The New York Jets played their worst game of the season yesterday, losing in an embarrassing shut out to a team who was last in DVOA and had lost eight in row prior to their matchup. It looked like the Jets skipped the week of practice, forgot to game plan and then decided midway through the third quarter they were accepting their loss and wanted the game over as quick possible. It was like if you took Muhammad Wilkerson and multiplied him into an entire organization. Lazy, disinterested and miserable to watch. With their upcoming schedule, the Jets look well on their way to 5-11.
This has been a weird Jets season. Let’s put aside the entire nonsensical to tank or not to tank debate, which is regularly misrepresented on both sides. Rooting for and following this team has been unique to other seasons because of the fluid roster construction that has stocked this team with transient, stopgap players.
The newly added free agent quarterback who started the first thirteen games barely played in training camp and in the preseason. The two quarterbacks he ceded most of his playing time to were young mid-round quarterbacks who most sensible fans recognized had a ceiling of a NFL backup. The Jets might have been the only team in the NFL this year to enter this season without a single quarterback that anybody in their right mind would want starting in a game for their team in 2018. It is a weird situation to not have a quarterback in the short term you expect to win with or a quarterback in the long term you expect to win with.
Supporting this odd quarterback situation is a de facto lead running back who will not be on the team in 2018 and who most fans genuinely dislike watching play football. The team’s highest paid player is rightfully despised by the fan base for his lack of effort since receiving a big contract. It is out of the ordinary to watch so much of players like Josh McCown, Matt Forte and Muhammad Wilkerson, knowing that none will be contributors to this team on the field in 2018.
The lack of overall talent has also led to many post training camp roster additions becoming immediate contributors, than fading out of relevance and then occasionally appearing again. In week one, the team’s two leading receivers were Jermaine Kearse and Will Tye, who were acquired days before the opener. Tye is no longer with the team. Kearse started the season hot, went quiet for a stretch and has now recently become productive again but is he really a long term, key contributor here? Jeremy Kerley was signed around that time as well, made some plays, then went quiet and got suspended and now he’ll probably be back for the final three games.
Defensively, players like Kony Ealy, Terrence Brooks and David Bass have each had moments of productivity but on the whole have been the journeymen players that landed them on the waiver wire or trade market. These guys (along with Freddie Bishop, Xavier Cooper and now Obum Gwacham) play major reps some weeks, then fade into oblivion but who are they? Are they building blocks? Probably not. Are they draft picks or homegrown talent? No. It just feels like they are occupying space until this team can start drafting better players.
Draft picks from recent years are who you are supposed to get excited about in seasons like this. 2015 appears to be have been a complete disaster for the Jets outside of Leonard Williams, who after three years is definitely good but definitely not the All-Pro you hope to get with the 6th overall pick. 2016 has some encouraging pieces, namely right tackle Brandon Shell and outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins. First round pick Darron Lee has the look of a potential competent starter, which is something…but probably not what you ideally want from a first round pick. 2017 has produced a good year from 6th overall pick Jamal Adams and a very good to great season for curse breaking second rounder Marcus Maye. Outside of that? The rest of “The Maccagnan Nine” has contributed nothing outside of one long touchdown run in week 4 by running back Elijah McGuire.
There are a few glimmers of long term hope. Robby Anderson is a rising star at wide receiver and a banner move for the GM and for the coaching staff’s development ability. Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams are going to be the starting safety duo for a long time and are entertaining to watch. James Carpenter, Kelvin Beachum, Jenkins, Shell and Austin Seferian-Jenkins look like long term contributing pieces added for great value.
Yet, with 8 draft picks and 80 million in cap space. This team is going to look very different next year (they better). Whenever this team decides to end their ongoing seven year playoff drought, you have to wonder how many “key” pieces from this 2016 team will be major contributors at the most important positions. This team has had some fun moments but it is hard to get too high or too low about this transient, stopgap season.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com