The Jets have nothing but respect for Mike Holmgren, but they'd like the Seahawks' head coach to end his Seattle reign on a sour note.
With a 9-5 mark, the Jets have two games remaining and their math is simple. They'll claim the AFC East with a win today in Seattle followed by a home victory over the Miami Dolphins.
But Holmgren, who's led the 'Hawks to six playoff appearances, five division titles and a Super Bowl trip, has given this game a Homecoming feel. After 10 years, he's set to resign from the club at the end of the season and this will be the final home game of his tenure.
"It'll be emotional. I'm an emotional person anyway. The football game is still a football game, so I'm going to be working that hard," Holmgren said this week. "When it's over, what I want to do is just kind of walk around, if there's anybody left in the stadium, if they haven't already gone to their dinner reservations and things, I was just going to make one walk around the stadium and thank them, and then head on in."
The Green & White know they're in for a battle. After dropping all three of their West Coast games to date, they can't afford a less than complete effort.
"They are going to be amped up because it's Mike Holmgren's last [home] game and they're going to go play for him," said veteran corner Ty Law. "I know they respect him and what better way to honor Mike Holmgren than to go out there and win his last home game? We have to be prepared for a hard-fought game. We have to be prepared for four hard-fought quarters and just take care of our business."
Under Holmgren, the 'Hawks have won 65 percent of their home games. But they've been victorious one time at the notoriously loud Qwest Field in '08.
"I am sure they are going to want to send him out in a good way in front of the home fans. It's going to be a tough game. Those guys play hard," said RT Damien Woody. "They have a lot of pride over there. They have a lot of good veteran players, plus they know what is at stake for us. They are going to want to play spoiler, too."
Brett Favre is well aware of the dangers presented by a Holmgren-coached team. When Holmgren was in charge of the Packers from 1992-98, Favre won a Super Bowl ring, appeared in another title game and captured three NFL MVP trophies.
"I can honestly say that I would not be here today if it were not for Mike Holmgren," Favre said. "He and I worked together a long time ago, but the things that he taught me really hit me a little bit later — how much of a perfectionist that he was and how hard he was on me. That's the way that I study and prepare today."
Snow is in the forecast and the ball might be slick, but the Jets will be prepared for the conditions. Before they departed for Seattle Friday, they practiced in a New Jersey snowstorm.
"You can't simulate it. You can talk about it, you can try to educate on it, but until you go do it, it's different," said head coach Eric Mangini. "We practice a lot in the rain, in the cold, all the different elements, and there's real value to it if you can draw on the experiences the next time you face that stuff."
And Mangini's hasn't made any excuses for his team's previous troubles on the left coast. Taking a page from Gene Hackman's Norman Dale character in "Hoosiers," Mangini went out of his way this week to let people know that the particulars at Qwest are similar to those the Jets will find at the Meadowlands.
"The goalposts are the same height, the field is the same dimension and the ball is the same length," he said. "It's just three hours earlier — we're not playing in zero gravity."
While Holmgren's run in Seattle is set to end, Favre is hoping for another ticket to the postseason dance. His Jets have planned all week to crash the goodbye party and now it's time for action.
"I like our team," Favre said. "I think we have proven, for the most part this year, that we can be a very good team. Given the stakes, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be confident. We still have to go play."
Jets 2, Walrus 1
Eric Mangini will be the fourth Jets head coach to go up against a Mike Holmgren-coached team. Here's how the previous three matchups against "the Walrus" turned out:
|Season||Jets Coach||Stadium||Final Score|
|1994||Pete Carroll||Lambeau Field||PACKERS 17, Jets 10|
|1999||Bill Parcells||Meadowlands||JETS 19, Seahawks 9|
|2004||Herm Edwards||Meadowlands||JETS 37, Seahawks 14|