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NY JETS news articles 11/ 21/ 08

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Confident Jets have vision of own perfect ending, beating Titans



Thursday, November 20th 2008, 11:12 AM


Brett Favre (below) embraces the challenge of tackling the undefeated Tennessee Titans on Sunday, a thrill the Jets quarterback would be hard-pressed to match had he continued his short-lived retireme


Brett Favre has often mentioned how much he enjoys yard work at his home in Mississippi, but mulching the flower beds doesn't produce this kind of adrenaline rush:

Walking to the Jets' locker room after last week's statement win over the Patriots, Favre shared a powerful man-hug with GM Mike Tannenbaum, the man who brought him to New York. Then, as he walked into the room, a fired-up Favre called out to no one in particular, "(Bleep), yeah!" - a priceless moment already on YouTube.


"A big win like we had Thursday night, I think, 'Man, it just doesn't get any better than this,'" Favre said Wednesday. "Then you play next week against a team that's undefeated."

No rest for the wired.

The first-place Jets (7-3) returned to work to prepare for another huge game, another showdown rife with playoff and other implications. After beating the Patriots, their longtime tormentors, for peace of mind, their new goal is to get a piece of the Titans - the 10-0 Titans.


The atmosphere Sunday in Nashville will be "playoff big, just like last week," according to tight end Chris Baker. True, but the potential reward will be different. Last week was for neighborhood bragging rights; this week is an opportunity to improve their street cred beyond their own neighborhood.

"It's a chance to distance ourselves a little bit and show the country that we're for real," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "It's a chance for us to prove a point, and prove a point to ourselves, that we can be an elite team in the league."

Said Baker: "(A win) would be a huge statement. Obviously, it would catapult us into the rest of our season and into the playoffs."

They wouldn't clinch anything, of course, but a victory would trigger conversations about a division title, playoff seedings and a possible first-round bye. It would change the landscape in the AFC. Right now, it's the Titans and everybody else. The Jets, riding a four-game winning streak, want to graduate from the "everybody else" class.

They may have a couple of intangible factors in their favor. The Jets are well-rested - the players received a five-day respite - and relatively stress-free. The same can't be said for the Titans.

"I know that now there's a lot of pressure on them, maybe not from themselves, but from everyone else to continue this," Favre said. "I mean, there's a watch, an undefeated watch....Being undefeated is such a good thing, but then all of a sudden, it's like that becomes the total focus."

Favre compared the Titans to the Giants, the defending Super Bowl champs, in the sense that they're getting every opponent's best shot. The Titans were dazed by a right hook last week, falling behind to the Jaguars, 14-3, but Kerry Collins rallied them in the second half to a 24-14 victory on the road.

"With each win that Tennessee has, they're probably seeing that more and more," Favre said. "There may have been teams or players initially, when they saw Tennessee on their schedule, said, 'Okay, this one we could win.' They're not saying that anymore."

Save for their pass defense, which may not be exposed by the run-oriented Titans, the Jets seem to be improving in most areas. But the Titans will challenge them, physically, more than any team they've faced.

Mentally, the Jets couldn't be in better shape. Beating the Patriots was like a breakthrough session with Dr. Phil, a psychological victory that could provide a carryover effect.

"That game, more than any game this year, probably did more for us," Favre said. "Time will tell. We're playing the best team in football right now. It will be a tough test, but not any tougher than what we faced last week."

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Jones enjoys bounce back season for JetsBY ERIK BOLAND | erik.boland@newsday.com

November 21, 2008

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The difference for Thomas Jones is easy to pinpoint.

"I'm doing the exact same thing I was doing last year," Jones said yesterday.

The difference for the running back, however, is that this year, he is productive.

"The offensive line coming in here has made a huge difference," Jones said. "Those guys are skilled; they know who to block. They come over here and they work hard and they have experience. So that's a big difference, and the fact we're able to throw the ball, that's helped."

Jones, a big-name free agent signed before last season, had a miserable 2007 along with the rest of his teammates. Jones averaged only 3.6 yards per carry in rushing for 1,119 yards and a career-worst one touchdown.

But this season Jones has erupted. He enters Sunday's game at Tennessee with an AFC-best 854 rushing yards. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and already has matched his career high with nine TDs. His one TD reception gives him a team-best 10.

