Eric Mangini wasted no time in reviewing what went wrong for the Jets in yesterday's 13-3 loss to the Seahawks. As the Jets boarded their flight home after dropping their fourth game on the West Coast this season, Mangini turned on the film of his team's uninspiring performance. As he watched his team lose its stranglehold on first place and spiral toward a historic collapse, his feelings were reinforced.
"[I'm]disappointed. I thought we had a lot of good opportunities to win the game that we weren't able to capitalize on," Mangini deadpanned today. "I know how hard the players worked this week and I know how hard they prepared and collectively we're all disappointed."
For the bumbling Jets, a season once filled with great promise after their convincing win over the previously undefeated Titans on Nov. 23 had turned sour. First place in the AFC East was re-captured by the Dolphins and the Patriots and the Jets' control over their own playoff destiny was shoveled away in snowy Seattle.
"One thing for sure is this team is well aware of what opportunities have been in front of us. We felt that from day one. That's what's disappointing," an exasperated Brett Favre said yesterdy after his worst performance as a Jet. "Believe me, every guy in that locker room is disappointed."
While Favre beautifully mastered whatever wintry mix Mother Nature threw his way during his 18 years in Green Bay, he was unable to guide the Jets out of yesterday's blizzard. Favre completed just 18-of-31 attempts for 187 yards and two interceptions as the Jets were held without a touchdown for the first time since Dec. 16, 2007.
Favre has thrown just one touchdown compared to six interceptions over the last four games (1-3 record), numbers that suggest that the 39-year old gunslinger may finally be weathering after years of greatness. But if there is concern over Favre's recent struggles, it's not with Mangini, who suggests Favre carries a "short memory" for mistakes.
"The thing that has always defined Brett is whether he's had success or whether he's not had success, he deals with them both the same way, which is really important," Mangini said. "He's an inherently competitive guy. He's going to look what he did, he's going to try to correct what he did, but he's not going to let that affect the next throw."
As the Jets prepare for their regular season finale with the Dolphins, Mangini must hope the Jets take the same approach toward easing their slump. The Jets can still secure a playoff berth with a win on Sunday and losses by the Patriots or Ravens.
"The only thing that we can do is go out and win a ball game," guard Damien Woody said of moving forward from yesterday's defeat. "That is what it comes down to, winning one ball game against a division foe that we know pretty well. They are playing good ball right now and we definitely have our work cut out for us."
While the Jets do have a lot at stake, their weekly must-win approach has turned into just that. If the Jets lose to Miami, a season of hope will be dismantled. Fullback Tony Richardson believes the Jets will respond "well."
"Players are disappointed. We had a chance to let it soak in today, but once we get back to work tomorrow, we have to put that behind us. The bottom line is, you can look at all the scenarios, but if we don't take care of our business this weekend then none of that stuff really matters," Richardson said.
Mangini Defends Calls
Heading into yesterday's matchup with the Seahawks, Mangini knew that putting points on the board early would help quiet the raucous Qwest Field crowd. The Jets had that opportunity yesterday as they traveled 78 yards on 12 plays before settling for a 20-yard field goal by Jay Feely. While Feely's kick gave the Jets an early 3-0 lead, Mangini was questioned for passing up a fourth-and-one opportunity at the Seahawks two-yard line. Today Mangini was questioned again about the passive play-calling and he offered a similar response as yesterday.
"It's the first drive of the game, it's lousy weather, points were going to be at a premium which is exactly what it was," Mangini said. "You would hate to leave points on the field, but that early in the game considering the weather conditions it's a small margin for error."
Mangini was also questioned about his decision to attempt a fourth-and-ten pass at their own 20-yard line with 2:20 remaining rather than punt. The Jets had all three timeouts plus the two-minute warning.
"At that point, with the weather the way it was, with type of defense we were going to get in the two-minute drive, it was going to be important for us to have the two-minute, the timeouts, all those things we had at that point," Mangini said.
Preparations Not "Stagnant Process"
With the Jets dropping three of their last four games, Mangini was asked today about the Jets changing their approach this week in practice. Mangini explained that over the course of the season, the Jets' preparation has not been a "stagnant process" and that "things are always changing."
Richardson is not one to opt for a players-only meeting. Richardson was asked today whether players have considered holding such a meeting and he responded by explaining that "those things don't really solve much."
"You can talk about this and that, but the bottom line is we know how we got ourselves in this situation and we know what we have to do this week. We have to find a way to win the game. You can get in there and talk rah-rah, but I've been around a lot of teams and a lot of players' meetings. It's really an opportunity for guys to express themselves," Richardson said.