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Brett Favre shrugs off winter chill



Wednesday, December 3rd 2008, 9:25 PM


Brett Favre, coming off an awful game at the messy Meadowlands against the Broncos on Sunday, says he he can weather the storm of bad conditions.

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In 2005, Old Man Winter got the best of the old man. Ditto, 2006. Brett Favre achieved partial redemption last season - until that last pass against the Giants in the NFC title game - but the issue is alive again, especially after Sunday's performance:

Can Favre's 39-year-old body hold up for the stretch run? Can he give the Jets what they need to make the playoffs?

"At some point, I've got to fall apart," he said Wednesday, smiling. "I'm not going to lie to you. It's like any car; you drive it long enough, it's going to fall apart, you're going to have a flat tire, something's going to happen. But right now, I'm still together."

Favre's tires might be intact, but the Jets are coming off a blowout in which he played horribly in cold and rainy conditions against the Broncos. It was his first bad game in more than a month, but it makes you wonder if it's the start of another late-season swoon.

In his last three Decembers, Favre has compiled a dismal passer rating of 63.5, with 11 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. The former Packer icon did less passing and more handing off last December, and his efficiency improved (85.5, six and five). He was brilliant in a playoff win over the Seahawks, on a day in which Lambeau Field resembled a snow globe, but it all ended with his overtime interception against the Giants.

"Everyone said, all of a sudden, 'Brett can't play in bad conditions anymore,'" said Favre, almost mocking the criticism. He does, after all, have a 9-5 record in the last three Decembers.

Favre was adamant in his belief that none of his bad games - in recent years or last week - was due to late-season fatigue. He said he feels stronger in colder weather and, although he acknowledged his body doesn't feel as fresh as it did two months ago, he doesn't anticipate a dropoff.

But, at the same time, Favre didn't do any offseason training (remember, he was retired) and he missed the first two weeks of training camp. That can catch up to some older veterans.

The first December test comes Sunday against the 49ers (4-8), although weather probably won't be a factor. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 60s in San Francisco over the weekend. It could be the Jets' last mild-weather game - unless they make it to Tampa for the Super Bowl.

Favre should welcome warm, dry conditions, especially after last week. He completed a season-low 54% of his passes, throwing an interception and missing several open receivers in the 34-17 loss.

"Jay Cutler outplayed me, so it's easy to say out with the old, in with the new," Favre said. "Was I cold? Was I wet? Sure. Was it cold and snowy last year against Seattle? Absolutely. I didn't wear down then...(The last game) had nothing to do with age or anything like that. They just handled it better."

Favre lamented one play in particular, a deep post route to an open Laveranues Coles. He didn't blame it on a wet ball; he said it was just a poor pass.

"It's not because, all of a sudden, it's the latter part of the year and I'm falling apart," he said.

With a grin and a wink, he added, "Yet."

The 49ers sounded ready to genuflect at Favre's feet.

"Favre...man...goodness," linebacker Takeo Spikes said on a conference call, struggling for a superlative. "I think his presence alone makes that offense better."

Niners coach Mike Singletary has a unique perspective of Favre. The Hall of Fame middle linebacker was in his final season with the Bears, 1992, when he faced a young Favre, a first-year starter. Favre beat the Bears in Chicago, leaving quite an impression.

"I remember after that game, thinking, 'That guy is going to be special,'" Singletary recalled. "You could literally hear the ball coming by."

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Comments: 0 Read Comments Leave a Comment Brett Favre

Posted: 3:16 am

December 4, 2008

THE borrowed quarterback is on borrowed time, and Brett Favre wakes up Monday mornings feeling it.

"At some point, I've got to fall apart," he said yesterday. "I'm not going to lie to you."

Then he told a little white one that might grow the quarterback's nose, not the one on the football to his advantage on fourth downs.

"I thought I played pretty good in the [NFC] Championship Game last year," Favre said. "I threw an interception to end the game."

Otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln loved the play. At the end of a bad Favre second half, Lawrence Tynes kicked a field goal set up by Corey Webster's gift-wrapped overtime pick, and the 13-3 Packers got left out in the minus-degree cold.

Last week, water coming down in sheets, the presumed next Brett Favre, Jay Cutler, made the old one look like, well, an old one, raining on the prematurely presumed Feb. 3 Jets parade.

The forecast Sunday in San Francisco is for partly sunny and 60, suddenly Favre weather. Next week, it will be back into winter for a 39-year-old lion staving off his winter.

"It had nothing to do with age, just they handled it better," said Favre. "I could have played much better. It was bad conditions, Jay Cutler outplayed me, so it's easy to say, 'Out with the old and in with the new.' Was I cold? Was I wet? Sure. Was it cold and snowy last year against Seattle [a 42-20 Packer divisional-round rout]? Absolutely.

"I didn't wear down then. I played one of my better games."

