FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (WFAN/AP) — New York’s upcoming stretch may have some fans upset, but Brandon Moore refuses to look too far ahead on the Jets’ schedule.
The veteran guard knows a cross-country flight to play the Oakland Raiders on Sunday is next on the itinerary. Beyond that, he’ll deal with packing for the team’s other upcoming road trips when the time comes.
“I’m just worried about Oakland,” Moore said Monday. “Who’s after that?”
A game at Baltimore, followed by a big division matchup at New England.
“Well,” Moore said, “Oakland’s next week.”
The Jets opened with two straight home wins, but face an early-season test in which they’ll hit the road for three consecutive weeks — a stretch they haven’t seen in the regular season since the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Three straight road trips is nothing new for New York, though, after the Jets ended the last two seasons doing exactly that on their way to two straight AFC championship games.
“We’re not intimidated by any surroundings that we go into,” coach Rex Ryan said.
They’ve been a solid team away from home under Ryan, going 11-5 in the regular season on the road in his first two years as coach. The Jets are also 4-2 in the playoffs during that stretch.
“If you bring a good team with you, you have a chance,” Ryan said. “I think that’s the big thing, and that’s what we bring to the road. We’re bringing a good football team with us.”
And, they’re already preparing the players for the trip to Oakland on Friday. There are little reminders posted, telling them to get 8 hours of sleep each night and to make sure they’re drinking plenty of water.
“We’ve just got to focus on Oakland, and that’s it,” cornerback Antonio Cromartie said. “We have to make sure we come in and prepare for what we need to throughout the entire week and get ready for a long trip.”
The Jets’ next home game is Oct. 17 against Miami — a stretch of nearly a month.
“We know what it takes,” Ryan said. “We know how to prepare for going to the West Coast, so we’re confident on the road. But, we’d much rather play the game at home.”
It’s a crucial stretch so early in the season, and the Jets know there’s still plenty of room for improvement, despite a 2-0 start. Mark Sanchez and the offense want to get more consistent early in games and establish the running game, while the defense wants to shut down opponents the way it stifled Jacksonville on Sunday in a 32-3 victory.
“We did what we had to do,” wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. “I think we had a pretty good week of practice. Everybody was on key, making the right plays. We had a few penalties here and there that stopped a few drives later in the game, but to start the game the way we wanted to was big, and the defense, those guys played tremendous, lights out, from the beginning of the game.”
Ryan challenged the offense at the team hotel Saturday night, telling his players that if the Jets won the coin toss, he would put the ball in their hands for a change. The defensive-minded coach usually defers, but wanted to see his offense get off to a quick start, and Sanchez & Co. certainly delivered.
Sanchez efficiently moved the ball down the field, and Holmes completed the drive by leaping in the end zone for a terrific 17-yard catch that ended New York’s skid of 16 games without a first-quarter touchdown.
“When I saw the stats and all that jazz, it was like, ‘I know we’re much better than this,’” Ryan said. “And, after they scored, they were kind of giving me the business. That’s why our defense had to go out and score on their first possession.”
That came when rookie defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson flung Jaguars quarterback Luke McCown to the turf for a safety on Jacksonville’s third play from scrimmage. New York ended up intercepting McCown four times, including two by Cromartie, and showed flashes of dominance — albeit against an offense that had few weapons and a career backup at quarterback.
It was at least a confidence booster after the Jets allowed 390 yards of offense in the season-opening win against Dallas.
“It was a nice bounce back,” Cromartie said. “We just want to always go out there and prove that we’re the best, and I know Rex, that’s what he wants for us, so for us to go out and do that, it speaks a lot of volumes.”
After running the ball just 16 times against the Cowboys, the Jets doubled that Sunday and returned to the “Ground-and-Pound” approach that Ryan is so fond of. The results were modest — 101 yards for a 3.2 average per carry — but New York is optimistic about the prospects of its running game.
“I thought it was slightly better, but I’m not concerned with that,” Moore said. “That’ll get better as the season goes. We’ll be OK.”
The Jets will likely be without All-Pro center Nick Mangold, who has a high ankle sprain. But, the Raiders (1-1) are ranked 27th in the NFL against the run after giving up 217 yards rushing in a 38-35 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday — a game in which Oakland gave up five touchdowns on five second-half drives.
“Oakland lost a nail-biter at the end of the game, so I know those guys are going to be ready to play,” Holmes said. “We’ve got to be on top of our Ps and Qs this week, knowing we’ve got a short week with traveling and not let anything affect us, whether it’s injuries or the whole travel time.”
What will the Jets’ record be after their 3-game road stretch? Make your prediction below…
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