Coming off their first loss of the preseason, the early signs of many bad things to come are on full display by the New York Jets.
Ford Field hasn’t been kind to the New York Jets. The last three visits have not turned out well. For example, during a preseason game in 2015, Detroit Lions rookie running back Ameer Abdullah shredded the Jets first string defense for 67 rushing yards on only 7 carries before the Lions mercifully brought in backups.
The Jets ended up losing 23-3. In 2014, a Buffalo “snow-out” forced the Jets to play the “home” team Bills at Ford Field. The Jets were crushed 38-3, in one of the most embarrassing losses of the Rex Ryan era, ending any minuscule playoff chance the Jets had at the time. And on Saturday night, the Jets again looked like a team that forgot to show up, especially on offense, as the Lions won 16-6.
To be clear, the Jets were bad on Saturday against the Detroit Lions, but we’ve seen worse, especially at Ford Field. Yet there were moments during this game when one had to wonder just what kind of season we can expect from this team? The Jets’ first offensive series started out horribly. Was it a broken assignment, miscommunication between the offensive linemen, or a misread by starting quarterback Christian Hackenberg on the third play from the line of scrimmage that almost led to his season ending before it even could begin?
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I mean, Hackenberg was absolutely crushed; did any member of the offensive line or someone on the Jets sideline happen to notice the 6’4” 280-pound wrecking ball named Cornelius Washington on the defensive end? He is hard to miss.
How was Washington allowed to break into the backfield untouched? Hackenberg is your supposed quarterback of the future, why was he left completely unprotected? I know one thing, Tom Brady never gets hit like that. Especially in preseason! Imagine the fallout if Brady took the same hit as Hackenberg in a preseason game? Right, you can’t envision it because it is inconceivable that it would ever happen.
Here’s another example of a Jets blunder that is just inexcusable. The Lions were on the Jets 11-yard line, third down and one yard to go. But the Jets jumped offsides, giving the Lions a free play. We know what happens next as is usually the case with a dumb penalty. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford connected with wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., for a beautiful over-the-shoulder picture-perfect touchdown grab. If the Jets make a stop on third down then the Lions likely kick a field goal, and the defense walks off the field with their heads held high. Instead, a demoralizing penalty plus touchdown meant the Jets were already playing from behind on the road.
The Jets also failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity for an easy turnover. A gift-wrapped interception was right there for the taking but Juston Burris let a deflected football slip right out of hands. If Burris makes that simple catch, a momentum shift at the time when the Lions were moving the ball downfield would have been perfect.
I pause here because I can’t cover all of the Jets lapses and miscues that occurred in this game. But I did highlight the above three examples for a reason; namely, to underscore the point that it takes more than not having enough talent to lose football games. In other words, a team that doesn’t have much talent can still be decent if, and I emphasize if, it a) plays hard, b) plays smart, c) takes advantage of the other team’s miscues, and d) plays with a sense of desperation.
These are what can be considered “intangibles.” A team with intangibles is worth watching and perhaps has a distant shot at the NFL Playoffs. Conversely, a team that plays lax, carelessly, and doesn’t capitalize on turnovers can expect its season to end in the blink of an eye, which is what has happened to the Jets the last few years.
The general consensus about the 2017 Jets is that the offensive line is porous, the wide receivers are young and unproven, the quarterback situation might be one of the least desirable in the league, and the Jets’ lack of talent (especially on offense) is a fact of life. All that said, the intangibles are going to be the make or break for the Jets this year.
So when they allow a defensive end to pound its quarterback untouched during a meaningless preseason game, then that’s a sign of bad things to come. A mistake like that has nothing to do with “talent.” Same goes for penalties, mental mistakes, and turnovers, talent has nothing to do with these issues. It’s just bad football, something the Jets can hopefully avoid this year, but so far the early indications suggest otherwise.
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