Some big names, after moving to a different team and seeing their new teammates start out the season with two home losses, might have a tendency to tap out mentally.
Le'Veon Bell is not that kind of big name.
"Of course it's frustrating, just because of the fact that we're not scoring points," Bell, the Jets' featured back, said after Wednesday's practice. "We were really hurting ourselves with costly penalties, really presnap penalties. ... Those are the frustrating ones because we can control that. That's all mental."
True enough, the Jets had 12 penalties marked off for 89 yards in their MNF loss to Cleveland, and six of those were presnap flags. That's the most the Green & White has suffered in a home game since the overtime win over New England in 2013, when they were hit with eight presnaps.
But it wasn't all about his team and his teammates. Bell was displeased with some of his own play as well.
"I thought I could do better. There's been a lot of things that I felt like ... holding onto the football, converting fourth downs and things like that," he said, citing his lost fumble and 1-yard reception on fourth-and-2 vs. the Browns. "Helping the quarterback out, helping my O-linemen out. I felt like I made a couple of plays, but obviously there's a lot I left on the table, too. So I've got to keep watching myself and critiquing myself when I watch film, go out there and practice, keep getting better and keep moving forward."
Bell does not sound like a man who's losing focus on his struggling new ballclub. He sounds like a seasoned pro who is trying to lift his Jets up in time to slug it out with the Patriots on Sunday.
He followed up his Jets debut of 71 offensive snaps, 92 scrimmage yards and a TD against Buffalo with his first 100-YFS game of the year, 129 yards in all, vs. Cleveland. Against the Browns he caught all 10 of the passes targeted for him by Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk, making him the first Jet in the last 20 seasons, regardless of position, to have at least 10 receptions in a game and catch every ball targeted for him.
"I thought he gave us everything he had," head coach Adam Gase said afterward.
"I really come into the game the same way each and every game," Bell said. "Whether we're playing the Browns or the Patriots or the Bills, I prep the same way. Whether we have Sam Darnold under center or Luke [Falk], I prep the same way. Sometimes the ball finds you a little more, you know, sometimes it doesn't. When I get an opportunity to make a play, I've got to make it. I can't miss opportunities. That's when great players make plays, and I want be a great player."
See Best Images from Wednesday's Practice at 1 Jets Drive
Bell's greatness will skyrocket into the Massachusetts atmosphere if he can will the Jets, now missing their first two QBs plus trying to get several key front-seven players back for the defense, into a competitive battle with the heavily favored Patriots — now 2-0 after outscoring the Steelers, Bell's former team, and the Dolphins, Gase's former team, by an unconscious 76-3.
But Le'Veon had words of wisdom for himself, his team and the NFL, whether or not he succeeds in this latest task ahead of him.
"We've got to keep pushing," he said. "When we watch the films, there's a lot of mistakes. We're a young group, obviously we have a lot of injuries, guys substituting in and out. We're still trying to put everything together. We've just got to do it quickly. There are mistakes being made in big parts of the game and that's what we've got to get better at as an entire group.
"I don't tend to panic. We've got 14 more games," he continued. "The last two weeks, I'm not trying to really worry about it because at the end of the day we've got New England. We have a great challenge in front of us and I'm just worried about New England right now. So we're going to try to go 1-0 this week, understanding the challenge ahead of us. Those guys are one of the best dynasties ever to play the game. We've got to go out there and play football and match their intensity on the road."