As Bob Marley’s iconic lyrics, “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be all right,” were blaring from the speakers during the Jets practice Wednesday, one could feel the renewed optimism surrounding the team.
After Sunday’s 20-13 win over the Steelers, Rex Ryan opened up his press conference by saying, “finally.” Finally, the Jets didn’t shoot themselves in the foot with costly turnovers, finally they forced turnovers on defense and most importantly, they finally won.
“It’s like we won the Super Bowl,” said linebacker Calvin Pace after Sunday’s win. “It took us so long to get win number two. We have a week off and hopefully we can carry the momentum and make the most out of it.”
From a morale standpoint, Ryan said the Jets are flying high.
“Our morale has been outstanding,” said Ryan. “We’re not happy with the win total but our morale’s good, our work ethic is good…we don’t like our record but we like our team and I think we like the direction we’re headed.”
Sunday’s hero and AFC Defensive Player of the Week Jaiquawn Jarrett said the win “uplifted” the spirit of the locker room.
“It’s always great to get a win,” said Jarrett, “It’s hard to win in this league so to get a win coming off such a long losing streak, the locker room is still uplifted. Our spirits are still high. Even when we were in the drought, we still stayed together and stayed focused.”
Michael Vick, who won his first game as a starter since week five of last year, said the win has made the team more comfortable on the practice field.
“Yeah (we’re more comfortable), like I said, it just felt good to get a win. Finally get that monkey off our back.” Vick said.
As Ryan put it Sunday everything is better when you win.
“When you win, everything is better,” said Ryan. “The food’s better. I always tell the guys, ‘Your girlfriend is prettier. Your wife is better looking. The beer is colder.’ That’s a great feeling.”
While the playoffs are almost certainly out of the picture the Jets have plenty to play for. This week, the Jets practices revolved around young players like Ikemefuna Enemkpali, T.J. Barnes, Dakota Dozier and Trevor Rilley. It would be smart for the Jets to see what Barnes, Dozier, Rilley and Enemkpali, who have been inactive for much of the season, are capable in game situations.
Vick also has plenty to play for, specifically a new contract. While the 34-year-old Vick may not be the long-term answer to the Jets quarterback quandary, he could be a stop-gap for one to two more years.
“I am just trying to play good football,” said Vick. “At the end of the day. Whether I am in the plans or not, that is the future. I am not going to try to predict that. The only thing I can do is control what I can control and that’s the next game against Buffalo. I am happy with whatever the situation may be.”
As for Ryan, he is coaching for his job. While it is a strong possibility that Ryan will be fired, few if any NFL coaches survive an eight-game losing streak, if the Jets have a strong showing after the Bye week, it is entirely possible that Ryan will be retained.
With that said, Ryan won’t guarantee wins, but he is confident that the team will continue to prepare and play hard.
“One thing that I’m confident in is that we’re going to play our tails off,” said Ryan.
“We are going to prepare like it’s a playoff game riding on it. That’s the way this group will [perform]. And how many wins we’ll have? We’ll find out but I’m confident we’ll have a number of them.”