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NFL Miami Dolphins v New York Jets

Franchises meet after face-lifts

Ethan J. Skolnick | Orlando Sentinel staff writer

September 7, 2008

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - This is a tale of two rivals.

The first finished 1-13 against all teams but the other. That victory was by six points in overtime.

The second finished 2-12 against all teams but the other. Those two victories were by six total points.

The first spent its offseason in rebuilding mode, adding reasonably priced veterans, paring the roster of pricier ones and collecting draft choices.

It spent its offseason spending Woody Johnson's money.

Which team's philosophy will prove wiser? The Miami Dolphins' patience? Or the New York Jets' boldness?

We won't learn that in today's opener, regardless of the outcome.

We may not know for three or four years.

Only this is for certain:

There is far more pressure on the Jets today, and in the four months that follow.

The Dolphins simply need to progress and start building a bridge to somewhere better. The hope is that when they get to the other side, the Patriots will not be such a dominant force in the division.

The Jets must win now.

Look at the differences in what they did this spring and summer.

In four days, the Jets spent $64 million in guaranteed money on four players: Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins and Calvin Pace.

Sure, the Dolphins made a run at Pace as well, and he said this past week that "the [bill] Parcells factor, knowing the type of outside linebackers that he has produced, that played a big role for me."

"It was kind of close, but I just felt the Jets were a better fit for me," Pace said.

He smiled when asked whether that's because their offer was a little better.

The Dolphins spent no more than $9 million in guaranteed cash on any free agent, and that was Justin Smiley, who doesn't have Faneca's pedigree but was less than half the cost and is five years younger. And they made trades for cheaper options, such as defensive tackle Jason Ferguson, linebacker Akin Ayodele and tight end Anthony Fasano.

The Jets aged six years at quarterback, discarding Chad Pennington for Brett Favre, and parting with what will likely be a second-round pick in 2009.

Sure, Pennington is 32, but he's still six years younger than the previous season-opening Dolphins starter, Trent Green. And he didn't cost a draft pick.

The Jets attracted the bright hot, blinding spotlight of the New York area media. That won't make Jets Coach Eric Mangini's task any easier.

Again, all of this follows a season in which the Jets weren't all that much better than the Dolphins. They won the two head-to-head meetings by three and 27 points, but still finished a dozen games behind the Patriots.

Mangini said his discussions with General Manager Mike Tannenbaum are always in the context of winning, "and that can happen a lot of different ways."

Maybe it can happen for them right away. Faneca noted that in the modern NFL, many teams surge from 4-12 to 12-4 overnight.

Four teams went 4-12 or worse in 2006; they combined to go 30-34 in 2007, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the playoffs at 10-6.

Woody said that he was comfortable with Mangini and the core in place, so "I threw 4-12 out the window."

Special teams captain David Bowens, a former Dolphin, said his Jets were improving at the end of 2007.

"We kept the core group of guys," Bowens said.. "We had to put some spice, some salt, on top of the pot roast."

Bowens, who was a Dolphin when former coach Nick Saban foolishly tried to reload rather than rebuild, argued that the Jets have done better business.

"They brought in veterans who work with what we do," Bowens said.

Seasoned veterans can help, but only if wear, tear and wealth haven't eroded their will, skill and health.

Otherwise, the Jets will regret paying such a price for all that spice.

Ethan J. Skolnick can be reached at eskolnick@sunsentinel.com.


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Posted: 4:45 am

September 7, 2008

MIAMI - They will meet sometime before the game today at Dolphins Stadium and there will be an embrace.

Chad PenningtonChad Pennington and JetsNew York Jets wide receiver Laveranues ColesLaveranues Coles developed a special bond as friends and teammates while together with the Jets - a bond so strong that Pennington's release in August upset Coles so much he's refused to speak to reporters since.

"We have a good relationship. We always have," Pennington said. "I've been able to talk to him while it was happening and even after. We've always had good conversations, and I'm one of his biggest fans."

Asked about Coles' reaction to him being released and replaced by Brett Favre , Pennington said, "He's an emotional being. That's what makes him really good, because he has a lot of passion for not only what he does, but for who he plays with. He'll be fine."