Before last Sunday, he played three of them consecutively for the Jets, including a rout of the previously undefeated Titans. In it, Favre drilled a touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles off the back foot that Chad Pennington throws only in his dreams, but that was about just about the only big one Favre has completed this year that his predecessor can't. The Jets have proved most functional using much the same short-passing game in which Pennington went 10-6 two years ago.

Of course, Pennington lost in the first round. Favre wasn't brought here to do that, an essential truth of which he likely will be reminded the first weekend in January, unless tough Pittsburgh matches against Dallas, Tennessee and Baltimore help the Jets, who can run the table against a weaker schedule and dodge a wild-card game.

It likely will be played in conditions that suddenly, ironically, seem to be to Favre's disadvantage. At 38, headed into an NFC Championship game against the Giants, he was 48-5 in sub-freezing weather. At 39, he's perceived to be out of his element in the elements.

"I grew up in South Mississippi, never saw snow until I got to Green Bay," said the once Mr. Ice Water in His Veins. "It wasn't like I got off the plane and said, 'Whoo, my kind of weather!'

"I didn't handle the [NFC title game] cold well, probably should have practiced outside or whatever.

"[bad weather] evens the playing field. It can make a very good team look average, and an average team can stay average and win. I don't care who you are, to throw the ball in 30-40 mph winds, you have to be lucky. You make less mistakes than your opponent . . . you've got a real good chance of winning."

His team, with a chance of winning against any AFC club, might even be favored against one in the first round. Coming off 4-12, the Jets are having much the same, nice, bounceback season they had two years ago. But Favre changed the expectations, so now he has to change the ending.


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Comments: 0 Read Comments Leave a Comment By BRIAN COSTELLO

Posted: 3:14 am

December 4, 2008

The Jets know people are going to look at what happened Sunday in their loss to the Broncos and think they were overrated.

That's OK with them.

"Right now, we're basically a fluke, that's what we need to think," cornerback Ty Law said. "People are not going to give us anything. We needed that, really, to get back to where we need to be. People were giving us a little too much credit. We need to get back on track."

Players also expected the intensity to be ratcheted up in practice this week. Coach Eric Mangini was upset with last week's practice and felt it translated into Sunday's sloppy play.

Mangini is the type of guy that will stick to his rules, his basics and it will be a little more challenging," defensive end Shaun Ellis said. "He'll probably be more in your face. I think for him he kind of took it personal. It should be a tough, focused week for us."


LB David Harris (groin) and S Eric Smith (concussion) practiced on a limited basis yesterday. Smith said he feels better but he still "not the way I usually am."

Harris is more likely to play Sunday than Smith, and Mangini said Abram Elam will remain the starter at strong safety even after a rough game against Denver where his man scored two touchdowns.


RB Jesse Chatman, who was placed on the injured reserve list in October, had knee surgery yesterday in Florida

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Defensive backs are concern for New York Jets

by Dave Hutchinson/The Star-Ledger

Wednesday December 03, 2008, 7:34 PM

CJ Gunther/European Pressphoto Association

The Jets and defensive back Kerry Rhodes have had their hands full recently defending against the Patriots' and Broncos receivers, and the Niners present yet another challenge.The Jets' embattled secondary must look like red meat to a starving man these days. And if the unit doesn't right itself soon, the Jets could make a quick exit from the playoffs -- provided they qualify -- with possible first-round opponents like the pass-happy Colts, Broncos, and even the Patriots looming.

The Jets have the NFL's 30th-ranked pass defense, having allowed a stunning 249.2 yards per game, a number that has only grown the past three weeks as Matt Cassell of the Patriots and Jay Cutler of the Broncos each threw for more than 350 yards. Outside of cornerback Darrelle Revis, no one is making plays consistently.

Furthermore, the Jets' pass rush, which often bailed the secondary out, has just one sack in 82 passing attempts in the past two games.

San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz will take aim at the Jets' slumping secondary Sunday, and chances are he'll hit his target. The architect of the St. Louis Rams' Greatest Show on Turf act has a new address, but he's up to his old tricks.

And he has a familiar face performing for him in ageless wide receiver Isaac Bruce, the 36-year-old ex-Ram who has found new life with the 49ers.

San Francisco (4-8) ranks second in the NFL with 53 plays of 20-plus yards (45 passes and eight runs). Bruce, in his 15th season, has 39 catches for a team-high 625 yards and six touchdowns. His receptions and touchdown are tied for the team lead.

"He (Martz) has always been very creative with his formations, with his shifts, with his motions, with the different ways that he creates personnel matchups," Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "Always had a big-play offense, and they do again."

Asked if he thinks the 49ers will come after the Jets secondary, safety Kerry Rhodes said, "Why not? Why wouldn't you try to attack us that way?"

The 49ers, however, aren't exactly the old Rams.

Quarterback Shaun Hill, a seventh-year pro and career backup, is far from Kurt Warner -- this year's version or the one who was NFL MVP in 1999. Instead, Hill is a game manager, completing 60 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and just three interceptions since taking over for turnover-prone J.T. O'Sullivan (11 interceptions, six lost fumbles).

