In the NFL, most teams go as their quarterback goes. Through the first three weeks of the 2008 season, it was apparent that neither the New York Jets nor Brett Favre were struggling to find their niche. As the Jets sputtered to a 1-2 start, Favre was stuck in neutral. He tossed six touchdown passes over the first games, but the Jets were still anxiously waiting for the future Hall of Famer to get in-sync with his receivers. But while Favre enjoyed his breakout performance on Sept. 28 when he threw six touchdown passes in a 56-35 win over the Cardinals, the offense still remained in search of an identity.
Now as the Jets enter their big matchup with the 10-0 Titans, the Jets seem to know what type of offense they are. In the last two weeks, Favre has thrown for 167 yards and 258 yards respectively, with three combined touchdown passes. The Jets haven’t relied on the 18-year veteran to carry them as he did during the overtime against New England, but he’s been more than simply a game manager. Head coach Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer have convinced Favre to shed his reckless, gunslinging ways and instead focus on being efficient. Meanwhile, the Jets have finally the tough, ball control offense that Mangini envisioned as Thomas Jones now leads the AFC in rushing (190 carries, 854 yards, nine touchdowns).
What’s most impressive about the Jets’ recent run on offense are the enlongated drives they’re molding together. Rather than just be a ‘fun and gun’ offense and fire the ball 40 yards downfield on each possession, the Jets are mixing a managable passing attack with a steady running game. Such drives are especially effective because they tire out defenses and eat up precious time on the clock. The Giants were a prime example of that as they made their run to a Super Bowl championship last season. Quarterback Eli Manning wasn’t asked to gun the ball downfield on each throw. Instead he threw 10-15 yard routes and mixed those with a pounding run attack. Now you may suggest that the Jets possessed a similar offense with Chad Pennington, but the difference between the nimble-armed Pennington and the rocket-armed Favre is that Favre always serves as a threat. Defenses never had to worry about Pennington firing the ball downfield, but with Favre, the frightening thought always has to sit in the mind of the defense.
The Jets’ last two scoring drives against the Patriots Thursday were a model of the aforementioned style:
Time of Possession: 7:06, 14 plays, 67 yards (Result: One-yard touchdown run by Jones, 31-24 Jets)
Time of Possession: 7:50, 14 plays, 64 yards (Result: 34-yard field goal by Jay Feely, 34-31 Jets)
*Two of the Jets’ longest drives in the last three seasons have occurred within the last three weeks:
11/9/08 v. STL 11:09 min (Result: End of game)
10/28/07 v. BUF 9:25 min (Result: FG)
11/12/06 v. NE 9:12 min (Result: TD)
10/21/07 v. CIN 9:09 min (Resut: FG)
11/2/08 v. BUF 8:41 min (Result: FG
10/1/06 v. IND 8:40 min (Result: INT)
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