Pennington said he didn't know why Coles hasn't spoken to reporters since his release.

"I don't know," Pennington said. "Maybe he just doesn't want to deal with the questions. You'd have to ask Laveranues that, whenever you get a chance. You may not get the chance, but I don't know for sure."


Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said he will not have a problem playing against Pennington.

"If I was going against my mother, and she was on the opposite team, I'm still trying to win," Cotchery said. "When I'm on the field I'm trying to win and I'm trying to help my teammates get everything accomplished. After the game, we'll shake hands. We'll hug and talk about life. When we're on the field, all bets are off."


One player Jets fans will have a close eye on today is rookie TE Dustin Keller, who had eight catches for 85 yards and a touchdown in the preseason.

"The ceiling is wherever he places it," coach Eric Mangini said. "He's got a tremendous amount of talent. He's a guy that is a hard worker and intelligent. If he keeps improving his craft each week, I think the jumps will be there as well.

"Experience is a great teacher as well. I'm sure there will be some mistakes he makes because of lack of experience, but you try to minimize that. I've been really pleased with his progress."


Pennington is 2-0 in games against Favre. ... The Jets open their home schedule next Sunday against the Patriots.

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Knows this foe.Posted: 4:45 am

September 7, 2008

Including the 1997-2007 seasons in The Post, Cat's 13-year record in print stands at 354-295 (54.5 percent) against the spread.


DOLPHINS (+3) over JetsNew York Jets : Given the Brett Favre brouhaha, reassert that Jet defense is hardly of championship caliber. Dolphins will start Chad Pennington at QB, and the Marshall product knows plenty about the Jet folks manning the defensive backfield. And Cat will grant Ricky Williams one last chance to demonstrate tangible maturity. Sea Mammals have faced Jets in Florida but once in September during past decade - in 2002, when Miami prevailed 30-3 in Week 3. That win marked only Dolphin ATS cover against Gang Green in the Sunshine State during that span. Today looms 91 degrees and humid. Feeling the Flippers (+3), for one unit.

LAST WEEK: 1-0 (Stanford, plus one unit).

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Posted: 4:45 am

September 7, 2008

MIAMI - You will be wearing your shiny new 4 jersey when you and your friends gather in front of the plasma television today at your friendly, neighborhood bar, or in your own home. You will notice that the sense of glass-half-empty dread that has for too long gnawed away at your insides as the clock ticks toward Sunday at 1 p.m. on the first September of the NFL season will be replaced by a glass-half-full, heart-pounding rush you have never felt before. Unless you were there when Joe Namath wore his white shoes and filled the skies and Don Maynard's hands with missiles.

You probably will have to pinch yourself. Go right ahead. You gleefully will discover that this isn't a dream, or somebody's idea of a cruel joke. Brett Favre is your quarterback. That's Jerricho CotcheryJerricho Cotchery and Laveranues ColesLaveranues Coles eyeballing him in the huddle. That's Nick MangoldNick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Alan Faneca standing shoulder to shoulder with him. That's Eric Mangini scheming with him on the sidelines.

Temperatures are expected to be in the low 90s but for once, it is your quarterback who is bringing the heat.

This Sunday at 1 p.m. at Dolphin Stadium isn't just your gunslinger's high noon, it is yours as well. A moment so electric, so dramatic, so historic, so breathtaking, that no one will blame you or mock you if you choose to stand as tall as you can and lead a resounding chant of BRETT'S GO JETS!

The sight of Chad Pennington on the other side in a Dolphins jersey, leading Bill Parcells new team, only will add to the intrigue. You liked Pennington, liked his smarts, liked his brain, liked his leadership, liked his class, liked his toughness. You just didn't like his arm. It simply wasn't enough arm to get you past Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

Now, maybe it is too late in the game for Favre to be your AFC East exorcist. Maybe the Packers were right for closing the door on their Hall of Fame icon. Maybe he will be a shell of his legendary self. Maybe they are right when they say that once you start talking about retirement you already are retired.

