New York Jets Season Ending Blame Game

Mike Donnelly plays the season ending blame game for the New York Jets

Well, it’s Tuesday, and we’re now going on 48 hours since the New York Jets collectively dropped their pants and took a massive crap all over Buffalo Dumpster Field or whatever it is that they call that stadium up there. Now that we’ve all had some time to decompress and aren’t irrationally hating and blaming everyone, it’s time to take a deep breath and calmly and logically break down who we should be hating and blaming for the season ending so abruptly, while keeping an eye on next year.

For this Blame Game, I’m going to be using my own customized Blame Score. I broke down all of the stats, information, and using my very own algorithm came up with these precise scores on a 100 point scale. Either that, or I just made it all up; You decide. Let’s just get started.

Jeff Cumberland, Blame Score: 100 – I mean, this one goes without saying. Jeff Cumberland is the most useless player to wear a Jets uniform since… my God, I don’t even know. Jeff Cumberland is the Gary Myers of football players. and that’s about the biggest insult I can think of. Sure, the only time his name was mentioned this week was when he recovered that squib kick and promptly returned it for a robust 0 yards, but still, he’s as responsible for all bad Jets things as anyone else. I mean, had he picked up that squib kick and ran it back for a touchdown, it’s a whole new ball game and we’re scouting the Texans this week. Come on, Cumby. Fortunately, it was his last game wearing green, as he will most certainly be cut this offseason.

Todd Bowles and the coaching staff, Blame Score: 85 – Now, just to be clear, this score is solely based on the Bills game. For the most part, I thought the coaching staff was excellent this year, particularly Chan Gailey who coaxed career years out of like five different players on offense. But on Sunday in Buffalo? Nope, nuh-uh, no way. Sunday in Buffalo was a freaking disaster.

The Jets came out flat and never really got out of their funk. Think about this: They were less prepared, less disciplined, dumber, and played the clock far worse than the team that was coached by Rex Ryan. That is gross. The defense continually gave ridiculous cushions to the Buffalo wide receivers, which allowed them to convert something like 97 out of 98 third and fourth down conversions. If those numbers aren’t correct, then it certainly felt like it anyway. Throw in Bowles’ horrible clock management at the end of the first half (which robbed the Jets of having just over a minute to drive before the half with the wind at their back) and the fact that he said the game plan dictated using Stevan Ridley more than Chris Ivory – with a straight face! – and, well, it was not his finest day.

The Defense as a whole, Blame Score: 78 – I mean, seriously, what… the… hell was that? The Bills were without their starting running back, starting tight end, number 2 and 3 receivers, and one offensive lineman, and they basically spit in the defense’s face anyway. They let Tyrod Taylor run a few times for big gains, they allowed Greg freaking Salas to make big third down catches MULTIPLE TIMES, and most frustratingly, basically refused to just double Sammy Watkins, who was far and away the Bills biggest  and only threat. It was pitiful.

Darrelle Revis was beat repeatedly by the younger and faster Watkins, and it was painfully obvious that whatever plan they cooked up leading up to the game wasn’t working. Maybe it’s just me, but when it’s 3rd and 6, giving a stud receiver like Sammy a 10 yard cushion seems like a bad idea. And that’s what the Jets did, over and over, and over…. and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over. Then there’s the Jets defensive line, which is supposed to be this studly group that puts fear into offenses. I don’t think they got more than a handful of pressures all game against the Bills crap offensive line which was dominated by several teams in the past few weeks. Pathetic.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blame Score: 73 – I know a lot of fans would put Fitzpatrick second on this list behind Cumberland, and it’s hard to argue too much against that. Fitz was pretty bad for most of the day, there’s no question. The throw to Decker in the end zone was awful, even if Decker zigged when Fitz thought he was going to zag, which may have been the case. Either way, it was bad. But – and it’s a big “but” – Fitz was far from the only problem. There were like five or six 50/50 plays that could have turned the game and it seemed like every single one went against the Jets. There was no run game whatsoever because Stevan Ridley was inexplicably playing a lot (more on that in a bit), and there were several drops, including back-to-back plays where Quincy Enunwa demonstrated why his catch rating in Madden should be like a 38. If Enunwa brings in that 5 yard SHOVEL PASS on the well-designed screen play, he could have danced into the end zone.

