Jets know they will only make it through this season together

Last season, the Jets locker room crumbled when adversity hit. Now, we’ll see how much has changed.

The Jets players and coaches have talked for months about how this team is closer than last year’s. They have preached playing for each other and no one pointing fingers. But that was easy to say before the season or during a three-game winning streak. But Sunday’s 31-28 loss to the Dolphins is the kind that can blow up a season. Blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead can stick with a team.

The Jets’ season is at a crossroads. They have three games before their bye week, facing the Falcons and Bills at home then hitting the road against the Buccaneers. If the Jets win two out of three, they can be 5-5 facing the home stretch of games. That will be a massive achievement for a team many predicted to win one or two games. If they lose two of three or all three, there will be discussion of whether to turn to young quarterbacks Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg after the bye.

Jets coach Todd Bowles wanted nothing to do with talking about the big picture Monday. He wants his team to move past the loss in Miami and focus on the Falcons.

“We just talk about the next game,” Bowles said. “We don’t talk about the next few weeks. You can’t go past one week. We just talk about the next game.”

Bowles said Monday was no different than any other week. He said he always tells his team to stick together, and he was confident it could move past the crushing loss. Bowles gives his players 24 hours to reflect on the game then they must turn to the next week.

“It is reinforced whether we win or lose,” Bowles said. “We have a 24-hour rule in this building. Win, lose or draw, we come back in, watch the film, correct it and then we move on to the next opponent. We’ve done that. Guys have done a good job with that. We corrected things today. We’ll move on to Atlanta.”

There were plenty of things to correct after Sunday’s loss. Start with the penalties (12 for 124 yards) and go through the fourth-quarter collapse, when they managed minus-4 yards of offense.

“At the end of the day, we lost a game,” quarterback Josh McCown said. “We have to get back to playing the ball that we know we can play. That’s just about the focus on our process, how we go about the week of work. I really truly believe that that’s the key.

“All of those other things will take care of themselves whenever you focus on your process and come back to work. We look forward to playing this group, getting ourselves to enjoy the next 24 hours of getting to fuel up, hit practice on Wednesday rolling and are ready to take on the week.”

The players who were on conference calls with the media Monday said they are not concerned about this group splintering as last year’s team did.

“This season has been unity all year,” defensive end Leonard Williams said. “On the sideline, in the locker room, in practice, everywhere, meeting rooms. Guys are just a lot closer.”

Williams said nose tackle Steve McLendon broke the huddle in the postgame locker room with a message of staying unified.

“We win together. We lose together,” Williams said of McLendon’s message. “The No. 1 thing we’ve got to do is stick together and be a family. That’s the one thing I can say this team is … a family.”


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