Maybe, as he approaches age 39, the physical beating will wear Favre out, and maybe he no longer will be the Iron Horse of the NFL, it's Ripken. Maybe the burden of Messiah will wear on him emotionally. Maybe the little boy inside him will begin to die with each passing sack, each passing interception, and you will no longer see the unbridled joy of the sandlot Everyman. Maybe he will wilt under the sun.

But this is not the day for you to fret about Brett Favre. This is the day for you to sit at the edge of your seat and root for Favre to remember how to be Favre. This is the day for you to watch Favre spike the same daggers into the hearts of Dolphins defensive backs that Dan Marino always spiked into the hearts of your defensive backs. This is the day for Favre to launch a 50-yard rope on the line to Cotchery or Coles or Dustin Keller that could defy the winds of any tropical storm.

"I want to see him in a different system. I want to see him drop back, hold the ball and throw it down the field more," Phil Simms said. "As a fan, I was always a little frustrated knowing that he is one of the best throwers of the football in the history of the NFL and he threw more short passes than just about any quarterback in the league. He does it very well.

What I saw in the preseason, the adjustment seems to be going pretty good. The one thing that I noticed, the Jets were letting him hold it and he was looking for receivers 20 yards and farther downfield. That is going to be fun for the fans to see."

This is not the day for you to moan about your sickening PSL fees. It is the start of a new era. It will be a short era. Maybe just a 16-game era. Enjoy it, and enjoy him, while you can.


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Posted: 4:45 am

September 7, 2008

MIAMI - Sometimes in life, things fall perfectly in place.

Sometimes, every light on Broadway is green.

Sometimes, there's not a single car waiting at the Lincoln or Holland Tunnel during rush hour on the way out of Manhattan.

Sometimes, it's sunny and 80 degrees for your entire vacation week.

In the case of today's JetsNew York Jets ' season opener against the Dolphins at Dolphins Stadium, the pieces have fallen deliciously in place.

Where to start?

How about Chad PenningtonChad Pennington playing against Brett Favre? Pennington was kicked to the curb after eight years with the Jets, after soldiering on in training camp through weeks of rumors that Favre would replace him.

Add in the Bill Parcells mystique that has surrounded this Dolphins team since he took over as the front-office boss, and you have a compelling matchup.

"It's kind of like college football rivalry week," Jets newcomer right tackle Damien Woody said. "You've got division rivals, the quarterbacks [Pennington and Favre], opening day . . . what more could you ask for? It's lot of subplots in this game."

Indeed, subplots abound. Did we mention the $140 million the Jets spent in new talent during the offseason before they traded for Favre?

Do you think the Jets want to rid themselves of the taste of 4-12 in 2007?

"This is a chance for us to start the season on right foot," safety Kerry RhodesKerry Rhodes said. "Every player in this league, I don't care if you're a 17-year vet or a first start as a rookie, you're going to have those butterflies. They're not butterflies from being nervous, but from anticipation for getting the season started.

"Everything really counts now. It's live bullets."

Here's a breakdown of the game:


Jets NT Kris Jenkins vs. Dolphins C Samson Satele, rookie RG Donald Thomas and LG Justin Smiley. The 350-pound Jenkins was brought here to occupy two offensive linemen and open up pass rushing lanes for the fast guys. These are the three players he'll be giving headaches to today.


The Jets and Dolphins have potential big-play returns in the kicking game - Leon Washington for the Jets and Ted Ginn for the Dolphins. One of these players could break a big return that could change the game.


The Jets' goal is two-fold: Run the ball to take some pressure off of Brett Favre and stop the run. Stopping the run was a problem for the Jets last season, and Ricky Williams, who has run for 530 yards and five touchdowns in six games against them in his career, looms. For the Jets, they need to get RB Thomas Jones off to a good start.


The Jets had just 29 sacks last season. They had 13 in the preseason. Their hope is that LB Calvin Pace and rookie LB Vernon Gholston will help boost that sack total this season. The Dolphins' offensive line consists of two rookie starters, though one of them is LT Jake Long, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.


The Dolphins' record against the Jets in the September heat in Miami is 5-3, including four consecutive wins.


Look for the Jets to blitz Pennington often, likely using S Kerry Rhodes, who leads all NFL DBs in sacks the past two seasons with seven.




