As Sunday's game against the Patriots began, MetLife Stadium was loud, brimming with excitement.
Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson and several new faces were introduced prior to kickoff as a new era effectively began. Could Gang Green take a promising second half from last week's loss in Carolina and turn it into winning football for four quarters in their home opener?
It didn't take long for that elation and hope from a suffering fan base to turn into silence. Eventually, the boo birds vocalized their displeasure as well. New York wasted no time falling behind, never really threatening a comeback in a brutal, 25-6 loss.
With the debilitating defeat at the hands of a new-look rival, New York dropped to 0-2 on the season. Sure, the Jets weren't going to accelerate through this stage of their rebuild under general manager Joe Douglas and new head coach Robert Saleh overnight, but this franchise is entering some very familiar territory.
The Jets are now winless in their last 11 games played in the month of September. New York is 3-15 in games played during the first month of the NFL season since the conception of their 2016 campaign.
Rather than letting this latest poor performance spiral and turn into another lost year, however, Saleh and his players are striving to nip this sluggish start in the bud before it begins to snowball.
That starts with their rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who threw four interceptions against New England and has been trying to do too much over his first two NFL games.
"He just needs to believe in himself and shake this one off. I promised him that it would not be the hardest game he’s every played," Saleh said after the loss. "He just has to pick himself up and get ready for the next one."
Wilson owned up to his mistakes, forcing ill-advised passes down the field rather than playing it safe and keeping tabs on his checkdowns. He may be a 23-year-old in the earliest stages of his career, but he's mature in his mindset, understanding that these games will happen over the course of his journey through pro football.
"This is what we sign up for, right? There are going to be games like this and the ups and downs," Wilson told reporters. "I just have to remember the situation that I’m in and I’m an important piece in this whole thing and how can I just keep learning and getting better? You’ve got to keep that swag and that mojo every single week."
Saleh assured that his signal-caller won't lose confidence. After all, even after throwing four picks, the quarterback kept slinging the football around, ending up with over 200 yards through the air in the loss.
"He is a young man full of confidence, especially when he goes and watches the tape and has a chance to hit the rewind button and learn from everything that just happened," Saleh said. "He’s a young man full of resolve. I know when he sees the tape, I just know he’s going to learn a ton from this experience."
It makes sense that some fans would compare this start to that of previous years, but a veteran on the defensive side of the ball is certain that this group is different.
"There’s a new energy, new culture, new staff. It’s a new season," safety Marcus Maye said. "I’m not going to keep talking about last year and all the old stuff and things like that because I’m looking forward from here on out."
Asked how exactly this group can start to turn things around—with a tough matchup on the road against the Broncos looming next week—Maye said it starts in the film room and ends on the practice field. These guys need to push themselves harder when nobody is watching in order to find results on Sundays.
"We watch the film tomorrow and put it to bed," wideout Corey Davis added postgame. "We can talk or do what you got to do, but after these next 24 hours, we’ll just watch the film and evaluate it and it’s over with. It’s on to the next."
It won't be easy. The Jets will continue to be overlooked and even with the improvements they made this offseason, doubters will insist this team is several years away from even sniffing contention.
And maybe those critics are right. After all, coming off a two-win season, the Jets aren't viewed as a playoff team in 2021. But with Saleh's system in place, those in green and white will continue to play hard and develop, inching closer to relevance with every passing week.
If they can clear up the mental errors and self-inflicted mistakes that have been present throughout the first two weeks of the season, then fans will begin to witness a different product between the lines going forward.
"We're not far off," offensive lineman Morgan Moses insisted. "It's Week 2, don't give up on us yet, because we're damn sure not going to give up on ourselves. We've got a lot to look forward to and a lot to accomplish."
- Robert Saleh Reveals Why Denzel Mims Was Inactive Against Patriots
- Zach Wilson Throws Four Interceptions in Ugly Loss to Patriots
- Jets Are Confident That Rookie Elijah Moore Will Have 'Big Year' After Frustrating Debut