Jets stay pos­i­tive de­spite 1-4 start

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Den­nis Waszak Jr. AP Sports Writer

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. >> Steve McLen­don sounded part-mo­ti­va­tional speaker, part-preacher as he de­scribed the vibe around the strug­gling New York Jets.

Sure, they’re 1-4 and frus­trated fans flocked to so­cial media to ex­press their dis­plea­sure.

But des­per­ate times aren’t ex­actly strik­ing fear and pes­simism into Todd Bowles’ bunch.

“It’s not to point the fin­ger at any­one,” said McLen­don, a nose

tackle in his eighth NFL sea­son. “We’re all in this to­gether. We have to keep re­mem­ber­ing that we are a team. We are the New York Jets. And if we believe in our­selves, we believe in this team and we believe in one an­other, we CAN turn this thing around.”

Pos­i­tiv­ity in the face of de­spair was the over­whelm­ing theme Mon­day, 24 hours after the Jets lost 31-13 at Pitts­burgh with an­other unin­spired per­for­mance.

The crit­i­cism from fans and media is wide­spread, with just about ev­ery­one tak­ing the blame from out­side the fa­cil­ity.

The list has got­ten down­right lengthy: Bowles’ ques­tion­able coach­ing de­ci­sions; Ryan Fitz­patrick’s un­even play at quar­ter­back; the leaky sec­ondary giv­ing up big plays ev­ery week; the dis­ap­pear­ing pass rush; Chan Gai­ley’s of­fense not be­ing able to get into the end zone con­sis­tently; the run­ning game be­ing bot­tled up the past few weeks.

Still, Bowles said he’s not en­ter­tain­ing thoughts of mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant chances.

“Teams that go through sit­u­a­tions like this, and we can see this in the past, if they get out on the other

side, they’re the strong­est teams and they are the teams that wreak havoc in the end be­cause they are bat­tle tested,” wide re­ceiver Bran­don Mar­shall said.

“That’s the pos­i­tive about where we’re at right now, is that the first part of the sea­son has been re­ally tough. It’s chal­leng­ing our re­la­tion­ships, it’s chal­leng­ing our schemes, it’s chal­leng­ing the guys that we have in each and ev­ery po­si­tion.

“If we con­tinue to stand firm and we start putting some wins to­gether, it’s al­ways a pos­i­tive and it can al­ways make your team that much stronger when you go through runs like this.”

After a 10-6 sea­son in 2015 and just barely miss­ing the play­offs, ex­pec­ta­tions were high this sea­son.

But five games in, the Jets have been a huge dud. In al­most ev­ery area of the field.

“Guys are press­ing,” Mar­shall said. “It’s just not hap­pen­ing for us. All we can do is go back out there and keep work­ing at it. We know what hap­pened. We ob­vi­ously un­der­stand that we need to be bet­ter in situational foot­ball. As of right now, that is clos­ing out games.”

Bowles echoed that sen­ti­ment, adding: “We’ve just got to find a way to turn the cor­ner.” After the Jets lost 24-3 at Kansas City two weeks ago, Mar­shall said

the team’s re­sponse would tell ev­ery­one what type of squad New York is.

Well, two more losses later, the Jets are among the bot­tom-tier teams in the league — hav­ing shown very lit­tle for fans to be en­cour­aged about.

“We ex­pect to be killed out in the streets and killed in the media be­cause our record shows that we’re not a re­ally good team,” Mar­shall said.

“But we have to stick to­gether. We know who we have in that locker room. You guys know who we have in that locker room. I think this is sur­pris­ing not only to our or­ga­ni­za­tion, but this is sur­pris­ing to you guys and our fans. But with that comes crit­i­cism.”

And, plenty of sec­ondguess­ing. Such as with the de­ci­sion by Bowles to punt on fourth-and-2 with the Jets down two scores half­way through the fourth quar­ter at Pitts­burgh.

The coach de­fended his call after the game, say­ing he wanted to give his de­fense a chance to stop the Steel­ers and give the Jets good field po­si­tion. He re­it­er­ated that Mon­day, say­ing his opin­ion is “the same.”

Since a 37-31 win at Buf­falo in Week 2 in which New York put up 17 points after half­time, the Jets have scored a to­tal of seven points in the sec­ond half in the past three games.

“We’ve got to take a hard

look at that and fig­ure it out be­cause that has been a re­cur­ring prob­lem,” Fitz­patrick said.

“That’s some­thing we’re go­ing to put a lot of fo­cus into and make sure that we’re play­ing bet­ter in the sec­ond half be­cause it hasn’t come to­gether for us the last few weeks.”

In the mean­time, the Jets are not con­cerned about the team pos­si­bly splin­ter­ing as the losses pile.

“I don’t worry about that at all,” Fitz­patrick said, “just be­cause of the type of peo­ple we have in our locker room.”

The vet­er­ans in­sist they’re stay­ing pos­i­tive, and they believe oth­ers will share that op­ti­mism.

“Some do, but we don’t need all,” Mar­shall said. “We just need the right guys to feel that way. You need your lead­ers to have this type of en­ergy, this type of out­look. That’s all you need.”

Notes

C Nick Man­gold (sore knee) and LB David Har­ris (sore ham­string) had MRIs which re­vealed no sig­nif­i­cant in­juries. Their avail­abil­ity for next Mon­day night is un­cer­tain, as is that of CB Dar­relle Re­vis (ham­string), who sat out Sun­day . ... CB Dar­ryl Roberts was hav­ing an MRI taken on his in­jured shoul­der. Bowles had no im­me­di­ate up­date on the sever­ity.

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