One of the most frustrating things about the past decade of Patriot dominance has been the way Bill Belichick's "personality" has filtered down into the rest of the league. Back in the day coaches were gregarious, hostile or erudite, and you didn't need the quote marks around the word personality. Now, though, they're a secretive lot who treat the game with detachment worthy of a Keanu Reeves performance.
"You've got to win the game that's in front of you," Mangini said. "I don't think that one game ever defines a season."
Sure it can. Lose tomorrow night and the Jets' season will be defined as "they still can't beat the Patriots." Sure, they might make the playoffs, might even get another shot to change that definition in the final edition of the 2008 NFL Yearbook, but the idea that this is just this week's game is ludicrous.
Thankfully, Brett Favre isn't cut from the same cloth. Gambler, gunslinger, whatever sobriquet you like to use, the point is that Favre didn't get here by playing close to the vest. He doesn't share Mangini's need for obfuscation when the truth is obvious.
"Until we beat these guys, knock 'em off the top, they'll always be the team to beat," Favre said. "I know exactly what this game means, the weight it carries."
The Patriots are what the Jets, what every NFL team, want to be, why pussyfoot around that fact? If they didn't want to be that, Favre wouldn't be here right now, neither would Kris Jenkins or Calvin Pace or, well, you get the idea. Yes, the Patriots are wounded, but they are still the Patriots: a team defined by many things, among them a consistent domination of Mangini's team. Favre knows he was brought here to change that, and knows he can change it tomorrow night.