What do the Jets and Lance Armstrong have in common? They both compete in marathons, or at least their version of the classic endurance race.
"You have to stay consistent the whole season," S Kerry Rhodes said today. "This is a marathon, the season is a marathon. We've had two good sprints so far in two games."
Heading into Sunday's matchup vs. the Titans, the Jets will have to perform a "Usain Bolt" once again.
The last time the Jets faced Tennessee could be considered the high point of last season when they beat the then-undefeated Titans, 34-13, in the Music City. Brett Favre threw for 224 yards and a touchdown, Thomas Jones ran for 96 yards on 27 carries and Leon Washington ran for 82 yards on eight carries, including a 61-yard TD to ice the game.
We all know what happened after that — the sprint ended as the Jets recorded one more win in five games to miss the playoffs.
"You don't want that feeling again and I think that's something that the guys who are here last year learned," said C Nick Mangold. "We're keeping our nose to the grind and working to make sure that doesn't happen again."
"We have a whole new team," said LB Bryan Thomas. "We have a different scheme, different offense. They are going to remember that game from last year and they are going to try and do whatever it takes to be successful. We just have to make sure we make our right calls and checks and do everything we need to do."
Head coach Rex Ryan knew what he needed to do last season when the Ravens beat the Titans in the playoffs, 13-10, forcing three turnovers. Jets DE Marques Douglas, who played in that game and who will play in his 99th straight NFL game on Sunday, knows how tough of a team they can be despite their record.
"They always play hard to begin with, so when I see them on tape I don't know why they're 0-2," Douglas said. "But I see an excellent team that can run the ball and pass the ball. I see a deadly team."
They can definitely be lethal. Led by QB Kerry Collins, who makes his return to the Meadowlands as a Jets opponent — his first time as a Titan — and stud running back Chris Johnson, the Titans pose a threat in all aspects if their game.
Although they haven't held the ball for a long time — 26:10 average over two games —they have big-play ability with a home run hitter in the backfield.
Johnson, who ran for a 91-yard touchdown against the Texans last week, is the No. 2 rusher in the NFL with 254 rushing yards and two TDs on 31 carries. And they have a solid one-two punch with LenDale White, who rushed for the second-most TDs in a season in Titans/Oilers history last year with 15.
"Big plays turn the game around fast, so those are things you have to eliminate," said Thomas. "If they're hitting you with big runs and they don't have long time of possession, those are the things that you have to settle and try to eliminate out there."
The Jets veterans are not satisfied with where their team is just yet.
"Everyone talks about what happened last year," said CB Darrelle Revis. "We don't want to get back to that and everyone's aware of that and we're going to make sure that doesn't happen. The season is still young, we're 2-0, we still have a lot to prove."
"I understand those concerns about last year but this is a totally different team," said WR Jerricho Cotchery. "We're locked in on this season, we're taking it one game at a time. We have a common goal and that's to reach the Super Bowl and we're going to take it one week at a time. Whatever opponents we have that week, we're going to try and lock on them to go out there and get a W."
Even the rookie QB who won his first two games, including the franchise's first Meadowlands victory in nine seasons over the Patriots is focused at the task at hand.
"Guys have done a really good job of resetting our focus, letting us know that yesterday and Monday really was the day to celebrate that win and that's it," said Mark Sanchez. "That's one game in our schedule, one divisional game and we've moved on."
G Alan Faneca will back him up on that.
"They are going to give us their best shot," he said. "If you go in expecting a team with no wins you're going to be sadly mistaken. You approach it like every other Sunday and go out there ready for a long day."