Florham Park, N.J. - There was a careful confidence surrounding the New York Jets when training camp kicked off during the summer. The team knew how close they were to taking the next step to reach the postseason for the first time since 2010. The talent was there - it was just about putting it all together and finding the results. Four weeks into the regular season, the positive vibes that once ruled Florham Park are on life support - how quickly things can change.
This Jets season is in an early tailspin. The pilots are struggling to redirect the flight. Critical lightning bolts - the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals - are in the forecast. It is time for Todd Bowles to take it out of autopilot and take control before a crash landing.
It would be an understatement to say it has not been the start to the season New York had hoped for. Consistent defensive lapses, egregious turnovers, confusing play calling and flat out ineffectiveness has put the Jets at 1-3 - tied for last place in the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins. It has not been pretty and the play of certain players who have such a vital role for the foundation of the Jets is concerning.
Before the season started, the Jets knew their schedule. They knew they had to face an arduous task with the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Steelers and Cardinals in a four-week span. But, to look outclassed and disinterested in half of the murderous row of games cannot happen and must be stopped now.
"We talked about last year," defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson said after practice on Monday. "We were 1-4 in the second quarter of the season, so nobody is down."
It is difficult to remain positive about a team that has looked as poor as the Jets have through the first few weeks. Make no mistake, there have been plenty of flashes with players like Quincy Enunwa, Matt Forte and Lachlan Edwards. However, if three players are standing out and one is the punter, there is a slight issue. Aside from the Week Two victory over the Buffalo Bills, the Jets have not received the production from Ryan Fitzpatrick - nine interceptions in two games - prompting many to doubt his ability to be a productive quarterback.
"You can't throw nine picks in two weeks and think you can keep your starting job," former Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson said on ESPN Tuesday. "Meanwhile, Geno Smith is still on the bench. Come on, man. Roll it. It's time to get Geno in there, because Ryan Fitz-tragic is taking over, and it's not good."
To be fair, it has not been all on Fitzpatrick. He does not control the secondary that seems to surrender at least one big play per week. The unit led by a hobbled Darrelle Revis - whose status is uncertain for Sunday's game after tweaking his hamstring - has been troubling and adjustments refuse to be made. The communication is off and players like Calvin Pryor have not taken the step on their road of progression in their respective careers.
"The reason we lost was because of communication (and) execution," said Wilkerson. "We need to correct this throughout the week and get ready for Pittsburgh.”
The good news - 12 games remain on the Jets slate. That is plenty of time to take the plane out of autopilot and regain altitude. If the Jets can somehow navigate through the storms in Pittsburgh and Arizona, there are matchups that fall in New York's favor - on paper, of course - that can help gain some speed down the stretch. The bad news - the Jets have made the same mistakes on a weekly basis and not enough has been done to correct it.
There has been major turbulence through the first quarter of this flight. It can all be salvaged with one game at a time. If the pilot does not take control fast, the season can quickly burn in flames.
Joe Barone is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).