Jets hottest in red zone
Plaxico Burress is certain of it, confident the Chiefs' defense will suffer the same fate as everyone else.
If the Jets crack the red zone Sunday, the wide receiver has no doubt they'll find the end zone. And there are numbers to back him up.
Once they reach the opponent's 20-yard line, the Jets (7-5) have scored points in all but four of their 37 opportunities this season. And 25 of those have resulted in touchdowns, giving the Jets a league-best percentage of 67.6.
"I believe we are the best red-zone team in the National Football League," Burress said. "We're pretty good right now. We have playmakers; we have guys who are more athletic than the guys that we play against. If we get inside that 20, we can win a lot of football games that way here down the stretch."
It's a dramatic shift for an offense that, at 40 percent, ranked 30th in the NFL and dead last in the AFC last season in touchdown percentage in the red zone. The Jets already have surpassed last year's touchdown total in the red zone, when they netted 20 in 50 trips.
"That was a huge emphasis in training camp and it's really helped us this season," said quarterback Mark Sanchez, whose team scored two touchdowns in two trips to the red zone against Washington last week. "That is why we've been converting so well, because of the extra time and effort we've put into it and picking plays we really like, that I'm really comfortable with. We need to keep up with that, and now the trick is to get down there a couple more times."
With an eye on vastly improving their red-zone numbers, the Jets changed things up in their practice routine this year: Fridays, for the most part, are strictly about the red zone. That way, when they get there, they see green.
"We work on the 'Money Zone.' That's what we call the red zone," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "I think it's helped us because we get to rep it over and over every week. You focus on that day and it's very important, so when the game comes, it's like practice.''
Wideout Santonio Holmes said: "It's been fun. 'Fast Fridays.' That's been our motto. Every Friday, we come out, have a little fun, play fast, making sure we are on top of our keys and not slipping at any point."
"They're fast, they're crisp, they're clean," Burress said of the Friday practices. "We execute, we catch the ball and we go home."
With Friday the final true tuneup before game day, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer thought that was the best time to switch things up from the way they had been done in the past, hoping it would better leave the intricate details ingrained in everyone's memory.
"We challenge the guys," Schottenheimer said. "Friday, sometimes, can be a day where they kind of want to go through the motions. We've kind of stayed on them. Whenever we've challenged our guys with something, this group of men have always responded to the challenge, and I think it's pride."
Burress' addition certainly hasn't hurt. Six of his seven touchdowns have come in the red zone, and although he's 34 and missed two seasons after his shooting incident, he still poses matchup problems with his 6-5 stature. Teams are forced to roll coverage to his side.
"I just tell [Sanchez] in the red zone that if I'm one-on-one, I'm open, and that's what we do," Burress said. "If teams want to just put me out there on an island one-on-one and he sees it, I just tell him, 'Hey, man, if they're going to press me at the line of scrimmage one-on-one, I'm going to win.' "
Still, Burress & Co. haven't matched that in the 80 yards before they get to the 20.
"For some reason, when we get inside the red zone, we can execute like lights out," Burress said, "and we get into the two-minute drill, and we're just lights out. We haven't been able to execute on a consistent basis in between the 20s, and have everything be as smooth as it's been in the red zone. We're going to continue to work on that.
"We have to fix that if we want to get to where we want to get to, and that is to win the world championship."