The Jets will disperse for their bye week happy with what they’ve done in the first nine games and eager to prove they can do more in the last eight games.
After Sunday’s shocking 20-17 win over the Bills, the Jets are 6-3 and are half a game behind the Bills in the AFC East and in the thick of the conference playoff race.
“Even the most optimistic Jets fan wouldn’t have had us at 6-3,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday.
Saleh’s message on Monday was that it was great that the Jets shocked everyone, but they haven’t accomplished anything yet. The story of the 2022 Jets will be told with how they end this season after such a shocking start.
“We’re excited to know where we are, but we know there’s a lot of work to do,” quarterback Zach Wilson said. “So I think because of where we are, the guys are taking this week off very seriously, in terms of understanding where we need to be when we come back, the improvements that we still have to bring and how we can just keep this thing going.
The Jets have talked this offseason about playing meaningful games in December and they’ve set themselves up to do so for the first time since 2015. The Jets’ season has seemed over before Halloween for the past few years. Now Jets fans can debate their team’s fate in the playoffs as they dig into their Thanksgiving turkey.
“I would be remiss not to say that we have an opportunity,” Saleh said, “but if we try to watch the long game, we are going to miss the most important day which is when we are present, when our feet are right now. We have to attack every moment, so even in this week off, challenge our players, don’t just go home or go to the beach and sit down and have a cocktail and to relax for a week.
Outside expectations were low around the Jets entering this season. They were seen as a young team with a tough early schedule that was probably still a year away from competing. But they sped up the timeline with stunning wins in the first nine weeks. They beat the Browns with a miracle finish, knocked out the Packers in Lambeau, then on Sunday toppled the Bills, who many consider a Super Bowl favorite.
After the upset, the Jets said no one in their locker room was shocked.
“We knew how good those guys were, but we understand how good we are,” Wilson said. “So it’s such a cool challenge for us to go out there and compete with those guys and get the win, but other than that I think it’s understanding that we have something special.”
Expectations are now high for the Jets and the playoffs are a realistic possibility. The Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2010, the NFL’s longest playoff drought. It has been seven years since they had a winning season and were in contention in the final week of the season. For the last division title, you have to go back to 2002.
Everything is now in front of the Jets. Wilson was asked if the players were talking about the possibility of the playoffs.
“Not that way, almost the way you say it, it almost feels like we didn’t expect to be here, but hey, wow, we are, so let’s see if we can keep doing it. But for us, we expected to be here,” Wilson said, “and the mindset we’ve had so far has been to take one game at a time, so let’s do the exact same thing. no waiting and just play good clean football, and take care of the rock, and then every game, one game at a time.
New York Post