FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Rex Ryan and the New York Jets have been in this spot before.
And they’ve learned what not to do after starting last season at 3-1.
“We lost of six of seven,” Ryan said Monday. “I don’t anticipate doing that.”
Not after routing the Buffalo Bills 38-14 on Sunday and looking every bit like one of the best all-around teams in the AFC with an efficient offense, stingy defense and solid special teams unit.
“It was an outstanding performance by us,” Ryan said, “and one I think we’ll build off of.”
The Jets have won three straight — all in their division — and could be undefeated if not for an ugly offensive performance against Baltimore in Week 1.
“We weren’t at our best that day, without question,” Ryan said. “We’re going to be talking about that until we play them in the playoffs, it sounds like to me.”
Not to get ahead of themselves, the Jets’ next challenge is taking a different path from this point than they did in 2009, when they had to sweat it out and rally to reach the postseason.
“I was just thinking, ‘Wow, we’re actually in a similar position,’ but I think it’s a lot better,” left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson said. “I think we learned a lot from last year, just how it feels to be in this type of position, having this record. I think it will be a different outcome than what we faced during the season last year.”
They play at home against Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings next Monday night and at Denver before their bye-week break. Then, New York has a home game against Green Bay.
“I feel like last year was kind of a shock to everybody,” wide receiver Brad Smith said of the 3-1 start. “Of course, when you go out and play, you play to win, but it was kind of like you’re just riding momentum and that kind of thing. This year, it’s more a determined feel.
“We plan on winning, we plan on playing our best game every week and we plan on focusing each time we go out on the field. That’s the difference.”
Another thing different is the fact the Jets already have done it without some key players in the injured Darrelle Revis, Calvin Pace and Kris Jenkins and the suspended Santonio Holmes. While Holmes is set to make his Jets debut Monday night, New York is hopeful both Revis and Pace will be back.
“Having Santonio back, Darrelle and Calvin, this is the team we envisioned trotting out there every week,” Ryan said.
It will surely be a big boost to a team that appeared to have few flaws Sunday — albeit against a subpar opponent.
“I think we feel pretty good,” Smith said. “There are still some things as a team that we’re starting to put it together, but we don’t feel like we’re quite there yet. We’re really working to get there.”
The Jets jumped 20th in overall defense to 12th, including fourth against the run. That’s after holding Buffalo to 30 yards on its first four possessions and shutting out the Bills on 10 third-down opportunities — a category in which the Jets ranked second-to-last entering the game.
“It was something Rex expressed we needed to work on,” defensive tackle Sione Pouha said. “We still understood we had some things to work on. It’s always good to win and know you can do better, and work on those things and see the results turn out as they did during the Buffalo game.”
The offense also ran all over the Bills, racking up 273 yards rushing, including 133 by a revitalized LaDainian Tomlinson. Throw in the fact Mark Sanchez has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions through four games, and the Jets are soaring.
“Last year, we didn’t take advantage of that opportunity and now we’ve gone out and played three division games and been successful,” Ferguson said. “I think it will really allow us to be put in the position that we want to be seen in, and that’s No. 1.”
Notes: DE Shaun Ellis was scheduled to have an MRI on his injured left knee, but Ryan doesn’t think there is ligament damage. “Hopefully he’ll be fine,” Ryan said. … Ryan said RB Joe McKnight, the team’s fourth-round pick, was outstanding on special teams in his debut. He also floated the idea McKnight has the athletic ability to play cornerback if needed. “Why not?” Ryan said. “You see some natural corner skills.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.