The New York Jets were fired up coming off their bye-week break, eager to get back on the field and put their woes of the first five games behind them.
Then they had their biggest dud in decades.
The Jets’ 54-13 loss at New England on Sunday was as ugly as the final score looked. It was the fourth-most points allowed by New York, and the most since a 55-21 defeat at New England on Oct. 29, 1978. And to add injury to insult, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson was lost for at least two weeks with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
“We have a lot to work on, a lot to fix, a lot to get better from,” defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi said. “That’s really just the bottom line.”
Other than that, all’s well, right?
The Jets are 1-5 and in danger of watching their season slip away — and it’s not even November yet. But coach Robert Saleh remains ever the optimist, insisting the bigger-picture view looks a lot better than what everyone is seeing at the moment.
“I’m really just focused on trying to get these guys to play their absolute best so we can show the entire Jets nation why I truly believe we’re going to win championships,” Saleh said. “I know it’s hard to see right now, but I know the direction we’re going in. I know where it’s going to get.”
Well, the road to where Saleh insists the Jets will go won’t include Wilson on the field for at least the next few games.
Mike White, who hadn’t taken a regular-season snap in the NFL before Sunday, could fill in. The Jets also traded for 36-year-old Joe Flacco, sending a conditional sixth-round pick to Philadelphia to acquire the veteran quarterback. New York also has 35-year-old Josh Johnson on its practice squad.
Whoever starts in Wilson’s place will try to jumpstart an offense that has been stuck in neutral since Week 1.
New York ranks at or near the bottom in almost every offensive category and the Jets still have failed to score in the first quarter of any game, but Saleh saw some positives against the Patriots.
“We just didn’t capitalize and finish in positions that we had a chance to,” he said. “Defensively, we did not answer the bell and I think to a man, coach and player, we can all agree with that. Again, it’s continue harping on the small details that separate winning and losing.”
The Patriots sliced right through the Jets’ defense, which allowed New England to gain 551 yards — the third straight game New York has now given up 430 yards or more.
Some of that can be attributed to the offense having too many short drives and forcing the defense into being on the field more than it should. But the Jets’ defensive performance Sunday was just plain brutal, with defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich saying there was “embarrassment, anger and everything imaginable” when he looked up at the scoreboard.
“We just absolutely did not play to the level we’re capable of,” Ulbrich said. “I promise that won’t happen again.”
Insert shrug emoji here. After a 41-point beatdown after a bye-week break, there’s not much to say.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The fans. Sure, the offense needs to make some plays. And the overworked defense has to make some stops. Oh, and the trainer’s room is getting overwhelmed. But a frustrated fanbase is suffering again through it all.
The positive vibes after Saleh was hired and Wilson drafted that gave them hope have turned to despair. It’s a familiar feeling for a group that has seen its team fail to make the playoffs in 10 straight seasons, the longest active drought in the NFL, with an 11th in a row appearing inevitable.
Del’Shawn Phillips. In a game with few bright spots for the Jets, the linebacker had New York’s only sack — the first of his NFL career — and finished with six total tackles on defense and one on special teams, two tackles for losses and a quarterback hit after seeing increased playing time because of injuries to other linebackers.
Saleh. The first-year head coach had the decks stacked against him entering the season with a young roster and a largely inexperienced staff in a clear rebuild. Injuries to key players have hurt them in a big way early on, but coming out of a bye and getting absolutely thrashed by an AFC East rival is, as Saleh acknowledged, embarrassing.
Rookie linebacker Jamien Sherwood will be out for the rest of the season after he tore an Achilles tendon. Sherwood started four of the five games in which he played, and was calling defensive signals with C.J. Mosley sidelined with a hamstring injury. … There’s hope both Mosley and Jarrad Davis (ankle) can return this week. … LB Blake Cashman was having an MRI on his groin. … LB Quincy Williams is in the concussion protocol.
0 — New York has been outscored 44-0 in the opening period and is the first team to go scoreless in the first quarter in its first six games since the 2008 Detroit Lions, who went 0-16.
Well, it can only go up from here, right? Uh, maybe not. The Jets next face a surging Cincinnati squad that’s 5-2 and tied with Baltimore atop the AFC North. Then, they have a Thursday night road game at Indianapolis on a quick turnaround. AFC East-leading Buffalo comes to town after that. So, things could quickly get a lot more rotten in the Big Apple.