Bart Scott says the Jets need to improve before they can call themselves a Super Bowl contender.The mouth behind the “Can’t Wait!” campaign, the linebacker known to hold nothing back when it comes to speaking his mind, appears to have turned over a new leaf this season. And rather than keeping up with a Jets tradition that has included a few Super Bowl references a week to ratchet up expectations, Bart Scott is tempering them.
“I don’t think we’re where we need to be,” Scott said. “I don’t think we’re a Super Bowl team. Or even a playoff team.”
Where’s the swagger in quiet self-reflection? But this isn’t exactly out of the blue. Back in May, Scott said he understood that the Jets' Super Bowl talk — which began during Rex Ryan’s very first press conference as a head coach in January of 2009 — wasn’t cute anymore.
"I think it's about time we get it done and see this thing through because, after a while, people are going to start to look at it as a joke," Scott told ESPN as the lockout wore on.
Now on a three-game winning streak in December, Scott still isn’t sure that this group of Jets is as good as it can be, or needs to be.
“We just have to continue to get better every week, to make sure that we’re good enough to qualify [for the playoffs],” Scott said. “We’re playing better football, but we’re not playing nearly the type of football that we’re capable of.”
When asked what the Jets could do better, Scott elaborated: “You have to be playing your best football. We’re still trying to play our best football, we’re still trying to play completely as a team. You can be playing great as a unit one week or as a unit [the] next week. But a Super Bowl team puts it together consistently. You have to be able to play three games -- if you get in the playoffs, three great games -- to get an opportunity to win the Super Bowl. You just don’t wake up and say, ‘I’m a Super Bowl team.’ You have to be able to get better, and you have to play a certain way.”
Ryan and some of his players have doled out Super Bowl allusions like stocking stuffers on Christmas morning for two seasons now, so Scott’s humility is a departure. But it could be that the team’s composition has changed enough to give him concern. Last week he noted that some changes in the defensive starting lineup have taken getting used to.
“I think we’re young and inexperienced at certain spots,” Scott said. “To a certain extent, [we’re] still kind of readjusting to the personnel we have now. We haven’t had consistently the same personnel. We always have a little turnover, losing staples, we haven’t had a team where we keep the whole team; Drew (Coleman), losing (Lance) Laury, losing Shaun Ellis, officially losing (Kris) Jenkins, losing Trevor Pryce. Those guys we havent' had time to have a staple there where we can really lock in and learn about each other. At some spots. I think some not knowing each other as well as we could makes us vulnerable at certain times.”
Scott isn’t the only player to express concern about whether the Jets are going to fully peak. After several games, linebacker Calvin Pace addressed concerns he had even during Jets wins. On Thursday, Scott emphasized that he thought the team could get better in time to step up for those three necessary postseason games on the road to the Super Bowl, even if they aren’t quite there yet.
“Of course, that’s what we’re striving to be, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Scott said. “That’s what the last couple weeks have been, trying to tighten the focus up and get better at what we’re doing. And make sure that when we get there, we’re able to out-execute the opponent, we’re able to play smart, not get penalized, not have turnovers, not give up drives. When we get the opportunity to bury teams, we have to bury them.”
It’s a far cry from last year’s bold and simple confidence on a nearly frozen field in Foxborough, when, fresh off a divisional round win, Scott issued the phrase he’d later trademark.
Now the Jets just have to back up their Super Bowl talk, or back down from it.