NEW YORK (WFAN) — Back in the preseason if you had told most Jets fans the team would be .500 through six games, many would have asked where to sign on the dotted line. However, if you ask star defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson it’s really not something to be overly proud of considering how the season has played out.
“I think if we didn’t have the mistakes we’ve had from now from the start of the season I think our record would be better. But right now being .500 I won’t say I’m OK with it. It is what it is,” Wilkerson said. “If we get on board together, keep believing, fix the mistakes we keep making repeatedly we will definitely have a good record at the end of the season.”
The problem for the Jets is they are starting what is likely a season-defining stretch of games — three straight against first-place teams. They get New England at home on Sunday, followed by a trip to Cincinnati and then a home game against New Orleans. Wilkerson said it’s time for the Jets to make a stand and determine who they really are.
“We can’t look ahead, but at the end of the day we know it’s a tough schedule coming up. Tough loss to Pittsburgh but we can’t sulk on it. We have to believe, learn from our mistakes, put our heads down and keep on moving forward,” Wilkerson said.
Coming off a scintillating win in Atlanta the week before, the Jets went into a trap game of sorts against previously winless Pittsburgh and lost 19-6. After playing a fairly conservative first quarter, things started going off the rails a bit, particularly on offense. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith couldn’t get going and the running game, which has been strong this season, struggled. Defensively, the Jets held the fort for most of the game, but despite only allowing one touchdown had a very difficult time getting the Steelers’ offense off the field.
Pittsburgh went 6-for-16 on third down conversions.
“Gotta do better and get off the field. Rex told us 6-for-16 is not how we play Jets defense. We are gonna get on board and make sure we take care of that,” Wilkerson said.
It’s now Patriot week and if the Jets have any designs on winning the AFC East, Sunday’s game at MetLife is basically a must-win, considering the Pats are 5-1 and already beat the Jets, 13-10 back in Week 2.
“I don’t want to say this is a must-win because every week is a must win for us,” Wilkerson said, referring to a declaration earlier this week from wide receiver Stephen Hill. “It just makes it that much more important because it’s a division opponent. That’s a great team over there. Coming off a loss to Pittsburgh we don’t want to have back-to-back losses at home.”
The Patriots also have a ton of momentum, coming off an incredible last-second win over the Saints.
“[Tom] Brady is an elite quarterback, always making things happen. We just have to attack the Patriots,” Wilkerson said.
The matchup against New England isn’t terrible considering the Jets have been incredible against the run and the Pats may be without key weapons on offense — namely tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola. Ryan’s defense flustered Brady in the teams’ first meeting, holding him to just 185 yards on 19-of-39 passing.
The Jets currently have the NFL’s No. 4 defense overall, including No. 2 against the run. They have allowed just a shade more than 75 yards per game on the ground. However, Ryan’s club is minus-11 in turnover differential, mostly because of the struggles of their rookie quarterback combined with a defense that despite being statistically dominant has just one interception all season.
“I told you guys last week, that’s what Rex preached to us last week and preached to us again. We have to get strip attempts and the ball has to be ours if it’s in the air,” Wilkerson said.
The Patriots have won five straight over the Jets.
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