Brandon Marshall likes 'spirit' of Jets' 'special group'
The star wide receiver has fit right in, finding a home with a franchise hungry for wins. Just like him.
''It's a special group, man,'' Marshall said Friday. ''Even watching film, even the attitude. I love seeing guys make a mistake and throw their helmet on the ground and get kind of (ticked) off and show that they care. That goes across the board: young guys, older guys, scout team players.
''This is a special locker room.''
The Jets (4-1) will get to prove it Sunday when they take on the undefeated Patriots (5-0) in New England.
All week, the coaches and players have preached a singular message: This is an important game because it's the next game. It's a business-like, even-keeled approach to what has been built up outside the facility as an early-season statement game.
A big reason for the Jets' success has been the production of Marshall, who has 37 catches for 511 yards and four touchdowns. He's the third player in franchise history with four straight games of 100 or more yards receiving, and the first since Hall of Famer Don Maynard in 1968.
''A lot of guys say, `I don't think about that,''' Marshall said. ''Guys think about individual accolades and they love it. But for me, the only thing that matters this year is winning. Obviously, I want to play at a high level, but when you talk about Jets history and all of that, I'm grateful and I'm thankful, but the only thing I really care about is if we're putting our team in position to win.''
Sounds like the company line, sure. But for Marshall, the desire to play beyond Week 17 is something he has been chasing his entire career. He holds the dubious distinction of having the league's longest active streak without a postseason appearance. None with Denver, Miami or Chicago, which traded him to New York in March.
At 31, Marshall knows his career won't last forever. The opportunities to get to the playoffs also dwindle with each passing season.
''My only goal this year is to be the hardest-working guy on the field, and that's it,'' he said.
Marshall said it's way too early to tell whether the Jets are a playoff-caliber team. But from what he has seen, the Jets are headed in the right direction.
Little things around the facility instill that confidence, such as watching cornerback Darrelle Revis not wanting to make a single mistake during practice, or seeing linebacker Demario Davis hooked up to an oxygen mask and doing extra bike work on a Friday.
''The first thought that came to my mind was, `This is why this team is special,''' Marshall said. ''There's a lot of guys doing that stuff, a little extra here and they're super-focused. There's just a great spirit in this locker room. I've never been a part of (one) where you have so many guys moving in the same direction.''
Some of that can be attributed to coach Todd Bowles, who has preached accountability, and to general manager Mike Maccagnan, who has assembled a deep, talented roster. Marshall said the players themselves also deserve credit for always wanting to be better.
''I've been a part of some teams where we were very fragmented,'' Marshall said. ''And I'm one in the past that early on in my career, especially in Denver with a contract situation, that handled it the wrong way. So, we have guys in this locker room that really get it, and that's the coolest thing about what we're doing.''
Marshall said when he first got to Chicago in 2012, the Bears' locker room was filled with leaders such as Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije. They had built chemistry together over a number of years. Marshall sees similar pieces in the Jets' locker room, with the team just needing some time to firmly establish itself.
''There's no egos, there's no superstars,'' he said. ''It's just everyone being themselves and being accepted.''
A change from previous years could be seen - and not heard - throughout this week leading up to the game. The volume on the trash talk was tuned down to nearly zero by a Jets team that always could be relied on for a juicy soundbite.
''That's the coolest part: No one's running around and talking about taking over the world,'' Marshall said. ''Everyone's just talking about doing their job and being mindful of the moment. It's like, `I just want to win this route' or I just want to be locked in in the meeting room.' It's really special. It's inspiring.''
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