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Wake-Up Call or Cold, Hard Truth: The Day After Jets Loss

What to make of Monday night's debacle in Foxboro?

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Depending on the level of optimism within the Jets fan closest to your heart, you likely heard one of two assessments of Monday night's humiliating 45-3 loss to the Patriots.

    The glass is half full type would admit to getting embarrassed, but their confidence in the team hasn't disappeared. To this fan, this game was a much needed slap in the face after weeks of sloppy play and a needed reminder of just what it takes to get to the next level.

    t was a bad loss, but only one loss and the Jets never looked better than they did in the weeks after the humiliating opening loss to the Ravens. 

    It's easy to see the merits of such an argument. Humility has been in short supply around the Jets since Rex Ryan came to town, and this year's team has been particularly averse to admitting their shortcomings. The defense, in particular, has been underwhelming all season and getting their doors blown off might tap into a reserve of pride that we haven't seen in several weeks. 

    At the same time, it's hard to swallow that a professional team aspiring to championship heights would need such a wake-up call in the 12th game of the season. Part of the reason is that Ryan refused to ever do anything but blow sunshine at his team in the aftermath of close shaves against bad teams. A coach like that doesn't inspire much confidence that he's going to reach inside his players and find the switch because he hasn't been able to do it all season.

    The other side of the argument is that this loss represented the true level of this year's Jets team. They are now 1-3 against good teams this season and haven't played really well since the opening month of the season. The fact that the defense was torn apart wasn't surprising, it was just a matter of finally running into a team capable of doing the deed. Mark Sanchez has progressed, but he's still deeply flawed and road games in Pittsburgh and Chicago will only exacerbate a slide at the time of the year when the team should be peaking.

    Again, it's easy to buy into what this kind of Jets fan is selling. It's gloomy, to be sure, but it's coming from an honest place when you assess the team's performance over the long haul of the season. But is it overly gloomy? The team is still 9-3 and still has plenty of pieces that made you feel good about the team until about 8:45 on Monday night.

    That's the crux. We're 12 games into the season and no closer to knowing if the Jets are overly hyped charlatans or a talented team working to find solutions to their flaws. They've told us that they're a good team, they've flashed their ability at moments but they certainly haven't shown us that they're the team they need to be to win the Super Bowl. 

    We'll find out a lot in the next four weeks and anyone who says they know the outcome is lying.  

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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