“It’s not like they came in here and just smacked us,” Lee said of the Vikings. “It’s nothing to sit here and hit the panic button about. We’re fine. No one is worried or panicking here. We’re fine as a group. We’re a lot more close-knit [than last year].
“I know in a couple years past, since I’ve been here, the wheels have fallen off and all hell would break loose. But we’re fine, and no one is panicking here. We weren’t as close-knit as a group as we are now. Nobody has got their head hanging down.” – New York Jets ILB Darron Lee after yesterday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings
Lee is not wrong in his above quotes. The Vikings did not come in and “smack” the Jets, although the final margin of victory was 20 points. This was a competitive game up until about 8 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. We don’t know if the wheels are going to fall off for this team. They were 2-5 through 7 games in 2016 and finished 5-11. They were 3-4 through 7 games in 2017 and finished 5-11. It is fair to expect they will exceed a 5-11 record despite this year’s 3-4 start but if they do exceed it, it probably will not be by more than a game or two.
The Jets having a rookie quarterback that most people are (correctly) excited about, takes some of the sting out of a 7-9 type season, even when the General Manager and Head Coach are in their 4th year. Yet, Lee’s quotes which indicate a level of satisfaction with not being smacked, despite not winning and 7-9 generally being considered a success this year continue to feed into an ongoing culture of mediocrity that is careening to its 8th straight season of not making the playoffs.
Minnesota had no business losing to the Jets yesterday, especially with the injuries compiled in the secondary and the skill positions. The Jets started the second half with an injured Isaiah Crowell and Trenton Cannon at running back, along with Andre Roberts and Charone Peake playing in their four wide looks. On defense, Parry Nickerson and Terrence Brooks were pushed into extended duty in the secondary.
Despite all of this, if the Jets fall on a fumble instead of gawking at the ball on the ground while not recognizing it was a fumble, play with urgency before the half, avoid repeated special teams penalties and catch the football when open, they probably have a chance to win in the final minutes. If you want to change the narrative or actually enact the culture change that has endlessly been carried on about, you win a game that you have no business winning, especially when your opponent doesn’t bring their “A” effort.
You can’t kill the Jets for losing yesterday but years of poor middle round drafting have left their depth too thin to sustain multiple critical injuries and years of conservative game management isn’t changing overnight, which puts a frustrating ceiling on their team this year. This regime is still in need of a signature win or a signature winning streak that comes out of nowhere and puts this team in better position than reasonable people expect. We saw a bit of that in the final few weeks of 2015 but have not seen it since.
7-9 is completely fine and reasonable this year considering all the circumstances but wouldn’t it be nice to exceed expectations? Wouldn’t it be nice to be content with a win and not content with just being competitive in a 20 point loss? This is a league filled with parity and ridiculous outcomes on a weekly basis, when are the Jets going to get in on the fun?