The New York Jets already are in disarray and the season is just two games old.
The Jets look to escape their doldrums and record their first victory of the season on Sunday when they visit the Indianapolis Colts.
New York (0-2) lost to the Buffalo Bills by 10 points and the San Francisco 49ers by 18 in their first two contests, and neither game offered even a glimmer of hope that a turnaround beckons.
Quarterback Sam Darnold delivered a message in the aftermath of the poor start.
"It's clear who the leaders are on this team," Darnold said. "Everyone is a leader in some aspect. Whenever anyone talks on this team, everyone listens. I think for us right now we need to do less talking and more acting."
But as the heat increases on the seat of second-year coach Adam Gase, not everybody is heeding Darnold's plea.
Safety Bradley McDougald and linebacker Avery Williamson criticized the team's practice habits, with McDougald saying "we've had some slow practices, and it correlates to the game." Williamson said the team doesn't start fast at practice and hasn't been crisp, adding "sometimes, in practice, guys are missing tackles or we're not doing things right."
Gase said he was surprised by the critiques and that practice intensity can be ramped up. Certainly, something has to change with New York allowing 29 points per game.
Safety Marcus Maye pondered the game performances and said they are "not up to par, it's not what we preach." Maye has a team-high 17 tackles and shares the team lead of two sacks with defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
Linebacker Jordan Jenkins was perhaps the most vocal in his assessment of the 0-2 start.
"I'm going to keep it blunt: Honestly, we haven't shown progress," Jenkins said. "It's rinse and repeat for the last two games. We're either going to keep getting embarrassed or we're going to respond. "We've got to get it right. This has to stop."
Putting things together against Indianapolis could be a real challenge. New York ranks last in the NFL in total offense (265.5 yards per game) and 31st in scoring offense (15.0).
The Colts (1-1) are coming off an impressive 28-11 victory over the Minnesota Vikings and lead the NFL in total defense (208.0 yards per game) and rank eighth in scoring defense (19.0).
The Indianapolis defense was superb against the Vikings while limiting the club to 175 yards and frustrating quarterback Kirk Cousins all game long. Cousins was 11-of-26 passing for 113 yards with three interceptions and never looked comfortable.
"The defense is always predicated on the principles of hustle, the intensity and taking the football away, and then being smart situationally, and that's been the foundation since we've been here," third-year Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. "And I thought the players did a good job of executing the game plan, paying attention to detail and executing those foundational traits that we have in our defense."
New Colts quarterback Philip Rivers is still feeling his way around the offense despite completing 77.5 percent of his passes. The 38-year-old has more interceptions (three) than touchdown passes (two) while compiling 577 yards.
Rivers is one scoring pass away from becoming the sixth player in NFL history with 400 career touchdown passes. But with the Colts running the ball 40 times against Minnesota and controlling the ball for 38 minutes, 25 seconds, Rivers was hearing chatter about being a game manager.
"I've always felt like the term 'game manger' is seen as a negative," Rivers said. "I don't think it's a negative. Sometimes I think that is whatever the quarterback's job is. Sometimes a quarterback's job is to sink it and throw it all over the field and find a way to lead a two-minute drive. Sometimes it's to hand it off and not turn it over and get everyone lined up and handle motions and make a few checks here and there. If that's the term 'game manager,' and that's what (Sunday) was, it was a heck of a lot of fun."
Rookie Jonathan Taylor rushed for 101 yards on 26 carries against the Vikings and figures to receive a lot of work again.
Indianapolis suffered a key injury loss against the Vikings when safety Malik Hooker went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. Receiver Parris Campbell (knee) also was hurt and was placed on injured reserve.
Tight end Jack Doyle (knee) is expected to miss his second straight game. Also missing practice Wednesday were linebacker Matthew Adams (ankle) and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (illness).
New York is expected to be without receiver Breshad Perriman (ankle) and center Connor McGovern (hamstring).
The Jets are hoping wideout Jamison Crowder (hamstring) will return, though he sat out Wednesday's practice. Also sitting out were cornerback Quincy Wilson (concussion) and defensive lineman Steve McLendon (non-injury).
--Field Level Media
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Key Players to Watch
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- CalfQues Week 8 | questionable
Wilkins is bothered by a calf injury, leaving his availability against the Lions in Week 8 up in the air.
- GroinQues Week 8 | questionable
Leonard has been absent from the previous two games with a groin injury, and it is unclear if he will suit up Week 8 versus the Lions.
- KneeQues Week 8 | questionable
Alie-Cox was absent from the last contest due to a knee injury, and it is undetermined if he will play Week 8 against the Lions.
- BackQues Week 8 | questionable
Green missed the last game with a back injury, and it is unknown if he will take the field against the Lions in Week 8.
- HipQues Sun | questionable
Houston is nursing a hip injury, and it is unknown if he will be available against the Bengals on Sunday.
- CalfProb Sun | probable
Wilkins was confined to a limited role in practice due to a calf injury, but he will be active Sunday versus the Bengals.
- GroinProb Sun | probable
Blackmon exited the last game with a groin injury, but he is likely to face the Bengals on Sunday.
- KneeQues Sun | questionable
Day has been activated from the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list after recuperating from a knee injury. It is unclear if he will return to the field against the Bengals on Sunday.
New York Jets
- Quadricepday-to-day | I-R
Zuniga has wound up on the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list with a quad injury, and it is uncertain if he will return to the field against the Chiefs in Week 8.
- Ankleout for season | out
Phillips will miss the remainder of the 2020 season with an ankle injury.
- Concussionday-to-day | questionable
Perriman sustained a concussion in the previous game, leaving his status against the Chiefs in Week 8 unclear.
- Ankleday-to-day | I-R
Hall has popped up on the Injured Reserve/Non-Football injury list as he continues to rehab from an ankle injury. The team has two weeks in order to activate him.
- Shoulderday-to-day | questionable
Lewis sat out the last game with a shoulder injury, and it is unclear if he will play against the Chiefs in Week 8.
- Groinday-to-day | questionable
Crowder missed the previous contest due to a groin injury, and it is unknown if he will take the field Week 8 against the Chiefs.
- Groinday-to-day | questionable
Ficken sat out the last game with a right groin injury, and it is undetermined if he will be active Week 8 versus the Chiefs.
- Groinday-to-day | I-R
Maulet has been entered on the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list due to a groin injury, and it is unknown if he will return to action against the Chiefs in Week 8.