A QB's Got to Know When to Hold 'Em ...


If you're a Jets fan and you like blackjack, today was a fun day here at the Atlantic Health Training Facility.

During Eric Mangini's morning press conference, he relayed some of the thoughts he exchanged Tuesday with quarterback Brett Favre.

"You just stress don't hit on 20," said a witty Mangini. "Sometimes it's OK to stay and see what the dealer has."

Also referred to as twenty-one in some circles, blackjack is perhaps the most popular card game in the world. If you've collected a 20 after two cards, the wise philosophy is to politely decline another card and hope the dealer totals either under 19 or 22 and beyond.

"I used to always take hits on 16 or 15," said Favre only minutes after Mangini stepped off the podium. "Believe it or not, I'm not a gambler. I know it sounds crazy."

But Favre is known to be quite the riverboat gambler on the football field. He's earned the gunslinger reputation, a cocky right-hander who throws caution to the wind. And since the bye, he's thrown eight interceptions in just three games.

"You're not trying to reel him in and coach him how to be a good player," Mangini said of their weekly talks. "You're just trying to reinforce that everything needs to be a calculated risk."

Favre's 11 interceptions also is tied for the NFL lead with San Francisco's J.T. O'Sullivan. It would be easy to blame No. 4 for all those turnovers, but it would also be irresponsible.

"I never view that as one person's issue," said Mangini. "The quarterback gets credit for it just like the offensive line gets credits for sacks given up but it never comes down to that one thing. There are so many other elements that aren't as out in front."

There are different examples that illustrate Mangini's point. He wasn't pleased with Chansi Stuckey's effort on an under route last Sunday that was intercepted by Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers and returned 91 yards for a touchdown. Flowers' first-quarter theft came only after Favre was rocked while unloading the ball.

Favre placed the blame on himself for a long heave in the fourth quarter of the Raiders game, labeling the pass "desperate." But in regard to the red zone pick in Oakland, Favre said not only did Jerricho Cotchery slip but the officials missed a Silver & Black mauling of rookie tight end Dustin Keller.

"There are always factors that are your fault, there are factors that aren't your fault, and there are some where you should have got a penalty or whatever," Favre said.

Despite some costly turnovers, the Jets are still averaging 26 points per game and that number is going to beat teams on most Sundays. Favre, a career 61.6 percent passer, has completed 68.5 percent of his tosses this year and his 15 TD passes are tied for second-most in the league with New Orleans' Drew Brees.

"I'm trying to take care of the ball and have a high percentage passing but also be productive," Favre said. "Being 30-of-30 for 100 yards is not very good. Points is the most important thing."

While the gray in the beard is more prominent than ever and he's in a different shade of green, Brett Favre is still Brett Favre. He's probably lost a couple of miles on his fastball, but he's got some real Nolan Ryan-esque qualities in him. He can still crank it up and be absolutely unhittable, but he also is not immune to the home run.

"I don't think that he's become anybody besides who he's been," Mangini said. "As I've stressed in the past, there is tremendous upside and sometimes there are some plays that you want to have back, but it's all about trying to finding a balance between the two and making sure you are trying to maximize the upside and minimize the downside."

The next Favre interception will be No. 300 in the regular season. He's thrown more picks than anyone in the history of the NFL — but he's also thrown 457 TD passes and nobody's close to that mark. He's a great quarterback who is not afraid to take chances.

"To some degree with Brett, he has to know when to just throw it away, just get rid of it," Mangini said. "Sometimes there's nothing there and that's OK — throw it away."

The cards will be dealt Sunday in Buffalo. "Buffalo is playing outstanding. They're no fluke," Favre said. "It will be a difficult game for us."

But that won't stop him from taking a familiar seat at the table and attempting to play a winning hand once again.

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