There was also that one play in particular where Decker couldn’t haul in a  semi-diving catchable pass near the end zone early in the game that could have turned everything around. It’s unfair to blame Decker or Marshall for pretty much anything because of the seasons they’ve had, but that’s also what’s important to remember. Fitz had such an awesome year because his studs made plays around him for 16 weeks. When the guys around him falter a little bit, then we see things like what we saw this week in Buffalo. So, yes, Fitz played like crap and deserves to be criticized for it, but we also shouldn’t be relying on him to single-handily win games. That being said, he will definitely be the starter here in 2016, and he should be. Accept it now.

Ryan Quigley and Randy Bullock, Blame Score: 67 – Like most fans, I occasionally forget just how important specials teams can be… and then a game like Sunday happens. Quigley had a really impressive TWENTY-ONE yard punt that was caught by freaking Jim Kelly on the sideline. That’s how bad it was. Three plays later, the Bills scored a touchdown and went up 7-0. As bad as the defense was, you can’t even blame them for being mentally and physically shook on that series after seeing their punter humiliate himself and his family just seconds before. Oh, and Randy Bullock also missed a very make-able kick to crush everyone’s spirits after Chris Ivory took his first carry of the game 58 yards and put them in position to close the gap. Never have I appreciated Nick Folk more. Speaking of that 58-yard run…

Chris Ivory, Blame Score: 50 – This guy. For like the 9th time this year Ivory was limited due to his nagging injuries, and it was one of the biggest reasons the Jets lost. They were forced to play Stevan Ridley, who is awful, for the majority of the game and it resulted in the run game being nonexistent. This one is also on the coaches as I said earlier, because it was clear a hobbled Ivory was still a far better option than Ridley, but it’s ok for fans to be mad at and blame Ivory. The constant injuries have been an issue, and the Jets should really look to move on next year at the RB position.

Kenbrell Thompkins, Blame Score: 25 – Thompkins had a chance to make a name for himself and be remembered forever by Jets fans. In case you don’t remember, or just blacked out after the play like I did, on the second to last play of the game, the Bills unbelievably lost track of Thompkins down the right sideline, Fitz lobbed one down the field, it was IN Thompkins’ hands…and then a Bills safety came and barely jarred it loose. It was horrible. Yes, it was a tough play, but I guess that’s kinda the difference between a player going on to be good and make millions of dollars, or… not. In any event, he still ends up on my list here for it.

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Bilal Powell, Blame Score: 10 – Where were you when we needed you most?!?!? I know it was you Bilal, you broke my heart.

David Harris, Blame Score: Negative 50 – Remember before when I said the defense as a whole was to blame? I meant everyone except David Harris, because if there was one guy that really came to play on Sunday, it was The Hitman. Harris was all over the field on Sunday, stuffing runs, blitzing, and even made some plays in coverage. He really capped off a pretty awesome year with his performance, and he surprisingly even made his lucrative offseason contract extension look like a bargain.

Brandon Marshall, Blame Score: Negative 90 – Marshall had an early drop, but he deserves to be singled out for his great game – as usual. The Jets offense was pretty much in the toilet all day, but they still had their Old Reliable: The “Throw it Up to Brandon” Play, and as usual, it worked perfectly. It worked so well, in fact, that I don’t know why they didn’t literally do it on every single snap. Anyway, Marshall’s great performance on Sunday – and all season – deserved to be mentioned here.

And there we have it, the full and accurate Blame Rankings for the biggest game the Jets played in four years. Obviously, the game sucked and will sting for a while, but there are some good pieces here on this team for what feels like the first time in forever. There’s reason to be hopeful for next season, and hopefully I won’t be back here a year from now writing another one of these.

Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com

Author: Mike Donnelly

Mike Donnelly is a Staff Writer and life-long Jets fan, who was previously a featured columnist at multiple other New York Jets and fantasy football websites. He lives and works in finance in the NYC area and will help lead our Jets and NFL coverage in 2013.