The Jets have scored only one offensive touchdown in eight quarters, are down to their No. 3 quarterback and are 21-point underdogs against New England. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick sounds as if he is preparing to face the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game or the Rams in the Super Bowl.
Belichick said the Jets are a handful and that the Patriots have their work cut out for them. Speaking of their skill players, he said “they’re all problems” and that matching up with Adam Gase usually is difficult.
“It’s all a problem for us,” Belichick said.
Reality check: Through the first two games, the Patriots have played as if they’re in a higher league. They’ve outscored their opponents 76-3.
Plus the Patriots have owned the Jets in the Belichick-Tom Brady era. Brady is 27-6 as a starter against the Jets. And although the Patriots parted ways with Antonio Brown just 11 days after signing him, they still are loaded.
The Jets, on the other hand, are a mess.
Sam Darnold has mononucleosis. Luke Falk, a practice squad quarterback until Darnold got sick, will start Sunday. The offensive line has not provided enough protection for quarterbacks or opened holes for Le’Veon Bell. He has gained 91 percent of his yards after contact, according to Pro Football Focus.
The defense is ravaged by injuries. Middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins and rookie lineman Quinnen Williams are expected to miss this game.
But just as Belichick is saying all the right things, the Jets are doing the same. They’re preaching that they’re down but not out as they try to snap a six-game losing streak against the Pats.
“I don’t sense a panic,” Bell said. “We have 14 more games left. We can win 14 games. I’m confident this team can win 14 games. We just got to put everything together.”
During the previous two seasons, Gase went 2-2 against Belichick as the Dolphins’ coach. One of those wins came on a wild two-lateral last-second touchdown last season.
With bad luck and bad breaks piling up — the Jets also lost receiver Quincy Enunwa for the season with a serious neck injury in Week 1 and backup quarterback Trevor Siemian for the season with an ankle injury in Monday’s loss to Cleveland — Gase reflected on his first season in Miami. The Dolphins lost four of their first five games in 2016 but made the playoffs at 10-6.
“I keep thinking about my first year in Miami,” Gase said. “We were 1-4 and terrible. We rattled off six straight. The next thing, we’re creating our own destiny. We got a lot of football left to play. It’s all about us getting better and sticking with our process.”
If there is a silver lining, it’s that the Jets have their bye week after New England. That should give Mosley and Williams time to return when the Jets play their next game, Oct. 6 against the Eagles. Gase and Darnold also said that’s the day they’ve circled for their starting quarterback to return. If Darnold misses only two games with mono, that would be a victory for the Jets, and likely their first of the year.
Robby Anderson offered a different reason he believes the Jets have a chance in New England: He said the Jets haven’t checked out yet.
“We usually play them later on in the year [when] our hopes are down,” he said. “Players on the team in the past were already clocked out, you know what I’m saying? This year, it’s a little bit different. We’ve got the whole year ahead of us, it’s earlier in the year, we’re a little more fresh. So I’m just itching to get that win.”
Brady: Career vs. Jets
238.1 Yards per game
54 TD passes
93.1 QB rating