On a day when people celebrated the start of 2024, Jets LB Quincy Williams told the world his first New Year's Resolution.
"Honestly, the biggest goal is breaking the losing streak," Williams told reporters hours after the ball dropped at Times Square.
The Jets will wrap up the regular season Sunday in New England against a Patriots club that has captured the last 15 games in the series. Neither team is going to the postseason and the Jets (6-10) and the Patriots (4-12) know they will finish third and fourth, respectively, inside the AFC East.
"Players, coaches, staff, everybody puts in a lot of work in a game week and we have an opportunity to finish this thing strong," HC Robert Saleh said. "The good thing is we have a very prideful locker room. I'm excited for this opportunity to get one last run in New England and see what happens."
Over their last four games, the Jets have alternated home wins and road losses. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who along with CB Sauce Gardner received a Pro-Bowl nod for a second consecutive season, leads the NFL with 61 interior pressures and he plans on keeping the heat on Patriots QB Bailey Zappe, who took over for Mac Jones Week 13.
"I like to win," said Quinnen Williams, Quincy's younger brother. "I want to win football games, so if it's a preseason game, if it's checkers, if it's the last game of the season, it could be the Super Bowl, I want to win. That's just the ultimate competitor that I am."
While Jets Chairman Woody Johnson recently confirmed that Saleh and GM Joe Douglas will return in 2024, many have speculated about the future of Patriots HC Bill Belichick. The NFL's longest-tenured coach, in his 24th season, ranks second all-time with 333 victories and has led the Pats to six Super Bowl championships, nine conference titles and 17 division crowns. But since Tom Brady departed in 2020, the Pats have missed the postseason in three of four seasons and a Jets win would send Belichick to his lowest season win total in New England.
"He's transcended the sport in terms of just the way they prepare, their in-game management, their communication, everything they do at least he does" Saleh said of Belichick. "They've been a model of consistency, they've produced a lot of really good football players and they've had a lot of championships. And God, he's won over 300 games. You've got to stick around a while to do that. He's a special, special football coach."
Bright Spots in a Challenging Season
The Jets' hopes for a special season vanished in Week 1 when lightning struck as QB Aaron Rodgers went down with an Achilles tear four snaps into his first campaign in New York. Trevor Siemian, the fourth Jets QB to start this season, will finish the 2023 football year in command of the offense for a third consecutive game.
"There was like 10 different reflections from the year and the one that I posted was that I met [my] happiest and saddest self this year," said the ever-reflective Rodgers during his weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show. "That one just kind of rang true for me because there was some really beautiful moments and some really difficult sad moments."
Despite finishing out of the postseason for a 13th consecutive year, the Jets had some beautiful moments this season that will end late Sunday afternoon in Foxborough. The defense enters Week 18 No. 3 in yards per play (4.71) and their 25 takeaways has already eclipsed last year's total by 9.
LB Quincy Williams is the only player in the league with 100-plus tackles and at least 10 tackles for loss, pressures and passes defensed. Pass rusher Jermaine Johnson, who had a pick-6 in Cleveland, is one of four players in the league to record at least 6 sacks, 15 pressures, 7 PD, an INT, an FF and FR. Sauce Gardner, a super sophomore, has the second-best PFF grade (90.5) among all corners who have taken at least 80% of the team's snaps. He also leads the league in coverage grade for his second straight year.
Offensively, Breece Hall leads all NFL running backs with 579 receiving yards and his 1,395 scrimmage yards are tied for 9th. WR Garrett Wilson is the first Jets WR to record 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and he would reach 100 receptions with a 7-catch game in New England.
Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
The NFL is filled with uncertainty, but one thing certain is Sunday will be the last time these 53 Jets -- a roster blended with budding superstars and wily veterans -- will share a locker room.
This group insists they will finish with a quality effort and they aren't looking ahead to vacation season. The Jets are, as HC Robert Saleh would put it, keeping the main thing the main thing.
What would a win mean?
"Whatever it takes this week," QB Trevor Siemian said. "We're going to be trying like hell to get it done by any means necessary."