Schwartz: Jets Taking Right Approach Into Must-Win Against Titans
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By Peter Schwartz
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“I’m not worried about anything else but finding a way to beat Tennessee. Our position is simple — we have to beat Tennessee, so I’m not really focused on anything else.”
– Jets head coach Rex Ryan, Dec. 10, 2012
The Jets don’t hold playoff destiny in their own hands, so all they can do is focus on winning. Run the table, finish 9-7, and hope it’s enough to play into January.
I don’t think it’s going to happen, but the Jets have been going about this right way. They have put themselves in the playoff hunt — but they also have a sense of reality.
“I’m not going to guarantee a playoff spot,” said Ryan. “The fact that we’re one game under .500, I think you’re probably not in the playoff conversation. So, to me, we just need to keep our head down and keep winning games. We know the only way we can affect it is to win our games.”
When the Jets left the MetLife Stadium field after the team’s Thanksgiving night blowout loss to the Patriots, making the playoffs was about the last thing on anybody’s mind. However, with back-to-back wins, the Jets feel like they’re in playoff mode.
“Our next playoff game is Tennessee,” said Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. “All we can focus on is the next game. We can’t focus on or worry about any playoff pictures. We just have to worry about our next opponent, and that’s Tennessee on Monday night.”
When the Jets take the field, they could do so with an old friend back in the fold. The Jets claimed wide receiver Braylon Edwards off waivers from the Seahawks last week. He’s been bothered by a hamstring injury but he’s excited about the chance to again play with Gang Green.
“It means a lot to be back,” said Edwards. “I had some great times here. I feel like I left a small part of myself here when I left. To be back is great. I think I can come back and just provide a little bit of a (veteran leadership).”
Edwards played for the Jets in 2009 and 2010. He developed a good chemistry with quarterback Mark Sanchez, who had to be smiling ear to ear when heard about the return of Edwards.
The question is whether or not Sanchez will be smiling when he looks across the field at the Titans defense Monday night.
“A lot of them (are) pretty young guys, but so athletic, they play beyond their years,” said Sanchez. “They’re a sharp group in the last really two or three weeks, they really tighten up on third down and it’ll be a tough test for us at their place on Monday night. We’re excited about the challenge. Great front seven, good backend, they’re just a solid group and they play with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, so it’ll be good for us.”
Monday night marks another chance for the Jets to show the country that they are not the butt of all jokes. Sanchez has to live with the butt fumble from Thanksgiving night and is looking forward to another opportunity to play on national television.
“Sure,” said Sanchez. “That’s always nice but at the same time, not to down play the game or anything, we just need to win. Whether it’s at six in the morning or eight o’clock at night, whatever, we just need to win some games.”
The Jets have three games to go. They could very well win all three but still not make the playoffs. But they have the right approach, maybe for the first time in a long time. They aren’t concerning themselves with their opponent. They are focusing on winning.
Even without a postseason berth this season, that type of attitude can go a long way in getting things straightened out for 2013.
JETS-TITANS ALL-TIME SERIES
Including the playoffs, the Jets are 17-21-1 all-time against the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers/Tennessee Titans. The Jets have won five of the last six games between the two teams, including a 24-17 win in the last meeting on Sept. 27, 2009, at Giants Stadium.
The only postseason meeting between these two former AFL clubs was won by the Houston Oilers 17-10 on December 29, 1991 at the Astrodome.
Kickoff on Monday is at 830 p.m. Eastern Time. The game will be televised by ESPN with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden on the call.
The Jets’ defense continues to rise up the charts. They are now ranked eighth in the NFL in total defense at 332.5 yards per game.[
Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson continues to have an outstanding season. He has 26 QB pressures, three forced fumbles, 76 tackles, and four sacks.
Over their last four games, the Jets’ offense is averaging 146.5 yards per contest on the ground.
Safety LaRon Landry has set a career high with four forced fumbles and 102 tackles.
Since 2009, David Harris has notched 16.5 sacks, the most by any inside linebacker in the NFL.
My record this season: 10-3.
I think the Jets’ late-season magic is going to come to an end — and so will their playoff chances. The Titans can score some points and while the Jets run defense has been better, I think they’ll have some trouble with Chris Johnson.
TITANS 27, JETS 17
That’s all for now. Check back Tuesday for more!
What’s your prediction for Jets-Titans? Be heard in the comments!