FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Remember that queasy feeling Jets fans would get last season when their team made it into the red zone? Remember the way eyes used to roll and negative tweets used to flow as everyone feared that the offense again would flame out near the goal line?
Well, those days are over, Plaxico Burress says. The wide receiver, who joined the team this year, said the Jets ought to be thinking touchdown every time they get within striking range of the end zone.
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"With the weapons we have, when we get inside the 30 or 25, I pretty much expect to score," said Burress, who didn't practice Thursday because of a sore lower back but plans to play Sunday night against the Patriots. "We've got guys who have so many different skills. When we get down there, we just have to go out there and make the plays."
Heading into the key AFC East game against the Patriots, the Jets have been solid in the red zone. They have converted 16 of 25 trips inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns, only four short of their red-zone total for all of last season.
The Jets were woefully inadequate inside the 20 last season, scoring only 20 touchdowns in 50 opportunities, a 40-percent success rate. Their most painful failure came in the AFC Championship Game, when they couldn't score on four plays inside the Steelers' 3.
That flop in the final game of the season convinced Rex Ryan to make the red zone a priority. He and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer studied teams that did a good job inside the red zone, and they had several coaches come in and talk to them about it.
"Schotty is just doing a great job," Ryan said. "We put a huge emphasis on it in the offseason, and I think the extended offseason might have helped us in that area. I know it drove football fans crazy, but it probably helped us."
It's also helped that Mark Sanchez is in his third year. Though he threw an interception inside the 20 last week on the opening drive against Buffalo, he generally has been more comfortable when the team gets in scoring range.
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes said Schottenheimer has put in a game plan that allows "everyone to go out and have fun" in the red zone, which has taken some pressure off Sanchez.
Said Sanchez: "I think the coaches and the players have all done a good job of putting the emphasis on it. The red zone is where games are won."