Calvin Pace hasn't felt this good since, well, 2010.
The Jets outside linebacker has always had a good feeling about his team heading into the regular season. But this year, things just feel a little different.
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"I've never went into the season, since I've been here, feeling bad," Pace said following the Jets' impressive Monday Night road-win over the Colts. "But 2010, when we had 'LT' [LaDainian Tomlinson] and 'JT' [Jason Taylor] and all those guys, this is close to that type of feeling."
The star power is back this season, as the 2015 arrivals of Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie signaled a new day at 1 Jets Drive. And much of the optimism surrounding the Jets' 2-0 start stems from Todd Bowles' opportunistic defense.
In primetime, the Jets registered five takeaways against the Colts -- three of them courtesy of Revis, the AFC Defensive Player of the Week, who recovered two fumbles and intercepted quarterback Andrew Luck.
In just two games, the Jets totaled 10 takeaways, almost as many as they had all of last season (13). But despite the defense's fast start, players believe the unit has plenty to improve upon.
"We can all do better," Pace said. "Gotta be better on third down. We let some run creases here and there [on Monday night]. So, yeah, we can always be better. We've done some great things, but there are always things you can build on."
Not surprisingly, their even-keeled coach agreed.
"We left a lot of stuff out there," Bowles said. "We're not where we want to be yet. We know we can be better. We made some plays but we have to be consistent in doing the things every down."
Players see takeaways as the key to the defense's success.
"How many do we have now?" nose tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison asked Monday night in the visitors' locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium. Told that the 2014 Jets had only 13, he said: "Wow. Just keep's coming, man. You know what they say, when they come they come in bunches."
Added former Browns cornerback Buster Skrine: "I think they had 13 last year, total. We're about to crush that."
Pace joked this week that he can't guarantee five takeaways a game, but "two, three, that's where we need to be." He then smiled and said: "I can't guarantee that. We're shooting for it."
The Jets also are shooting for more sacks. Despite their 10 total takeaways, the defense has registered only three sacks.
Pace said it's a challenge because quarterbacks are routinely getting the ball out quicker. The Eagles, Sunday's opponent, have allowed one sack in their first two games. But make no mistake, we want the sacks," Pace said.
"As long as we're winning, that's all that matters. But they're going to come. They come in bunches. With the coverage behind us, it's giving us a better chance to get there."