The New York Jets have an extended string to play out this season. With how their schedule is structured, they have an opportunity to spread their misery to divisional rivals and to their own fans with a strong finish.
There will be Jets fans actively rooting for the team to lose out to improve draft status and an impetus to widespread changes. Yet, the NFL Draft is a crapshoot. There is no Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning type prospect this year. Everything you are reading about fans clamoring for Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota right now was written about Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez at this time of the year in the past. Trust me, the comment section on this site and many like it in November of 2012 was filled with people demanding a tank job for Geno Smith or Matt Barkley (!). The point is, there is a ton of time between now and the draft. If there is a prospect the Jets badly want to target and seems out of reach, they have the ammunition to move up and go get him. It is silly to root for tanking in the chase of an unknown.As for an impetus for change…that is a more complex situation. The Jets haven’t made the playoffs in four seasons. They need to shake things up. A few late season wins shouldn’t prevent that from occurring, although it very may well. We don’t know what the magic number is to convince Woody Johnson to do or not do anything when it comes to the coaching, management and scouting. Again, it is difficult to root for the Jets to repeatedly lose to their divisional rivals in chase of an unknown.
We do know this, the team needs certain players to improve and demonstrate consistency in the final six games to help build this roster long term. It is important for Oday Aboushi to continue to prove himself as a competent starting offensive guard because it eliminates a need for the Jets this offseason and gives more hope that Dakota Dozier will develop into a starter down the road. It is important that Jace Amaro keeps producing and eliminates any doubt that he should be a 50-60 rep per game guy. It is important that Calvin Pryor shows signs of life and that Percy Harvin continues to be comfortable, so he can settle down as a long term weapon in New York. Can Jaiquawn Jarrett and Marcus Williams prove themselves to be long term pieces or were they one game flukes?
This isn’t limited to young players and recent draft picks. If Mike Vick plays well and stays healthy, the Jets have an in-house veteran stopgap. If Chris Ivory makes the most of his too frequently limited opportunities, maybe the coaching staff finally trusts him as a lead back. The team needs Demario Davis and Quinton Coples to continue to develop and show they can be above average starters and not just another guy at their position. There is nothing productive about the long term future of this team in going out, having all these guys play poorly and take repeated losses laying down.
Of the Jets remaining six games, four are against divisional opponents. Whenever Jets/Bills is played this weekend, they have a chance to spread a little misery and end their playoff chances. Miami isn’t making the playoffs if they stumble in their remaining two games against the Jets, not when it will take 10 wins to make the playoffs in the AFC. The Jets may even have a chance to impact New England’s homefield advantage and bye week status in week 16. When a football only plays sixteen games per year, isn’t it silly to spend six of those outwardly rooting against them? Is it wrong to want to spread a little misery to other AFC East teams?A strong finish unfortunately doesn’t just spread misery to other AFC East teams, it leaves the Jets and their fans with a nagging feeling of “what if?” – What if they didn’t choke away a 21 point lead against Green Bay and properly managed their personnel/sideline in that game? What if Geno Smith didn’t giftwrap a TD to the Bears on a screen pass and the referees didn’t take 7 points off the board in that same game? What if David Harris wasn’t left in coverage all afternoon against the Lions to be beat for 130 yards and a touchdown? What if they got 5 more yards on that final drive vs. New England thanks to having an extra timeout and Nick Folk’s kick isn’t blocked? So many what ifs will be further amplified if the team can rally in these final few games…