After their late bye, the Jets will resume their 2016 schedule Sunday against the Patriots at MetLife Stadium. Despite a 3-7 record, the Green & White have every intention of finishing the season on a high note.
"I feel like guys are coming in and everybody is being a professional," CB Buster Skrine told me this week. "We know how we're sitting right now, but we're just looking to start a win streak."
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who had eight receptions for 115 yards and 2 TD in the Jets' 26-20 OT victory over New England last December, says the preparation never changes.
"If you go out there with a lack of intensity, a lack of emotion, you're going to get your butt whooped and exposed for America to see. We have a saying in the locker room: An eye in the sky don't lie," he said. "Meaning, whatever you do is going to be exposed. Whether it's Week 16 or Week 1, playoffs or not, it's still the same approach."
The Jets, who split with the Patriots last season, know they have to limit the mental errors in order to top the Pats at home for the third time in four seasons.
"We know we can win this game. We just can't make any mistakes," Skrine said. "You can't go in there and make mistakes. That's why they win."
Mangold QuestionableCenter Nick Mangold was a limited participant Friday and was officially listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. Wesley Johnson has started the past three games at center for the Jets as Mangold continues to work his way back from an ankle injury.
"It's been weird. The last game was tough because it was the last home game I ever missed," he said of the Jets' Week 10 loss to the Rams. "So going through the whole process being in our stadium, that was a different experience. You try to do everything you can to stay out of the way, but try to help out and give pointers. Try to be eyes for the coach, [Wes] Johnson. Maybe I can see something that would help them out."
In addition to Mangold, DL Steve McLendon (hamstring) was listed as questionable. Both CBs Marcus Williams (ankle) and Nick Marshall (ankle) were ruled out.
Skrine on the OptionOne of the key matchups in Week 12 figures to involve Skrine as he is expected to frequently be locked up with Patriots WR Julian Edelman.
"A lot of times, they'll put him on the two-receiver side or the three-receiver side and he'll run an option route," Skrine said of Edelman, whose 56 receptions lead the Pats. "When you get an option route, you're pretty much guessing where he is going to go because Brady is going to let it go as soon as he can. So that's going to be a big challenge this week and they have Dion Lewis back, so they try to create mismatches on a linebacker."
The Patriots will take their shots, but they create a lot of damage with their receivers after the catch. Brady is completing 70.4% of his passes and the Jets must tackle well in space or else it could be a long afternoon of chasing.
"You have to be disciplined with your eyes. You can't get antsy and look at the quarterback because then he'll go the other way," Skrine said. "One of our keys to victory this week is no run after catch. Once those little jitterbugs start catching the ball and juking guys, they capitalize on that."
Top Photos from Friday's Practice Leading Up to the Patriots Game
Lee's First Shot
Rookie linebacker Darron Lee, who was the 20th overall selection in last April's draft, has showcased his speed and athletic ability on multiple occasions this season. After returning from an ankle injury against the Rams and with a week off to rest, it will be interesting to see how the Green & White employ Lee against the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett and Dion Lewis.
"He's a rookie, so he's going to learn some things. You see him run and hit, but it's an experience thing," said head coach Todd Bowles. "As you get the mental part down, you get better with your games. He came back from injury last week. He made some plays and he got his feet wet again. So, it's a matter of retooling, getting the tackling down and him seeing the things he needed to see."
Takeaway TieFor all the talk about the Jets lack of takeaways, it might come as a surprise that the Patriots have amassed the same 9 as their AFC East rival. The Pats have gone three straight games without one and Patriots Football Weekly's Andy Hart wrote that they have never gone four straight without a takeaway.