In his last two games against the Rams and Patriots, Jones rushed for 149 and 104 yards, respectively, the first time he's recorded back-to-back 100-yard games since 2006 - when he was with the Bears and, coincidentally, did it against the Giants and Jets. But Jones is nonchalant about his numbers.

"Individually, I've never been one of those people that works for individual statistics," Jones said. "I go out there and play as hard as I can, I work hard during the week to make sure I'm prepared for the game and I let the chips fall where they may. I'm blessed to be having a good year this year, but the main thing is we're winning football games. and that's what's motivating me."

While Jones may downplay his statistics, those blocking for him, including fullback Tony Richardson, do not. They see Jones' achievements as theirs, to a degree.

"Those type of things, if you look at the end of the season and you're able to have the best guy , then that's something for us - as a fullback and linemen - that you can take pride in," Richardson said. "But right now, the biggest thing is we're being productive and that helps our team."

Center Nick Mangold had a similar take.

"I think that's fantastic," he said. "That's a testament to the way Thomas runs the ball, and you know when our skill guys are able to do good things, that's a positive for us."

Richardson said the offensive line's inconsistency early in the season wasn't surprising, given its new additions in left guard Alan Faneca and right tackle Damien Woody.

"The running game is really that last thing that comes along because - you can ask all the offensive linemen this - there's a certain chemistry ," Richardson said. "Myself as a fullback, TJ and Leon as running backs, we have to learn the offensive line's body language and which guy pulls this way . . . all that kind of stuff."

Said Mangold: "Everybody can study a playbook and know exactly what everyone's doing, but to know what the guy next to you is thinking while you're out there is a huge benefit."

The offensive line will get its toughest test of the season Sunday against a powerful Titans defense that is the most difficult to score against (13.1 points per game) in the league and features 6-6, 320-pound tackle Albert Haynesworth, a candidate for the NFL defensive player of the year award. The Titans rank sixth in total defense (281.8 yards per game), including 10th against the run (95.1).

"A lot of people haven't had too much success against them," Jones said.

But as the phrase "measuring stick" has made its way around the locker room this week, it's become clear the challenge is one everyone is looking forward to.

"Things seem to be going well," Mangold said of the offensive line's play. "Going against the best should be a good test for us."

Gaining Ground

Thomas Jones has picked up the pace after getting off to a slow start this season:

Carries Yds. Avg. Long Rush TDs

First 5 games 84 319 3.8 16 3

Last 5 games 106 535 5.0 31 6

Totals 190 854 4.5 - 9

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New football stadium worth price of admission?BY KATIE STRANG | caitlin.strang@newsday.com

November 21, 2008

Giants co-owner John Mara and Jets owner Woody Johnson helped unveil the New Meadowlands Stadium - now 60 percent complete - in a special tour with local media yesterday.

The $1.6-billion facility, which will feature 40,000 square feet of video screens and displays, an adjoining rail station to accommodate fans and a capacity of 82,500, will serve as home to both the Giants and the Jets and will change its complexion to reflect the home team.

Yesterday it was revealed that the construction is "not only ahead of schedule, but on budget," according to New Meadowlands Stadium CEO Mark Lamping.

With the project under way and more than 1.3 million work hours spent, however, Mara and Johnson both addressed many fans' biggest concerns - the increasing financial burden they must endure to attend games, exacerbated by a struggling economy.

"It's certainly something we're concerned about and we're very sensitive to. That's why we try to come up with as many different pricing options as possible and we're trying to be flexible and work with people in terms of payment scheduling," Mara said. "I think at the end of the day, we'll be successful in keeping just about everybody in the new building, and that was one of our goals going into this process and a goal we're going to be able to achieve."

Johnson said that despite the financial crisis, he believes fans will look past the immediate problems and try to find a way to make it work.

"We are in a situation, economically, that we're reading about every day. There are serious problems, however. People who are purchasing these, they're looking over this," Johnson said. "This country's going to get back on its feet again. It's going to take a couple quarters, four quarters, five quarters. Whatever it is, we'll be out of it."

Johnson said the fans will be well rewarded with their financial commitment.

"I do think they'll be shocked and awed by the stadium, that's for sure," Johnson said. "Every time I've been into the stadium, I'm in awe at what's been accomplished and how different it is than the stadium we've played in."

