INSIDER WEDNESDAY TEAM REPORT
By Mark Walters
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 24th, 2008
While it may make for a great script, and Brett Favre is well aware of all the hoopla regarding this week’s season finale against Chad Pennington, he’s not looking too much into it. It is almost as if the football-drama gods planned this one out, after Favre came to New York and the Jets spurned Pennington, sending him to Miami, the teams met in Week 1, and now in Week 17, here we are again.
One thing that is different is that this time around, there are playoff implications. While Gang Green does not control its own destiny, it can still clinch the AFC East division crown—New York’s first since 2002—with a win and a New England loss to Buffalo. The Jets can clinch a wildcard spot with a win and a Baltimore loss to Jacksonville. It has been a long week since being the team that controlled its fate, a title now applied to Miami.
Head coach Eric Mangini would not be human if he said he wasn’t at all concerned with the outcome of those other games this week, but he is not getting too caught up in the hype surrounding games he and his team have no control over.
“I’m going to focus on what we have to do,” Damien Woody said. “Like I said, all the scenarios don't even matter unless we take care of it on our end. All we can do is control what happens against Miami.”
Mangini said he won’t shield his players from the scores of the other games, and he does not expect their outcomes or pending results to affect the way his team plays.
Also on Wednesday’s menu was Favre coming back next year. Something that just cannot be let go by the sports writers of New York.
“We haven't really discussed it,” Favre said about talking with Mangini about next season. “My focus is Miami. The little bit that we have talked about was that more or less we'll talk about it once the season's over, which, in fairness to the rest of the team, is the best way to handle it.”
Favre did say he won’t do what he did last season, dragging things out and procrastinating until finally making a decision that has yet to be solidified as a success by the harsh New York critics. That aside, the legendary quarterback is happy with his decision.
“This year was a gamble, I guess you could say a risk, whatever you want to call it, Favre said. “I can honestly say I'm thankful I was given the opportunity here. It's been a lot of fun. It's been good and bad at times as far as our season has gone, but I'm glad I came. I made the right decision.”
But Favre’s status next year aside, this upcoming game is big for the Jets. It’s been flexed to 4:15 by CBS, meaning it’s a big deal and worthy of primetime coverage. It’s at home against a division rival, and we all know about the quarterback drama.
Chad Pennington is having a splendid season in turning around the Dolphins’ season. He’s thrown much less interceptions than Favre, for more yards than Favre, but the veteran has thrown more touchdowns than the man whose job he took.
Mangini downplayed the talk about Brett vs. Chad.
“They don't face off pregame and decide what happens,” Mangini said. “It's not a UFC match or anything. It's us versus them. Whatever we do collectively is how it’s going to come out.”
If the Jets play the way they have on the West Coast, Miami will win the division. If the ‘same old Jets’—whatever exactly that means—show up at Giants Stadium late Sunday afternoon, well, it may benefit the Jets.
The 1991 season saw the Jets playing Miami in the season finale. The winner went to the playoffs, and the Jets won 23-20, giving them both an 8-8 record and sending New York to the playoffs. While it won’t be that easy in 2008, the Jets have proven throughout this roller coaster season that they are good in addition to lucky, both things that a team needs to make a run down the stretch.
Favre realizes there is a lot of doubt surrounding his team, but he made an analogy that may have put some New York reporters in their places Wednesday at his press conference.
“I'm sure you sat in their press conferences last year for the Giants, you had written those guys off, just like everyone else had. I use those guys as an example,” Favre said about the defending Super Bowl Champions.
“We're doing ourselves an injustice if we don't go play this game and play the only way we can, and that's to win the football game.”
Something talked a lot about Wednesday was the Jets converting on 3rd down, something they could certainly afford to improve. They rank 15th in the NFL, having converted 40 percent of their attempts.
“Some of it has been a function of not getting open when we need to against tight mantoman coverage,” Mangini said. “A few of the throws could have been better. We had a protection issue last week where we gave up a sack on a third down, which was really a look that we had seen and they had shown, and I thought we could have handled better.”
It is something the Jets will have to tighten up against the Dolphins, who have converted 36 percent of their attempts on 3rd down.
Pats Rooting for Jets?
A New England win could still leave Bill Belichick and his team watching the playoffs from their homes. The Patriots need the Jets to beat Miami in order for their win to make them division champs.
Mangini was asked if it would be a surreal sight to see Belichick and his team rooting for the Jets.
“I’m sure they do quite a bit secretely,” Mangini smiled. “Really, really deep down. They just hide it well.”
Mangini Wants Favre
The Jets’ head coach fielded questions about his policy on injury disclosure and his reasoning behind that whole philosophy, and you can imagine that he dodged them and tip-toed around them like nothing else.
One thing Mangini did not tip-toe around was the question of him wanting Brett Favre on his team next season, given Mangini is still around.
“Yes,” was all Mangini said when asked if he wants Favre to return. He added that it is a personal decision for Favre to make, but that he’ll “work on” lobbying for him to return.
“We'll definitely have a long conversation about it. I’d love to hear his thoughts and I'll definitely share mine and make a decision at that point.”
In Mangini’s opening statement, he wished all in attendance the best.
“I know we’re not getting together tomorrow, so I’d just like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday. I hope you get to spend some time with your family and enjoy it.”
Happy Holidays Jets fans, from everyone at Jets Insider.com!