CORTLAND, N.Y. (AP) — Willie Colon grew up in the Bronx and went to college on Long Island, so he knows the type of expectations that come with playing in New York.
And the new Jets offensive lineman is insulted by the ominous outlook by fans and the media.
“I’m pretty sure a lot of teams already have us checked off on their schedule,” Colon said Thursday. “That’s the bottom line. We have to show up on Sunday and punch a lot of people in the mouth and wake them up.”
Several preseason predictions have the Jets finishing among the worst teams in the NFL, including at least one that has them picked to finish 32nd — dead last. And that’s after a disappointing 6-10 last season that has coach Rex Ryan’s future with the franchise uncertain beyond this year.
“You know what? If you’re a competitor how does that thing not get you?” Ryan said. “How does that not motivate you? It’s almost like, ‘Ok, well we’re going to show you.’ Of course, that’s your human nature. You’re going to get a group of 53 and how many coaches in the entire organization and saddle you with those types of things and not rally, if you will, behind it because we don’t believe those are true.
“It’s going to be proven out, and it’ll be proven out when the season comes rolling around. We feel we will be much better than that.”
Some of the reasons for the poor prognostications are the fact the Jets lost several key playmakers from last season, are in the middle of a tight quarterback competition between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, and the perception that the team has few big-time playmakers on offense.
Colon, who spent the last seven seasons with Pittsburgh after being drafted out of Hofstra, thinks there’s a simple solution to changing people’s minds.
“We just have to start winning,” Colon said. “Winning brings teams together. When you’re able to be successful and you’re able to kind of be the team that everybody looks to, like, ‘Oh, these guys are doing well. What’s their recipe for success?’ it takes away the naysayers.
“We have to shut our mouths, we have to grow closer as a team and we have to be as hard-nosed as we can be.”