This has not exactly been a season of pressure points for the Jets.
Sunday in South Florida against the reeling Dolphins, losers of four of their past five games, having allowed an average of 33.4 points per game in that span and playing with a backup quarterback, represents the first.
The following Sunday at home against the woeful one-win Bills, who are signing quarterbacks off of Walmart unemployment lists, represents a second.
The Jets are 3-5, which is probably about where they should be right now.
Expectations, after consecutive 5-11 seasons, were low thanks to a turned-over roster of young, developmental players. More to the point, their get-out-of-jail-free card has been rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.
That has to start changing — at least in slow, baby steps. It’s time we take the kid gloves off when evaluating this team and start expecting a little bit more. It’s time the Jets win a game — two games — against teams they should beat.
It’s time Todd Bowles backs off that soft, Kotite-ian “we-played-hard’’ mantra, like the one he curiously dished out after the Jets’ 24-10 loss in Chicago last Sunday, and gets a bit tougher on his team for its never-ending parade of self-inflicted mistakes.
It’s time, at the halfway point to this season, for the Jets to show progress — and by progress, we mean winning some games. A mere split of the next two games against Miami and Buffalo is not acceptable.
“We owe ’em one,’’ guard Brian Winters said Friday, referring to the Dolphins’ 20-12 win over the Jets in their September home opener.
“They came into our house and found a way to win and we need to return the favor,’’ left tackle Kelvin Beachum said.
A sweep of the Dolphins and Bills would get the Jets to a respectable 5-5 at their bye week with some tough opponents ahead, including the Patriots (6-2) twice, the Packers (3-3-1) and the Texans (5-3).
You can make an argument for the Jets losing all four of those games, which would get them to nine losses — even with wins over Miami and Buffalo the next two weeks.
It would appear clear that a third consecutive 5-11 season is not going to be good enough for Bowles to return for a fifth season after four playoff-less years.
Jets owner Christopher Johnson, who exudes the appearance of a patient man, insisted at the start of this season that he isn’t a patient man. And another 5-11 end result would have to wear on Johnson’s patience, because it’s wearing on the fans’ patience.
So go beat the Dolphins on Sunday. Then beat the Bills next Sunday. Then there would be a new season in front of these Jets, a real chance to show the progress and improvement Johnson demands.
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams insisted to reporters after the loss in Chicago that these aren’t the “same old Jets.’’ Sunday against the Dolphins is the time to show that. Then the Bills at home.
Anything less than a sweep of these two struggling divisional foes and this group is just the younger, latest version of the “same old Jets.’’
While Bowles never tweaks his players publicly — even indirectly — offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates on Thursday made a couple of honest, damning assessments of the loss in Chicago when he said, “The Bears really played more physical than us.’’
Beachum, for one, sounded chafed by Bates’ frankness, saying: “Coach Bates has his own opinion on how the game went. We’ll take what he said and move on with it. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels. We’ve got to find a way to go get a win. At the end of the day, that’s all the matters.’’
The Jets were skill-position challenged on offense to start this season — and that was before they lost running back Bilal Powell for the season and starting receivers Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, who are listed as questionable for Sunday.
Given that, a continuation of the maddening pre-snap penalties that killed them in Chicago will further dig the hole they’re in. The players say all the right things about correcting the issues, but the same things keep happening.
“All 11 have to be on the same page and all 11 have to be locked in and focusd,’’ Winters said.
“We had a great week of practice, a very spirited week of practice, and we’re excited to put it out on display on Sunday,’’ Beachum said.
Linebacker Brandon Copeland called Sunday “a must-win.’’
“We need to be 1-0 Sunday at 4:30 or 5 p.m.’’ Copeland said. “And then at that point we can worry about Buffalo.’’
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