NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A pair of 2-11 teams meet at LP Field this weekend with the New York Jets coming to town to battle the Titans in week 15.
After an opening day victory against the Raiders, New York's only other victory has come against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most recently, the Jets fell in overtime 30-24 to rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings .
Head coach Rex Ryan is in his sixth season as head coach of the Jets and owns a 44-49 overall record, including two trips to the postseason. He and former Titans running back Chris Johnson held conference calls with Titans media on Wednesday.
Here are the five things you need to know about the Jets.
- Chris Johnson's Return to LP Field**
New York boasts the second-ranked running game in the NFL, thanks in large part to former Titan Chris Johnson. Chris Ivory leads the Jets in rushing with 714 yards, but Johnson has pitched in 558 yards on 37 less carries.
Johnson spent six seasons in a Titans uniform, running for 1,000 yards in all six. That includes three Pro Bowls and an All-Pro campaign in 2008 when Johnson piled up 2,006 rushing yards, coming only the sixth player in NFL history to crack the 2,000-yard rushing mark.
"He's been tremendous," said Ryan. "He just is a great teammate, and he's a guy that's fresh. We have three backs here that we really like, and we try to keep those guys fresh. Sometimes he'll get more carries than Chris Ivory, sometimes he won't, but he's been a great teammate the whole time and trying to make the most of his opportunities."
Johnson said this weekend has been marked on his calendar since the schedule was released.
A first-round pick (24th overall) by the Titans in 2008, RB Chris Johnson became just the sixth player in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in 2009. He earned three Pro Bowls and was the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2009. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
"There's going to be a lot of emotions," he said. "I'm really just trying to focus on the game and going in there trying to win the game. I'm basically going to go in there and try to focus on what I have to do … It's been a game that I circled. It should be fun to go back to my old stomping grounds and be able to play at LP Field."
CJ also said he still keeps up with plenty of his former Titans teammates.
"Nate Washington, Kendall Wright," Johnson said to name a few. "When I was there and Kendall first came in, I kind of took Kendall under my wing there. I make sure I still talk to Kendall all the time. I talk to Griff (Michael Griffin) all the time. He was a first-round pick the year before I got there, so it was kind of like once I got there, me and him developed a close bond or whatever, so I talk to Mike all the time. I've still got a lot of guys over there, Sammie Hill, I talk to him all the time, so there's a lot of guys over there that I still stay in close communication with."
4. Evaluating Eric Decker
The Jets made a splash this past offseason, luring Decker away from the Denver Broncos where he spent his first four NFL seasons. The contract was big – five years and $36.25 million with $15 million guaranteed. The production however, is still a work in progress.
Decker has struggled with a lingering hamstring injury in 2014 and has only 620 yards and four touchdowns on the year. The receiver posted back-to-back 1,000-yard, double-digit touchdown seasons with Peyton Manning as his quarterback the last two seasons, but opted for a change of scenery in 2014.
Ryan says Decker is finally healthy now and he's excited to get him more involved.
"I think with Eric (Decker) he had a hamstring, and that was really lingering for several weeks, but he's healthy now and we feel good about him, and we're happy he's on our team."
- The Trade for Percy Harvin**
It's rare for big name players to change teams midseason, but the Jets acquired the speedy playmaker in Week 7 from the Seattle Seahawks. Apparently, Harvin's relationship with the Seattle front office and locker room grew tenuous leading up to the deal.
Ryan said he couldn't have been more pleased with what Harvin has done so far for the Jets. Just last week, Harvin caught six passes for 124 yards and a touchdown at Minnesota, the team that drafted him back in 2009. He is also contributing on special teams, averaging 24.6 yards per kick return as a Jet.
"This guy's been phenomenal for us," Ryan said. "He can be a legit receiver in this league, and believe it or not, I think he's actually getting better that way. He's really taking to it here. We love him, love having him here, and he's been a great guy."
Harvin did suffer an ankle injury against the Vikings which may keep him out of Sunday's game.
2. The QB Shuffle
The Jets drafted Geno Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft and started him all 16 games his rookie season. Throwing 12 touchdowns to his 21 interceptions wasn't the start he was hoping for in his NFL career, but he remained the team's quarterback going into 2014.
Smith has faced more struggles in his sophomore campaign with just eight touchdowns to his 12 interceptions. In Week 8 against the bills, Smith threw three picks on just eight passing attempts. That was the game Ryan decided to pull the plug on Smith and give the job to veteran Michael Vick.
Vick led the Jets to a Week 10 win against the Steelers, but was forced out of the team's Week 12 matchup against the Bills due to injury. Since then, Smith has remained under center for the Jets.
"I don't like to make the change, but when I went to Michael (Vick) - we've been turning the ball over at an alarming rate - and then Geno (Smith) had three interceptions and I think six throws in one quarter against Buffalo, so it's like you know what, it's time that the young man started every game since we drafted him, and it was his time to take a different perspective, to see what it looks like on the bench and then when you get another opportunity, to try to make the most of it," Ryan said of his decision.
Ryan said his young quarterback is starting to make some progress. Smith completed 18-of-29 last week for 254 yards, one touchdown and one interception, which came on his first pass of the game and was returned for a touchdown.
1. Playing Through a Tough Season
Much like what the Titans have experienced, the Jets are working through the frustrations of a losing season. The Jets have had their fair share of close games. Six of the team's 11 losses have come by a margin of 10 points or less.
Ryan says the effort from his team is still there, but he was candid in evaluating the disappointing season.
"It's definitely draining in the fact that your record says something about your team, that it's just horrible," he said. "We're 2-11, both teams are 2-11, and obviously nobody feels good about that, that's for sure. Nobody wants that, nobody in their wildest dreams thought that that would happen, but here we are. Both of these teams are at 2-11. Obviously, that's tough, but it's more than being a professional. You've got to have guys still eager to want to come to work and want to put their best out there in their preparation and then try to get better on the field, and that's exactly our approach.
"We just are snake bit. We've found different ways to lose games, I think," Ryan finished.