NEW YORK (WFAN) — The Jets have had some incredible moments through seven weeks of the season, but they remain a work in progress. Nobody knows this more than defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and linebacker DeMario Davis.
The two impact players on the Jets’ defense spoke to WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Tuesday and stressed that despite this team confounding critics and prognosticators, it really hasn’t accomplished anything yet despite a surprising 4-3 record.
The Jets have a serious test facing them Sunday at Cincinnati (5-2), the second leg of a three-part odyssey against first-place teams. Rex Ryan’s bunch stunned many by passing their first test, beating AFC East rival New England 30-27 in overtime last week.
And even though that win lit a serious fire under the fan base, Wilkerson and Davis said it wasn’t a complete effort. The Jets still have a lot of things they have to iron out, specifically preventing teams from scoring late in games, as the Patriots did after being dominated throughout the second half.
“The positive part of it is it’s a team game. You want to be able to win in all three phases,” Davis said. “My job every time we go out there is to prevent points. Whether they are in a field goal situation, just hold them to 3. If they have to travel the field, don’t let them get anything. … This is the NFL. Sometimes you are going to be successful at that and sometimes you’re going to be unsuccessful because you got good guys on the other side whose goal is to score every time.
“At the end of the game we just have to bring that extra bit of focus,” Davis added.
The Patriots were just 1-for-12 on third downs, but they managed to force overtime with field goals on fourth quarter drives. Wilkerson said his team needs to develop more of a slam-the-door-shut mentality.
“We did a great job on third down of getting off the field and getting the ball back to Geno. At halftime, me and some other guys, we said we gave them 21 points. We felt like we gave them an easy 21 points. We told them they don’t have to score no more,” Wilkerson said.
“We can get better and we are going to get better. We gotta do a better job when we are up and we know we have to close things out and get the ball back to Geno and let them get into victory formation,” Wilkerson added.
After making a concerted effort to cut down on penalties following some nightmarish outings earlier in the season, the Jets were flagged nine more times on Sunday,
“It’s another case of making mental mistakes and I’m sure Rex will get on us about that,” Wilkerson said. “That’s something we have to correct because, at the end of the day, it might hurt us in the long run.”
Davis offered a different perspective.
“It’s such a physical game, guys going lights out, 100 mph, penalties are going to happen every game. We just want our penalties to be physical penalties versus mental penalties like offsides and false starts. We take great accountability with it and are doing better than we were at the start of the season,” Davis said.
Another aspect the Jets must address is week-to-week consistency. They have alternated wins and losses since Week 1, which will only amount to .500 through half the season if they don’t put it all together in Cincinnati.
“I think, nobody’s perfect, but we have to go into this game thinking we can be perfect. Then again, in all three phases we have to play good ball — offense, defense, special teams,” Wilkerson said. “We have to make sure we don’t have any mental mistakes, play good ball, play Jets football. Like Rex said for a couple of weeks, we can’t play reckless, we have to play fearless. As long as we do that, we’ll do good.”
“You have to continue to take it one week at a time. You can’t take any game as any more or as any less. You have to treat them all the same. All the games we’ve been able to start fast we’ve been successful. Every time the defense does well on third down we’ve been successful,” Davis added.
Following their game in Cincinnati, the Jets return home for a clash with the explosive New Orleans Saints. Prior to this pivotal three-game gauntlet, many penciled the Jets in for 3-6 heading into the Week 10 bye, but Wilkerson said if he and his teammates maintain their band of brothers philosophy there’s no reason why they can’t be above .500 with seven games to play.
“We’ve had confidence since Day 1 of training camp. We always believed in each other. Like I told you guys before, we’re brothers in that locker room. We got each others’ back and we’re always going to pick each other up. We hold everybody accountable,” Wilkerson said. “So as long as guys are believing, picking each other up; your brother next to you not having a good day you got to pick him up. Or if he doesn’t make a play, you have to make it for him. As long as we have that mindset, we can be as good as we want.”
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