We have seen this movie before. The New York Jets start fast, usually with a seamless touchdown drive on their first possession. They keep rolling after that first drive. At halftime, the Jets are winning. John Morton is a scalding hot, future Head Coach candidate. Josh McCown has a gaudy stat line and needs to be brought back next year. The #haters are crazy for thinking an offense led by Matt Forte, Jermaine Kearse and Jeremy Kerley can’t compete for a playoff spot this year. Then the second half happens…
The Jets have scored 20 total points over eight games in the second half this year. Three of those points came today, as they wilted again when the game got close, particularly on the offensive side of the football. The Jets have had multiple opportunities for game tying or game winning drives this season and have looked pathetically overmatched in all of them. There is a hard ceiling to your offense when it is led by all the journeymen veterans leading it now and we keep seeing that reemphasized each passing week. Kearse and Kerley combined for 21 yards receiving today on 3 catches. Matt Forte had 7 yard rushing (although he did add on 45 yards receiving).
This was a game there for the taking, particularly because of the weather. Matt Ryan fumbled two snaps away to the Jets. Atlanta dropped countless passes, including a should be touchdown by Austin Hooper, yet the Jets couldn’t make the one big play in the second half to take advantage.
It has been a solid year for the special teams up until today. Chandler Catanzaro missed two field goals and Kerley had a killer muffed punt that helped pushed Atlanta over the top. The Jets do not have enough talent to overcome multiple special teams mistakes like that.
It is hard to get on the defense in this one. Yes, their pass rush remains non existent but this was a unit who had to play the whole second half without Morris Claiborne and already had Buster Skrine out of the line up. The Jets three corners today were Robert Nelson, who was signed a few days go, Juston Burris who had been benched earlier in the year for ineffectiveness and Daryl Roberts. How exactly is Todd Bowles supposed to compete with that? The defense gave the offense opportunities late in the game but they could never get over the hump.
Nobody is saying the coaching staff should escape blame for blowing a lead three weeks in a row. The Jets are penalized an egregious amount and their play calling does not evolve enough in the second half. Yet, this team is still punching above their weight every single week and is still way more competitive than most anticipated. The simple reality is that it is not easy to win games with McCown, Brent Qvale, Kearse, Kerley, Forte, Nelson and Burris playing major reps, especially against a fairly good NFC team. A lack of talent shows up in close games.
The Jets need to realistically self scout with the trade deadline upcoming. This is not a playoff team. They are in last place in their division. They are three games behind New England and Buffalo. Their first half schedule was substantially easier than their second half schedule will be and they only went 3-5 through these eight. It is time to make decisions that help the team in 2018 and beyond.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com