Flashback to Rex Ryan's first year in New York and his Jets were in an eerily similar situation to what they face this week. Ten games into the 2009 regular season, Gang Green fashioned an identical 4-6 record and would go on to win five of its last six contests to secure the sixth seed in the AFC; riding the momentum to a conference title game berth. While Mark Sanchez was just a young pup back then, New York's embattled signal-caller is hoping this year's version can draw inspiration from that gritty 2009 squad.
"It's a similar situation, so hopefully we can get as many wins as possible, keep playing hard, continue to play smart and clean, really take care of the football, play well in all three phases and we have a chance," said Sanchez.
Three short years later, Sanchez's future outlook with the Jets has been brought into question in light of his inconsistent play and poor decision making. While football pundits argue that this year's team pales in comparison to the 2009 Jets—both from a leadership and talent standpoint—Sanchez believes that the winning formula hasn't changed in spite of a bevy of personnel changes.
Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez sill believing
"I think things started to turn our way towards the end of the season," noted Sanchez of the 2009 team gaining momentum. "We understood the importance of taking care of the football. We ran the ball well down the stretch. We were efficient in the passing game. We were good on defense and special teams. We really tightened and played our best football towards the end of the year, so hopefully we can do the same."
With the Jets preparing to stage a late season playoff push this year, the chatter from Rex Ryan and company has been unusually quiet leading up to their Thanksgiving Day matchup with the New England Patriots. While the media and fans are accustomed to loads of hype and excitement in advance of this AFC East divisional showdown, Sanchez is just fine with the calm before the storm.
"That's how it should be every week," said Sanchez of his team's tight-lipped approach. "There's nothing really to say except that we know they're a great team. It's a great challenge for us on a big stage. There's nothing else you want, playing this position and playing in this city, it's everything you've ever dreamed of."
Speaking of dreams, the Jets kept theirs alive with a win last week over the St. Louis Rams. While Gang Green is encouraged by a strong performance in Week 11, the team is adopting a phased approach for the stretch run.
"That's the most important thing, not to change our preparation and make sure it's focused the way it should be, but not to press, not to take things too lightly and to just attack it the right way," admitted Sanchez. "I think the coaches have really put an emphasis on that. We'll just keep rolling and hopefully rack up some more wins."