The same pundits who predicted the Jets would be woeful a season ago are now eying the playoffs for this revamped team. What a difference a season of exceeded expectations makes.
“I think the bottom line is you have to prove it,” guard Willie Colon said. “You’ve got to do it on Sunday and stack wins and be competitive in your division.
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“I think right now is all or nothing. Rex [Ryan] stressed it that we have to win now. We've stomped our feet and pounded our chest enough. Now it's put up or shut up. We have to be ready to go on Sunday. It's time for us to show the world what we have, what we're about. It's about us winning now.”
The idea the Jets are postseason bound might be a bit optimistic, even if the locker room sells it as a possibility. In many ways they are still in the midst of a roster overhaul.
The Jets were a veteran-laden team that whimpered to a pitiful end to the 2012 season, with big money contracts that were mostly all purged by the end of last season — Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes chief among them.
“There’s also a lot of supposed-to-be’s. We can’t control that,” running back Chris Ivory said. “The players are here, the coaches are here. We are the ones putting in the work. ... There’s always high expectations. We added a few great players to our team. Let’s see what we do and where we go.”
There are 32 new players added to the 53-man roster since John Idzik took over prior to last season — a staggering number as part of their overhaul.
Yet there is a sense of optimism this team is headed in the right direction. They added key pieces on offense, such as wide receiver Eric Decker, running back Chris Johnson and right tackle Breno Giacomini. The defense — even with concerns over the cornerback position — looks like it could be a top-10 unit in the league.
After three years without a winning record, the locker room is on board with the idea this can be a winning team once again. But there is caution that it won't be done one giant step at a time. Instead, in the words of Colon, the Jets will have to take baby steps to become a playoff team.
“We haven't been to the postseason for awhile. We can't wear the title of a playoff team yet,” Colon said. “We have to focus on the Oakland Raiders. If we focus on the 'coulda' or the 'woulda' or the 'shoulda' then we aren't going to get there.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.