A few weeks ago video went viral after Jets defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers, after signing a new contract, talked about the impact on his young son, then broke down sobbing during a press conference. This week, the affable, powerful JFM made a different statement -- a fashion statement -- when he stepped to the lectern at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center wearing a pair of crocs ... with socks.
"I'm not crying today," JFM said as he wrapped up the session with reporters. Instead JFM was focused on the importance of re-energizing the push from the Jets' defensive line ahead of Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium against the resurgent Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) and their second-year quarterback Joe Burrow.
"He's a great player, a great guy, a dog out there on the field," Franklin-Myers said. "He makes good plays and can scramble. We understand the challenge ahead of us and we're excited about it."
Burrow, who missed most of last season because of injury, has thrown 17 TD passes so far this season and has also been sacked 17 times. The Jets' defensive line, always playing with fire, got off to a fast start, racking up 13 sacks in the first four games -- but only one (last week by Del'Shawn Phillips) since. Opposing offenses (Atlanta and New England), aware of the rush generated by JFM, Folorunso Fatukasi, Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins and Bryce Huff, adjusted their approaches.
"You're seeing more screens, quick passes to take us out of the game," JFM said. "We have to become effort players, we're OK with that. We haven't got sacks or pressure recently and we understand it's led to a sense of urgency.
"This team goes as we [the D-line) go, we put it on us."
Quinnen Williams leads the Jets with 3.5 sacks, followed by JFM with 3 and Huff with 2. Of the Green & White's total of 42 QB hits, 13 have come in the past two games. On Sunday, it will be critical for the Jets' D-line to put pressure on Burrow, who is throwing to a formidable group of wide receivers that includes the rookie (and Burrow's teammate at LSU) Ja'Marr Chase (35 receptions, 21.5 yards per catch average, 6 TDs), Tyler Boyd (32/10.3/1) and Tee Higgins (25/10.2/2).
"They are a very talented group. I think this Cincinnati team is really the epitome of what a lot of teams strive to be," HC Robert Saleh said. "And this receiving core, without question, is very, very talented. It's their third year in the system, Ja'Marr has really unlocked the entire group, the tight end [C.J. Uzomah], the running back [Joe Mixon], Boyd, Higgins, it's talented. And they're playing very, very fast."
This Bengals team has a knack for explosive plays -- last week the Patriots completed 11 passes of 20-plus yards, a record by a Jets opponent.
"We understand we have to take work seriously, not just the D-line, but every position group," Fatukasi told team reporter Eric Allen on a recent edition of the "2-Minute Drill." "It's on ourselves to play at a high level. Just coming in and working hard on top of our stuff, each group, not just D-line.
"Every player on this team cares, otherwise we wouldn't be playing this hard. We're not happy with the results and have to get back to work and fix things. The mindset is to come back in, get back to the drawing board and get better."
The defense should get a boost this week with the return of C.J. Mosley after dealing with a hamstring injury, and the possible return of LB Jarrad Davis, who has not played in the regular season after sustaining an injury in training camp. Quincy Williams is in the concussion protocol and Blake Cashman is on the injured list. On the other side of the ball, QB Mike White will get the first start of his NFL career as rookie Zach Wilson rehabs a knee injury sustained last week at New England.
"C.J.'s résumé speaks for itself," Fatukasi said. "Mike White is a pro. At the end of day we have to fix our stuff before we worry about anyone else."
See the Best Photos from Wednesday's Practice Leading Up to the Home Game Against the Bengals