- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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Even at 3-2, the Jets are still fighting for respect.
Despite the team's surprising start, there's still some questions about how good the Jets truly are after five weeks. While they have a winning record, the three teams they have beaten are a combined 3-11. They've lost to both teams they faced with winning records.
"We can't affect who we play and all that stuff. Whoever is on the schedule, that's who we're going to play," Ryan said on a conference call Tuesday. "You can try and discredit us all you want. That's fine. It's no big deal to us. We know what we have in our building, and that's it."
Coming into the season, it was expected the Jets, not the Giants, would be the doormats in New York. The Jets were ranked 32nd in the ESPN Power Rankings entering the season, and the national consensus was the Jets would once again be picking in the top 10 of the 2014 NFL draft.
Ryan explained he had a good feeling about his team after watching them during the preseason. While they struggled at times, and dealt with injuries to quarterbacks Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez, he noticed some positives which carried over to the practice field.
Through the first five weeks, the Jets are one of football's biggest surprises. They came from behind to beat Tampa Bay in the final seconds of the opener, defeated Buffalo at home, and also won at the buzzer at Atlanta. While the Falcons are 1-4, Ryan said they're better than their record indicates.
Ryan said the organization doesn't care what outsiders say, but acknowledged there is some motivation when seemingly everyone expects the team to struggle.
"To think it doesn't put a little fuel to the fire -- of course it does," Ryan said. "With that being said we know they're not in the meetings. They're not seeing what we're seeing. I'm not going to lie to say it doesn't have something -- that it doesn't spark you a little bit."
Winning Sunday's game against Pittsburgh would go a long way toward helping the Jets earn that credibility, and more importantly, contending for the playoffs.
The Steelers may be 0-4 entering Sunday, but they've owned the Jets historically, winning 18 of the past 22 meetings. Pittsburgh also enters the game coming off a bye week, while the Jets will be preparing in a shortened week. Pittsburgh has won the past two games in the series, including a 27-10 win last season.
"It's not like we feel like we're King Kong or something," Ryan said. "We know it took a great effort last night but it's going to take the same kind of effort this week."
A win would also give the Jets back-to-back wins for the second time in their past 24 games.
"I got a memo from the league. They said we can win two games in a row," Ryan joked. "I think that's going to be what I talk to our team about."