Days away from a meeting with perhaps the most physical team in the National Football League, the New York Jets are energized. While many want to rehash the missed opportunities against the Dolphins and the Browns, the Jets have not wasted their time.
"We are laser-locked focus on Jacksonville," ILB Darron Lee told me. "We're not worried about anything than has happened previous to this week. We're just looking forward and keeping it moving."
Defensive tackle Steve McLendon was ready to play this double-chinstrap game on Wednesday. He smiled from ear to ear when talking about the ferocity on the horizon.
"If a guy is not ready for this game, he's not ready for football," he said. "It's just that simple."
The Jaguars have arguably the best defense in the league, but the Jets have improved on that side of the ball as well. The latter is ready to contend with bellcow back Leonard Fournette, who missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and totaled 145 yards against the Green & White in a Jets' 23-20 OT triumph last season.
"Just getting two or three yards, maybe three or four yards each down," said S Jamal Adams of his former college teammate at LSU. "Coming out of the backfield catching the ball, he's a mismatch on a lot of linebackers. He brings that type of ability to the game."
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone knows what he is seeing on film doesn't lie, saying the Jets could and probably should be 3-0. But the Jets are 1-2 and their offensive line is about to be challenged by a front that features the likes of Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Dante Fowler and Malik Jackson.
"With this Jacksonville group, it's just straight speed," said RT Brandon Shell. "The speed rushers are looking to swipe your hands and get upfield with swim moves and finesse moves. With speed guys, you just have to know how to set. You have to beat them to the point, get your hands up, get ready to punch and get ready to grab or whatever your technique is at that point."
Poise will be needed from the entire Jets team including their 21-year-old quarterback: Sam Darnold.
"I think I've done a pretty good job of keeping my poise in the pocket. Sometimes I rush, but in the first couple games I thought I found completions," he said. "I didn't do as good of a job at that in the Cleveland game, but I've just got to continue to do the things that are working, continue to find completions, but also take my shots when they are there."
When asked about young star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Darnold paid respect before returning to the trenches.
"He's a great player. He's great in the zone coverage and great in man coverage as well, so with him we have to do a great job on the outside," he said. "They're great players and they play for a great defense, but I think it all starts up front for them. Their defense up front is amazing and we're going to have to get after them in certain ways."
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The Jags can be downright stifling on defense and there will be times it will be tough sledding on offense. But the Jets are a better defense themselves than last season and they have the ability to get after the Jacksonville offense.
"The last two games don't really matter. We've moved on. It's the NFL – anybody can be beat," said S Jamal Adams. "You have to bring your A game each and every Sunday, Thursday, Monday, whatever day it is. We understand what's at stake and we have to go down there and get a win. It's going to be a tough opponent. We have a lot of respect for this team and it's going to be a dogfight."
In a week-to-league, the Green & White have the right mindset entering the final contest of the season's first quarter. A healthy underdog Sunday, the Jets have one more road game before a rare three-game homestand. Things can change in a hurry and the belief tank is still running on full.
"We are not going down the road of the past. We're living in the future, we're living in the present," McLendon said. "The now is what is most important. We're excited, we're a very energetic group. We're most definitely a physical group, but we're a group who believes in us. That's all that matters right now."