FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — It was two years ago that David Harris was standing outside of the Jets’ training facility here, preaching that the sky was the limit, that the Super Bowl was in reach. And it was only last year that Brandon Marshall spoke about how much the team’s communication had improved, about how good the Jets felt.
On Friday, it was Matt Forte and Steve McLendon saying, hey, look, they’re still going to try to win games, OK?
Suffice to say, expectations have been tempered. Harris and Marshall are gone, the Super Bowl is barely mentioned and the youth movement is in full force. There’s still a quarterback competition, though, so at least some things never change.
But no matter how many people project the Jets to be the worst team in the AFC, and no matter how many players jump ship, the remnants maintain hope that as bad as people think this year is going to be, there’s still something to be salvaged.
To hear Forte talk about it, the Jets aren’t interested in moral victories.
“There’s success in statistics and numbers and stuff, but that doesn’t mean anything,” the running back said. “This game comes down to wins and losses, so if the loss column is more than the win, it’s not a successful season . . . You go in with the goal and aspirations of [making the playoffs] but also, you have to believe that as well.”
That theme was repeated over and over by all six Jets made available to the media on the first day of training camp. It won’t be enough to just endure this season; it needs to be conquered in as great a measure as they can muster. That’s why, Forte said, the team decided to put a Lombardi Trophy at the front of the training facility building, not as some weird form of masochism but “so that you see it every day.’’
“Our goal is to win a Lombardi Trophy, so if you don’t see that every day, then how can you believe that?’’ he said. “So we have the belief that we can go out here and win games, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
There might be some solace in all that. Training camp is the most optimistic time of the year, and heading into this one, many posited that there would be no such optimism in Florham Park. But the players who survived the offseason purge — and other young players with something to prove — still view this season as an opportunity they can’t afford to waste.
“It’s training camp Day One and we have a long road ahead,” linebacker Demario Davis said. “I understand that’s some people’s job is to look at the numbers, look at the statistics and bring it up, but as players, that’s not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to put ourselves in the best position to be successful, and how we do that is be the best player you can be.”
If the Jets are truly not going to be as bad as everyone thinks — tempered expectations, remember? — they genuinely can’t care about what anyone says, McLendon said. It can’t discourage them. They can’t even allow it to motivate them.
“The outside world isn’t here,” McLendon said. “That’s the difference. I’m not really worried about what they say. It’s not about proving them wrong. It’s about doing what we’re supposed to do . . . We believe in each other. That’s short and sweet. We believe in each other.”
It’s about doing what we’re supposed to do . . . We believe in each other. That’s short and sweet. We believe in each other.”
— Steve McLendon