New York Post
A FAVE NEW WORLD
Jets can’t get complacent now that they’re viewed as better team
HOUSE money is what the Jets have been playing with for the last month. Along the way to 0-16, they’ve won two of their first four games and actually put themselves in the early running as darlings of the NFL with their 38-year-old journeyman quarterback, their patchwork receiving corps that was assembled f ive minutes before the season opener and their young defense led by the two rookie safeties and the stout defensive front.
The Jets were predicted to do nothing this season other than to play just poorly enough to cement themselves into one of the top picks in next spring’s NFL draft so they’d have the pick of the collegiate-quarterback litter.
That all changes for the Jets Sunday in Cleveland, where they play the 0-4 Browns and are — ahem — favored to win the game.
Sunday against the Browns, the Jets will play with their own money because they’re supposed to win this game. There is more to lose now than when, four weeks ago, there was nothing to lose.
The Jets have taken delight in proving all of the naysayers wrong the last two weeks with home wins over the Dolphins and Jaguars — and justifiably so. After the flood of negativity that engulfed them from outside their locker room, the constant talk of tanking, the players should revel in victory and showing up the know-it-alls.
But now they step outside of their comfort zone, a world in which they were expected to fail, and into a new reality. The Vegas line moved to a pick ’em game Sunday, which means oddsmakers believe they’re better than Cleveland based on the home team getting three points. So now what for the Jets? How will they handle prosperity
Will the Jets trip over their heightened expectations and the delicious possibility of playing the Patriots at home next Sunday, maybe even for a share of the AFC East lead — a scenario that seemed preposterous a month ago?
The Browns are mired in a historic losing stretch. They’re 0-4 this season, were 1-15 in 2016 and 3-13 in 2015. Dating to a Dec. 13, 2015, win over the 49ers, the Browns are 1-22. Their starting quarterback, DeShone Kizer, is learning on the job as a rookie tossed straight to the wolves and has thrown a league-high eight interceptions.
The Jets need to go win a game they’re supposed to win. It’ll be new territory for them and, if the mission is accomplished, a sign that this team is, indeed, growing before our disbelieving eyes.
Conversations with some of the veterans in the Jets locker room on Thursday suggest they’re up for the challenge.
“Teams that have sustainable success are the ones that don’t get caught up in the result and focus on the process,’’ Josh McCown told The Post. “That’s the kind of group we’re trying to build — a group that has sustainable success. This is a test for us to see if we are still trusting the process. Are we still on our P’s and Q’s or did we relax?’’
Offensive coordinator John Morton, who? always looks and sounds like a guy who’s ready to head straight out to a back alley for a throw-down, has been hammering his players on the art of never letting up.
“I approach every game like we are underdogs,’’ Morton said. “You’ve got to prepare like your back is against the wall every single game. Make sure these guys know, ‘Hey, this is going to be a dogfight.’ And that’s what it is — it’s going to be a dogfight. They’re a good team.’’
Linebacker Demario Davis played in Cleveland last year, enduring 15 losses in 16 games. He knows how hungry his former teammates are.
“We’ve got to bring our own energy there in order to win the game,’’ he said.
“We’ve got to come out with the right energy regardless of whether we’re supposed to win or supposed to lose or whatever people are saying,’’ tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said. “We’re not going to get complacent; we’re going to keep pushing. If we don’t bring our ‘A’ game, we’re not winning. It’s that simple.’’
What looks on paper like a W for the Jets despite the fact that they were supposed to be accumulating a bunch of Ls, is not that simple.
McCown’s message, when asked about the tantalizing possibility of getting to 3-2 with that home showdown with the Patriots looming, was simple.
“Just go become 3-2,’’ he said. “You’re not 3-2 yet. You’ve got to go become that, earn that … and it would be a lot of fun if we could.’’