The 24 hours following the Jets' 33-0 loss to the Patriots were gloomy. But once players returned to One Jets Drive and started focusing on the Jaguars ahead, there was a strong message resonating inside the locker room.
"The first thing from a message standpoint is the season is not over," said linebacker Brandon Copeland on 'Inside the Jets' earlier this week. "I know that's not what people want to hear, but you can either dwell in it, get your head down and be disgusted in yourself—which we should be, because we got kicked in the face. But other than that, we have to move forward. We play the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, and they don't care what happened on Monday. On Sunday, I won't care about what happened last Monday because it's about approaching this next day."
The Jets' struggle Monday night started immediately after kickoff when quarterback Tom Brady led his offense to a 16-play, 78-yard scoring drive that lasted 8:47. From there, the glue seemed to slowly come undone for the Green and White. The Pats continued to dominate offensively, and finished the contest converting on 7-of-16 third downs (44%) and 3-of-4 red zone attempts (75%). The Jets did hold the Pats to just 2.2 yards a carry and collected six rush stops for loss, but New England also cashed in with touchdowns on 3-of-4 red-zone opportunities.
"First and foremost, get off the field on third down. There were extremely long drives that hurt us and took a toll on us by the end of the game," said the seventh-year veteran. "We let Tom Brady have 12, 14-play drives and continue to convert, and we as a defense can't let that happen. We also pride ourselves on if there's sudden change or if a team is in the red zone, we have to make them kick field goals."
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Although the loss was a team effort, quarterback Sam Darnold received most of the focus after his career-high five turnovers against the NFL's top-rated defense. But Copeland is confident Darnold will rebound because his focus never wavers.
"Now he knows how to attack this process. The great thing about Sam is he doesn't pay too much attention to outside noise," said the 6'3", 263-pound LB. "Last week people were praising him, and now this week people are shaming him. Good thing he doesn't pay attention to it, he just goes to work and is the same person and has the same preparation week in and week out. We reset. We believe in him, he believes in him, and I'm excited to see him bounce back this weekend."
With still 10 games remaining, it's clear there won't be any lingering focus on what happened this past Monday. The new challenge ahead — especially for the Jets defense — will be to answer the Jacksonville Jaguars' top running back, Leonard Fournette, who currently ranks second in the league in rushing yards (715) and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
"You have to emphasize stopping the run first and foremost, because if you don't do that, you're setting yourself up for a long day," Copeland said. "Once you stop the run, now you can make an offense one-dimensional. And then you know what's coming. We just have to do a better job of stopping what's coming."