The Jets’ defensive players have not cracked on the field despite a lack of support from the team’s hapless offense.
And they did not crack after Sunday’s 13-8 loss to the Falcons at MetLife Stadium even though reporters gave them numerous opportunities to complain.
Oh, they admitted being frustrated, as anyone would be, by an offense that has generated 10 touchdowns in 12 games. But they said it will not alter their approach in the last five games of a lost season.
“My mindset as a defensive player will never change and the way I play will never change no matter what the score is,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said.
But he also said, “We’re human. It’s going to be frustrating. You’re going to wish you could do this or do that. But it is what it is.”
Perhaps sensing what could be ahead against the Falcons, Mosley, a defensive captain, said his advice for the unit went something like this: “Our message this week was loud and clear from me personally: Control what you can control.”
The Jets did not force any turnovers, committed key — in some cases questionable — penalties and did allow a 20-yard touchdown pass. But they also recorded a safety, held the Falcons to 194 total yards and generally did more than enough to deserve a victory.
The defense had some hiccups last month that led some to fear it was wearing down physically and mentally. But on Sunday, the unit looked to be back in top form.
“Our defense is built the right way; they’re not going to stop,” coach Robert Saleh said.
Said end John Franklin-Myers, “Our standard is our standard. We don’t raise or lower it to anybody or play down to anybody’s level. It’s an opportunity to do our job. It’s an opportunity to do what we love to do.”
Franklin-Myers said he always is optimistic when the defense gets a stop. “Personally, every time we get off the field, I think the offense is going to go out there and score,” he said. “If you don’t think that, then you’ve lost before you’ve even started.
“I’m proud of what they’re able to go in and do week in and week out, regardless of whether it’s what we want or what we expect. That’s not the important part. The important part is guys going out there, putting their best foot forward. Today, it just wasn’t good enough.”
Is it hard playing defense with no margin for error? “I wouldn’t even say it’s hard, because we have a really good defense,” said cornerback D.J. Reed, who had an interception nullified by his own illegal-contact penalty, a curious call.
Reed said the defense could have done better forcing takeaways and preventing the lone Falcons touchdown. But still . . . that margin for error thing? “It’s frustrating; I’m not going to lie to you,” he said.
The loss of quarterback Aaron Rodgers to an Achilles tendon tear four plays into the season continues to echo three months later.
The Jets have a problem at quarterback, and thus a problem on offense, and the defense can only press on.
“It’s no secret; that’s just the card that we were dealt this year,” Mosley said. “We have to make it work.”