The New York Jets accomplished a lot of things last season during a 10-6 campaign. But to get over that hump, the Jets are going to need one more ingredient to the mix, consistency.
Nearly everything went right for the New York Jets last season in the opening act of the Mike Maccagnan, Todd Bowles era. Ultimately at the end of the day, the Jets missed out on the NFL Playoffs.
The Jets got one step closer to that by re-signing their record breaking quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a few weeks ago. He continued his media tour on ESPN’s Mike and Mike on Monday morning to talk all things Gang Green.
For the Jets in the past, it was easy to blame the talent deficiencies on offense for their ineptitude. Now in 2016, that is no longer the case for the Jets as they arguably have a top-seven receiver of the NFL in Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte has the most scrimmage yards in the league since 2009 and Eric Decker isn’t half bad either.
Fitzpatrick is right, they did make a lot of strides last year, but lack of consistency is what hurt them. So let’s quickly highlight where consistency hurt the Jets last season.
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First off, let’s start off bluntly with our most recent memory of Fitzpatrick, the regular season finale against Buffalo.
Throughout the course of last year, Fitzpatrick was one of the best red zone quarterbacks and why wouldn’t he be?
On one side of the equation, Marshall is a 6’4 230 pound plus man, who was a fade route connoisseur.
On the other side, Decker was the best red zone receiver in the league.
Decker had a 42% catch percentage, but most impressive was his 10 touchdowns, which ranked third in the NFL last year. Unfortunately, Fitzpatrick attempted to go to Decker one too many times last season and it cost the Jets their season.
Fitzpatrick was successful 23 times last season throwing touchdowns in the red zone and his lone interception came when the Jets had their chance to take the lead with a field goal or a touchdown in Week 17. The consistency was there all season until the last second and every single play matters in the NFL.
Let’s talk about the other side of the football for the Jets and you can’t get more consistent than ranking first in completion percentage for opposing quarterbacks. But that’s exactly where the Jets ranked last season, allowing a 57.1% completion rate.
Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Again, there were leaks in the secondary at times last season, which cost the Jets dearly. Everyone knows the Jets finished 10-6 and were so close to hitting the postseason. That’s a near lock to make the playoffs and on occasion it’s even good enough to win a division title.
With that being said, the Jets had multiple chances to post an even better record in 2015. Out of those six games, every loss was by a touchdown or less outside of the Oakland Raiders game.
In every game, a key cog in the loss was the pass defense for the Jets failing to do their part.
Obviously in both Buffalo games, Sammy Watkins (more so in the second match-up) ripped the Jets for 11 receptions and 136 yards.
Against the Philadelphia Eagles, their multiple running backs on linebacker match-ups opened up their offense big time as the Jets’ secondary couldn’t keep up in pass coverage. Of course the Houston game was another reason the “Darrelle Revis is old” conversation continues, but that has been explored in detail so much that it’s just plain nonsense.
While the New England Patriots game is always tough with Tom Brady out there, Marshall did drop a touchdown pass that could have, should have or would have won the game. Finally, the Oakland Raiders game is probably one of the most important pieces of this consistency argument.
The Jets ended up losing by 14 points, Geno Smith got his chance at it, and the reason for that was Fitzpatrick’s refusal to slide properly. Fitzpatrick has dealt with a myriad of injuries in his career and at the ripe age of 33-years-old, he can’t go out of the way to put himself in danger.
Football is a violent sport, but too often last season, Fitzpatrick would dive into contested waters.
We get it, Fitzpatrick is tough as nails and is willing to do anything for the team, so do the Jets a favor and stay healthy.
In that Oakland game, Fitzpatrick scrambled out of the pocket early and had the first down plus more, but he tried to ram through a future Pro Football Hall of Famer in Charles Woodson. The result went exactly as you’d expect and Fitzpatrick gets hurt and was taken out of the game. It effectively changed the way he threw passes for the rest of the season.
Nothing is more important than the quarterback’s health and if Fitzpatrick goes down, some fans will get their wish to see Smith get one more chance with this offense. But the Jets’ chances at the playoffs could go up in smokes if he doesn’t show improvement. Talent is no longer an excuse for the Jets and Fitzpatrick knows that. Can they prove the doubters wrong one more time and make an improbable playoff run in 2016?
That potentiality is in the hands of not only Fitzpatrick, but the rest of this talented roster. Bowles has his hands full with a tougher schedule as expectations are higher than ever before. Fans want to end that playoff drought once and for all.