The improved 2004 Jets showed on Sunday that they can play with the big boys. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets went into their Week 7 match up with the New England Patriots, as a team loaded with question marks. Were the Jets as good as their 5-0 record? Was the fast start due to the easy schedule the Jets were graced with, their first five opponents had a combined record of 6-22. Were the Jets ready make history, or become number 21?
The Jets did not make history, as they fell to 5-1, and became the latest victim on New England’s historic path that has led them to 21-consecutive victories. While the Jets may have proved they are not yet ready conquer the NFL’s elite, they did prove they are no push over.
Minus a few early miscues, such as Jerald Sowell’s fumble inside the red zone, the Jets did a good job of staying within themselves and not letting New England become disruptive. The Jets fell victim to what every team that plays the Patriots does, their self.
What the Jets did not do was get embarrassed. They entered Gillette Stadium an enigma and proved to the league they belong. The Jets did not let early mistakes take them out of the game. While the defense had some trouble corralling New England’s receivers they were able to keep the Jets in striking distance by stalling two Patriot drives and forcing field goals. They pitched a second half shutout, their second in as many weeks.
The major problem that faced the Jets defense last week was their inability to get off the field. The Jets defense held New England to just one three-and-out all game, and the Jets had only two offensive drives the entire first half. Since the Jets offense has not shown quick strike ability this season, the Jets defense has to do a better job of cutting down opponents’ time of possession.
The Jets coaching staff showed much improvement this week. On offense Paul Hackett did a good job of getting the ball to his receivers, which has troubled the Jets so far this season. Justin McCareins had his best day as a Jet, six receptions for 83-yards.
Donnie Henderson, the first year defensive coordinator, did a good job of matching wits with Bill Belicheck and Romeo Crennel after a shaky first half. He made adjustments at half-time and went back to a four-down-linemen approach, which increased the pass rush and resulted in three second half sacks.
The Jets have come a long way since last year’s 6-10 record. They have shown poise in pressure spots against Buffalo. They showed resilience in the come-from-behind victory over the 49ers. The Jets have also shown the ability to compete with the best teams in the league.
The ball is now in the Jets’ court. It is up to them to prove to the fans, the media and the rest of the league Sunday was a stepping stone toward making them a better team. The Jets must continue to move forward as a team. In a league built on parity, evident by the Dolphins 31-14 drubbing of the Rams, there is a one or two play window between disaster and victory. The Jets witnessed first-hand that window slamming shut this past week at Foxboro. Monday night against the Dolphins the Jets get their first chance to pass that lesson on.