FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Dustin Keller vividly recalls the last time the Jets traveled to the unfriendly confines of Seattle.
He may not want to, of course. But he does nonetheless.
“It was 2008 … and it was loud,” Keller said. “It snowed that day, so people were throwing snowballs at me. I was ducking a lot of them.”
The Jets could not manage any offense on Dec. 21, 2008, and lost, 13-3. The Seahawks — and their stadium and fans — had a lot to do with it.
“It was tough playing there, especially for me,” Keller said. “If you go into a game like this and not make any plans to handle (the noise), you could be in a load of trouble.”
OK, so CenturyLink Field might not be the best place for the Jets (3-5) to turn things around and get back in the AFC East race. But the schedule says they have to go, so they might as well be prepared. The Seahawks (5-4), who rely on the crowd and an intimidation factor second to none in the NFL, are 4-0 at home this season.
But confidence reigns — surprise, surprise — at Jets camp, as they prepare to board a flight.
“We’re definitely going to the playoffs,” defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said, a day after defensive back Antonio Cromartie issued a similar motto. “Make no mistake.”
Guarantees aside, New York, like most teams, has made the midweek preparations for Seattle. The loud music during practice, the whole bit. And Keller, of course, appreciates it. But he knows that he’s going to watch things on his own, either way. There’s only so much you can replicate.
“If I’m playing tight, it’s a little easier because I’m close to the ball,” Keller said. “It’s a little easier than playing the slot, because then I just see the ball and move when it’s snapped. It’s definitely a hard place to play and we have to be ready for it.”
Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold feels the same way.
“It’s loud and it’s a difficult place to play in,” Mangold said. “It’s just something we have to deal with. It’s the nature of the beast. If you try and change things up now, you’ll get hurt. I don’t think you can worry about the noise more than any other.”
Backup quarterback Tim Tebow has yet to experience Seattle and its fans, but he knows the Southeastern Conference. And it can’t be as loud as some of the venues he played in as a Florida Gator.
Or is it?
“I’d have to say that LSU would have to be louder,” Tebow said. “I don’t think anything is as loud as that. I’ve never been to Seattle, but college stadiums compared to the NFL is not too much in comparison, in my opinion, in terms of how loud the crowd is. I’ve been told that Seattle can definitely cause some problems, but we should be OK. It shouldn’t be that big of an issue.”
Pro Bowl guard Brandon Moore feels like the team is ready, either way.
“The fans there are really into it and the team feeds off their energy,” Moore said. “It’s definitely an advantage for them as a team. We just have to communicate more, be more demonstrative and be in tune with each other. We may not be able to silence then, but the key is not to get too distracted.”
It was easy to get distracted during practice this week, as coach Rex Ryan blasted in the tunes through the practice field loudspeakers. All different types of music, from all different time periods. Whatever he could find to get the job done.
“It’s been helpful, having the music,” tackle Austin Howard said. “It’s definitely loud. I don’t know most of it, but it’s loud. I think we’ll be able to hear the calls on Sunday.”
As for the postseason talk, well, Ryan is OK with it. There’s quite a bit of work ahead of the team, but at least it’s thinking big, right?
“We’re 3-5 and have a task in front of us,” he said. “It’s a huge task and this is not the team we expected to have. But we’re attacking things as if we’re going to the playoffs. We’re confident.
“Our intentions are to make the playoffs.”
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