TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsColumnistsNeil Best

Jets' regression in loss to Falcons a case of arrested development

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10: Zach Wilson #2

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10: Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets is sacked by Steven Means #55 of the Atlanta Falcons during the NFL London 2021 match between New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 10, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images/Ryan Pierse

Michael Carter was talking about the Jets’ level of confidence, and about how they are perceived by outsiders.

"We don’t read anything anybody says," he told an SNY reporter in London on Sunday. "We think we’re good."

Fair enough. But had the Jets running back read what many were saying and writing before the game against the Falcons at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, he would have found plenty who agreed.

OK, maybe not "good," but at least "headed in the right direction" after an upset of the Titans the previous week in which quarterback Zach Wilson made several big plays, as did the defense.

There was a low-level buzz surrounding the team and coach Robert Saleh, and as the NFL Network studio team sent the telecast off to England on Sunday, all four picked the Jets.

Then came the game, and a harsh trans-Atlantic reality check that reminded us the Jets are who we thought they were — a bad team with a rookie head coach, a rookie offensive coordinator, a rookie quarterback and a long way to go.

To Carter’s credit, after the 27-20 loss and that line about the Jets being "good," he added, "It’s just that we have to get better."

Yup.

To reiterate: This season never has been primarily about wins and losses. It is about development. But that does not excuse everything, particularly now that the Jets are 29% of the way through the season.

Their glacially slow starts have been an embarrassment. Their lack of commitment to the running game has been a puzzlement. Their defense often looks good, then suffers breakdowns at crucial times.

And then there is the most important element of all — Wilson.

After his breakout game against the Titans, he took a step back, missing on some short, relatively easy throws, taking a sack he should not have taken, throwing an awful ball that was intercepted, and so on.

All part of the process, of course. This is no time to panic or lose hope. We all get that.

But Sunday was a gut punch for fans who thought the worst was over after an 0-3 start. Even in the best case, this is not going to be a straight line going up.

"I have to come out and just throw that thing, make the right reads, and I just missed some throws," Wilson said. "I can’t come out and just miss throws. They’re not throws that are hard.

"Coaches are putting us in good position. We just have to get some momentum going."

Saleh said it is about fundamentals and that Wilson has been working on that daily.

"He’s going to get better at it and he’s very deliberate about it," the coach said. "It’s trusting it when bullets are flying. It’s very easy to stand at the driving range and hit 300-yard drives. It’s can you do it when you’re on the tee box and there’s water to your left and sand to your right?

"That’s just something that he’s got to work on. That’s something the coaches have to work on and everybody has to work on. And when he hits it, it’s going to be pretty cool when it does.

"But obviously, it comes back to eye placement, progression, footwork, everything we’ve been talking about over the last couple weeks."

The Jets were better in the second half than the first, as usual, and got within 20-17 midway through the fourth quarter.

On the Falcons’ next play from scrimmage, Matt Ryan hit rookie tight end Kyle Pitts for 39 yards after he ran past both Jets safeties.

Pitts, who was drafted No. 4 overall, two spots after Wilson, had nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown.

The Jets are off until Oct. 24, when they visit the Patriots, who beat them, 25-6, in Week 2.

"This is a bye week, but it’s really not," C.J. Mosley said. "We’ve got to really lock in and feel what we have to do as a team collectively to get back on track, because we can’t have a game like we did last week and fall back in the hole in the first half."

There are 12 games left to avoid digging it any deeper.

DELAYED TAKEOFF

The Jets can’t get off the ground in the first half of their games. The first-half scoring through five games:

Week 1: Carolina 16, Jets 0

Week 2: New England 13, Jets 3

Week 3: Denver 17, Jets 0

Week 4: Tennessee 9, Jets 7

Week 5: Atlanta 20, Jets 3

Totals: Opponents 75, Jets 13

New York Sports