FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — For five straight seasons, the Jets have been outsiders, forced to spend the New Year watching as other teams made their jaunts through the playoffs. They stayed where they were, stymied and frustrated at their own inability to improve from one season to the next.
Usually, they’d come back for training camp in July, profess that this year was the year, and start the cycle over. This season, though, something feels just a little bit different. At least Darrelle Revis seems to think so.
“You’ll see some fire, you’ll see some fire,” Revis promised on Thursday. “We feel like we are a playoff team. We didn’t make it last year but we had a chance . . . I believe (last year motivated us). Guys were very disappointed of how it ended last year, so it’s a fresh start for us — fresh start for this year, and I think you’ll see that.”
After years of not really getting very close, the Jets were right on the cusp of a playoff spot last season before suffering a lasting sort of heartbreak, as their loss to the Bills in the final week prevented them from reaching the postseason. Now, with their core offense returning and last year’s sting fresh in their minds, Revis believes the Jets have the elements to neutralize some very difficult opponents in the first half of the season.
In the first six weeks, they’ll face five playoff teams, starting with the Bengals on Sunday. That, of course, comes with the daunting prospect of stopping one of the best receivers in the league, A.J. Green.
“We’re excited,” Revis said. “We really are. We’re excited that (Ryan Fitzpatrick) is back. We’ve got all the pieces, we really do . . . We got most of the guys back and we feel very confident coming into this season.”
Revis is in no mood to downplay the Week 1 matchup. “One thing we do have to control is how fast we start in the beginning part of the season,” he said. “We definitely have to have the momentum, I feel, off the bat.”
A big part of that means containing Green, who averaged 15.1 yards per catch last year and — once upon a time — would have been marooned on Revis Island. At 31, Revis still plays at an extremely high level, but his age and an offseason wrist surgery could be one reason the Jets have chosen to be a little more evenhanded in their defense.
“It won’t be just Revis, it will be a lot of people,” defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said, clarifying that he believes Revis still is capable of isolating and shutting down the main target. “A.J. is a tremendous player, a tremendous player, so we want to have 11 set of eyes where he is. The plan is not necessarily a one-on-one matchup . . . I’m not saying (Revis) can’t (do it).”
It’s a plan Revis wholly endorses. In order to be successful against top-flight teams, the Jets need to be adaptable and respond quickly, he said. That entails making sure everyone is comfortable in his role.
“We’ve got to be able to be cautious a little bit because we have some tough games coming ahead,” he said. “We’re going to try to switch things up a little bit this week for us, to maybe just wear some of the key guys on offense, wear them down a little bit. That’s just mixing guys in and out or lining up guys in new schemes.”