Coles anticipates a loud Jets crowd on Sunday
When the New York Jets were preparing for the 2005 season finale against the Buffalo Bills, pride, draft positioning, stats, and experience stole the headlines. The 2006 season has marked a complete turnaround for the Green & White as this Sunday's regular season finale against the visiting Raiders has postseason implications.
"There's a very strong awareness by everybody as to what it means, but it goes back to the core values of finishing, and this is finishing the regular season," said head coach Eric Mangini said. "It's finishing the week. It's the same approach that we've taken to get to this point, and that will be the same approach that we're taking through this week."
The aura of excitement throughout the Jets locker room and practice field is evident and powerful. Even though they are maintaining their consistent approach visible in weeks past, there seems to be a twinkle in everyone's eye. To earn a Wild Card spot is one thing, but to have the opportunity to close out such an invigorating season in front of the home crowd certainly hits home with the men of Weeb Ewbank Hall.
"We are excited about being able to finish the season in front of our home crowd," Mangini said on Thursday. "It's always great to feed off their energy. It gets loud in there. That's always appreciated, especially when we're on defense. To be able to finish the regular season with our fans is a great opportunity for us. We're looking forward to that."
"It's pretty fun we got a home game in front of our fans," said receiver Laveranues Coles. "It feels good to actually play here at home and have our fans supporting us and not run out of our tunnel to boos for a change."
After last year, few predicted a situation like this to arise. There was more to those 2005 Jets than their record indicated, however. The injury bug ran rampant throughout the clubhouse and they were never able to recover.
"That's the point I'm making all the time with people who were looking at this team last year with the 4-12 record," Coles said. "About half the guys I was lining up in the huddle with I didn't even know their name; I didn't even know who they were. It was like, what do you expect? Two years ago a lot of the same guys in this room were in the playoffs."
Regardless of last season's outcome, Mangini came in with confidence and was determined to take this team out of the shadow and into a positive situation.
"When I first got here - seeing the offseason program, seeing the organized team activities, seeing them in training camp - they were constantly trying to get better," Mangini said. "When you have that element in place, it's very encouraging for a coach, it's very encouraging for a staff, and it's very encouraging for a team. Any time you marry hard work with consistency, you've got a real shot to be successful."
NotesMangini and GM Mike Tannenbaum sent an inquiry to the league offices regarding the helmet-to-helmet hit Coles took from Dolphin backer Zack Thomas Monday night. Coles, who was motionless on the soggy Miami turf after the hit, suffered a gash on his chin and is listed as questionable on the injury report with a head/jaw injury. Coles says it's just part of the game. "Football is football," he said. "If you stand out there between those lines, you understand the dangers that come with playing. I'm more than willing to take it again if I had to, especially if it leads to us winning the ball game."
Injury ReportJets*Questionable: FB B.J. Askew (foot), RB Kevan Barlow (thigh), CB David Barrett (hip), WR Laveranues Coles (head/jaw), CB Andre Dyson (knee), FB James Hodgins (knee), RB Cedric Houston (calf), S Kerry Rhodes (knee), & DB Eric Smith (foot)
*Probable: LB Matt Chatham (foot), *OL Brandon Moore (back),DL Rashad Moore (hand), *QB Chad Pennington (calf), *QB Patrick Ramsey (calf) & *DE Bryan Thomas (shoulder)
Out: RB LaMont Jordan (knee) & WR Jerry Porter (hip)
Questionable: QB Aaron Brooks (neck), RB Zack Crockett (heel) & WR Randy Moss (ankle)
Probable:G Kevin Boothe (elbow),*T Robert Gallery (neck), *G Corey Hulsey (knee) & *CB Fabian Washington (shoulder)
*Denotes players who participated in practice