I’ll give you both: The same old view and the short view.
First the same old view
Truth be told, I’ve been in Melbourne since Christmas. Watching games at 5am Monday morning. The reason I share this with you is that after the Jets went down in Buffalo I went with the wife to an Andy Warhol exhibit downtown. Still furious and speechless.
As I went from room to room and took in the gallery I realized that Warhol was in many ways is like the “Same Old Jets.” Each wall had a familiarity to it. The Campbell’s Soup can. Marilyn Monroe. Polaroids of famous faces. Yet there was that unknown as to what was coming next. You knew the outcome, but not the method. Therein lied the intrigue.
The Jets? If you’ve been a long time Jet fan you knew they’d run the table through December, somehow beat the Patriots to make it five straight, then blow it against Rex Ryan’s depleted Bills. You just knew it.
The Patriots are banged up. The rest of the AFC playoff field is beatable and the NFC has Carolina and Arizona, but they are unproven franchises historically in January. The stage was set for the Jets who needed one win against a 7-8 team without its star backfield LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams (who left for good with a knee injury early on) but no. They pulled the rug out from under us again. After building up hope slowly for the past six weeks though. Damnit. Fooled again.
The Short View
The 19-17 season that ended Sunday hurt badly, but this wasn’t supposed to be the year anyway. Todd Bowles changed the culture from loudmouth underachievers to grinding, respectful hard workers who went 10-6. A six game improvement that were it not for the perennial 12 game winning Pats, would have allowed the club to compete for the division. In half of the other divisions in football anyway.
Mike Maccagnan, the new GM has a plan and the ability to see talent. The Jets may have a short term answer at least at QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick after years of searching. Two studs in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker at WR. Some great pieces to build around on defense too. Depending on how Mac plays it with certain upcoming contracts. The future seems more stable now that the new regime has a year of experience and some major holes have been filled.
In sum, the “same old jets” thing is too dramatic for me. This was a bad loss, a horrible loss, but not the cumulative result of any others from the distant past. The short view is too rosy as well. This was a big time lost chance at a winnable AFC. Who knows how well Ryan Fitzpatrick plays next year? He still runs recklessly and there is nobody behind him as of now who is ready to take over and elevate the Jets if he ones down. Bryce Petty is still a project until further notice. Geno Smith? God only knows.
The Jets have contracts to deal with like Mo Wilkerson, vets in the secondary and offensive line. There’s no guarantee the 2016 Jets will be better than this team was. The potential is there but the chance was right here, now. It was wasted. The nucleus is there for the Jets for sure in places, but how many times have we as Jets fans thought a foundation was in place? The future as Clash legend Joe Strummer oncsaid “is uncertain.” Well, especially in the NFL.
Ivory and Watkins: Please Explain
How did Chris Ivory only get six carries yesterday? Was he hurt? Todd Bowles said afterwards that it wasn’t the right type of game to give him more touches. What?? It was a wind stricken field in January in Buffalo! Backup Stevan Ridley started and got nine carries! Which wasn’t much either, but after Ivory broke one for 50 on his first carry, you would’ve thought the Jets would have been curious to see what kind of benefits they could get out of a steamrolling Ivory. Who had proven the ability to spearhead the offense when he got rolling downhill at times this season. Bilal Powell was out too. No, this was the perfect day to shove Ivory down Buffalo’s throat. I want answers.
Bills star WR Sammy Watkins is a speed demon. A big play guy. I know the fear was the deep ball with Watkins but he caught twelve balls for a hundred plus yards and most were on third down. On dump offs. Hot routes. Nineteen third downs by the way. That’s a ridiculous amount of conversions.
Darrelle Revis was on him yes, but the cushion was too great. I’m guessing he wasn’t given many chances to bump and run by Bowles.
Now I get it. Watkins could have burned a less than Revis Island version of Revis (as he sadly has been this year) deep. Okay. So double him. Bracket him. Use other corners on him sometimes. Mix it up. Try SOMETHING else SOMETIMES.
The Jets rarely blitzed either. What, out of fear that Bills QB Tyrod Taylor would take off? Fine, but add those up and you’re playing in fear on defense all day. That’s playing not to lose. You brought all those cornerbacks in, and drafted all those defensive linemen over the recent years to do what, sit and hope for a coverage sack? Or a catch and tackle before the sticks? A misthrown ball? Boo. Play to your strengths sometimes, don’t handcuff yourself all day long because of their strengths. That’s insanity.
The Bills were up 13-7 with 1:40 to go in the first half. Going into the wind. On a 9:00 drive no less. Third and goal from the twelve yard line. The Jets had timeouts but didn’t call one. Fourth and three with 1:08 left. Again, tick tock, tick rock. Todd Bowles said post game that he didn’t want Rex Ryan to go for 7, so he let the clock burn. Well by letting third down go, Bowles felt he had to play that hunch. What a shame.
The Jets got the ball back with :27 left, ran one play and headed for the locker room. Hardly any time of possession in the second after a wasted first 15:00 going into the wind. Not calling timeout on third down prevented any hope in getting the field goal back that put the Bills up 16-7. It also took away a chance at more than three. When they were with the wind, the Jets moved the ball with ease and quickly for much of the day.
The Cruelty of the NFL
How about Mo Wilkerson. Twelve sacks. All Pro year. One quarter away from a season ending loss perhaps, but closing in on a huge payday as one of the top free agents in football. In his prime. Then he breaks his leg.
Look, who knows how this will affect him on the market. I sure hope it doesn’t. I love Mo and am always a players first guy. In a league where contracts are easily torn up at no cost to the team if a guy goes down. Mo played so well the entire year and years prior. He deserves his money as a top flight DE. It would be a darn shame if being carted off yesterday gets in the way of that.
– The Bills managed two 9:00 drives into the wind. Depriving the Jets of their chances to score when they went with the wind. Doing so without LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, and with Darrelle Revis on their primary target Sammy Watkins. Unacceptable.
– Kenbrell Tompkins had a chance. He really did. That long bomb to him in the final minute that was knocked away because it want tucked away by him first could’ve been the miracle we all were praying for. Prayers don’t always get answered though. It was catchable but not a clear wide open drop. Don’t blame the game on him.
– Bills CB Leodis McKelvin had the killer interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone on the slant attempt to Eric Decker. He said later that the Bills knew “Fitz was going to be Fitz.” Meaning they were waiting for the big mistake.
Well Fitz had a damn good year taking over for Geno Smith out of nowhere Leodis. Thanks to him, and no Jet fan was under any illusion about Fitz and his ten prior years of imperfections, the Jets were fun, watchable, and playing meaningful football for 17 weeks once again. Unlike your Bills who rarely do.
Most Jet fans were waiting for the Bills to be the Bills, and fall out of the playoff picture which they did weeks ago. And Rex to talk boastfully too early in the season, which he did too. Old habits and tendencies are tough for everybody to break. Keep that in mind.
– This No Huddle was harder for me than most. I really grew to like this team. As many of us did. Even with its inherit weaknesses. It was a damn good Jets team, energy wise. One that I truly hope is the start of something bigger, rather than some blip on the Jet screen.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com