The Jets get back to work on Monday after a few days away to lick their wounds and try to figure out how to fix this 0-3 season.
Safety Jamal Adams summed it up in the postgame locker room last week in Foxborough, Mass.
“It’s a new season when we get back — 0-3, so what, now what?” Adams said. “We’ll be all right.”
They better have found some answers because it’s getting late early around here, and now they are staring at a road game against the Eagles and then two home games with the Cowboys and Patriots, who both enter Sunday undefeated.
When the “new” Jets season begins this week, there will be a lot of pressure on the team to get this season turned around. Here are the five men I believe have the most pressure on them entering this week to save the season:
The quarterback is expected to return this week after missing two games with mononucleosis. He will undergo an exam on Monday to get final clearance to play. If he does return, he will do so with the weight of the franchise on his back.
The easy explanation for the team’s early struggles has been Darnold’s absence. Even the Week 1 loss to the Bills in which he played looks suspect now because Darnold was already feeling the effects of the mono.
Darnold may as well be wearing an “S” on his chest this week instead of his usual 14. Everyone views him as the savior for the season. That may not be fair, but that is the way it is. This season was always going to be all about Darnold and how far he can progress in Year 2. It is time to see if he can start carrying this team. If Darnold performs well, the people under him on this list will all look better.
Look, it is silly to judge a coach after three games, but that is what people were doing this week after Gase’s team fell to 0-3 and his offense put up just 105 total yards. Reasonable people understand he was missing eight starters in that game, including his most important player on offense (Darnold) and most important player on defense (C.J. Mosley).
Still, three losses is three losses, and Gase desperately needs a win to take ease some of the building pressure building. If Darnold returns this week, Gase has to find a way to get this offense going. They are dead last in the NFL. Much of that can be blamed on Darnold’s absence, but with No. 14 back, Gase has to figure this out and get the team going. If not, the critics are going to multiply.
The Jets lured Kalil out of retirement in early August hoping he would anchor their offensive line. But he has started the season slowly, and it is a valid question if the Jets would be better off with Jonotthan Harrison at the position right now. Pro Football Focus rates Kalil 31st out of 32 centers they graded.
The offensive line is struggling and much of it looks like a communication issue. That falls on the center, whose job it is to get everyone on the same page. Kalil should have a short leash if he does not play better quickly.
This goes hand-in-hand with Kalil, but the offensive-line coach needs to fix things. Pollack said last week he “absolutely” believes they can fix the line issues. The Jets are not going to be able to change all the linemen in the middle of the season, but they could change coaches. The pressure on Pollack only increases with Darnold needing protection now. If he is getting killed back there, the organization is going to be looking for someone to blame.
The fifth-year defensive end is in the final year of his contract. He needs to start having an impact on games. His coaches praise how he plays against the run and say he is close to sacks. Close does not count here. He needs to get to the quarterback. He needs to take over games. It is time to have an impact.