EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets like to flaunt their youth, all those high draft picks that populate their roster. That's what rebuilding teams do: Sell the future.
Coach Robert Saleh wants the future to be now.
There was a hint of urgency in Saleh's voice, which is noteworthy. In Year 2 of The Great Rebuild, he knows there will be less patience from the fan base, which wants to see tangible progress after a 4-13 2021 season. Saleh, too, expects more of his team now that he's had a year to mold it and create a culture.
That made the loss particularly frustrating. Whenever they needed a big play, they made a mistake -- and Saleh immediately mentioned two of his rookies, running back Breece Hall and wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
Hall, who lost only three fumbles in 800 career touches at Iowa State, lost a fumble and dropped a pass. Wilson turned a nothing pass into a 9-yard gain, but came up inches short on a third down -- and Saleh felt he should've converted if he had simply lowered his shoulder instead of trying to slither past a defender.
Nit-picking? Perhaps. They weren't the only offenders in the loss -- oh, no, they had plenty of company from much older players -- but they're part of the youthful foundation. Ideally, the Jets should've been able to overcome those mistakes, but there were too many ill-timed breakdowns (mostly on offense) that doomed them in their 13th consecutive September loss.
It seemed like a rerun from 2021, 2020, 2019 ... you get the point.
"I know everybody is like, 'Oh, it's the same old s---,'" tight end Tyler Conklin said. "It's not the same old s---. We have a good team. The defense played really well today. The offense, we've got to be better."
Conklin is new in these parts, having spent the past four years with the Minnesota Vikings, so he's not familiar with the frustration that surrounds the franchise. The Jets haven't made the playoffs in 11 years, the league's longest active streak, and they have a habit of killing the preseason optimism before the end of the first month.
On Sunday, players in every corner of the locker room stressed the positives that came out of the loss -- how the offense moved the ball (378 yards) and how the defense held Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in check for two-plus quarters. Linebacker C.J. Mosley, a captain, insisted the Jets are moving in the right direction.
"I believe that every day I walk in the building and every day I wake up a Jet," he said. "I never have any doubt about the men in here and what we can do. ... It's up to us to make that real life."
The good thing about young players -- the resilient ones -- is they learn from their mistakes, move on and get better. Hall and Wilson are too talented not to improve. Hall, for one, seemed to embrace the circumstances.
"It's very frustrating. I'm not used to it," he said of his fumble. "I don't usually do it, I don't accept it. It's going to hurt, but I have to move on and have amnesia."
The rookie paused for a moment.
"It won't happen again," he said matter-of-factly.