Was this New York Jets season potentially important to this team’s development and should this season really be considered a failure?
Almost instantly on Sunday it was clear to see the Jets were feeling the pressure. Things simply were not clicking between Fitzpatrick, Marshall and Decker. Fitz was throwing bad, unweighted passes and even when he managed to mustered up a few decent throws, Marshall and Decker couldn’t connect. Fitzpatrick only managed to connect 16 of the 37 passes he threw, therefore failing to aid towards the offense who finished with a third down efficiency of 27%. However, it wasn’t only the offense who struggled on third downs. The defence’s failure to shut out the Bills allowed their offense to share more than two thirds of total time in possession, converting 45% of their 20 third down attempts and worse, 100% of their fourth downs.The Jets’ recurring mistake of not playing well for the full sixty minutes was only made more difficult when they only had the ball under possession for twenty unders. Bad play from special teams again and penalties being allowed in their own territories gave the Bills opportunities. Tyrod Taylor’s 3rd & 3 run for a touchdown and Karlos Williams’ punch through the line on 4th & 1 for Bills’ second TD both came from prior Jets mistakes. Subsequently, the Jets were then chasing the scoreline for the whole game. A game they looked to dominate with plenty reward waiting.
Another level of frustration and unexplained confusion came from the IvoryGate. After the game, Ivory said that he “felt fine” and was “moving enough for it to be seen”. Frustrating to hear as Ridley, who took the majority the backfield touches only averaged 2.3 YPC. The 58 yard Ivory sighting in the second quarter made it look as though things were going to look up, but Bowles, who is no stranger to making decisions pulled Ivory out and he was barely seen after. Sticking by his decision, Bowles said in post game interviews that Ivory was too “banged up”. It was frustrating because Ivory, in a 1000+ yard season could have no doubt aided towards the 27% third down efficiency, but Bowles made the call and honestly, it was obvious the Jets seriously missed Bilal Powell too. Bad timing.
No matter how bitter this pill was to swallow, the playoff decider wasn’t too dissimilar to some other games this season that went in the same direction. Losses to the Eagles, Raiders, Texans, and the Bills again are all examples. Whether is was the turnovers and penalties against Philly or another horrendous third down efficiency back in colour rush week, the Jets just couldn’t contain their mistakes. By the end of the season the team’s constant inconsistencies proved most costly and eventually they paid the ultimate price.
This team still needs time grow. The noticeably weak areas will need addressing. Maccagnan will have another chance to put his gift on and use his personnel expertise to continue building this team. The area that played the poorest this season was the special teams. Some speed is desperately needed as nobody was making plays on returns and hopefully since the firing of Bobby April, a coach might be brought in that can prevent mistakes like that we saw against the Eagles. Fitzpatrick’s contract will need discussing too and finally the subject of Mo Wilkerson’s future can come to attention. None are easy decisions but if the office can conduct them in similar fashions to this year, a winning season shouldn’t be the realistic target but instead a real shot at the playoffs this time.It was of course a year of many firsts. It was the year for general manager Mike Maccagnan, who is at credit for one of the best rosters the Jets have seen in years and Todd Bowles, who coached a 10-6 season in his first year as a head coach. When Bowles said not making the playoffs is a failure, we understood, but to label this year as one I think would be extremely unfair. By widely avoiding a repeat of last year’s 4-12 with a more than acceptable 10-6, (which is usually enough to get into the playoffs) I hope it was enough to please the majority and looking at it, the Jets were very unlucky in that respect. Looking forward should of course be key now and to not think things are looking brighter for the Jets is a crude misunderstanding. There are some real building blocks here and it looks as though they are in capable hands, so sit tight.
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