The New York Jets went to Kansas City and got crushed by the Chiefs, in their worst game in memory. In Week 4 against Seattle, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Sep 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass under pressure from Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Frank Zombo (51) in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Where shall we begin? Last week’s 24-3 road loss was worse than the score implied. If not for a multitude of Chiefs miscues, this could’ve been a 40-point loss.
After Week 2’s inspiring win in Buffalo over Rex’s Ryan’s Bills, the Jets said all the right things. They knew that they’d have to come out strong and play error-free in Kansas City if they had any chance to beat the Chiefs — traditionally one of the toughest road games in the NFL — and if they wanted to be taken seriously as playoff caliber.
This was a game the Jets had circled on their collective calendars as a key early season must-win. It was one of those drubbings where not one player merits mention for standout performance. So what the heck happened?
The Jets got outplayed in every phase of the game by a Chiefs team that did all they could to be gracious hosts and hand the game over to the Jets. And after three-plus quarters of missed tackles, blown coverages, fumbles, interceptions, and questionable coaching schemes, Gang Green was still well within striking distance. Then, incredibly, things went downhill from there.
It is clear that the 2016 Jets are not an elite NFL team, so expect another woozy roller-coaster ride. Here are a few salient points for diehard Gang Green fans to consider before they start jumping off the Verrazano Bridge — and understand there is still reason to believe that this team can still turn things around enough to compete for an NFL Playoff spot.
Next: 4. Seeing Red
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on looks on against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
4. Seeing Red
Make no bones about it: Todd Bowles‘ team came out flat and unfocused. The uninspired effort evoked awful memories of last year’s gut-wrenching, 22-17 season-ending meltdown on the icy shores of Lake Erie.
Let’s hope Monday morning’s “frank discussion” registers with this veteran roster. It certainly worked last season: after an awful effort in Houston, Bowles read his team the riot act, and they responded with five straight wins; before that brutal Week 16 Buffalo bruising.
Bowles wasn’t only down to his players. He also questioned aloud his assistant coach’s game plans and on-field decisions — which was a very strong move. For instance, one of the game’s most anticipated match-ups was the man-to-man coverage battle between KC’s TE Travis Kelce and Jets strong safety Calvin Pryor. How did that work out?
From the opening whistle, Kelce and his backups Demetrius Harris and Ross Travis, imposed their will, with a combined 10 receptions for 113 yards. If the defensive coaching staff cannot come up with an answer to tight end coverage, this will be a very long season.
At the end of the day, this loss falls squarely on the head coach’s broad shoulders. This may be the second-year commander’s greatest challenge, but there is still time to turn things around — starting this Sunday in Seattle against the injured Russell Wilson‘s Seahawks.
Next: 3. Out Of Step
3. Out Of Step
Let’s start with positives on defense. The Jets held on a very impressive goal line stand of 1st & goal at the 3 — which despite a wretched team effort the entire first half, seemingly saved the game — keeping the score to a manageable 10-0 deficit five minutes before halftime.
But in all, this was probably the worst defensive performance of the Bowles era. Where was that trademark aggressive defensive pursuit against a very beatable Chiefs team? What became of that much-anticipated fixing of the secondary? Tackling is directly related to effort, and the missed tackling by this vaunted defense was so pervasive that not even on-field general and future Jets Ring of Honor inductee David Harris escapes criticism.
The most troubling aspect of all these defensive lapses is that these are veteran players making rookie mistakes. Gang Green fans can only hold their collective breath and hope that Darrelle Revis‘ slow start has more to do with a longer-than-expected surgery recovery and less to do with a rapidly declining skill set. One player to single out is free safety Marcus Gilchrist, who’s been making his teammates look bad on the long ball. But maybe that’s because they have the sixth-year pro out of Clemson blitzing all the time!
Bowles has much to answer for here. His proclivity to blitz worked well as a coordinator in Arizona, and even last season. But opposing offenses have found the answer to that strategy with the deep bomb.
It’s time to stop talking about the Jets’ top-rated defense. They are a middle-of-the-pack group with no legitimate answer for the league’s elite receivers. The good news is, this is a veteran core with a proven track record. And with such experience, there is hope.
Next: 2. Think Again
Sep 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws an interception under pressure from Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Jaye Howard (96) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
2. Think Again
The bad Ryan Fitzpatrick. This is what every Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans and Texans fans warned us about the 11-year journeyman flamethrower straight outta Harvard.
Matt Forte had another solid day running the football but got employed sparingly. Bilal Powell had one of his worst games as a pro, with a critical first-half fumble that changed the face of the game. No surprise that general manager Mike Maccagnan recently worked out Fitzpatrick’s former Buffalo backfield mate C.J. Spiller and even though he didn’t sign with the Jets, isn’t afraid to see what is out there.
Proven team leader Brandon Marshall tried to fire up the troops but was too injured to have any kind of major impact. And there’s no team in the NFL that would not want Eric Decker. Yet numerous questions remain.
For instance, with two critical fumbles in the last two games, can young Jalin Marshall hold onto the football when he returns from injury? There were questions during the preseason if the trading camp sensation was up for the job of NFL kickoff and punt returner. At this point, he rates at best an incomplete.
Also, is fellow undrafted free agent Robby Anderson, with his seemingly effortless flow, as good as he looked on his first NFL reception? And is Quincy Enunwa the most underrated receiving threat in the league?
Finally, have the Jets finally found a tight end in Austin Seferian-Jenkins, cut by Tampa Bay after his second DUI in three years? Health issues aside, expect offensive coordinator Chan Gailey to employ the former Washington Huskie’s impressive skill set early and often.
The offense had a lousy day all around. Here’s their one mulligan — no more excuses.
Next: 1. Look Back and Laugh
Sep 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) talks to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) after their game at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
1. Look Back and Laugh
There two ways to look at Fitzmagic’s six-interception atrocity: it’s either “this is the end” or “things can only get better.” All will be forgiven if the bearded one can turn things around right away.
This quarterback has both proven to be highly erratic, and able to turn things around fast. He better get back to being “the good Ryan Fitzpatrick” darn fast. Even if not for the Jets, he’s got 13 games remaining to prove to the NFL world that he’s worthy of that next big payday he feels he so richly deserves.
Venerated coordinators like Gailey and Kacy Rodgers have earned the latitude to have a lousy game, too. But they can’t fix a lack of focus or execution.
Football players respect strong leadership, and Bowles is a strong, silent leader of men. For that reason alone, Jets Nation should devolve into widespread panic. Pro athletes are unlike fans; they don’t get hung up on history and are able to turn the page on a bad performance.
But enuff z’nuff, there’s little more room for error. The time is now. No sleepwalkin’ against Seattle.