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NY JETS news articles 11/17/08


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AGONY OF VICTORY

C'MON, JETS FANS, FORCE YOURSELVES TO ENJOY SUCCESS

Mike Vaccaro -says longtime Jets fans such as Fireman Ed should lose the woe-is-me attitude.

November 17, 2008

New York Jets fans, consider this a one-man intervention.

I have walked the path you walk. I have borne the slings and arrows you have borne. As a lad, presented the chance to go green or blue, I chose green. There was nothing complicated to this choice, you understand: the Jets had Joe Namath on their team, and the GiantsNew York Giants didn't. Namath was cool, he was pals with Bobby Brady, he was on TV more than the Watergate hearings and, one summer, he lived a block and a half away from my house during training camp (and even answered the door once).

It seemed a logical choice at the time, because there was no instruction manual available at the time, providing the Surgeon General's warnings against casting your lot with the Jets. No one could know what would lay in store in the coming years: Lou Holtz's fight song, a few thousand Richard Todd interceptions, A.J. Duhe, fake spikes, stupid sack dances, Gastineau roughing the #$#$%*&$ quarterback in Cleveland, Rich Kotite, a thousand games blown because of prevent defenses, "Joe Must Go," "HC of the NYJ," Testaverde's heel, Klecko's knee, Al Toon's skull . . .

Well, you know. The List. It is a part of every Jets fan's personal resume, something of which to be equal parts proud and embarrassed, sort of like a tattoo with a hell of a story behind it. It is something of a shield from the cold realities of a football history that could be called star-crossed if you are in a kind mood or Godawful if you're in a foul one.

OK. That said . . .

Jets fans, it is time to stop this. It really is. Again, I have walked with you. I know the comfort that self-loathing can provide. I know how instinctive it is to want to attack what the Jets did on Thursday. To point out all the shortcomings of the 34-31 victory over the Patriots that the Jets took away from Gillette Stadium, to gripe about the exhausted defense and moan about the conservative offense and bitch about the coaching, of course, because that is the highest sacrament of all in Jetsland.

But I have to be honest with you about this, brutally honest, plainly honest. It isn't funny. It isn't charming. It is, in a word, stupid. You aren't a Cubs fan, suffering through 100 years of futility. You aren't a Clippers fan. A few years ago, NFL Films was doing a DVD about the Jets, and they talked to a few media folks who grew up Jets fans - myself, WFAN's Joe Benigno (the capo di tutti capo of the breed), ESPN radio's Jody McDonald - and we did (masterfully, if I may say so) what Jets fans do best: angst on demand, all with the cameras rolling.

It was virtuoso stuff. Except at the very end, here came the very clear-minded, dry-eyed voice of reason in the person of the esteemed and ubiquitous football gadfly Peter King. And ol' Pete wasn't about to join in the fun. Nope. He said, quite plainly, that he didn't feel sorry for Jets fans, didn't have any time for their angst or any tolerance for their anxiety, they were, after all, the beneficiaries of the Greatest Football Story Ever Told one forever day in the Orange Bowl.

"How would you like to spend your life rooting for the New Orleans Saints?" was the way King summed it up, and within minutes of dispensing that sage piece of wisdom, he immediately received seven additional job offers.

Well, he's right. It is especially useful to remember how precious football seasons like this one really are. And even more important to remember something else:

THE JETS WON THE GAME THURSDAY NIGHT.

The NFL awards no style points. It doesn't grade on a curve. The Pats were missing players? Guess what: It's the NFL, players get hurt.

The Jets blew a 24-6 lead, blew a 31-24 lead, held on for dear life? Guess what: It all looks like a line drive in the boxscore. The Jets were lucky to win the coin toss in overtime? Guess what: They were. Are they supposed to hand the win back? When's the last time you denied yourself a poker pot because you really did draw to that inside straight?

You want to know what Thursday night was? It was one of the signature wins in franchise history, well within the top 10, likely inside the top five. (And yes: as Jeff Foxworthy might say, you might be a Jets fan if your immediate reaction is to groan how that shows just how many football felonies you have had to endure through the years.)

Yet the past few days, on talk radio, in my e-mail inbox, in conversations with green-bleeders, 80 percent of the sentiment is this: It should have been better. The score. The outcome. The performance. The way it all . . . well . . . feels. And that is why this intervention is necessary. Consider this an act of friendship, please.

I would do the same thing if you just finished off a Peter Luger's porterhouse . . . and started griping about the spinach. I would do the same thing if you just finished watching "The Godfather" and had a problem with the font of the subtitles during the Sicily scenes. I would never call you insufferable, because I am not like that, and because I once walked where you walk.

But I wouldn't argue with Peter King if he said that about you.

Mike Vaccaro's e-mail is michael.vaccaro@nypost.com.

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Mayo went heavy on the tackles

By Mike Reiss

Globe Staff / November 16, 2008

If there had been any doubt - and little seemed to exist anyway - Jerod Mayo's 20-tackle performance Thursday night erased it with authority.

Already considered a leading contender for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, the Patriots linebacker is now clutching the trophy and wrapping it up as he does opposing ballcarriers. His effort against the Jets had researchers turning back the clock more than a decade, searching for the last time the Patriots had a defender with 20 stops.

Since Stats Inc. began keeping the stat in 1994, no Patriots linebacker had reached 20 tackles. The NFL does not keep tackles as an official stat, so the totals are tabulated by in-game statisticians, and some teams later modify them after coaches' film review.

With seven games to play, Mayo leads the Patriots with 85 tackles. That ranks him second in the NFL, behind Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson.

As for Mayo's competition for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, Rams end Chris Long (four sacks) is part of the discussion, as are Redskins safety Chris Horton (three interceptions), Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib (three INTs), Dolphins end Kendall Langford (eight starts, two sacks), and Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton (team-high 53 tackles).

