Jets fans had to swallow yet another loss to New England Sunday — that’s 11 in a row for those who have lost count — after watching their rookie quarterback and latest potential franchise savior throw the ball to the wrong team again and again and again and again.
So the Jets are off to a 0-2 start under new coach Robert Saleh. But after Zach Wilson’s discouraging four-interception effort and a discouraging 25-6 setback to the AFC East rival Patriots in the home opener at MetLife Stadium, defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins had a message for fans who bleed green and white.
"If I had anything to say to Jets fans, it’s just continue to be patient with the process," Rankins said. "We’ve got the pieces. We’ve got the players. We’ve got the coaches. This thing’s going to turn around.
"To change a culture is not easy, especially from a culture that’s lost for a long time. It’s not easy, and especially in a division where you’ve got a team like the Patriots who has ran it for a long time. You’ve got Buffalo who’s playing well now. You’ve got Miami who’s doing some good things now.
"So people have just got to continue to be patient with the process, and I know people have been patient for a while. But at the end of the day, we’ll get it done. But it’s going to take some time."
Rankins arrived as an unrestricted free agent after playing his first five seasons with New Orleans. He participated in the playoffs three times. He was used to having Drew Brees as the quarterback.
Now he has the second overall pick in the 2021 draft, a young QB who was outplayed by another rookie, the 15th overall pick in the draft. Mac Jones threw for 24 less yards than Wilson’s 210, but did it without an interception.
Rankins, who had a sack against Jones, is still enthused over Wilson’s potential despite the losses to Carolina and the Pats.
"We understand what we have with Zach," Rankins said. "The talent is off the charts. He continues to flash and show the things that make him special. We’ve just got to continue to allow him to continue to grow and be himself and not allow his negatives, his bad plays, to knock down his confidence. We’ve got to continue to build him up."
Yet, the Jets have been down a long time. They haven’t participated in the playoffs the past 10 years. There has been one winning season in this stretch, back in 2015. They also have dropped 19 of the last 21 to New England, dating to 2011.
However, another Jets newcomer also indicated more patience will be required.
"The biggest thing is, Rome wasn’t built in one day," veteran tackle Morgan Moses said. "As the season goes, we’ll get better . . . We’ve got some things to fix."