This is a pressure-packed game for the Jets, one they cannot afford to lose with New England and San Diego next on the schedule. The Jets have more talent and more depth and will be able to get the ball down the field on the Dolphin defense. Look, too, for a Leon Washington score on a return to blow this thing open.

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Posted: 4:45 am

September 7, 2008

MIAMI - Ricky Williams is no longer the punch line to a goofy marijuana joke.

Williams, who appears to be back in form, might be the biggest obstacle the JetsNew York Jets face when they travel to Miami to play the Dolphins in today's season opener.

"From the glimpses we see on film, he's back to full strength," defensive end Shaun EllisShaun Ellis said of the Dolphins' running back. "He's back to being the old Ricky. He could do it all - catch the ball out of the backfield, get on the edge, run up the middle."

After a lost couple years that included trips across the universe and two substance abuse suspensions some from the NFL and a torn pectoral muscle last year, Williams looks like he's back to the form that made him one of the best backs in the game early in his career.

He rushed for 123 yards on 29 carries in the preseason for a 4.2-yard average. He also had a touchdown.

"He's definitely gotten back to his old form," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "He's running hard and has great speed. It's about stopping him early."

Nose tackle Kris Jenkins said Williams showed a lot of character coming back from his off-the-field issues.

"I know we're going to have our hands full," he said.

Williams has hurt the Jets in the past, rushing for 530 yards and five touchdowns on 131 carries in six games.

The Jets ranked 29th in the NFL in run defense last season, allowing a 134.8 yards a game.

"Obviously, we weren't happy with the way our rush defense was last year," linebacker David HarrisDavid Harris said.

The Jets are counting heavily on Jenkins, the 350-pounder in the middle, to be the difference in their run defense this season. Jenkins won't be as easy to move out of the way by opposing offensive linemen as the smaller Dewayne Robertson was before he was moved off the team.

"That's the MVP," Pace said of Jenkins. "You definitely need somebody to hold two blockers."

Ellis said with Jenkins in the middle "the holes are going to shrink up a little bit."

But Jenkins said he knows he's in for a long day against Williams.

"He's just a hard guy to stop," Jenkins said. "He keeps his center of gravity low to ground (so) it's hard to tackle him. And he's got great breakaway speed. If he gets out on the corner, then you got problems."

Coach Eric Mangini said he is well aware of the problems Williams has caused over the years, and hopes he has the formula to stop him now.

"I had my fill of Ricky Williams when we played him before (when he coached in New England)," Mangini said.


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Last updated: 5:38 am

September 7, 2008

Posted: 4:45 am

September 7, 2008

The Post's Steve Serby chatted with the star of WFAN's "Boomer and Carton" morning show, who was the JetsNew York Jets starting quarterback from 1994-96 after leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl in the 1988 season.

Q: How much does Brett Favre have left?

A: As long as he's successful, and he's protected, he could play for another three or four years, because he's a guy that keeps himself in shape.

Q: Do you think he'll play beyond this year?

A: Well, we'll have to go through the whole song and dance. . . . I think he'll play this year and next year at least.

Q: Sum up Jets fans for Favre.

A: Somewhat cantankerous, somewhat negative, (with) the woe-is-me victim attitude that he has to make them forget about, and give them a season to remember, 'cause they deserve it.

Q: Will he enjoy playing in New York?

A: For a kid that spends summer in Kiln, Miss., and winter in Green Bay (chuckles), this has gotta be a wakeup call. He's been around long enough. I think he can handle it.

Q: Can Eli ManningEli Manning be an elite quarterback?

A: I think he already is . . . and he showed last year, for four weeks, that he can control this football team, and the football team could play inspired football for him. He already has etched his name in stone here in New York sports history.

Q: Will Jeremy ShockeyJeremy Shockey make an impact with the Saints?

A: Absolutely; I think Drew Brees is gonna have a fantastic year.

Q: You like the Jets and Giants to make the playoffs. Your Super Bowl pick?

A: New Orleans and New England.

Q: Best football moment?

A: The moment we (the Bengals) had just beaten the Buffalo Bills knowing that we were going to the Super Bowl. This little kid from East Islip's going to the Super Bowl!

