A standout youngster says that even with those victories, New York did it by going through the motions, not by giving the maximum effort.
"Everybody was used to losing," Jets safety Jamal Adams told Bleacher Report. "You can always tell that vibe. I came in, and it was like everybody wanted to do the bare minimum. They didn't want to go above and beyond. They didn't want to take that extra step.
"They didn't want to be uncomfortable, [but] to be great, you have to be uncomfortable. You have to be willing to sacrifice and willing to do the little things. And the team, the organization, just wasn't doing those things."
A 5-11 record, by normal standards, is unsatisfactory, the definition of mediocrity in the NFL. For the Jets, it was lauded as an overachievement, considering the lack of talent on the roster. For Adams, a first-round pick from a traditionally strong program in Louisiana State, it understandably wasn't enough.
It also wasn't just the Jets, according to Adams.
"It's not necessarily what it looks like," Adams said when asked to describe the appearance of doing the bare minimum. "It's more about the vibe. That sense of everybody getting used to it.
"Like, it hasn't been going good. People are not studying their plays. People aren't knowing the plays. People aren't knowing their assignments. We get paid to play a game. You think that people would be dedicated to their craft and actually study it and know it like the back of their hand. It just didn't happen on our team. It's the whole NFL. You have a lot of guys that make it but get comfortable. It's about having that mindset that when you make it, you're just getting started."
Adams brought a mentality many would want from a first-round pick, one that will give his full effort and attention to a sport that has grown from a game to a profession. It's what made him one of the more exciting rookies of his class.
But hearing these same words, which came from Adams in the spring but were published Tuesday, has to be concerning for a Jets team that is still far from legitimate contention. Under coach Todd Bowles, the Jets have at best been a squad that has flirted with weekly competition (save for their dalliance with the postseason in 2015) and at worst been one of the league's bottom-feeders. In Year 4 of the Bowles era in New York, a improvement should be expected.
"Jamal is a very young player, and he's a very smart player, and he speaks from his heart," Bowles said, per ESPN. "We talked about it. He didn't mean a lot of the things that came out wrong."When you give everything and demand people to be like you, everyone is not like you. Some people learn differently, some people don't. ... It's part of being a young player. He'll learn over time things to say and what he really means and what not to say. We dealt with it. We've moved on."
With the topic having been broached and settled, the Jets can move forward on the same page, even if Bowles admitted some players hold themselves to a higher standard than others. And with a crop of higher selections -- including, most notably, quarterback Sam Darnold -- now in the facility, it's fair to expect improvement.
That begins with this camp, which includes determining the future at quarterback and other key positions. Where the Jets go in 2018 will impact how the franchise proceeds in the future, starting with Bowles. For Adams, the expressed mindset will serve him well and should keep him from worrying about his own job security -- even if it isn't as certain for those who don't subscribe to Adams' level of expectation.