Foundation Being Built**In some ways, the Jets have already exceeded many people's expectations for them in nine weeks. But GM Mike Maccagnan says while there is progress, he knows there is a ways to go.
"There are a lot of positives," he told reporters. "There are still some areas we need to improve upon — we're still only 4-5."
Maccagnan, who added the likes of QB Josh McCown, CB Morris Claiborne and LT Kelvin Beachum in free agency and drafted safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye along with running back Elijah McGuire last April, made a number of critical late roster additions including WRs Jermaine Kearse and Jeremy Kerley, DE Kony Ealy, OLB David Bass and S Terrence Brooks.
"It's not where we ideally want to be, but we feel with some of the moves we made this offseason that the team is transitioning well to what our vision for it was going forward, which was kind of a young core of players that can go out there and be competitive on a weekly basis and ideally compete for the playoffs at some point in time," he said.
Moving AheadAfter receiving critical praise for their prime-time efforts in a Week 9 win over the Bills, the Jets know they can't afford to look behind or too far ahead. The 2-6 Buccaneers have a number of issues and the Green & White are favorites for just the second time this season, but Tampa will present challenges for a group looking to reach .500 before Thanksgiving.
"I think the biggest things is guys just staying poised," said DL Leonard Williams. "I remember one thing we're trying to focus on is not getting too high after this win and just keep moving forward."
Next Man UpThe Jets will be without the services of veteran wideout Jeremey Kerley for the next four games. With Kerley suspended for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs, that means there will be more opportunities for rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen to get involved.
"They have been doing a great job. They have been working on their craft each and every day," said Jermaine Kearse. "I've been talking to them, I make myself available for them any chance they need help or any questions. We just look forward for them to step up. It's the next man up and we're going to need them in these next couple of games, so I'm looking forward to watching them play."
Oh, the IronyAfter starting 27 games in 2015-16, the Jets parted ways with Ryan Fitzpatrick in February. He signed with the Buccaneers in March to be Jameis Winston's backup, but the latter is dealing with a shoulder injury and Fitzpatrick will make his first stat of the season Sunday.
"It's ironic that I move on to another team and the first start I'm going to have is against the Jets," Fitzpatrick said on a conference call this week. "But I'm excited for the opportunity. I know there's the stuff with me obviously being there the last two years, but more than anything just trying to do my best for this team. We're sitting at 2-6 and disappointed with how this season has gone so far, so just trying to fill in and find a way to get us a win."
Former teammate Buster Skrine talked about his respect for the 34-year-old Fitzpatrick, a signal caller who had 43 touchdowns and 32 interceptions during his Jets' stint.
"I'm going to go in there and play like we're going to get the best Fitz," said the veteran corner.
McCown, a Pewter Pirate in 2014 who is No. 2 in the NFL with a 70.4 completion percentage, and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a second-round pick of Tampa in 2014 who paces New York's AFC representative with 33 catches, will make return appearances to Raymond James Stadium.
Jets Returned to the Practice Field on Wednesday at 1 Jets Drive in Preparation for Week 10
Tampa TwoMinus star receiver Mike Evans, the Buccaneers could try to get more action for their tight ends against the Jets. Both veteran Cameron Brate (32-414-4TD) and rookie O.J. Howard (14-227-3TD) are playmakers who can put stress on the middle of a defense. After watching the Jets' seven-sack performance against the Bills, the game plan for Fitzpatrick may be get the ball out of his hands quick.
"They're really good tight ends," said MLB Demario Davis, whose 95 tackles lead the defense. "I think they're a huge part of their offense and it's going to be a challenge for us, so we have to be ready to play physical, get our hands on them, run with them and know when they want to give them the ball and come ready to stop those guys and the rest of the guys on offense."