Q: Worst football moment?

A: Taking a sack and a concussion in 1995 when Bruce Smith laid me out, and I really felt the next five weeks were the lowest point in my career. You start wondering about yourself, and whether or not you still have what it takes to be a quarterback, whether or not you still want to fight through the injuries. You sink to the depths of depression and you're like, "Who am I?" And everybody around you knows that you're not who you really are, but they don't want to tell you that, and it's a very hard struggle to get back to baseline and to become the person that you once were.

Q: You were Public Enemy

No. 1 in Cincinnati during the 1987 strike.

A: I put my money where my mouth was. I could have easily crossed the picket line like Joe Montana did, like Reggie Williams did, like Tim Krumrie did, but I was not gonna do that; I was gonna hold strong for the players' rights and what I thought we all believed in.

Q: Watching Montana drive 92 yards with three minutes left to beat you in Super Bowl XXIII?

A: I was selected to be the Cincinnati Bengal that was going to Disney World. When they got the ball on the 8-yard line, I was surrounded by about 20 people that were shooting that commercial, and they had the gall to ask me if I could remember my lines. And I told them, "Do I look like a nose tackle to you? I know my lines." Before I can get the words out of my mouth . . . those people that were shooting the commercial were running across the field looking for Jerry Rice.

Q: Which was more difficult, succeeding Ken Anderson or Imus?

A: (Laughs) Ken Anderson was a beloved figure in Cincinnati. Don Imus was unfortunately fired unceremoniously.

Q: What did you learn about yourself as a father when your son Gunnar was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 2?

A: As a quarterback, you always felt like you can control everything. In real life, you can't. And it is a very, very unnerving feeling that stays with you when you have a child in this circumstance.

Q: And what have you learned about Gunnar (now a high school senior)?

A: Gunnar is one of the most remarkable people I've ever met in my entire life because CF never, ever gets him down. I couldn't be any prouder.

Q: Favorite childhood memory?

A: Sitting on the porch in my Met uniform waiting for my dad to come home from work and take me to the game.

Q: Favorite Met?

A: Tommie Agee.

Q: You lost your mom in kindergarten.

A: When I was seven years old.

Q: What do you remember about her?

A: I don't really remember much, which is really sad, to this day. She died of cervical cancer, and the only thing I really recollect is I remember going to see her in a hospital, and them not allowing me into her room; I had to stay outside in a courtyard and she had to come to the window.

Q: So your dad was Mr. Mom?

A: My dad was Mr. Mom, Mr. Dad, Mr. Hero.

Q: One story about dad?

A: There was a time - I think I was in eighth grade - when the baseball coach batted me ninth to make a point to me, that it was about the team, it wasn't about the player.

Q: What had you done?

A: (Smiles) I was a pain in the neck. And I remember coming home and talking to my dad about that. He said, "Listen, you need to be respectful to your coach because he's an extension of me as your father."

Q: Rod Gilbert and Clyde Frazier were your guys?

A: Gilbert was the reason I always wanted to wear No. 7. Clyde Frazier was smooth. He was "Shaft." He was cool.

Q: Will the 2008 Mets collapse again?

A: No. Jerry Manuel will not let them collapse. The players love playing for Jerry Manuel.

Q: Playing for Rich Kotite, or announcing with Al Michaels?

A: (Laughs) That's a loaded question . . . at least I knew Al was prepared.

Q: If you were NFL Commissioner?

A: I would be trying my damnedest to get a team in L.A. No. 2, I would do my damnedest to try to help the retired players that need help with disability.

Q: Three dinner guests?

A: George Patton; Abraham Lincoln; Neil Armstrong.

Q: Three people you'd like to interview?

A: Sarah Palin (chuckles); Tiger Woods; Al Pacino.

Q: Three players from another era you would have loved to play with?

A: Jim Brown; Dan Dierdorf; Joe Namath.

Q: Favorite movie?

A: "We Were Soldiers."

Q: Favorite actor?

A: Al Pacino; Robert De Niro; Mel Gibson.

Q: Favorite actress?

A: Jennifer Aniston; Meg Ryan.

Q: Favorite entertainer?

