Florham Park, NJ – Cornerback Darrelle Revis recalls his 2014 season with the New England Patriots when the team sank to 2-2 after a pathetic 41-14 loss at Kansas City. Patriots coach Bill Belichick asked Revis if he wanted to address the team. Revis politely declined. Just not his style, he told Belichick. Just not in his DNA, he said. Revis simply improved his play as did all of the Patriots. They would roll onward to win Super Bowl 49.
Revis is 31 now and in his 10th NFL season. Back with the Jets, he remains one of the most intelligent, insightful yet reticent speech makers in the league. After the Jets fell to 1-5 with four consecutive losses, the bludgeoning ceased with a victory over Baltimore last Sunday at home. Afterward, something bubbled inside Revis.
He just couldn’t keep it to himself.
"I’m the last guy to make a speech, but the message I was hearing in the locker room after that game was to remember what losing four straight felt like," Revis said. "I was just overcome to stand up and say, `No, forget that, remember what winning this game feels like!’ It got pretty rowdy, pretty crazy in there after that. I’m sure my teammates were shocked. I shocked myself."
Maybe the Jets are shook just enough to wake up, stand up and make something out of their weird and wacky season. Their quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, felt unwanted before the season, unwanted during the season and played like it with 11 interceptions in six games. Benched for Baltimore, his replacement, Geno Smith, lasted fewer than two quarters before being injured and lost for the season.
It’s all back to Fitzpatrick now, who swears that his mind is now right and that his game will rally.
Receiver Eric Decker is injured and gone for the year, the high-hopes running game with newcomer Matt Forte has too often stalled and the supposed team-strength, defense, has often been timid.
That gets you 2-5.
The Jets have been in places where teams with current, woeful losing streaks reside. The worst of the bunch — Cleveland (seven straight losses), San Francisco (six), Baltimore and Carolina (four) and Chicago and Los Angeles (three) — are on losing slopes, all whistling in darkness, groping for answers with a common thread of inconsistent quarterback play.
"When you’ve got a lot of upheaval at that position, in this league, it’s tough to win," Revis said. "That guy has to be the leader or a leader. You start rotating there or the position becomes an issue for whatever reason and it tends to trickle throughout the team. We’ve had a problem as a team getting the details right. Little things lead to big things. We’re looking for consistency, all of us. I think we’re closer to it now.
"I put myself front and center. I had two bad plays for touchdowns early this year. I’ve given up touchdown passes in every season I’ve played. But things get magnified. I know there are certain ways that I cannot play the position of cornerback at age 31 like I did at 21. But of course, I can still play this game. I just have to be smarter. We all have to be smarter. We’ve got nine games left. We can still take control of this season."
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It’s a show-me business, Jets coach Todd Bowles likes to say.
That’s where the Jets are, all show me, all show us, with a game Sunday at Cleveland next. It is the perfect opportunity for the Jets to increase their execution and confidence. The Browns are 0-7 and have started three different quarterbacks and played six altogether.
They are the perfect mess for the Jets to continue to climb out of their distinct mess.
After that are games at Miami, home against the Rams and then a bye. Three victories would get the Jets to 5-5 with six games left. They understand that reaching .500 before the bye is paramount to any chance of salvaging this season.
It starts with Cleveland.
"We have a one-game winning streak and we have to make it two," defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. "We’ve seen and lived enough of the other side."
"I think we play best with a chip on our shoulder," cornerback Buster Skrine said. "I know I have one."
And this from running back Matt Forte: "Everybody just needs to do what they need to do and what they are supposed to do. I see hope."
I see the Jets best prospect for a huge turnaround residing in their running game rising, in a receiver clearly stepping forward in Decker’s absence and in the defense playing with more passion and aggression.
Forte says it has been a missed block here, a nuance there that has led to the Jets running game inconsistencies and a 101.4 average yards gained per game, 20th in the league. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey agrees.
"We have to have that going and not ask Ryan to do so much," Gailey said. "If we can run it, we don’t have to ask Ryan to make eight straight throws to win every week, even though there are times you do have to do that some. It’s my job to put him in good situations where he doesn’t have to force the ball."
The Jets need receiver Quncy Enuwa to continue to emerge -– he leads the team in receptions with 32 for 409 yards. And receivers Robby Anderson, Jalin Marshall and Charone Peake to help fill the Decker loss. They need Fitzpatrick and this offense to protect the football -– the Jets rank last league-wide in turnovers with 17
Their defense, which ranks 16th in total defense, 27th in passing defense, 23rd in scoring defense, 26th in red zone defense and 26th in turnovers forced, limited Baltimore to 16 points and showed its turnover capabilities. Bowles said his defense early in the season began to "retreat" after being thrashed for big plays. It is prepared to return to its attacking style -- "To do what we do best," he said.
The Jets have pushed the re-start button on their season.
Time will tell, Revis said.
"There has been adversity and so much unexpected that has happened for us so far," Revis said. "We’ve got a chance now to settle down and get this right."