Last night’s loss was about as frustrating as it gets. Buffalo was demanding the Jets take the game from them and they refused to do it. 22-3 to 22-17 with 2nd and goal from the 5 yard line and the Jets couldn’t get it done, leading to Rex Ryan prancing along their sideline. The mounting frustrating for Jets fans today is understandable.
The Blame: A loss like this leads to everybody pointing to their personal favorite scapegoat. Yet, this was a team loss in every way possible. Let’s call it what it was:
- Ryan Fitzpatrick played his worst game of the season and was generally awful. Don’t throw into double coverage on 3rd and 18. Don’t check to WR screens that don’t go past the markers. Complete more than 50% of your passes. This doesn’t mean he should be benched or that he didn’t make plays in the second half. He is the team’s starting quarterback and barring surgery setbacks will rightfully be under center against Houston.
- Devin Smith shouldn’t return kicks. He didn’t do it at Ohio State and probably shouldn’t do it in the NFL. The fumble was a disaster and yes Smith has had a disappointing first six games of his NFL career. He isn’t a bust. He isn’t Stephen Hill. If you want to write his career off already, you are acting prematurely.
- Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker can’t drop passes in critical moments. They are both still having very good seasons but particularly in Marshall’s case, the costly mistakes are starting to pile up at a concerning rate. The Jets need him to be better the final 7 games than he’s been the past 3 games, if they want any chance of making the playoffs.
- Chris Ivory can’t have the football ripped out of his hands. If the Jets get those 3 points back, they might win 20-19 last night. If your three best skill position players all make critical mistakes, you aren’t a consistent or good team.
- Demario Davis is a bad starting NFL linebacker. This is an unfortunate reality the Jets defense has to deal with. Hopefully we see him starting to be phased out similar to how Quinton Coples has been. Is Erin Henderson ready for a bump in playing time?
- Todd Bowles has had game management issues over the past month and has had his fair share of rookie Head Coach mistakes. The defense slept walked to start the second half last night and there are valid gripes about playcalling and personnel usage, HOWEVER…
Don’t Waffle: Bowles took heat for playing too conservative the past two weeks (and rightfully so) but don’t waffle when he plays aggressive. I have no problem putting the game on the offense instead of a kicker who was signed 2 days ago and has no experience kicking in November at MetLife Stadium. 4th and 2 or a 40+ yard field goal? Go for it. Just don’t audible to a WR screen behind the line of scrimmage. 4th and 4 from the 6 yard line for the lead or count on a field goal, a stop and another field goal? Go for the touchdown. Just make sure your tight end is awake and your run defense is ready. I’d rather Bowles goes down playing aggressive than what we saw in previous weeks.
Context: The Jets are trending towards being 8-7 heading into a meaningful game with Buffalo in week 17. Did anybody think they’d be that much better than 5-4 at this point or a potential 8-9 win team? This is an inconsistent, middle of the pack team with three frustrating one possession losses under their belt. All of that being said, they are likely looking at a four way race for two wild card spots. If they can beat Houston and Miami (both understandably IFs), they will still have the table set for a good shot at a wild card spot. The point is the Jets haven’t played well the past month but I wouldn’t bury their season after a five point loss when they had four turnovers. Maybe that makes me too optimistic but I don’t see it crazy to think the AFC Wild Card Standings could look like this after 10 games:
- Pittsburgh: 6-4
- Jets: 6-4
- Bills: 5-5
- Raiders: 5-5
Team is still alive.
A Few Positives: Marcus Williams, Rontez Miles and Brian Winters all played well. The Jets are likely to get Calvin Pryor, Antonio Cromartie Quincy Enunwa and Bilal Powell back for the Houston game. Cromartie should stay behind Williams on the depth chart. Muhamamd Wilkerson was awesome last night and Sheldon Richardson is fully rounding into form.
Enjoy the weekend and root for the Browns and Vikings.