The New York Jets were due for a regression to the mean game. They got it on the road in Tampa Bay today, falling 15-10 in a game that was not as close as the score looked. This was an ugly, painful to watch display of football between two thoroughly mediocre teams, led by two thoroughly mediocre quarterbacks. On the whole, the Jets coaching staff has been pretty good this year but today they laid a complete egg, failing to do anything to adjust around the Jets notable talent limitations at premium positions. This team was also feeling just a little too good about themselves because of one divisional win, while failing to recognize they had lost the three games before it and are still in last place in the AFC East.
Despite a garbage time padded stat line (23/39, 262 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), Josh McCown was atrocious under center today. He repeatedly held the football too long and threw well short of the first down marker on third downs, along with failing to challenge down the field enough when the game was in question. There remains a hard ceiling to the Jets offense when he is under center and today was yet another demonstration of it. He was not supported at all by a rough outing from his offensive line, Brian Winters was beat up and down the field all day by Gerald McCoy and was called for multiple penalties. Wesley Johnson and Brandon Shell also had rough days at the office, as the Bucs pass rush dominated the Jets for the entire afternoon.
After breaking through last week, the Jets running game disappeared again. Bilal Powell had only 30 yards on 10 carries and lost a fumble. Elijah McGuire had 22 yards on 8 carries. Robby Anderson had a garbage time touchdown, his fourth score in four weeks and finished with 85 yards receiving overall. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was inexcusably not used until desperation time in the fourth quarter, where he compiled 6 catches for 67 yards. It was another quiet game for Jermaine Kearse (4 catches, 35 yards), who should start losing reps to Chad Hansen (who caught his first three NFL passes today) after the bye week.
Defensively, it is hard to be critical of allowing only 15 points but the Jets were facing Ryan Fitzpatrick and a Bucs offense without Mike Evans. They only recorded 1 sack and 1 turnover (it always feels like you should have more versus Fitz) and clearly got gassed in the second half. Morris Claiborne had to leave early with an injury, furthering showing why the Jets should be hesitant to invest any long term money in him. It was a good, but far from great outing. Special teams was fine outside of allowing one big punt return that ultimately didn’t result in any points, although JoJo Natson couldn’t bring any juice to the return game.
Overall, the Jets are a mediocre team in a mediocre conference. Their schedule gets substantially more difficult after the bye week, likely keeping them on pace for the 5-11 type record many of us thought they’d record before the year. This coaching staff won’t do it until one or two more losses are recorded but the Jets should begin cycling through as many of their rookies and younger players as possible.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com