A: Led Zeppelin; Barry White.

Q: Favorite meal?

A: Osso buco over risotto and veal gravy sauce.

Q: Phil Simms, Hall of Fame?

A: Yes.

Q: Joe Klecko, Hall of Fame?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Boomer Esiason, Hall of Fame?

A: Somebody else has to answer that for you.

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ISSUE: Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre.

DISCUSSION: Is there any other issue? Of course there is, but the Jets unquestionably became the league's No. 1 story heading into this season by dealing for Favre before the stroke of midnight Aug. 6. Teammates have raved about how quickly the quarterback has latched on to the Jets' system, though that remains a work in progress. There will be some early miscues, but any objective analysis of this move says the Jets made a major upgrade at the most important position on the field.

ISSUE: Favre, as he learns the offense, will at least be protected.

DISCUSSION: He should be. He'd better be. The Jets spent lavishly this offseason - on Alan Faneca and Damien Woody - to improve a line that protected neither Chad Pennington nor Kellen Clemens last season. Faneca, a seven-time Pro Bowler, is the real deal and his presence should help left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson immensely. Woody is a bit more of a question mark as he's still learning the nuances of right tackle.

DISCUSSION: Even the most optimistic Jets fan anticipates losses in Week 2 and 3, to the Patriots and Chargers, respectively. Every week - insert cliche alert here - is important, but the significance of Sunday's opener in Miami can't be overstated. A 1-2 record can be overcome to make the playoffs; 0-3 not so much. And whatever the Jets front office says publicly, the Favre move goes down as a colossal failure if this team doesn't make the postseason.

ISSUE: The Jets will actually be able to rush the passer this season.

DISCUSSION: The discussion: That appears to be the case. Outside linebacker Calvin Pace, a free agent pickup from the Cardinals, looks as if he's been in the Jets 3-4 system his entire career and nose tackle Kris Jenkins, acquired in a trade with the Panthers, has experienced minimal struggles in adapting to a new position. Jenkins won't rack up significant sack or tackle totals but his 359-pound presence will allow several others to.



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Expectations may be too high for aging Favre- BOB GLAUBER

September 7, 2008

The Brett Favre era in New York begins today at 1 p.m. How well it goes and how long it lasts, no one knows. Not even Favre, who has spent a good deal of his month-long stint in New York warning people there is no guarantee how this thing will work out.

Jets fans certainly have invested a lot of energy and excitement - not to mention cold, hard cash, if they're buying the team's pricey personal seat licenses - in the 38-year-old quarterback. And so have the three men who ultimately decided bringing in Favre and tossing aside Chad Pennington was worth the risk.

For team owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Eric Mangini, the Favre experiment will serve as a referendum of their stewardship. A successful season - that means at least a playoff berth - and the decision will have been worth it. Another failed moment in Jets' history - whether through an injury or a significant reduction in Favre's effectiveness - and all three will be on the hook.

There is no denying the juice that Favre has brought to the team, a swagger that only a few players in NFL history are capable of producing. But now that the games are here, this is about more than pizzazz; it is about making a meaningful run at the Patriots and injecting the Jets into the Super Bowl equation.

For all the exuberance, color me skeptical. Even after a summer filled with expectation.

Remember, we're talking about a quarterback who turns 39 next month, and whose ambivalence about continuing his career had been a continuing soap opera in Green Bay and now New York. Favre still has the arm and still has the swagger. The question is: Does he have enough left to hoist a franchise on his shoulders and carry it into January?

Favre himself cannot answer the question, and this week voiced genuine fear that it might not happen. Then again, it is that same fear that has in many ways propelled him to heights rarely seen by an NFL quarterback. Now we will see if that fear translates into another breathtaking playoff run. Or another brutal chapter in Jets' history.

One that will have been co-authored by the three power players whose own legacies are now tied to Favre's. Johnson, Tannenbaum and Mangini are betting the house the aging star will pay off.

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Wait is over! Favre era begins for JetsBY ERIK BOLAND | erik.boland@newsday.com

September 7, 2008

MIAMI - Finally, at 1 p.m. today, it's on.

