Florham Park, N.J.– Jets fans have been hearing the phrase, ‘Play like a Jet,’ used an awful lot lately, but it seems like fans are just now beginning to grasp the concept of what, ‘Play like a Jet,’ actually means.
It’s not like the Jets have the type of storied history that conjures up thoughts of greatness at the very mention of the name. To play like a Yankee, that means something in a very definable way.
The New York Yankees are supposed to be consummate professionals, have clean-trimmed hair, play all out on every single play and carry themselves with class and dignity. Derek Jeter personifies what it means to be a Yankee, but that Yankee pride identity was formed well before Jeter was born.
Everyone understands where it comes from with the Yankees, but to play like a Jet? What exactly is that supposed to mean?
Everyone who has been paying attention to this franchise, since the day after Joe Namath led the Jets to their only Super Bowl victory, found it laughable to use a phrase like, ‘Play like a Jet,’ as if it represents some type of high standard of excellence.
And maybe this ‘Play like a Jet,’ identity will never take hold like the Yankees identity, but a definition is beginning to take form for exactly what Rex Ryan means when he says, ‘Play like a Jet.’
Maybe Jerricho Cotchery fighting through a torn groin muscle to dive for a spectacular catch won’t go down in history quite like Jeter’s famous face-dive into the stands, but it sure helps put an identity on what it means to ‘Play like a Jet.’
At today’s press conference Rex Ryan talked about how every week, regardless of how good or bad they play, the coaches select a highlights from the game, that are to be used as examples for what is expected out of everyone on the roster.
At the Jets practice facilities today the players were in awe over Cotchery’s play as they all got to witness it again on film.
When Ryan was asked about his players saying the were inspired by Cotchery’s effort he said, “It was just amazing. We always have ‘Play like a Jet’ videos, whether win, lose or draw (and) it was almost draw. Each Monday, we will show ‘Playing like a Jet’. In fact, I showed you guys (the media) last year in a preseason game. That’s the kind of video we would show our guys. Just showing what my vision for this football team is and ‘Playing like a Jet’ and what it means to me. There were several plays, but there were two without question that you’d show over and over. If I had to take 10 plays from a year, there were two that definitely showed it.”
“The obvious one is the Jerricho (catch) because I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in all the years I’ve been coaching. I know I’ve never seen it. It was just an amazing effort. The man is hurt. He is hurt and he is injured and yet, ‘I’m going to stay alive. Alright Mark, go ahead, fire it.’ Then, he lays out and makes an unbelievable catch. He already gave his body up for the team and then to layout like that, to make that kind of play, it’s absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know how many guys, in this whole league, can make that play or would even attempt that play. I think we have some of them on our team. It was amazing.” Ryan continued saying, “The other one was Tony Richardson. We’re running a reverse, (Richardson) gets a great block on the linebacker and allows us to get around the corner. He doesn’t stop there. He goes and sprints past Brad (Smith). Granted it wasn’t a footrace because Brad was being tackled. He (Richardson) goes down the field and gets another block on a safety. It was just like, ‘That’s what I’m talking about.’ That’s ‘playing like a Jet.’ It’s unselfish. Clearly the guy cares about his team as much as he cares about himself. That’s what those two plays in particular showed, especially Jerricho’s.”
The Jets are 7-2 and 5-0 on the road and they just became the first team in NFL history to win two, back-to-back road games in overtime. These last few weeks haven’t been pretty, in fact it’s been downright ugly at times, but nothing seems to phase this team and it’s because of plays like the one Cotchery made, or Sanchez dancing his way out of trouble or anytime Santonio Holmes gets his hands on the ball late in the game. As Ryan said after yesterday’s game, the fourth-quarter, that’s ‘Tone-time.’
The more plays like this these players make the more confidence they exude, that confidence then rubs off on teammates and forces everyone to up their intensity level. It doesn’t have to be pretty, the Jets aren’t afraid to take advantage of some luck and every week the goal is to strive to be better than the previous week.
When Sanchez was asked to talk about the game-winning touchdown pass to Holmes he said that the play was only made possible because of all the other plays they had run earlier in the game and quickly steered the conversation back to Cotchery’s awe-inspiring catch. Just seeing a teammate make a play like that, does wonders for the confidence of everyone wearing the same colored jersey, all while shaking the confidence of the opposing team.
Holmes knows how big of a play that Cotchery grab was, even though it didn’t lead directly to any points, it did help set the tone for the Jets to come out and finish the game off right.
“How gutsy was the throw? It wasn’t about the catch (joking). Seeing this guy (Cotchery) come into the screen, watching film, hobbling on one leg and grabbing himself, trying to hold himself together and for him to just dive and just fully-extend, that’s sacrifice.” Holmes said, “That’s what we’re constantly building around here, guys that are willing to give themselves up for the team, make the plays that (are) necessary and allow us to win ball games.”
Cotchery tried his best to downplay the heroics of his effort, but to no avail. Cotchery said, “I was just trying to make a play for the team at that point in time. (I) didn’t think Mark (Sanchez) was going to treat me like an available receiver at that point in time (laughing), but he directed traffic and gave me the opportunity to make it. I just tried to make the catch for him.”
Cotchery confirmed that he did in fact first injury his groin on that same play. Cotchery said, “I was feeling good the entire game, and when I came out of my break on that particular play, I just felt my groin give. I was hobbling around out there and just saw Mark scramble out of the pocket, and I was like, ‘Don’t look at me,’ but he did (laughing). He told me to slide the other way and I’m like, ‘I can’t’ (laughing). He threw the ball and I just tried to make a play.”
The Jets are far from perfect, Ryan has admitted so himself, but they are establishing an identity. A pretty strong and powerful identity, one that can be traced back to the very day Ryan walked into the building. This team has taken it’s fair share of criticism for talking a lot, but if you listen closely to what they are saying, no one should be offended in any type of way.
The Jets do some brash talking and like to voice their bravado, but it’s all self-confidence that the players project. They don’t dismiss the other teams, they don’t talk trash about the other players not being as good as them. In fact they go out of their way to give their opponents their just due, but for some reason there is still a group of people out there who are refusing to give the Jets their just due.
The Jets have gotten so lucky, they could have easily lost their last four games, is what critics are saying, but they didn’t lose those games, they won them. Could-have-should-have-would-have, all that matters is the Jets are 7-2.
When Ryan was asked about the perception that the Jets are just a lucky team he said, “I hope we’re lucky all the way to the Super Bowl because we’ll take it. You can make breaks, but it’s funny because the good teams are always the lucky teams. I always hope we keep that trend going.
Take some luck, mixed with a maximizing of potential, constant hard-work, the ability to fight through injuries, doing whatever it takes to get the job done and being a walking, talking, football playing example of the definition for resiliency, then throw leading the league in wins on top of all that and that’s your definition of what it means to, ‘Play like a Jet.’
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