Johnson added, "It's going to be an amazing experience for the fans and one that the suite-holder will enjoy from one vantage point and the PSL owner and the other fans will enjoy from another standpoint. There's something for everybody."

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Posted: 2:44 am

November 21, 2008

It's a Clash of Titans on multiple levels.

Never mind that the Jets arrived on the pro football scene in 1960 as the New York Titans, but now you have the Tennessee Titans and Gang GreenNew York Jets ready for the biggest AFC showdown this season on Sunday.

Are the Jets (7-3) ready to distinguish themselves as a Super Bowl front-runner? They took a small step with last Thursday's overtime victory at New England. The Titans (10-0) are on a higher plane.

"This is an even bigger game for the Jets, because you're playing the premier team in the NFL right now,'' ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer said.

"If the Jets can win this football game, they gain so much momentum and confidence in the type of football they can play heading down the stretch.''

It won't be easy. Though the Titans aren't a flashy team, Fox NFL analyst Brian Baldinger said they are well-rounded, and the resurgence of quarterback Kerry Collins has taken Tennessee to a new level.

"If you look at the way this team has been constructed, the whole difference in this team right now is Kerry Collins,'' Baldinger said. "There is no way they would be undefeated with Vince Young at quarterback. Kerry Collins is throwing the ball the way he did when he took the GiantsNew York Giants to a Super Bowl.''

Of course, the Jets have their own gunslinger in Brett Favre, who has

18 touchdown passes and

12 interceptions. Favre has just one interception over his past three games after a shaky three-game stretch in which he threw seven picks.

Dilfer said Jets fans finally are getting to see the "instinctive'' Favre.

"I felt it would probably take until Week 9 to 11 until he owned the offense, where the offense was his - intuitively making plays work and adding his own flavor to them,''

Dilfer said.

"I've really seen that the last couple

of weeks. It's fun to watch, because now you're really getting to see Favre play Favre's game.''

Nevertheless, Baldinger said, the key for the Jets is getting a big game from nose tackle Kris Jenkins, helping neutralize the Titans' running backs. Chris Johnson has 787 yards rushing for Tennessee, and LenDale White has 11 touchdowns.

"It will be interesting to see how Kris Jenkins plays against Kevin Mawae,'' Baldinger said. "That's what I'm really interested in, because [Jenkins] is going to see a center that really understands how to block a true nose tackle. I don't think he's seen that a lot this year.

"If you can handle [Jenkins], you can really do what Tennessee wants to do, which is basically run the ball right up the gut with two pretty good backs that are built differently, and that kind of dictates what they do the rest of the day.''


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Posted: 2:44 am

November 21, 2008

Ty Law went through his first full practice with the JetsNew York Jets on Wednesday and may make his first start with the team Sunday at Tennessee - though the veteran cornerback played it coy when asked if he'd start.

"There's a pretty good chance," he said with a smile. "I don't want to say, but there's a pretty good chance. Whatever the case is, whatever my role is I'm just going to do the best I can."

Law signed with the Jets on Nov. 11, and played against the Patriots two days later. The 34-year-old spent most of the night shadowing Randy Moss in Foxborough, and admits he felt a bit rusty. Law looked impressive considering he had not played in nearly a year.

Law was on the field for 57 of the 79 plays against the Patriots, so his role can't expand too much. But a spot in the starting lineup would mean something to Law.

"That was my goal coming in," he said.

Yesterday, Law said his first full practice with the team went well, but he did spend plenty of time in the cold tub and hot tub with aching muscles afterward.

"I've still got to get comfortable with my timing," Law said. "My timing is off big time as far as getting my feet and anticipating certain things. I'm seeing things visually and I know it mentally but to react to it is what I've got to catch up to."

Given some time, though, Law expects to be back to his old form.

"I expect with the work I put in within two or three weeks I'll be settled in like I never was gone," he said. "But I can't say I'm there right now."


Jets coach Eric Mangini was a ballboy in Cleveland when Jeff Fisher became the head coach of the Houston Oilers, who later became the Tennessee Titans. Fourteen years and one franchise move later, Fisher remains the head coach of the Titans. He is the longest-tenured NFL head coach, and is third among all pro sports coaches/managers. Only the Utah Jazz's Jerry Sloan in the NBA and the Atlanta Braves' Bobby Cox in MLB have been with their teams longer.

