Through seven games, the 2023 Jets were defined by their collective resilience. With Monday night’s prime-time matchup against the Chargers at MetLife Stadium on the horizon, the surging Jets have a chance to win their fourth straight and move to 5-3 in one of the most improbable seasons in recent memory.
The brand of this group
A season that began with Aaron Rodgers tearing his Achilles tendon and looked on the brink as early as Week 4, the Jets secured road wins over the Broncos and Giants sandwiched around a 7-1 upset of the Eagles. They have trailed in every game this season and still have a winning streak. Since Robert Saleh was named head coach in 2021, he has led the Jets to seven wins when his team has trailed by more than 10 points, tied for the most in the league.
The Jets never trailed by double digits last Sunday. But the score looked gray at best when the Giants, holding a 10-7 lead, took over at the NYJ 26 with 1:26 left and Saquon Barkley scampered 6 yards before diving to the ground. Three plays and two timeouts later, the Jets took over with 24 seconds on the clock after a missed field goal attempt. With a fourth-string center and no timeouts, the Jets moved 58 yards in two plays and tied the game on a 35-yard field goal by Greg Zoerlein. Extra time followed, as did another field goal by Zeurlein and another victory.
“A lot of resilience from this group,” said a rain-soaked Robert Saleh after his club’s incredible win over the Giants. “And that feels like the brand of this band. They never feel like they’re out of the game.”
Two weeks prior, the Jets were back on top of the Eagles despite blowing a 14-3 Philly lead and playing without their star tandem of CB Sos Gardner and DJ Reid. Against Denver, the Jets held off a late Broncos rally at the same venue where the defending AFC Champion Chiefs were defeated in Week 8. The 31-21 comeback triumph over the Broncos saw versatile OL Alijah Vera-Tucker go down with an Achilles injury.
The Jets haven’t been shaken by adversity, and belief permeates the locker room.
“I would say resilience,” QB Zach Wilson said when asked about the common denominator in the team’s success. “Guys fight no matter who is there. We’ve got some injuries, guys moving around but just fighting until the end.”
Buying and believing
If Zach Wilson and the offense continue to protect the football, the Jets will be in contention for a playoff spot come January. They have the NFL’s eighth-ranked scoring defense (18.4 pts/g) and an outstanding special teams group led by arguably the best kicking duo in the league in Greg Zoerlein and Thomas Morstead.
“I really just believe and believe,” said LB Quincy Williams, who has recorded 71 tackles, 8 TFL, 6 PD, 1 FF and 1 FR, since the team’s recent streak.
Once again, the Jets have been forced to scramble on the offensive line as they head into a matchup against a Chargers front that includes Khalil Mack (7 sacks), Joey Bosa (4 sacks) and Tuli Tuipulotu. Center Connor McGovern (knee) and depth Wes Schweitzer (calf) went on injured reserve this week to join Vera-Tucker. Dwayne Brown (shoulder/hip) returned to practice and rookie Joe Tipman (quad) could return to action after a one-game absence. GM Joe Douglas didn’t make a trade on deadline day, but he did sign veteran Roger Saffold to the practice squad and the team promoted Chris Glazer to the active roster.
“We’ve done a lot of inquiries, a lot of discussions about a lot of different positions,” Douglas said. “But in the end, we weren’t able to close any other deals, and that’s where we are.”