One C-word has been heard frequently during this fortnight of good feeling for the Jets' offense: chemistry. And the players' bonding and playing better has been reflected in the 85 points they've scored in their two most recent games.
But another C-word has also gone spoken and unspoken among Brett Favre and his wide receivers, and that is communication.
There isn't a greater recent example of communicating than Exhibit C: Favre's third touchdown pass of the second quarter to Laveranues Coles two Sundays ago against Arizona.
"Several of the touchdowns I threw Laveranues the other day, he was not the primary read," Favre recalled at his weekly news conference this morning. "The only play really that was going to him was the one when I asked him leaving the huddle, 'What can you beat him on?' and he said, 'Just throw me the fade route.' I threw him the fade route and he won."
That was the third of the three TD strikes the two conspired on, with 10 seconds to go in the half to make the score 31-0. Jets critics have had their problems with the fade over the years, but they had nothing to criticize on this one. Favre's throw was perfect, completely eluding stumbling rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and nestling into Coles' hands in the left side of the end zone.
"That is one of the great things about Brett," Coles said in front of his locker today. "He told me that in his whole 18 years of playing football, that was the first fade pass he's thrown for a touchdown. It was one of the weirdest things for me to hear him say that. When I told him I could win, he said, 'I just dropped back, threw it up and see what happens.' "
"It's one of those things," Coles said, uttering two more C-words in the process, "where he is starting to get confidence in me and getting more comfortable or getting a better understanding for what I feel like I am good at when I see certain things during the game. I am going to do my best to make a play or make sure they don't make a play."
If the Cardinals game was a coming-out party for Favre-to-Coles, the development of the quarterback's communication with all his wideouts has been a behind-the-scenes project in their own private chat room — otherwise a regular offensive meeting room at the Atlantic Health Training Center.
"It's a collective process with Brett and the receivers," head coach Eric Mangini explained. "They'll watch tape with the coaches initially, then they'll stay and watch tape together, and they'll just talk about how they want to run the routes. That's so important. Laveranues, Jerricho, Chansi, Brad, Wallace, or the tight ends, their understanding what his thought process is could change the way they run their routes."
Chansi Stuckey, who caught one touchdown pass from Favre in each of the Jets' first three games, likes the ambience of these sitdowns.
"It's very laid-back and relaxed, not uptight and tense," Stuckey said. "Brett sort of has a different approach. Everyone can kind of put in how they feel or what they see on film. ... It's really carrying over to the practice field and to the games."
"The meeting is to keep you on edge," Coles said, "and to give you an idea of what direction his train of thought is going to be on Sunday. For the most part it's everybody trying to get a better understanding for him."
Favre's train of thought is that he is getting a growing appreciation for these new but increasingly familiar faces on his personal NFL commute.
"To say I'm as comfortable as I was the last few years in Green Bay, I'd be lying to you," the QB said, "but I'm working hard at it. I like open dialog and the way we're going about it. Anybody has an idea, we speak up, we talk about it. We're trying to keep it simple but yet within the confines of this offense.
"I think it's been pretty productive up to this point. I should continue to get better, and as long as we continue to stay healthy, we should be OK."