For the New York Jets, it’s not how you start but how you finish. Their Week 8 victory over the Cleveland Browns was a character check.
For the first time in its 47 year history, the Cleveland Cavaliers raised their 2016 NBA Finals championship banner. The Cleveland Indians are on the cusp of clinching their first World Series since 1948. To say Cleveland sports fans are on a high right now would be an understatement. However, the same can’t be said about the pitiful Cleveland Browns, as they fell to 0-8 this past Sunday. The New York Jets defeated them 31-28 in a somewhat entertaining game. Although it was a poorly-played game by both teams, the Jets are now 3-5, now on a two-game winning streak.
Throughout the season, the Jets have been dominated through the second half of every game, which resulted in the 1-5 start. The team would play competitively during the first half of each game and then completely collapse after the half.
The Jets are averaging an NFL-worst 5.7 points a game this season in the second half. However, this past Sunday, it was the Browns who jumped out to an early lead. They scored a touchdown on the first possession of the game, and headed into halftime with a 20-7 lead.
However, an unfamiliar site occurred–one that Jets fans have been yearning for all of the past two seasons: an animated Todd Bowles. Bowles, a coach notorious for being rather silent on the sidelines, unleashed on the team at halftime for its horrendous performance.
Some of the Jets’ players said the coach’s angry halftime message shook them up. “There’s no big speech to be made,” he said, via Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “You’ve got to have a f—ing attitude when you’re getting your a– kicked.”
After the halftime break, the Jets appeared to be a different team. A team that was aggressive and focused, which resulted in a second consecutive win. They scored 24 unanswered points on offense and didn’t give an inch on the defensive side as well. One of the biggest stories of the game, once again, was at quarterback.
Last week, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick called out the coaching staff for benching him and vowed to play better football. Yet once again, against a mediocre Browns defense, Fitzpatrick was awful in the first half. It was so bad, it caused Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath to post on Twitter during the game about starting Bryce Petty. However, after his dismal first half, Fitzpatrick threw for 198 yards, completing 13 of 20 passes including a touchdown pass.
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Although the Jets looked fast in the second half, the same can’t be said about former Pro Bowl cornerback, Darrelle Revis, who was terrible all game. Just a few years ago, Revis was in charge of “Revis Island”, always covering the top opponents’ receivers and holding them to minimal offensive production.
However, Revis looked nothing short of horrible, once again. He allowed opposing wide receiver Terrelle Pryor to catch six passes for 101 yards in just the first half. Throughout the season, Revis has been dominated by opponents, and he’s starting to show his age.
The same man who has been one of the best defensive backs in the NFL has now become a primary target of opposing quarterbacks, struggling to cover the receivers. He told the media last week that his body is wearing down and he never fully recovered from injuries in his past. While it would be difficult for Bowles to bench Revis due to the Jets lackluster secondary, it may be time to consider backup options. Especially with the trade deadline looming to see what interest might be out there.
While the win wasn’t perfect, a win is a win and the Jets, surprisingly enough, are right back in the playoff picture. After a brutal beginning, the Jets’ schedule for the rest of the season is very favorable. The Jets will travel to Miami to play the Dolphins and then come home to face the Los Angeles Rams before the bye week. If the Jets win both of those games, they would be 5-5, the same record they possessed through 10 games last year.
As Brandon Marshall put it, “Winning cures all,” per Manish Mehta of the Daily News. “Winning creates momentum. Finishing strong creates momentum. You build something in your locker room when you hit adversity.”