Going into the bye week the Jets were 5-4 and counted in their wins victories over New England, New Orleans and Atlanta on Monday Night Football. They had four 4th quarter comebacks all engineered by rookie Geno Smith and as fearsome of a front seven as the league has to offer today. They signed Ed Reed and we loved it. The sky was the limit and the word playoffs was being tossed about freely.
Then the game in Buffalo happened. The Jets lost 37-14. Geno Smith had four more turnovers bringing his total to 20. The offense could not get anything going because the offensive line couldn’t block and Geno Smith’s accuracy when they did (8-23). The secondary was picked a part again this time by a team without their top two receivers. Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner were once again beaten for long touchdowns and the vaunted defensive line created little pressure.
Then it happened. Pretty much everyone broke into panic mode, there was yelling and screaming on Twitter the likes you haven’t heard this year. People who anointed Rex Ryan last week wanted his head this week. They wanted to “save the season” by removing Geno Smith and replacing him with Matt Simms. The same Matt Simms who has only played against backups and in mop up duty with teams playing prevent defenses. With the amount of players people wanted bench there would be no one left to take their place.
Reality check here the Jets are in year one of a two-year rebuilding project. They have 11 or 12 picks in the draft next year and $30-$40 million dollars of cap room to play with. They need that money to fill the very obvious glaring holes that the team has along the offensive line, in the secondary, at receiver and tight end and maybe even quarterback. Perhaps we all forgot that the primary goal is to evaluate and develop the young players on the team. It is pretty clear that this team has talent but it is also clear that the talent is really young and are going to make plenty of mistakes. This team needs to get those mistakes out of their way and learn from them so that when they are surrounded by more rookies from the draft class they will be able to show them the way and also to mesh with the veterans that will come in from free agency to pull it all together.
There is no reason to push the panic button yet. They only lost 1 game here and haven’t lost two in a row all season. They are 4-1 at home and 1-4 on the road which is the sign of a young team. They have three games left at home and three left on the road so if they win their home games they need to steal one game on the road (Baltimore, Carolina, Miami) to get to 9-7. In a mediocre middle of the AFC that will keep the Jets in the hunt all the way to the end, an invaluable experience for young players and good way to evaluate how they perform under increased pressure, and maybe, just maybe get the Jets back in the playoffs.