"It's the most exciting time of the year," Jets coach Eric Mangini said this past week. "You've been doing so much work to get to this point and you always want to start off in the best possible way. There's new guys incorporated, new coaches. You want to see how all those things work out."

How well the Jets have incorporated New Guy No. 1 - or No. 4 specifically - will begin to be determined this afternoon when the Jets open the regular season against the Dolphins.

Brett Favre makes his regular-season debut today, a month after he was introduced as the Jets quarterback in a confined room in the bowels of Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Favre has brought almost unprecedented excitement to a long forlorn franchise, along with a good portion of the NFL record book. Among the categories Favre is the league's all-time leading quarterback incompletions (5,377), attempts (8,758), passing yards (61,655), touchdown passes (442) and consecutive starts (253).

His Jets teammates are anxious to see what happens in consecutive start No. 254 and Favre unquestionably is the story of the Jets' 2008 season. But, in truth, there were high expectations in the locker room before general manager Mike Tannenbaum swung the trade for Favre Aug. 6. That move merely capped one of the most active offseasons in team history, with Tannenbaum, having the enthusiastic permission of owner Woody Johnson, doling out $140 million in free agent contracts, extensions and contract guarantees.

"I'm excited to see how it all jells together," said defensive end Shaun Ellis, a Jet since 2000. "To be able to go out the first game and put it all together, hopefully we can display what we want to be for the rest of the year."

All the additions, which include nose tackle Kris Jenkins and outside linebacker Calvin Pace on defense and linemen Alan Faneca and Damien Woody on offense - take the field today against a rival the Jets have dominated in recent years. But while the Jets have won seven of the last eight games against the Dolphins, close games typify the series. Four of the last five meetings have been decided by four points or fewer.

And while the "every game is important" mantra has emanated from both Mangini and the Jets locker room this week - and they do correctly point out today is just one-sixteenth of the season - the importance of this opener can't be overstated.

Not with what's coming up.

The Patriots come to the Meadowlands next week, and Week 3 is the first of four West Coast trips the Jets will make in 2008, this one to San Diego for Monday Night Football. A 1-2 start can be overcome; an 0-3 one, especially for a team that went 4-12 last year, could be devastating.

But the Jets aren't thinking about that this morning.

"Game 1 is always exciting," said Faneca, entering his 11th season. "It's the end of training camp, it's the start of a new season. This is when you start stacking your chips."

And in saying that, Faneca hit on the perfect analogy for the Jets' offseason.

JETS AT MIAMI, 1 p.m. TV: Ch. 2 Radio: WEPN (1050)


Head coach: Tony Sparano, first year (0-0).

Last season: Went 1-15 under Cam Cameron, who was fired after one season. In came new leadership, led by executive vice president of football operations Bill Parcells, general manager Jeff Ireland and Sparano, a former Cowboys assistant.

"They're going to be in good shape, they're going to be physical, they're going to be tough, they're going to be disciplined," Jets coach Eric Mangini said of the stamp Parcells already has put on the team. A terrible offensive line has been rebuilt, with RT Vernon Carey and C Samson Satele the only returning starters from last season. Two rookies, LT Jake Long, this year's No. 1 overall pick, and RG Donald Thomas are expected to start. But the new regime's biggest step toward giving this season a chance to be respectable came Aug. 8 when they signed QB Chad Pennington, cut loose by the Jets after they traded for Brett Favre.


JETS - OUT: WR David Clowney (shoulder); QUESTIONABLE: DB David Barrett (shoulder), WR Laveranues Coles (thigh), DE Shaun Ellis (hand), Marcus Henry (calf), Justin Miller (foot) and OL Damien Woody (shoulder)

DOLPHINS: QUESTIONABLE: CB Michael Lehan (ankle).


RB Ronnie Brown

RB Ricky Williams has had some good performances against the Jets, but the 6-0, 230-pound Brown might be the bigger concern. Brown has three straight 100-yard games against the Jets. In Brown's last game against them, Sept. 23, 2007 at the Meadowlands, he rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

"It's pretty intense as far as a rivalry game and everybody knows the magnitude of it," Brown said this past week. "Now that we have Chad [Pennington] and they have (Brett) Favre and I think that it just stepped up a notch, there is going to be some added intensity and everybody is excited about that."

