CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The New York Jets don't play the New England Patriots for 83 days, but it's really an every day thing for the Jets. It's every day, every year, trying to get better with the hope of taking down the big bully of the AFC East.
Their attitude this season? Bring it on.
"They've won their Super Bowls, they've earned their stripes and they're respected, but we're not going to bow down to them," guard Willie Colon told ESPN.com Friday. "We're not going to feel insecure in any type of way about what they have."
The Jets split with the Patriots last season, but they finished four games behind in the standings -- a rather large gulf between the two longtime rivals. The Jets say it every year, how they're aiming for Tom Brady & Co., only to fall short in the end. The Patriots have won 10 of the last 11 division titles, including five straight since Rex Ryan became the Jets' coach.
But once again, the Jets are confident. They have to be.
"It's not enough to split with them," said linebacker Calvin Pace, another veteran leader who'd give anything to end the dominance. "We've got to find a way to beat 'em twice. I think everybody understands, if you want to go far, you have to go through New England. I'd love to sugar-coat it, but it is what it is."
Asked if this is the year, Pace smiled.
"I hope so," he said. "It's up to us. They're going to be who they are. For as long as I've been in the league, the Patriots are going to be the Patriots. They're not going to change for anybody. We have to change. Every year I've been here, there have been so many highs and lows. I don't know why we can't be one way, either be good or be bad. I'm hoping this is the year we can start fast and keep it going for the whole year."
In a recent interview with the New York Post, Ryan said he doesn't worry about the Patriots, that "they need to worry about us." Tough talk, indeed, considering the Jets' lack of succcess against them. Behind closed doors, he has expressed a similar sentiment to the team, according to several players. To the outside world, it may come across as typical Ryan bluster, but the players love to hear it.
"I know it rubs people the wrong way, but I don't think it's meant to be malicious toward the other team," Pace said. "He believes in us."
Now they have to figure out a way to topple the Evil Empire, no easy task now that the Patriots have Darrelle Revis on defense.
"Yes, they've won our division, they've had the title for awhile," Colon said. "We strive every year to get it. They're our rivals. Yes, there's going to be some blood, there's going to be some hate. That's football. You have to appreciate that. Do we not like them? Sure, but we have to respect. That's how Rex feels. It ain't going to be a hug match; we're going to play football.
"We want what they've got," he continued. "That's the ultimate goal -- win the division and, hopefully, for a fight a Super Bowl."