Also, Martz relies more on the running game with the presence of the hard-charging Frank Gore (926 yards and six touchdowns). Gore can catch the ball, too, with 39 receptions for 354 yards and one touchdown.

"Martz likes to get vertical in the passing game, a lot of double moves with his receivers, but he'll try to establish the running game as well," Revis said.

Added cornerback Ty Law: "Their average route is deeper than the average route, if you know what I mean."

While the secondary has struggled all season, the team has won because of a fierce pass rush that still ranks fifth in the league with 35 sacks despite sputtering of late. The Jets had just one sack the past two games while going against the league's top two pass protection teams; Tennessee and Denver have allowed a league-low eight sacks each.

Linebacker Bryan Thomas had 4 1/2 sacks in the Jets' first five games, but hasn't had one since. And defensive end Shaun Ellis, whose seven sacks are second-most on the team, hasn't gotten to the quarterback in the past five games.

"We've been playing a little bit more coverage, I know I have," said linebacker Calvin Pace, who has just 1 1/2 sacks in the past seven games. "Obviously, that's not my decision, it's more game plan. (But) we've been winning with it."

San Francisco has yielded 43 sacks, tied for second-most in the league, but Hill has been sacked just 11 times in five games (four starts).

"I envision the (sack) numbers will pick (back) up," Pace said. "It's not that we're just getting blocked."

The sooner, the better, for a secondary that is under siege.

"It's not just the secondary," said Rhodes, who has only one interception. "In pass coverage, everything has to be in sync. Not just the defensive backs. It's the front, we have to get pressure; the linebackers have to get their drops and make sure they have the right man. It's multiple things."

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Coach Eric Mangini didn't make any definitive statement, but it appears that the Jets' slumping defense may receive a much-needed boost with the return of inside linebacker David Harris this week.

Harris, sidelined for five games following groin surgery, is likely to play and may start Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

Harris, the team's leading tackler through the first seven games, was injured against Kansas City on Oct. 26. He would replace David Bowens, who filled in with 20 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks.

Harris' presence should bolster the Jets' fourth-ranked run defense that allowed its first 100-yard rusher of the season last week. Harris, who makes the defensive calls, will also be needed to aid a leaky pass defense that has been exposed in recent weeks.

Mangini anticipated that Harris and safety Eric Smith, who has missed the past five games with a concussion, will both make "significant progress" this week.

Despite getting beaten for a pair of touchdowns in last week's loss to Denver, safety Abram Elam, who has been filling in for Smith, will start Sunday, according to Mangini.

"There's a lot of weeks now where he's made positive plays," Mangini said. "Everybody faces a game where you don't. But you get over it and you move forward." 



Brett Favre may have his share of bumps and bruises, but he isn't overly concerned about wearing down in the final month of the regular season. At 39, he doesn't anticipate slowing down during the home stretch.

"At some point, I've got to fall apart," Favre said. "It's like any car. You drive it long enough, it's going to fall apart. You're going to have a flat tire. Something's going to happen. At some point, I'm going to fall apart. But right now, I'm still together."

Favre also dismissed the notion that his age played any role in his less-than-stellar performance in the rain against the Broncos.

"I had Laveranues (Coles) on one deep post route wide open," Favre said. "It was tough to say, to be a man about it, and say, you know, it did slip. I missed him. But you know those are few and far between. But you have to make those plays. It's not because, all of a sudden it's the latter part of the year and I'm falling apart ... yet."

Favre completed 23 of 43 passes for 247 yards and did not throw a touchdown pass against the Broncos. He had one interception en route to a 60.9 QB rating.

"I could have played much better," Favre said. "Jay Cutler outplayed me. So it's easy to say, 'Out with the old and in with the new.' Was I cold? Was I wet? Sure. Was it cold and snowy last year against Seattle (in the NFC divisional playoff game)? Absolutely, (but) I didn't wear down then." 



-- The Jets, who had their two worst performances of the season in losses at San Diego and Oakland, head to the West Coast again and will follow the same travel schedule, leaving for San Francisco after Thursday's practice.

"It's tough on your body trying to adjust to the different time zone," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "Then, you're going out there two days before and your routine is thrown off. But it happens. You have to find a way to get past all of that. On a normal trip ... you're going to have jet lag. Then, just imagine having to go out and do some type of physical activity. Sometimes, I think that gets overlooked."

Maybe so, but Mangini, frankly, doesn't care.

"At the end of the day, you wake up and play football," he said. "East Coast, West Coast, Mars, Mexico, London ... rainy, hot. You've just got to go out and play with whatever it is."

-- Don't expect any more outrageous halftime antics from 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, who dropped his pants in the locker room in his first game after a poor first half.

"Absolutely not," Singletary said about doing it again. "That's one of those shock treatments no one was supposed to know about."

-- Jay Feely will handle the place-kicking duties over Mike Nugent again.

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