Jets find themselves in similar situation during return to London

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Jets practicing outside of London on Oct. 8, 2021
Jets practicing outside of London on Oct. 8, 2021

WARE, England — It was six years ago that the Jets were last on this side of the Atlantic, but they find themselves in a similar situation as the outcome of this game could prove to be an inflection point for the rest of the season.

Heading into the bye with a 2-3 record potentially positions the Jets to be one of the surprise teams of the second half of the season and they have a golden opportunity to achieve that, as they face a struggling Falcons team with injury issues at wide receiver and in the secondary.

Missing out on this opportunity would put a dampener on last week's feel-good win and could divert the team's priorities toward player development and asset maximization coming out of the bye week.

In 2015, the Jets found themselves in a similar situation. That time, Todd Bowles was the new head coach and the lineup had changed a lot during the offseason, so it was a new group, still learning to play together in a new system on both sides of the ball.

A convincing win over the Dolphins at Wembley Stadium improved the Jets to 3-1 and went a long way toward convincing the skeptics about their readiness to compete. At the same time, Miami looked like a team in disarray at 1-3 and fired head coach Joe Philbin after the loss.

The Jets came out of the bye back then with renewed confidence and won their next game to improve to 4-1 and went on to end the season with a winning record. However, they lost their season finale and the wheels came off in 2016, leading the team into their current predicament where they haven't had a winning season since then.

The 2015 team did a great job of turning the London trip into a bonding experience rather than an early season distraction. However, head coach Robert Saleh and his staff will be keen on using this experience to gain more sustained success.

Meeting with the media Friday before the Jets took the field for their final practice of the week, Saleh said the Jets have acclimated well on the trip and have been focused on discipline and being well-organized so things have been running as smoothly as possible.

Unfortunately, it won't be easy for him to lean on others within the organization to learn from the lessons of the past. Other than assistant general manager Rex Hogan, no players or high profile coaches or front office members were with the team back then.

However, Saleh has traveled with other teams to the UK three times before, so he's been through this and doesn't consider having to make this kind of a trip a distraction; he says he's lucky to have a group of players who like being around one another and that any time you can be together as a group, that's a positive.

Clearly, a lot has changed for the Jets in the past six years, but they still find themselves in a similar situation. This could be a defining moment that starts the team off on a more sustainable path to success.