FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets were flying high entering their bye-week break last year, with a playoff run a real possibility.
That all ended with a thud after a few days off.
The Jets went on to lose seven of their final eight games — including the last six — to finish 7-10 and were left wondering what could've been.
So, in an effort to try to avoid that type of collapse with this season's squad at 3-3, Robert Saleh tweaked the schedule a bit for his players and coaches to try to strike a balance between the physical and mental grind of the final 11 games.
“Yeah, you try to put it in context without making excuses for yourself,” the coach said Wednesday. “I think a culmination of injuries (last season) along the offensive side of the ball, where we were so depleted — I don’t even know if we got a first down the last three games of the year. But then you look inward from a scheduling standpoint and what could I have done better to help our guys — not stay physically fresh, because everything for me last year was ‘physically fresh, physically fresh, physically fresh' — and forgot to take care of the mental.
"Not necessarily forgot, but took the mental for granted, if you will.”
Saleh consulted with the team's sports science department and asked the players their opinions to make a few changes to how the Jets should operate their days with workouts and meetings flipped a bit from how they had been structured the first several weeks of the season.
“I like lifting in the mornings, so it worked out great for me," center Connor McGovern said with a laugh. "Maybe we're meeting a little less and out a little earlier. ... Saleh, he put so much time and effort into the schedule and working with sports science to maximize our time in the building.
"And it also allows us to get the most recovery in, whether that's time for massages, hot and cold tubs and all that good stuff. So whenever he modifies the schedule, it's to allow us to get our bodies back a little bit better."
The Jets are coming off a stunning 20-14 victory over previously undefeated Philadelphia on Oct. 15. So they'd like to continue to ride the momentum of a two-game winning streak when they face the Giants as the visiting team at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
They'll also be fresher — mentally and physically — if Saleh's tweaks work as hoped.
“You can be mentally exhausted if not done the right way, so it's just trying to be more cognizant of the total human, if you will, and we’ll see how it goes,” Saleh said. “But there’s a lot of studying that went into this offseason to study what we did last year and try to find ways that we can improve. We’ll see.”
Two years ago, the Jets had a bye in Week 6 when they were 1-4 and came out after a week off and got humiliated by the Patriots 54-13 in New England.
McGovern also experienced some post-bye letdowns when he played in Denver and the Broncos entered their week off in 2019 off a win and then lost their next two games.
“A couple of times in my career now, everything’s been great up until the bye and the bye comes and you kind of lose the luster,” McGovern said. “And so it’s extremely important for everybody here (to know) we have every goal that we started the season with in front of us.”
Tyler Conklin appreciates Saleh trying to improve things by making some changes, but the tight end said the players need to do their part, too.
“We have to come out there, hold each other accountable and make sure that we’re not sluggish in practice,” Conklin said. "I think we started slow a lot this year, in general. So it’s something that we needed to get better at anyway, where it's being more intentional in practice or it comes down to doing the little things right.
“So I think it’s on us more than it's on him, to be honest.”
NOTES: WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) and rookie OL Joe Tippmann (quadriceps) didn't practice. ... CBs Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed remain in the concussion protocol, but fully practiced and appear likely to play Sunday. ... LT Mekhi Becton (knee), WR Irvin Charles (shoulder) and CB Michael Carter II (hamstring) were limited.
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Dennis Waszak Jr., The Associated Press