The New York Jets have teased their fans with occasional spasms of success for the past half-century. That's the macro view of the franchise, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its only Super Bowl championship this weekend.
The micro view is this: If they can't beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, it will be another example of hope squashed.
The Jets looked terrific in beating up the Denver Broncos on Sunday, 34-16, with the best offensive game of the Todd Bowles era. They have a wonderful opportunity to build on the momentum with the struggling Colts (1-4) coming to town, but the big question around the team is whether it has the ability to win two in a row.
"We have to grow up," left tackle Kelvin Beachum said Monday. "We have to find a way to string games together and get on a winning streak instead of a losing streak."
The man speaks the truth.
In the past 37 games, the Jets have produced exactly two winning streaks -- a two-game streak in 2016 and a three-gamer in 2017. That's it, folks. So, yes, it's certainly fair to wonder if this team has the skill and mental toughness to play winning football for eight consecutive quarters and beyond.
"It's a maturity game for us," Beachum said, looking ahead to Sunday.
They should have learned a hard lesson in the aftermath of their rousing win over the Detroit Lions in Week 1. They christened the Sam Darnold era with their most dominant performance in years, sending their fan base into a state of giddiness.
For an encore, they forgot to show up for the home opener, falling behind the Miami Dolphins at halftime 20-0. And so began a three-game losing streak.
With the Jets, you never know which team will show up, and that's not an endearing quality in the NFL. Decent teams that can play decently on a consistent basis will win eight or nine games, easy. Decent teams that ride the roller coaster finish 5-11 and get their coaches fired.
The Jets (2-3) have reached the point in the season where they have to decide which team they want to be. Look, there will be some fluctuation because of the rookie-quarterback factor, but there's enough talent on defense and special teams (surprise!) to keep them on a fairly steady path.
Nobody is ducking the challenge. About 30 minutes after Sunday's game, wide receiver Quincy Enunwa was asked if this was a "statement" win. He has been around for a few years, so he's familiar with the "can't-handle-prosperity" narrative that surrounds this team.
"I don't want to say it's a statement because we made a statement in the first game and we didn't continue that," he said. "This [win] just shows a glimpse of what we're capable of doing."
Teams often reflect the personality of their coach and, in some cases, the quarterback. Todd Bowles and Sam Darnold are similarly even-keeled, and yet the team they lead is all over the place.
Good half, bad half. Tenacious defense, porous defense. Lifeless offense, explosive offense.
They get a chance to change it Sunday. Coming off a mini-bye, the Colts will be well-rested and they have a puncher's chance because of quarterback Andrew Luck. But they're a young team with a roster under major construction, and it would be a wasted opportunity if the Jets fail to take care of business.
They talk about the importance of stacking wins. If they lose, it's just smoke.