be playing in front of our home fans.”
Darrelle Revis agreed with Jenkins, but made clear that the guys can’t get too excited.
“Our home fans are gonna be crazy, but we just need to relax and be humble,” Revis said.
It’s a humility that is certainly important, and something the Jets locker room does not lack.
At his weekly press conference, Brett Favre was asked about his offensive line and to break down each guy’s strengths or something he liked about each one. Not an easy task for someone who was just put on the spot, but Favre responded to the reporter with a lengthy if not verbose response that had nothing but praise for the five men that protect him.
“I’ve played with some very good centers over my career,” Favre said. Nick [Mangold] has the chance to be the best I’ve ever played with.
“He’s by far the most athletic. Nick is very bright, has the right mentality. He has all the right tools.”
When asked about it, Mangold was humbled.
“That’s very kind of him,” Mangold said over air horns being sounded off by Favre and Dustin Keller. “It’s very appreciated and it means a lot coming from him.”
The mood certainly was jovial in the locker room before practice on Thanksgiving Eve, but make no mistake about it, they aren’t overlooking the Broncos. They are fully aware of the weapons Denver has.
Revis noted the receivers he’ll potentially be facing, Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. Royal was Week 10’s Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week when he caught six passes for 164 yards, including a 93-yard touchdown.
Marshall was named Week 2’s AFC Offensive Player of the Week against San Diego when he had 18 catches for 166 yards with a touchdown.
“He’s a good receiver,” Revis said of Marshall, who he added reminded him more of a Terrell Owens than a Randy Moss. “He’s got a big upside and all the traits to be the best Brandon Marshall he can be.”
This was followed by praise for Royal and Jay Cutler, who has five 300-yard games this season and can set a franchise single-season record with a sixth. Keep in mind John Elway played in Denver.
The Jets secondary will certainly have to be on its toes this week against Cutler and company. The Broncos signal-caller has 19 touchdowns this season and 3,036 yards in the air.
“He’s got a very good arm,” Mangini said. “He can create a lot of plays. They’re not all just scramble plays. They’re plays where he moves around the pocket, buys time.
“He’s very confident with his ability to get the football into tight spots and will take some of those chances. I think he’s got an excellent group of skill players.”
Players of the Week
Coach Mangini announced Wednesday that offensively the Jets’ player of the game against the Titans was Leon Washington. Abram Elam received the team honor for the defense, while Marques Murrell got it for special teams and Brett Ratliff was the practice player of the week.
Bag Over the Head
When asked about the 40-year history of the Jets and the frustrations felt by fans, Favre knew what the reporter was talking about. The Mississippi native grew up a New Orleans Saints fan.
“You almost cheered for them to lose after a while because you just knew it was going to happen,” Favre said. “You didn’t want to get your hopes up, so why not get a high draft pick next year?
“It was one of those, wear a bag over your head.”
The More We Get Together, The Happier We’ll Be
Both Favre and Mangini fielded questions about the quarterback’s relationship with Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, which has grown a lot over the weeks.
“As you spend more time with someone, you start to see more and more of their work in the system,” Mangini said. “The relationship grows. Everybody’s trying and striving for the same goal, which is to be as effective as possible.”
Favre said wherever you play in the league, the communication is so important.
“I’m sure every coach talks of communication, whether it be player to player, coach to player, coach to coach, being on the same page, what does a guy like, what does a guy run better.
“I’m getting more comfortable with that Shotty like to call, what he feels comfortable with. I think he’s real comfortable with that I like to run."
Saying it, Favre seemed as comfortable as he claims to be in Wrangler jeans.