Jets head coach Todd Bowles addressed his team for the final time this season on Monday, and his message was simple: No excuses.
"It's just a no-excuse business," Bowles told The Post's Brian Costello. "You win games or you don't. It's not 5-11, but you played a couple of games close. It's not so-and-so got hurt or so-and-so wasn't here. You win in spite of, and that's the only thing I was trying to convey going into the offseason."
The Jets exceeded expectations this year, as many wrote them off to do what the Browns did this season and go 0-16. However, 5-11 was the Jets' actual record, and though it appeared the players liked that outcome, WR Jermaine Kearse says that's not the case.
"I think that is definitely a trap," wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said. "Outside sources, the expectations of us going 0-16 and we win five games and it almost kind of feels like a pat on the back, but it's a false reality. It's a false sense of confidence because ultimately we are 5-11, and that's not going to cut it in this league. … We can't fall into that trap of thinking this was a success because we surpassed the 0-16 expectation. In reality, we are 5-11 and we missed the playoffs, and that's not where we want to be."
The Jets did prove, however, that their young team has the ability to beat good teams in the NFL. Pair that with a top 10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and about $100 million in cap space, and the Jets could make moves this offseason to propel them into playoff contention.
Bowles understands his team is more than likely to improve over the offseason, but that doesn't mean he is putting more pressure on himself to make the playoffs.
"No more than I have since I got here," Bowles said about pressure on himself. "I put pressure on myself every day, and that's part of it. It makes me a better coach and it makes me a better person."
Kelvin Beachum believes the team could be playoff contenders right now, without any added help. Looking back on the season, the Jets repeatedly blew fourth-quarter leads, getting outscored 139-67 in the quarter all season. If a few of those games went their way, the Jets may not have been packing up for the year on Monday.
"We have to be. That's the goal," Beachum said on making the playoffs. "We have to find a way to get into the playoffs. We have to find a way to win games, those close games that we lost this year - we've got to find a way to win those. We've got to do a lot better on the road. We play well at home. We didn't play as well on the road."
For fuel this offseason, Bowles believes his players should get angry watching postseason games in the coming weeks.
"We knew we could play better," Bowles said, "and we should be angry in the offseason, and we should be angry looking at playoff games, and we will be."