(Sports Network) – Sure is funny how things change.
As they approached the 2010 NFL season, the New York Jets seemed intent on shattering all records for bravado from a team that hadn’t possessed the Lombardi Trophy since Lyndon Johnson was president and hadn’t even achieved double-digit wins in its most-recent 16-game schedule.
So when September’s Week 1 ended with an unwatchable 10-9 home loss to Baltimore, the know-it-all jackals were predictably poised to pounce … quickly painting the second-year quarterback, the offseason personnel moves and the saber-rattling coach with a knee-jerk ‘overrated’ brush.
In four weeks since, such blowhards have been in full-throated retreat.
With a Monday night home win over Minnesota in which they never trailed, the Jets ran their post-Ravens success streak to four games, maintained a grip on sole possession of first place in the AFC East and added the name ‘Favre’ to a first-half QB victims list that already included Brady, Henne and, well … Ryan Fitzpatrick.
That offense? It’s averaging 165.2 yards on the ground and 337.2 total yards per week.
And that quarterback? His eight TD passes and zero interceptions have yielded a 91.7 rating.
"We’re so excited about this win and the way we just hung in there at the end," Sanchez said after Monday’s game, "because I really don’t think I would have been able to sustain this thing last year and I don’t think we would have won this game. I think it’s a testament to our leadership and our coaching this year. We’re just really doing a great job down the stretch."
As for this week’s opponent in Colorado, they’re trying it a little differently this season, too.
Unlike 2009, when they burst from the gate with six straight wins before ultimately missing the playoffs at 8-8, the Denver Broncos have taken a one step up/two steps back approach to early 2010 – going a maddening L, W, L, W, L through their initial five games.
Still, the inconsistency hasn’t cost much in the AFC West standings, where Josh McDaniels and Co. sit in a three-way tie for second, a game-and-a-half behind the unlikely front-running Kansas City Chiefs.
Denver dropped a 31-17 decision at Baltimore last week and was gashed for 415 total yards – including 233 on the ground, 133 on 27 punishing carries by Ray Rice. The Broncos fell to 25th in the league in run defense. New York, incidentally, is first in the league in run offense.
Adding to the lingering defensive issues, safety Darcel McBath (ankle), cornerback Andre Goodman (quadriceps), linebacker Robert Ayers (leg), linebacker Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) and safety Brian Dawkins (knee) will all miss Sunday’s game with injuries.
On offense, running back Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (head/neck) are listed questionable. Moreno has missed three straight games, while Thomas was hurt on a kick return against the Ravens.
To McDaniels, though, both health and happiness are just a win away.
"It usually takes one victory to make you feel better about the direction that you’re headed in and how you’ve played," he said. "I think that has to be our mindset at this point – we’re one game away from being 3-3."