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Favre era for Jets begins vs. Dolphins

By Jane McManus

The Journal News • September 7, 2008

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Brett Favre hadn't been Brett the Jet for more than two days when he arrived at the team's training camp at Hofstra University. Sports reporters from all over the country were crammed behind white fences next to the podium where general manager Mike Tannenbaum's new acquisition stood.

The last question before the end of that press conference was about the man who had been sadly but unceremoniously laid off in order for the team to get Favre in under the salary cap. What about Chad Pennington? What will it be like to face him in the first game of the season?

"I'd just like to beat the guy for a change," Favre said.

He will get another chance today at 1 p.m. when the Jets play Miami at Dolphin Stadium.

There are two games where Favre and Pennington played against each other, and Pennington got the better of Favre in both. In the most recent meeting, in 2006, the new Miami quarterback completed 25 of 35 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Favre was 24 for 47 for 214 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

Aside from the head to head, these two quarterbacks are evenly matched in another regard: the recent transplants haven't had much time to mesh with new teams and new players.

"The major thing is the change in his cadence," running back Thomas Jones said of going from Pennington to Favre. "Every time you have a new quarterback, you have to get used to a new cadence. For the most part, we're pretty much the same huddle. We're organized, Brett comes in and calls the plays. The good thing is we have a lot of veteran guys in the huddle, so we've all been around football a long time."

It's not just a test for Favre. The offensive line will be tested against Miami, one of the bigger teams in the league. Despite Miami's 1-15 finish last year, Pennington and a resurgent Ricky Williams will present a different face.

"They're a physical team," Jones said. "They play hard. You can watch the film and see they're a totally different team than they were last year. We're expecting a tough game."

It's a good place for the Jets, who went 4-12 last season, to get started. The weather will be balmy, and there could be many transplanted New Yorkers happy for a chance to see their old team.

"Lot of old folks that were Jets fans in Joe Namath days," running back Leon Washington said. "They go down there, retire in Florida, lot of Jets fans down there. It's good. We don't necessarily have the home-state advantage but the home-crowd advantage at some points."

There are plenty of ties between these two AFC East teams, from the field personnel to the suits. Jets coach Eric Mangini was an assistant for Miami executive vice president Bill Parcells when both were with the Jets, and Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning has coached with both.

"It's going to be a really good test for them in this first game," said CBS analyst Phil Simms, who will call the game today. "They do have the offensive line, the strength, the power even when they get in tough situations, to protect Brett Favre enough to let him do whatever he wants with the football."

Favre used to get up at 5 a.m., unable to sleep any later on game days. That hour eventually got later as he piled on the seasons in a 17-year career. Now, Favre can even get through warm-ups without the old butterflies.

"I have people ask me all the time, when do you get excited and all that stuff," Favre said. "I say, 'When the first guy chases me.' I don't know if that's necessarily true. It's before that, but when they start chasing you for real, you better get excited."

Reach Jane McManus at jmcmanus@lohud.com.

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I see us winning 27 to 10 or 13. I see RHODES blitzing him and creaming him. I see BT & Pace harassing him. I see Jenkins applying pressure up-the-gut! When that happens CHADWIC is a below average QB. I see FAVRE playing well and our run game exploding! I see their defense considerably weaker then last years team. We beat them twice last year. This game makes great story but the JETS are a much better football team!


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I see us winning 27 to 10 or 13. I see RHODES blitzing him and creaming him. I see BT & Pace harassing him. I see Jenkins applying pressure up-the-gut! When that happens CHADWIC is a below average QB. I see FAVRE playing well and our run game exploding! I see their defense considerably weaker then last years team. We beat them twice last year. This game makes great story but the JETS are a much better football team!


Agreed KJ. Miami gets credit for getting Parcells and they talk about Favre being overhyped.

Unless Parcells is their new QB it won't much matter. The Jets won by 30 last year. The Jets are the better team and they aren't asking Favre to do too much. The Jets are a running team with a strong armed QB.

Looking forward to seeing this defense. Go Jets!!! (Thanks again KJ for the articles).

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