The recipe for the Jets success far from New Meadowlands Stadium can simply be called “away cooking.”
The Jets are 6-2 on the road this year, the second-best record in the league and a source of sincere pride for the team. They've also carried success in the playoffs the last two seasons, boasting a 3-1 record with their lone loss coming in the AFC championship last January. While the Jets' avenged that lone road playoff loss with last week's win at Indianapolis, it's only fitting they now have a similar opportunity Sunday in Foxborough, site of the Jets' worst regular-season road loss this season.
That 45-3 beatdown, though, hasn’t shaken the team’s confidence in themselves or in their road form at all. In fact, they seem to relish the challenge of going into a hostile environment and walking away victorious. In December, the Jets won at Pittsburgh for the first time in franchise history.
“You get excited, maybe a little bit more excited on the road, you have that chip on your shoulder,” right guard Brandon Moore said. “You know that a touchdown can silence their crowd.”
It’s an 'us against the world' mentality that seems to work for a Jets team that has been seemingly weighed down all season with controversy, criticism and more than their fair share of skeptics. Playing on the road, away from the comfort of their homes and in strange surroundings seems to ignite this team. It's no shock, considering the way they view the season.
“You feel like every other week we’re in the headline for something silly, whether it is Rex or what happened with Braylon. Every week, they’re going to find something to waste TV time on and talk about and it does feel like it is ‘us against them’ at times,” punter Steve Weatherford said. “Rex does a really good job of preparing us, from the speakers we have at the hotel to the things he says before the game to get us ready for a hostile environment. And I think we thrive in those situations.”
The Jets have proven to be a resilient bunch, even as they grabbed back-page headlines for all the wrong reasons this year. They’ve had six major scandals that have proven good fodder for the tabloids and they’ve been 5-1 in the games following these controversies. Their trips on the road, in a way, mimic the same mindset needed to brush aside the distractions of playing on the road.
The Jets simply put their heads down and get to work. Then celebrate with their feet up, apparently.
And on Sunday in Foxborough, a place where the Jets are 0-2 under head coach Rex Ryan, they must channel that winning road formula. If they hope to brush aside New England like a mop of Tom Brady’s Justin Bieber locks, then confidence will be key. The track record is there for the Jets to believe in a chance at success.
“We just believe, home or away, that we can get the job, it is really that simple,” nose tackle Sione Pouha said. “The surroundings don’t matter as much, what matters is what we do and who we are. It’s not that we do anything more or anything different on the road to super-duper hype ourselves up. It’s the same formula, it’s the same routine. It’s just that, for whatever reason, we’re winning on the road an awful lot.”
Whether home or away, the Jets follow a similar routine on the road as they do at home. In either case, the team has a full slate of activities on Saturday afternoon and evening, ranging from positional meetings to a team meal and often a motivational speaker. The routine and flow breeds a chance for the players to interact and bond and while the schedule is the same for the Jets when they play at The New Meadowlands Stadium - including staying at a hotel the night before the game - there seems to be a special bond that the players form in their road uniforms.
Pouha chooses to keep it simple and spend most of his time in his hotel room, watching television and going over the game plan, and potentially eating lots of cheesecake. It doesn't matter if he's in New Jersey at the team hotel on a Saturday night before a home game or on the road. Whatever works, right?
“Guys understand that going into a hostile environment what that means,” Mangold said. “I think we do a good job of managing that.”
It goes beyond simply “managing that” for the Jets as they have been thriving on the road.
The Jets are 9-3 in their last 12 road games dating back to last postseason. Part of the reason for their success is the veteran nature of this team means that the core of the Jets aren’t rattled by loud and obnoxious fans or a locker room that might be foreign and cramped. Instead, the Jets just seem to enjoy the idea of being hated and disliked.
Wonder where they get that from.
“I think Rex enjoys all that, I think he likes the booing and the jeers and that sort of stuff,” Weatherford said. “I think we all do. It makes it all that much better when we leave someone else’s place with a win.”