The New York Jets season is on the brink after three straight losses, pushing their record to 1-4. Once again, they hung around until the early part of the 4th quarter before getting ran off the field by a superior team. Where can the team go from here, with a nationally televised road game coming up?
Is the difference between the 2015 4-1 Jets and 2016 1-4 Jets simple enough that you have swamped out Cleveland, Indianapolis, Miami and Washington for Cincinnati, Kansas City, Seattle and Pittsburgh? There is something there but the problems run deeper than superior competition. Despite getting into the fourth quarter as a one possession game the past two weeks, the Jets have looked out classed by legitimate contenders. There is a multitude of problems around this team, as there is always a multitude of problems on struggling teams. It is easy and punchy to blame everything on a single individual or unit. The #FireBowles billboards are already on their way as the obvious successor to the #FireIdzik campaign. Both campaigns are short sighted and miss larger issues that lead to a repeating cycle of mediocrity and tear downs every two years.
Let’s start with Bowles. He was terrible yesterday and has regressed this season and is not coaching the whole team appropriately on game day. There is no in-game awareness or feel for the pacing of the game. This is something that takes time to learn but you want to see week over week progress, not regression. There are no excuses for how sloppy this team is right now and we are going to learn over the next 4-5 games if they are going to lay and down die or fight back with one final push to keep this season respectable. Bowles is set up to be the fall guy for everything this year by a fanbase and media who are hesitant to criticize the quarterback and are still on honeymoon with the GM. Life comes at you fast in this media market and Bowles is in desperate need of back to back wins against teams who are better than the Jets to save this season.
There is an exaggeration going around about the Jets roster that they are “stacked.” You cannot have a stacked roster when you have a bottom three starting quarterback in the NFL. The box score scouts will tell you Ryan Fitzpatrick played well yesterday, he didn’t. The Jets have not scored a second half touchdown since week 2 (I don’t count Charone Peake’s fluke fumble recovery vs. Seattle). They have scored 3 points, 10 points and 13 points over the past three weeks. Fitzpatrick can’t threaten the ball down the field and is too routinely inaccurate to give his unit a fighting chance.
There are other problems on this roster, namely paying 70 million to a cornerback who can’t stay healthy or productive and still not properly addressing the need for an edge rusher. Lorenzo Mauldin is a non factor. Jordan Jenkins isn’t ready to be a full time player yet. The Jets have nothing at outside linebacker for their 3-4 coach, pushing him to make a bad decision of utilizing Sheldon Richardson away from the line of scrimmage. This is the wrong decision regardless of personnel but again, it is redundant to have Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams on the same roster. It is nearly impossible to get the most out of all three at the same time. Why do you think the Jets best defensive game was in week 1? Resources need to be spread around the defense, not concentrated at 3-4 end.
Where is the middle class of this roster? The Jets had limited money in free agency that went to a collection of players adding nearly nothing: Jarvis Jenkins, Bruce Carter, Daryl Morris, Kellen Davis coming back and Khiry Robinson. Matt Forte has been okay but you can’t help but watch him and think the Jets need more Bilal Powell. They are still the only team in the NFL carrying four quarterbacks, with two of them, recent mid-round picks inactive every week. Mauldin is struggling. Devin Smith is still hurt. Jarvis Harrison is cut. Brandon Shell is inactive every week. These things are compiling to hurt the Jets overall depth.
The jets have problems at quarterback, coach and with their current roster construction. They are also simply regressing to the mean in many areas. The 2015 Jets won on redzone efficiency and turnover margin, along with beating teams they were better than. The 2016 Jets are getting killed in the turnover margin, in the redzone and have a quarterback who is 0-24 on the road against teams .500 or better.
The Jets aren’t better than Kansas City, Seattle or Pittsburgh but it is a shame they have not grown enough yet to even compete for an upset in these games.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com