Play pissed off.
The Jets say they’re pissed off at being 0-3.
Their fans are perpetually pissed off at being 0-for-50 (and-counting) in years without a championship.
So, when the Jets host the 0-3 Broncos on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, there’s only one way they should play: Like they’re pissed off.
If the Jets can’t take their frustrations out on the injury-depleted Broncos, who will trot out their ninth starting quarterback in the past four seasons, neophyte Brett Rypien, then it’s realistic to wonder if they’ll ever win a game this season.
“We’re pissed off,’’ Jets coach Adam Gase after the Jets lost 36-7 to the Colts on Sunday in Indianapolis.
“I think they’re pissed,’’ Gase said Tuesday of his players.
This all starts with the defense.
The offense always was going to be the question mark for the Jets this season, at least early on. The defense was supposed to be the safety net for a 2020 Jets team that was incorporating an entirely new offensive line and receiving corps.
The defense ranked 16th in the league last season in points allowed, with a respectable average of 22.4. It ranked seventh in total yards allowed, second in stopping the run, 13th against the pass.
This season, those numbers look like a myth. Or a misunderstanding.
The Jets enter Thursday’s game ranked 27th in points allowed, yielding an average of 31.3 per game. They’re ranked 17th overall on defense, 14th against the run and 22nd against the pass.
Teams cannot win games giving up 31 points per game, even though some of that is on the Jets bumbling offense (see the 16 points the Colts’ defense scored on Sunday with two pick-sixes and a safety).
But the fact is Gregg Williams’ defense was supposed to be the backbone of this team and, through three games, it’s been spineless. The Bills offense ran up and down the field in the season opener. So, too, did the 49ers in Week 2 and then the Colts on Sunday.
Against Denver and Rypien, who’s thrown nine NFL passes (all in garbage time of Sunday’s 28-10 loss to Tampa Bay), one of two things is going to happen for the Jets defense:
It’s going to play angry and take advantage of a young and inexperienced quarterback;
Or it’s going to be exposed by a young and inexperienced quarterback.
Considering how anemic the offense has been — playing Sunday in Indianapolis without its three top receivers, its top running back and both starting tackles — the second of those options would represent a new low point to an already dismal season.
The Jets are the only team in the NFL this season that has not held a lead. Not for one second of one game. That’s no way to live.
Someone — anyone — needs to make a play early in Thursday’s game to create some energy. As you look around the league and see players making big plays, smiling and celebrating, the Jets look joyless.
“We just can’t go out there and just get beat and lay down and take it,’’ defensive tackle Steve McLendon, a team elder statesman, said. “At this point right now, there’s not many words that need to be said. You need to let your pads do the talking. The action needs to be on the field now.’’
Play pissed off.
Williams’ defense was credited with one hit on Colts quarterback Philip Rivers. Not one sack. One quarterback hit. You know what that’s like for a quarterback on a Sunday? A spa day.
That’s unacceptable, regardless of how quickly the quarterback gets rid of the ball, and Rivers has one of the quickest releases in the game.
Williams, who always looks like he’s coaching pissed off, insisted on Tuesday that his defensive players are not lacking fire — even though the look on the field belies that claim.
“When you look them in the eye on the sideline, there is no lack of spirit at all,’’ Williams said. “We’ve got to continue to take the ball away, we’ve got to score on defense. Last year, we had some really good success with that [and] we’ve got to do some of that [this year]. We’ve got to force people to three-and-outs, we’ve got to get them to third down and make them kick field goals.’’
It all sounds so simple, yet …
When he was asked if he’s pissed off, Williams said, “I never like to lose. That’s all of us. Nobody likes to come in second place.’’
Second place sounds divine at the moment for a team that looks destined to be in 32nd place by season’s end.
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