The New York Jets’ 56-point outing against the Arizona Cardinals was supposed to be Brett Favre’s coming out party.
It was supposed to be the indicator of all the good things that were to come in 2008—a sign of what Favre would do for the Jets’ offense.
Since the first six-touchdown game of his career, Favre’s returned to the field to throw seven interceptions against three of the worst teams the Jets’ schedule had to offer. New York had done enough to squeak by the Kansas City Chiefs, but lost in Oakland, and almost gave the Bengals a shot at an upset.
Now, Favre and the Jets travel to division-rival territory on Sunday to face the new kings of the AFC East. The Buffalo Bills may have surprised anyone that wasn’t paying attention, but Jets’ fans are well aware of how well Dick Jauron has his team playing.
After struggling against three of the league’s doormats, is New York good enough to develop a rhythm against one of the league’s best?
Never Let Up
Buffalo will be looking to bounce back after Miami had its way with them, but that shouldn’t be New York’s problem, should it?
If the Jets can establish an early lead, it is imperative that they abandon the comfortable approach that has allowed teams to come back in the game. Is it the play-calling that falters, or is it uninspired execution by the players?
Whatever it is, it can’t happen on Sunday. The Jets must play like they’re down through all four quarters.
Buffalo has shown the ability to win games from behind as the clock ticks down. This means the Bills are resilient enough to do what must be done when it’s most critical. Unfortunately for New York, it’s that late-game adrenaline they typically struggle against.
Chad Pennington defeated Buffalo with his arm after the Bills took away the run—a feat no Jets’ fan believed he could ever accomplish.
A lead isn’t a lead until the game is over. If New York gets it, they need to hold it like they’ve never had it.
The Reason Brett’s a Jet
When the Jets made the move for Favre, it was in an effort to close the gap with New England and assume control of the division.
Buffalo is making their opponets pay for overlooking them.
But that shouldn’t count against New York, given the qualities of the players they brought in to win games they would’ve lost in previous seasons.
After the loss in Oakland, Favre admitted his disappointment. He told the cameras, “I came here to win games like this.”
That’s absolutely correct. Fans looked forward to watching him win games like those.
Upsets do happen in the NFL—and losing that game hurt—but Favre is here to help the Jets seize control of the division for the first time since 2002.
A win in Buffalo will go a long way toward restoring the faith of the fans. People need to believe that he can take the Jets to the next level. That doesn’t mean Super Bowl, or bust—it means fans don’t want to see the Jets look incompetent on the field.
With a loss, the Jets will fall behind enough to risk their contention for the extremely competitive Wild Card spots.
Time to Get Defensive
Is there a chip on anyone’s shoulder yet?
The leader of the defense, Kerry Rhodes, has been conspicuously absent throughout the first half of the season. Fans see him on the field, but don’t see him threatening any gameplans.
David Harris will be missing the first game of his career after sustaining an injury against Kansas City.
Shaun Ellis is getting to the quarterback, but the pressure seems to have faded from Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas.
The Jets’ defense isn’t striking fear in anyone’s heart. They might get a sack or two, but they’ll find a way to let an offense convert from long yardage.
Does that bother them at all? Are they comfortable watching the other team execute?
It probably should. But they aren’t really playing like it.
Stats are only as relevant as the last game played. The Jets know that because they’ve let players with poor statistical histories look like future Hall of Fame candidates.
It’s time for the Jets’ secondary to do the same.
The turnover ratio needs to see some type of improvement. Deflecting a pass on second down is nice, but it’s meaningless when the offense converts on the next play.
The run-defense continues to play well, but it’s time for the pass-defense to catch up. Darrelle Revis has been exceptional on his side of the field.
Mangini earned his bones in the NFL with New England’s decimated secondary in 2005. He knows how to plug players in and make them work. It’s time to do it again—even if it means unplugging a player or two (see: Eric Smith).
Abram Elam is prone to mistakes, but he’s athletic enough to compensate for his reckless aggression. Eric Smith trips over his own feet too often, and gives up underneath routes to every crossing receiver and tight end. That has to stop.
Defining the Season at Week Eight?
It might be too soon to be thinking postseason, but it should be on the Jets’ minds before it’s too late. Winning this game will tie the Jets for first place with Buffalo—pending the outcome of New England’s game, of course.
Losing makes the playoffs very unlikely.
New England is Tom Brady-less, but they’re still winning games. Winning will keep the playoff race tight between the three teams at the top of the AFC East.
Where would a loss leave New York? Dropping a game to a division rival in November is dangerous. With the competitive AFC, a 10-6 record can’t guarantee a playoff berth.
A loss won’t be the end of life as we know it, but it definitely makes life a lot more difficult.
There’s too much talent on the Jets’ roster for fans to have no one to cheer for in January.