Giants safety Kenny Phillips, Seahawks end Lawrence Jackson, and Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie might sneak on a few ballots, but none has played to Mayo's level.

While 20-tackle performances are a rarity, and sometimes can be misleading, Mayo's effort Thursday night doesn't fall into that category. He earned every one of his tackles - 11 of which came against the run, nine of which came on passing plays.

In fact, while the Patriots' stat-keepers are considered one of the best crews in the NFL - they were picked by the NFL to work Super Bowl XLII - Mayo is probably going to end up with a few more tackles once coaches review the film.

That's how much Mayo, who also deflected a pass in the first quarter, was around the ball.

Mayo was especially active in the fourth quarter and overtime, when he rang up 13 tackles, none more impressive than his goal-line stick of running back Thomas Jones with 3:21 remaining in regulation.

He was later in on two other key tackles late in the fourth quarter - runs by Jones of 3 yards and 1 yard that stopped him short of the first down, giving the Patriots the ball back to set up the dramatic game-tying drive. On the latter play, Mayo launched himself through an opening, stunning Jones as he entered the hole.

"I'm sure he slept like a baby after that one; 20 tackles in this game, at this level, that will wear you out," said Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett, who now works as the Patriots' executive director of community affairs.Continued...

"He came to play. You can see his athletic ability and quickness, which has been key to him being effective. But on top of that, he also has the right work ethic. He's a student of the game. For any rookie to do what he's doing, that says a lot about the person."

Mayo was on the field for all but four defensive plays Thursday, and on the season he has played 86 percent of the snaps, which reflects how he's part of almost every personnel package in the team's diverse defense. The only time he came off the field Thursday was when the Patriots went to a 4-3 alignment.

"He's figured out a way to stay on the field, which is key," Tippett said. "We took a trip with all the rookies to Canton [and the Hall of Fame] earlier this year, and one of the things that I learned about him is that he knows the learning never stops, that you can always get better. He's a good kid and he works hard at it."

Along those lines, Mayo probably will take a closer look at his work in zone pass coverage this week, as there appeared to be more opportunities to make plays in that area.

In particular, Mayo was one of four linebackers on the field on a crucial third-and-15 play in overtime when the Jets converted a 16-yard pass to tight end Dustin Keller. Two defenders wound up in the same zone on the play - one appeared to be Mayo - creating the surprising opening for Keller.

Of Keller's eight catches, Mayo was in on the tackle six times, a reflection of how the Jets seemed to be working on the matchup of tight end vs. linebacker in zone coverage.

Still, Mayo was competitive on several of those catches, as he was regularly around the ball.

"I think you're seeing that the game is coming to him," Tippett said. "The thing for him now is to show he has the endurance to go the distance, and have that longevity. He's off to a nice start."

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TOM KNOTT: Argument vs. Favre needs to be retired

Monday, November 17, 2008

!It almost was obligatory to dump on Brett Favre in the offseason when he reneged on his retirement plans and then he and the Packers went through their bitter breakup.

It was argued that Favre had been waffling on retirement the last few summers, acting the diva, and that he owed it to the organization to be clear in his intentions.

Both sides played the he-said, they-said public relations game in the final weeks of their relationship, which encouraged the media and fans to take sides.

What was sometimes overlooked or trivialized in the drama was the elementary question of Favre's value to a team, even if he was destined to turn 39 years old during the season.

It should not have been about how many seasons Favre has left in his body. It should have been about what he could do for a team this season because that is all that should matter in the NFL.

Both the Jets and Packers took a gamble on Favre, although the Jets had considerably less to lose than the Packers.

It is not difficult to see how the gamble is evolving after Favre picked apart the Patriots and led the Jets to a scintillating 34-31 victory in overtime that left them in first place in the AFC East.

This is what Favre does. He rescues teams from the abyss with his cannon of a right arm. He stares down defeat by making a play on third-and-15 that jump-starts the game-winning drive. He orchestrates a favorable outcome after the Patriots had delivered a devastating punch to the gut of the Jets with one second left in regulation.

The Jets are 7-3 now and in playoff contention because of Favre. He is not the only reason the Jets have been able to reverse their fortunes. But he is the most compelling reason. He has that infectious swagger that says, "We can do this. We can get this done."

And that empowers his teammates. It gives them reason to believe in each game, even if he is still prone to throwing an interception that leaves everyone wondering, "What was he thinking?"

Just as Favre has reshaped the Jets, his departure from Green Bay has altered the Packers.

The playoff aspirations of the Packers are limited to winning the mediocre NFC North, a genuine possibility after they defeated the Bears on Sunday to raise their record to 5-5.

Yet these are the Packers who were coming off a 13-3 record last season and lost to the Giants in the NFC Championship game. Now these Packers have slid back to the middle of the pack and must win an unimpressive division or miss the postseason.

It is not a coincidence that one player has had so much impact on the direction of two franchises, with one trending upward and the other downward.

The verdict, of course, is not complete yet. Each team has six games left, which is time enough to cast the trade in a different light.

But from the evidence so far, Favre has made the Jets relevant again and given them a certain confidence that comes from defeating a longtime nemesis. Yet it would not be accurate to think that the Jets somehow have passed the Patriots.

The playoff window of opportunity before Favre and the Jets came about in part because of the season-ending injury to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Week 1.

Not that Brady would have fashioned any better numbers than Matt Cassel against the Jets.

But it is doubtful the Patriots would be saddled with a 6-4 record if Brady were playing this season.

It is to the credit of Favre and the Jets that they are exploiting the opportunity.

As for the bosses of the Packers, if they could do it all over again with Favre, would they make the same decision?

Not if they were committed to winning now.

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