Todd Bowles thinks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall have found peace on the New York Jets. They're certainly finding the end zone.
Fitzpatrick and Marshall look to continue hooking up as the Jets go for their first three-game winning streak in four years Sunday against the visiting Tennessee Titans.
Fitzpatrick and Marshall have combined to play on nine different teams in 10 years, and none of them managed to reach the playoffs. They're getting closer to changing that with the Jets (7-5), who are tied atop the AFC wild-card race with Pittsburgh and Kansas City.
The quarterback-wide receiver combination is at the center of that push. Fitzpatrick has tossed 22 touchdowns, two shy of his career high with Buffalo in 2011 and '12, and Marshall has grabbed a team-high 10 of them - six in the last five games. He's topped 1,000 yards for the eighth time in 10 seasons and his 83 catches put him on pace to reach the century mark for the sixth time.
They connected on 12 passes last week, including a nine-yard TD with 27 seconds left that forced overtime before kicker Randy Bullock provided the difference in a 23-20 win over the New York Giants.
Fitzpatrick threw for a season-high 390 yards and two scores on 36-of-50 passing, while Marshall logged 131 yards for a second straight game.
"They're both good football players. They have a chemistry," Bowles said. "Obviously they've been in the league for awhile. They've found a calm. At certain points in a career, if you've played long enough, you find calm and peace within yourself and you grow as a person.
"You understand what team is, you understand what winning is. I think those two hit it at the right time."
Another reason behind New York's success is the off-the-field communication between Fitzpatrick, Marshall and wide receiver Eric Decker, who had a season-high 101 yards on eight receptions last week.
"Every form of communication that's out there, he uses," Marshall said of Fitzpatrick, "whether it's voice memos, it's text messages, it's video chats, it's group texts, it's emails. He sends it all to us in groups and individually, and it's constant. He's relentless.
"When you look back and you really study the game, it's the teams who really come together at the end of November, December. If we can stay on this road, there's no telling what happens."
For now, the Jets will settle for winning three straight in a season for the first time since Nov. 27-Dec. 11, 2011.
Beating the Titans (3-9), however, may also require another stout effort from the defense, which could be without Darrelle Revis (concussion) for a third straight game. He returned to practice this week, and Tennessee is planning to face the star cornerback even though he hasn't been cleared to play.
"The plan is he's playing and we're prepping for that," interim coach Mike Mularkey said. "(We have to) understand his ability and what he brings to that defense."
The rest of the defense isn't too shabby, either. The Jets yield a league-low 83.5 rushing yards per game, giving up 86 total over the last two. They've collected 17 sacks in the last five games.
That'll pose a problem for rookie Marcus Mariota, who has been sacked 10 times in the past three games and 30 overall.
Mariota has three touchdown passes in each of the past two weeks to give him 19, the most by a Titans quarterback since Steve McNair's 24 in 2003. He was a threat through the air and on the ground last week, connecting on 20 of 29 passes for 268 yards and rushing for 112 yards - including 87 on the go-ahead TD run in a 42-39 win over Jacksonville.
"Well, you got a glimpse of him. The guy is fast," tight end Delanie Walker said. "I think he is just going to get better, especially next year when he is all settled in and understands the philosophy of the offense. He's going to be a great player. When he needs to run, he's going to make plays on his feet. ... He's going to be a playmaker in the NFL, and I'm excited to watch him."
Walker's enjoyment could also stem from having a career-high 67 catches for 800 yards, 90 short of his personal best set last season. The 10-year veteran has hooked up with Mariota 22 times for 292 yards over the last three games.
Dorial Green-Beckham is also building chemistry with Mariota. The rookie had his best performance last week with five receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Building on that effort, however, may be tough if Revis is lurking in the Jets secondary.
"Any athlete will tell you that they want to play and compete against the best," Mariota said. "If we get that opportunity on Sunday, I'll do my best to make plays and win the game."