Jets focus on winless Bengals

October 6, 2008 7:11:14 PM PDT
Kerry Rhodes picked up a roll of black tape and took a jump shot that clanged off the locker room ceiling. The New York Jets safety ran over to the makeshift ball, picked it up and took another shot that sailed past the garbage can. Eric Barton and Darrelle Revis were soon at it, too, laughing and trying to swat away each other's shots.

Loose and relaxed, the Jets went back to work Monday after a few days off following their early season bye.

"We get the chance to look at some of the things we did bad in the first half of the season and try to correct them early," said Rhodes, who went back home to Alabama during the break to visit his mother. "Hopefully with those corrections that we got now, sooner and not later, that we can reel off some wins and get this thing rolling in the right direction."

The Jets (2-2) are coming off a 56-35 victory over Arizona last week and will play the 0-5 Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday at home. A number of the players got to see parts of the Bengals' 31-22 loss at Dallas on Sunday and insisted that they wouldn't take their next opponent lightly.

"Every game they've had has been a tight one," wide receiver Laveranues Coles said. "They had another one just run away from them. They're a scary team to play against whether they're 0-5 or 5-0. They could just as well be 5-0 as they are 0-5."

Coles even sounded a warning to his defensive teammates, who'll have to focus on receivers Chad Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

"Our defense has their hands full," Coles said. "They come off playing Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and have to turn around and play Chad and T.J. They have their work cut out for them. I don't think I would ever want to be a defensive coordinator having to face those two tandems back to back."

In coach Eric Mangini's previous two seasons, the Jets used the bye week to tweak things and came out as a much-improved defensive unit following the break.

"The consistent thing and the thing I stress to the players is the importance of going back and look at things individually," Mangini said. "First starting with yourself and being brutally honest and saying, 'What can I improve and have I worked on those things that I need to improve? Am I where I should be at this point and if not, how can I get there?"'

New York's defense has looked good at times early, especially in the Jets' last game when Arizona was shut out in the first half. The Cardinals made adjustments and the Jets were slow to react, allowing Arizona back into it with a 35-point second half.

"We have to be consistent and take advantage of opportunities," Rhodes said. "We've had opportunities to make plays and we didn't, but we've done a good job of making plays, as well. There are some things that are left out, but we need to make all the plays we can and be consistent."

The offense has looked solid during the last few games, with Brett Favre settling in. He threw a career-high six touchdown passes, tying Joe Namath's team record, in the win over Arizona. Favre leads the NFL with a 110.8 quarterback rating and 12 touchdown passes.

"It's a work in progress every day," center Nick Mangold said. "He's doing a great job and I think all of the guys in here are doing a good job of working and making sure we all know what we need to do and how to get it done."

The offensive line has consistently given Favre a good amount of time to make plays as Mangold, guards Alan Faneca and Brandon Moore and tackles D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Damien Woody continue to get used to each other and their new quarterback.

"It's coming together," Mangold said. "I think we had a good rapport back in the spring, but I think it's a process we need to keep working at. It's a relationship you can't put to the side. You have to make sure you're always making the effort and getting things done on and off the field."

Favre's improving relationship with his receivers has been a hot topic in the first few weeks of the season, so with a throng of reporters surrounding Coles, the quarterback decided to join in on the fun.

"Is it a lot of fun having Favre throw passes to you?" he asked Coles, using a makeshift microphone.

Coles, who caught a career-high three TD passes from Favre against Arizona, looked up at the quarterback and smiled.

"Hell, no!" Coles blurted, laughing loudly.

A few minutes later, Coles was asked if teams might start putting the Jets' receivers in the same class as Arizona's and Cincinnati's with more performances like the one they had against the Cardinals. Coles turned playful again, saying he'd prefer to stay under the radar.

"They take notice of the old man," Coles said, waving at Favre's locker next to his. "They don't pay us no attention."