Why this Jets season isn’t as hopeless as it seems

Why this Jets season isn’t as hopeless as it seems

This has been a week during which it has felt like the sky was falling around the Jets.

The 15-10 loss to the Patriots and the inept performance by the offense has fans screaming — understandably.

The cries for Zach Wilson to be benched intensified this week, and Robert Saleh doubling down on his belief in Wilson has made people question whether he is the right guy to be the Jets coach.

Everyone needs to take a breath.

Yes, the Jets have looked bad in the past two games. Yes, Wilson is not a good quarterback. But the Jets are 1-2 and there is a lot of football left.

I’m here to push back on some of the negativity about the team right now.

It is tough to see any scenario where the Jets become a playoff team, but they can win some football games this year.

Here are five reasons to believe the Jets won’t be as bad as you think right now:

1. The Cardinals beat the Cowboys on Sunday.

That the Cardinals can beat an undefeated Cowboys team offers a reminder that the Jets could spring some upsets of their own.Getty Images

This is the NFL. Anything can happen and any team can beat any team on any day. That is why we love the sport.

Who had the Jaguars losing to the Texans or the Colts beating the Ravens? As bad as the Jets looked against the Patriots, they had the ball three times in the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead. They lost by five and not 50. That shows they can compete.

The Chiefs might be a tough ask, but there are other teams on the schedule whom the Jets can hang with and beat.

2. The defense has not dominated yet.

This is a good defense, and it has looked that way in two of the three games. But I don’t think it has hit its stride yet.

If you remember last year, the defense had some early struggles before it became dominant.  I think we could see the same thing this year. On Sunday, they allowed just 13 points, but they did not make any impact plays (zero sacks or takeaways). That has to come for this defense to truly take over games.

Despite the Jets’ 1-2 start, the defense has limited two of three opponents to 16 points or fewer and has registered three sacks per game.Charles Wenzelberg/New York Po

The Jets need the defense to carry them. I think they will at some point.

3. I expected the Jets offense to need some time to get its legs under them even with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

I wrote that back in August. There were too many new pieces for it not to take some time, from a new coordinator to new receivers, a new running back, a line that did not play together in the preseason and Rodgers.

The injury to Rodgers only delayed that process more with Wilson now coming into an offense designed for Rodgers. This offense can get better with more time on task.

Also consider these are the teams the Jets have faced and their defensive rankings: Bills (No. 2), Cowboys (No. 4) and Patriots (No. 5).

Now, you can argue they have those rankings in part because they played the Jets, but these are still good defenses the Jets have faced. The bad news is the Chiefs are No. 6 in total defense.

4. The new-look offensive line looked good this week.

The Jets’ offensive line gave Zach Wilson time to work against the Patriots, though it often wasn’t time well-spent.Robert Sabo for the NY Post

The Jets had a revamped line with Mekhi Becton moving to left tackle, Alijah Vera-Tucker moving to right tackle and Joe Tippmann starting at right guard.

The unit did well in pass protection, much better than the Jets had done in the first two weeks. They need to open more holes in the run game, but it is tough when teams are stacking the box.

Still, the Jets have to feel better about their line than they did, and maybe this group can protect the quarterback and help jumpstart the offense.

5. The Jets started last year 1-2 before going on a run.

The Jets were in the exact same position last season when they rattled off four wins in a row and five wins in six games before collapsing down the stretch. The Jets won in October and November by playing great defense, running the ball and making sure Wilson did not turn the ball over. They won big games in Pittsburgh and Green Bay and Denver, and they beat the Dolphins and Bills at home.

Along the way, they caught some breaks by facing teams with backup quarterbacks. It would help the cause if the Jets caught some breaks again.

The Jets found a path to beating the Steelers last season with a heavy dose of Breece Hall on offense.Getty Images

But the point is it was not that long ago that the Jets won with Wilson at quarterback. and this year’s team should be better. The Jets know the formula.

The Jets are not going to go 15-2 or 14-3, but they can be a team that is hanging around .500 in December.

It is not as bad as it looks right now.

Want to catch a game? The Jets schedule with links to buy tickets can be found here.

Saleh’s impossible spot

I know Jets fans were not happy with what Saleh had to say about Wilson after Sunday’s game or in Monday’s press conference.

I think Saleh is in an impossible spot. He can’t rip Wilson. He never criticizes players publicly. Saleh is speaking to the locker room. He needs his players to believe in Wilson, and he needs Wilson to believe he has his back.

Robert Saleh might find it difficult to keep his locker room together if he were completely candid about the Jets’ quarterback situation.Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Saleh probably laid it on a little too thick on Monday, but this is tricky ground for him to navigate. It also is not really fair to Saleh that he has to field all of these questions.

General manager Joe Douglas should speak to the media about the quarterback situation in light of the Rodgers injury and how much that changed the outlook for the team. Douglas generally does not speak during the season except at the trade deadline. That leaves Saleh out there fielding all of the quarterback questions.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman is a master at speaking to the media when things are going wrong and taking the blame. It takes some heat off his manager and players. Douglas should take a page from Cashman’s book and meet with the media members who regularly cover the team to deflect some heat from Saleh.

Stat’s so

Sam Darnold led the Jets to a 13-25 record in three seasons as the starting quarterback.Getty Images

Zach Wilson and Sam Darnold were both top 3 picks by the Jets who did not pan out. Wilson has played 25 games in his career. Let’s compare his first 25 games with Darnold’s (through 15 games of his 2019 season):

Wilson: 25
Darnold: 25

Wilson: 389
Darnold: 489

Wilson: 709
Darnold: 819

Completion pct.
Wilson: 54.87
Darnold: 59.71

Passing yards
Wilson: 4,489
Darnold: 5,690

Touchdown passes
Wilson: 17
Darnold: 35

Wilson: 22
Darnold: 27

QB rating
Wilson: 69.2
Darnold: 81.3

Wilson: 75
Darnold: 61

Yards per attempt
Wilson: 6.33
Darnold: 6.95

Rushing attempts
Wilson: 67
Darnold: 74

Rushing yards
Wilson: 330
Darnold: 202

Rushing touchdowns
Wilson: 5
Darnold: 3

Source: Pro Football Reference