Jets continue to prove they have no identity or sense of purpose

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The Jets fell to the Eagles 33-18 on Sunday to drop their record to 3-9 this season. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:

1. C.J. Mosley delivered a message to his teammates through the media after the game, talking about how the Eagles disrespected the Jets and how they need to change the way teams view them. Surely, Mosley also said this inside the locker room, but then carried the message over publicly in the media room.

Mosley’s frustration is understandable. He grew up in the NFL with the Ravens, a team that has had a certain standard, particularly on defense, for more than 20 years. It is something the Jets have been lacking for most of the last decade.

When you look at successful teams around the NFL, they have an identity that is passed down from the veteran players to the younger players. There is an expectation of what it means to play for the Ravens, Steelers, Packers and Patriots. There is a standard that is handed down and the expectations are understood by everyone.

What does it mean to be a Jet?

CJ Mosley on the Jets' sideline
CJ Mosley delivered a message to his Jets teammates through the media after Sunday’s loss.
Getty Images

This is the tricky part for Mosley, coach Robert Saleh and GM Joe Douglas. They are trying to build something with the Jets, but there is no foundation. It could take years before the Jets establish who they are as a franchise and what that means inside the locker room. This group is not the first to try it.

Rex Ryan did it better than any other coach since Bill Parcells. He walked in the door and talked about “Ground and Pound.” He spoke about the team’s identity and they went out and executed it — for two years. In Year 3, Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum wandered too far away from that identity and never got it back. Ryan tried in his later years with the Jets, but it was lost. Todd Bowles and Adam Gase both tried to establish an identity with the Jets, but a lack of talent ultimately doomed them both.

Jets
Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert runs past Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley for a touchdown on Dec. 5, 2021.
AP

That is the hard part for Saleh right now. He does not have enough talent on this team to win week after week and start establishing an identity. Douglas must give Saleh a better roster in 2022, and maybe then we’ll start to see what being a Jet looks like under Saleh. Maybe players like Mosley, Quinnen Williams, Elijah Moore, Alijah Vera-Tucker and Michael Carter can become core pieces that can teach the players that come later what the standard is around the Jets. Right now, one does not exist.

2. I have blamed the Jets’ defensive failures largely on the players this year. The Jets simply don’t have the horses to compete with good offenses right now. However, the coaches get a lot of blame for Sunday’s loss. Players said after the game that they did not prepare for Eagles backup quarterback Gardner Minshew. Then, after the game, Saleh tried to make it sound like Minshew and starter Jalen Hurts are the same kind of player and that they only had to prepare for the Eagles offense.

He must think we’re idiots. Anyone who has watched the Eagles lately can see they have built their offense around Hurts’ running ability. Minshew is not the same kind of runner and may be a better passer. That was on display Sunday, as he carved up the Jets defense in the first half.

Gardner Minshew high-fives Eagles fans at MetLife Stadium after beating the Jets
Gardner Minshew high-fives Eagles fans at MetLife Stadium after beating the Jets
Getty Images

It reminded me of 2018 when Jamal Adams said after the Jets lost to the Browns that they had not prepared for Baker Mayfield, who came off the bench to beat the Jets. Todd Bowles took heat for that and the front office was furious with Bowles after that loss.

But this is worse. In 2018, Mayfield only played because starter Tyrod Taylor was injured. The Jets knew all week that Hurts’ availability was a question mark. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said it as early as last Monday. The Jets chose not to believe it, I guess, and they paid for it Sunday.

3. Zach Wilson’s performance Sunday was encouraging. This does not mean that he has arrived and we now know he is the answer for this team. What it means is he took a step forward on Sunday, one that we’ve been waiting to see. He looked in command of the offense from the start, made some really nice throws and did not try to do too much until late in the game when he threw an interception.

This portion of the Jets season is all about Wilson, and he gets a passing grade for Sunday. It is too bad the defense could not get him the ball back in the third quarter to see if he could have built off his strong first half.

4. The Jets’ kicking situation is truly remarkable. They can’t find a guy. Alex Kessman is the latest contestant to try to win the job, and he missed both extra points on Sunday. You can’t make it up. Kessman is the eighth kicker the Jets have had since 2017 after Nick Folk was their primary kicker from 2010-16. The Jets cut Folk in a salary-cap move after the 2016 season and have been wandering in the kicker desert ever since. Jason Myers had a Pro Bowl season in 2018, then the Jets failed to re-sign him. Folk? Well, he landed on his feet with the Patriots, where he has made 31 of 34 field goals this season entering Monday night’s game.

The Jets will likely have more kicker tryouts this week, and who knows who will be kicking for them Sunday against the Saints.

Jets punter Braden Mann consoles kicker Alex Kessman after he misses an extra point
Jets punter Braden Mann consoles kicker Alex Kessman after he misses an extra point
Getty Images

Revealing stat

The third quarter time of possession was Eagles: 13:50, Jets: 1:10. The Jets ran three plays in the quarter as the game got away from them.

Surprising snap count

Ty Johnson played 28 snaps and Tevin Coleman only played 23. Watching the game, it felt like Coleman was having a much bigger impact running the ball. This breakdown is likely because Johnson was in on more passing downs, but with Michael Carter still out, the Jets should try to ride Coleman more.

Game ball

Braxton Berrios gave the Jets a spark with a 79-yard kickoff return to open the game. That led to the Jets scoring on their first drive, and seemed to break the offense from its first-half slump.

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