"It's incredible," Mangini said. "You don't see that very much anymore - the Don Shulas, the Tom Landrys, guys that were there 25, 20 years. . . . He's been consistently successful. It's impressive."


DE Jevon Kearse (knee) missed practice yesterday for the Titans. LB Keith Bulluck (chest), RB LenDale White (calf) and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) all practiced and were upgraded to probable for Sunday's game.

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November 21, 2008

The play looks so simple.

Leon Washington catches the ball, turns on the speed, and 12 seconds later he has raced 92 yards to the end zone.

But Washington's kickoff return in New England last week is like all four of his kickoff returns for touchdowns - the product of not just Washington's talent but also his preparation.

Like a chess master studying the board in front of him, Washington spends time each week scouting the opponent's kickoff team, looking for anything that might get him the slightest advantage.

"I study the players that get down the field the fastest," said Washington, who was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after averaging 44.3 yards per return last week. "I study the players that make the most special teams tackles, and the most important thing that I learned since I've been doing this is studying kickers. What are their tendencies? Where do they like to kick the ball? How can we prepare ourselves before the game?

"You look at most kickers, like the kicker from New England last week, I studied him and where he likes to kick the ball and how far he kicks it and things like that. It makes it a lot easier in the game. You know you're gifted, talented and can run the ball. When you can have that step ahead, knowing where they're going to kick the ball and knowing how they're going to cover the kick it makes it a lot easier."

This week, the New York Jets and Titans appear to be set for a close game and another big Washington kickoff return could provide the difference, especially when you consider Tennessee is 31st in the NFL in kickoff coverage.

"If we get our blocking assignments, we get the right guys, be in the right place we're going to have a big return," Washington said. "One thing I'm really thankful for this year nearly every return we've had this year we've rarely had a guy come scot-free on a return. Pretty much every guy gets his assignment so I'm so thankful to have a unit like that."

On the return against New England, the Jets' wedge slowed the Patriots down the middle, then Brad SmithBrad Smith and David Bowens sealed off blocks that gave Washington his initial lane. After Jason Trusnik made a crucial block of one free Patriot, Washington just had kicker Stephen Gostkowski to beat.

A few seconds later, the Jets were celebrating and the Pats were in a hole.

Jets coach Eric Mangini has watched Washington develop from an out-of-shape rookie with a fumbling problem to an all-purpose back whose preparation now equals his skill.

Players sometimes present part of the game plan to their teammates during the week. Mangini has been impressed by the depth of Washington's presentations.

"It's like a coach," Mangini said. "It's thorough. . . . It's really satisfying to see."

Mangini congratulated Washington this week on winning the special teams award. The two began laughing about his early struggles and how hard Mangini rode him. Mangini's lessons obviously paid off.

"I appreciate that Eric has been tough on me the whole time I've been here," Washington said, "especially early in my career, because that definitely taught me a lot on how to be a professional."


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Law to start?

When the Jets' defense takes the field for the first time Sunday at Tennessee, it's possible that both starting cornerbacks will be from the town of Aliquippa, Pa. Of course, Darrelle Revis is penciled in at left corner, where the Jets hope he will be for years to come. And re-signed veteran Ty Law, one of Revis' boyhood mentors, could be starting on the opposite side at right corner.

When asked Thursday if he might start, Law responded, "There's a pretty good chance."

Rookie fourth-round pick Dwight Lowery has started every game at that position, but has struggled recently after a fast start. He broke up two potential touchdown passes in the season-opening win at Miami, but for the season, has allowed six touchdown receptions plus a two-point conversion.

Law admitted he is a bit rusty, but believes it won't take him long to get back up to speed. "But I'd be lying to say I was there right now," he said.

Even if he doesn't start, he'll certainly play a prominent role Sunday. Consider that he was in on 57 of a possible 75 plays on defense last week against New England, only three days after agreeing to terms with the Jets.

Obviously, two favorite sons playing in the same secondary went over quite well back in Aliquippa.


Coach Eric Mangini simply responded "no" when asked if he has made a decision on whether Mike Nugent or Jay Feely will kick against the Titans. It could be a game-day decision. ... For Tennessee, linebacker Keith Bulluck (chest), defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) and running back LenDale White (calf) all had a full practice. But defensive end Jevon Kearse (knee) was added to the injury list. He didn't practice Thursday after practicing Wednesday.

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