Three preseason games are in the books for the New York Jets. All are losses. The Jets and their revamped offense have a league-low 21 points, all on field goals. That, according to the broadcast Sunday night on NBC, makes them the first team since the 1977 (yes, 1977!) Atlanta Falcons to fail to score a touchdown in the first three preseason games.
Embarrassing? Definitely. A source of obvious concern? Without a doubt. Especially in the modern NFL, where the passing game rules and points can come fast and furious in a league more and more resembling Arena Football.
Yet, coach Rex Ryan and quarterbacks Mark Sanchez continue to downplay the struggles and look for positives. Even if they have to use a telescope to find them.
"We have work to do, but I think we made some improvements. I really think we’re going to get this thing turned. We have to. There were some encouraging things, and I think it started with the way Mark threw the football and the way we protected him," said head coach Rex Ryan.
"We’re going to draw some confidence from some of the things we did today. Clearly, we’d like to score. I hate losing. We all do, our fans included. We know we deserve more, but we’re making some strides. By the time we get going, we will be a confident group. I don’t think there’s any doubt. Have we had our entire offensive package out there in the preseason? No. Do we feel comfortable with our offense? I would say yes."
Confidence? From a handful of red-zone failures? From balls bouncing off receivers' hands? From four sacks surrendered? From watching tight end Dustin Keller, one of the few reliable players on the offense, suffer an injury? From watching Tim Tebow throw some atrocious passes?
"We just feel like there’s good stuff right around the corner, and we’re steadily improving and now we’ll need to make a big jump for this Buffalo game [the season opener] coming up, but we’ve got some time," Sanchez said. "We just have to execute better, we really do. We can’t have personal fouls. We can’t hurt ourselves. When the ball’s in the air in the end zone, we have to make plays. I know our guys can do it. I have full faith in them."
Are the Jets kidding themselves? Probably. We find out for real soon enough.