There’s more than enough reason to look at the New York Jets current state and argue why this team’s headed for another January without any playoff games on their calendar.
A 27-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium Sunday afternoon left the Jets with a disappointing 1-3 record along with increased concern over the play of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a defensive secondary which has struggled in pass coverage.
Fitzpatrick’s throwing interceptions, the running game has been inconsistent, and the secondary is blowing coverage assignments all over the field.
If winning fuels confidence, why are the Jets feeling so confident despite their early season struggles?
“We lost these kind of games last year,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said after the game. “We lost three out of four in the middle of the season. We won some and we’ve lost some. We lost some this time. We have a veteran team. We’re mature. We’re a good group. We’re going to come together and get it fixed.”
Those feelings were echoed by defensive end Leonard Williams.
“I’m definitely not concerned,” said Williams. “I know we have great leaders and great veterans on this team. We’re going to rally together and come back.”
The Jets, losers of three of their first four games this season, are in familiar territory. After getting off to a 4-1 start in 2015, they dropped four of their next five games.
Last season the Jets had the talent and leadership to overcome adversity. It also, however, highlighted how thin the margin of error is in an NFL season. One loss can make the difference in reaching the playoffs or watching from home.
The Jets managed to come together in 2015 and win five consecutive games before falling one win short of reaching the playoffs with a road loss to Buffalo in the season finale.
Heading into this season the Jets were projected ready to take the next step towards becoming a playoff team again.
This team is a year older and the addition of running back Matt Forte brings even more veteran leadership to the roster. Yes, they’ve been through this before. Now it’s about if they can fix what’s gone wrong at the start of this season before it’s too late.
This next stretch of games will help determine if they’ve learned from last season.
Three of the next four games for the Jets are on the road, their next two are in Pittsburgh and Arizona. It’s a critical part of the schedule for a team with expectations of playing deep into the postseason.
“It’s very critical, said Forte after the loss to Seattle. “At times like this you don’t want to start a snowball effect and that losing streak mentality where people stop caring or something like that.”
The Jets have already lost the first quarter of this season, there’s nothing which can be done to change that. The true measure of how tough and good this group is will be put to the test over the next month.
If the Jets are in panic mode, they’re not showing it. The sense of urgency should definitely be on high alert right now, however that doesn’t mean hitting the panic button is the right approach.
A reasonable scenario for the Jets would be to get one of their next two against Pittsburgh and Arizona. They’ll then need to take care of business at home against Baltimore and then back on the road in Cleveland.
If the Jets can navigate through their next four games with minimal damage, it’s possible they can get back to .500 and hit a restart on the season.
“We’re not panicking here,” said rookie linebacker Darron Lee. “We have veterans who have been in this situation before. We can dig ourselves out of it and that’s what we’re just going to have to do. We’re going to back to the drawing board a little bit and get ready for next week against Pittsburgh.”
“We have a lot of games left to play and we have a lot of space for improvement,” Forte added. “Guys want to do that.”