The New York Jets' defense struggled to make stops, the offensive line got manhandled throughout the game and Zach Wilson was again left answering questions about his confidence and performance.
Two games into the season, it all seems so familiar.
But coach Robert Saleh insists the Jets' 30-10 drubbing at Dallas on Sunday won't send their season spiraling.
“Just like last week wasn't the Super Bowl, this week's not the apocalypse, either,” Saleh said Monday. “I know it tends to feel that way, especially in this market. But it is what it is — we lost the game, it's a hell of a football team. You've got to be able to face the music and try to figure out what went wrong and tell the truth about it.”
The list is lengthy and the blame can be placed pretty much everywhere. Dak Prescott completed his first 13 passes as the Cowboys imposed their will early on offense. Micah Parsons was a one-man wrecking crew on defense, making the Jets' offensive line look out of sorts.
And Wilson, making his first start in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers, couldn't get things going early before trying to make too much happen late. He finished 12 of 27 for 170 yards with one TD and three interceptions in a performance that had some wondering if the third-year quarterback is any better now than he was late last season when he was benched.
“Anyone who watches football, and you look at it from a global standpoint, will see that he’s so much improved in the pocket, his presence in the pocket," Saleh said. "Did it get away from him in the fourth quarter, when I felt like he was trying to make a play with us being down three scores? Yeah, he made a couple of throws that he didn’t need to make.
"But up until then, I felt like if we could have just got them the damn ball and gave them some more opportunities, I think people were seeing that he was playing pretty well up until when it was garbage time and he was trying to force the ball.”
The Cowboys had a whopping 83 offensive plays compared with 46 for the Jets. Dallas also dominated in time of possession, holding the ball for 42:15 to 17:45.
“It’s one game, guys," Saleh said, "and I don’t think it really defines who we are as a defense, who we are as a team.”
The players also say they refuse to push the panic button in Week 3.
“We’re 1-1 and 1-0 in the division," defensive lineman Solomon Thomas said. "We have everything in the world ahead of us. There’s no reason to get down, there’s no reason to question things. Believe in the process. Believe in what we’re building here.”
Not much. After getting a full team win in the opener against Buffalo, the Jets struggled to stay on the field on offense vs. Dallas and the defense often couldn't get off the field. Just a bad performance all around.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Pass protection. Granted, the Jets faced one of the league's top defenses and arguably the best pass rusher in Parsons, but Wilson got very little help or time from the O-line. The Cowboys pressured Wilson 13 times, had three sacks and five quarterback hits. But the Jets didn't effectively try to help by adding blockers, using two or three tight ends only 10 times on 46 offensive snaps, according to Next Gen Stats.
Thomas. Somewhat overlooked on a loaded defensive line, Thomas had a strong performance against Dallas with a sack, a team-high three pressures, a quarterback hit and two tackles.
RB Dalvin Cook. The former Minnesota star signed with New York late in training camp and hasn't yet resembled the running back who ran for at least 1,100 yards in each of the last four seasons. Cook had just 7 yards on four carries, lost a fumble and caught a 5-yard pass.
Saleh said S Tony Adams (hamstring), CB Michael Carter II (elbow) and LB Quincy Williams (knee) will continue to be evaluated, but the coach didn't seem concerned about their injuries. ... The Jets probably won't know if K Greg Zuerlein (groin) will be available until later in the week. Austin Seibert filled in and had a 34-yard field goal and made his only extra-point try.
1 for 10 — That's what the Jets did on third down against the Cowboys, a major reason for their struggles on offense.
“You saw what it did to our defense,” Wilson said. “You get tired when you’re on the field that long. We can’t go three-and-out. We can’t do that them. We’ve got to give them a break and have got to sustain drives.”
New York has a chance for a big bounceback when it hosts the New England Patriots on Sunday. Bill Belichick's team is 0-2 but has defeated the Jets in 14 straight meetings, so it's far from a gimme.
“We’ve got 15 of these left," Saleh said. "Yesterday obviously sucked, but again, it’s not the end of the world, either.”
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL
Dennis Waszak Jr., The Associated Press