Not only are the New York Jets playing poorly on Sundays, but they are not practicing with a sense of urgency, according to two defensive players.
In recent days, safety Bradley McDougald and linebacker Avery Williamson have questioned the team's practice habits. Whether intended that way or not, their comments will be perceived as criticism of coach Adam Gase, who has come under fire after an 0-2 start.
"It all goes back to practice. We've had some slow practices, and it correlates to the game," McDougald told SNY TV after Sunday's 31-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. "We need to have a complete, full week of just great practices, and I don't think we've had that yet.
"The sooner we realize that and hone in on how important practice is and coming out and winning at practice, then it will translate to the games on Sunday."
Williamson, during his weekly spot Tuesday on WFAN radio, agreed with McDougald's assessment.
"Sometimes, in practice, guys are missing tackles or we're not doing things right," Williamson said. "We haven't been as crisp as we should be at times. ... We don't start fast at practice."
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, McDougald tried to clarify his postgame comments from Sunday, saying they weren't directed at the coaching staff or any individuals.
He reiterated that sluggish practices have been "a problem," but he emphasized, "My comments weren't pointing the finger at anyone because I feel like this is a collective effort to turn this ship around."
McDougald said he didn't feel obligated to clear the air with coaches, adding: "I don't feel like I disrespected anybody or came at anybody. ... Our coaches aren't sensitive at all. I really don't see them getting their feelings hurt about minor comments in the media, especially when no one is pointing the finger."
Williamson was not made available to reporters.
The Jets also have struggled to start fast in games. They have trailed at halftime by the same score, 21-3, in both losses. Against the 49ers, they allowed an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage, the start of another poor performance by the defense.
"Until we dominate at practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Sunday is going to be a toss-up," McDougald, who was acquired in the July trade that sent safety Jamal Adams to the Seattle Seahawks, said Sunday.
Gase said he received a text Tuesday from Williamson, who apparently wanted to clarify his radio remarks. The coach said he wasn't aware of the comments.
"Until [the PR department] tells me, I probably won't know because I don't even open internet browsers right now," Gase said jokingly Wednesday.
The players' opinions are somewhat surprising because defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is known for his intense practices. Gase disagreed with their sentiment.
"Nobody said anything during the week," he said. "I felt like we had really good tempo to practice. Sometimes an individual guy, if he wants to change something, we talk about it every week. It's not like it's not an open forum. If somebody doesn't like the way something is going, we can easily speak up."
The Jets travel to the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) on Sunday, looking to avoid their second consecutive 0-3 start. Gase is 7-11 as the Jets' coach, with nine of the losses by at least 10 points.
Gase said that if the players are unhappy with the practice intensity, now is the time to change it.
"If that's the feeling they have, we have a chance to really ramp it up and make sure we're doing what we need to do in individuals and pick up the tempo," he said. "I haven't necessarily felt that."