Favre getting comfy as Brett the Jet

October 4, 2008 3:45:35 PM PDT
Brett Favre slipped his jersey over his head, grabbed his helmet and said something to Laveranues Coles that elicited laughs that echoed through the New York Jets' locker room.The veteran quarterback then made his way to the practice field, a big grin marking the gray-stubbled face of the franchise.

"I enjoy being here," Favre said. "It's been fun."

His arrival came with lots of hope and hoopla, but Favre warned anyone who'd listen to temper their expectations. Four games into the newest chapter of his career, Favre is looking a lot like the player the Jets dreamed he would be.

"We knew the whole outlook was going to change once he became a Jet," right tackle Damien Woody said. "I think there were probably some guys in awe. How many guys get to play with a Hall of Fame quarterback or guy of that stature? There was an adjustment period, but everybody is settled in. Brett is another guy on the team that we really enjoy and enjoy playing with.

"Now it's time to roll."

The Jets head into their bye weekend 2-2 and on a huge positive note after Favre set a career high and tied Joe Namath's team record with six touchdown passes in a 56-35 victory last Sunday.

The aerial assault earned Favre the AFC offensive player of the week award, and more importantly, showed he's settling in with his new team after 16 seasons in Green Bay.

"As sweet as it feels to do that, it would feel a lot better if we just continue to win," Favre said. "One of the things I said in the press conference the other day was, 'Don't expect this every week. Don't.' I mean, it would be great, but don't. I just hope we win football games. Whatever happens after that happens. That was a first, and I've played in a lot of games. Nothing ceases to amaze me."

Helped by his breakout game against the Cardinals, Favre leads the NFL with a 110.8 quarterback rating and 12 touchdowns. It's hardly been a seamless transition, though. He struggled to establish a rhythm with his receivers and get the offense down in the first few weeks. Favre insists he's still learning and might not have a complete grasp for several more weeks, but this is certainly a pretty good start.

"It's a dramatic jump because we do have a complex offense and just to call the play out was tough for him early on," tight end Chris Baker said. "Sometimes we got the play, but we didn't get a formation and protection back in camp. He has really evolved and he's obviously had to study a lot."

Even in a shortened bye week.

"In the past, when we had meetings during the bye, my eyes were open, but they were closed, if that makes any sense," Favre said, smiling. "'Oh, yeah, I heard you coach.' Yeah, right. Then, I needed to look over, 'What did he say?' ... This is obviously different because I'm still learning."

After an embarrassing performance against San Diego in front of a Monday night audience, the Jets' defense put the pressure on Arizona and forced seven turnovers. Favre took care of the rest, zipping the ball around the field as New York took advantage of all the mistakes.

"It's only one game," said Coles, who caught a career-high three TD passes. "You don't want to get too excited about it, but it is a positive stepping stone."

The defense has also shown flashes, ranking among the league leaders with 13 sacks. After holding the Cardinals scoreless in the first half last week, the Jets struggled and allowed them to get back into it. In coach Eric Mangini's previous two seasons, the defense has come out of the bye weeks a stingier bunch.

"We have to be better, especially when the offense turns the ball over," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "We need to hold them to three-and-out and force some more turnovers. Other than that, there's some good and there's some bad and that's what the bye week is for, to straighten things up."

The Jets hope to pile up a few wins quickly with a favorable schedule coming off their bye, including games against Cincinnati, Oakland, Kansas City and St. Louis.

"We'll get a better feel for each other," Woody said. "I feel good where we're at and where we're going."

It's been a hectic few months for the Jets after their $140 million offseason spending spree in which they brought in established players such as Pace, Woody, Alan Faneca, Kris Jenkins and Tony Richardson. Next came the stunning trade for Favre, and then the team moved from its longtime home in Long Island to New Jersey.

"I like the way that the guys coming from a lot of different places, whether it's the draft, free agency, whatever the case may be, the way that they have seemed to form a closeness," Mangini said. "We want to see that continue on. I think it's different when you play on a team, and then you play for a team with guys that you really like. I think it's a different level of performance that usually follows that."

And for the Jets, that all starts with Favre.

"I knew when I came here that there would be some questions: 'OK, we have a guy with a lot of experience, but is he going to want to do it his way or our way?"' Favre said. "I think they all would tell you, 'He's here as a Jet. He's willing to do whatever it takes to win.' That's true.

"Am I going to make mistakes? Sure. I hope with each week there's less and less, and more production. We'll see what happens."


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