The New York Jets had their backs against the wall, with one last chance to extend their slim playoff hopes. They delivered with their worst performance of 2017, a 23-0 demolition by the bumbling Broncos.
This game had all the makings of a major letdown. New York had much to prove, clinging to their slim playoff hopes. They could ill afford to come out flat at old Mile High Stadium — which is exactly what happened. The lowly Broncos were home ‘dogs to the Jets. The oddsmakers knew that with Trevor Simian under center, Vance Joseph‘s losing squad had little chance. But they were facing Gang Green.
Todd Bowles‘ boys came out as flat as a pancake. They were down 13-0 at halftime, with an embarrassing -14 yards total offense in the first quarter; 40 total yards by halftime; and an anemic 119 in all. The one major concern was keeping McCown upright, but Bryce Petty got forced into action more than once. This game was a colossal letdown.
Their second quarter exemplified the lack of focus. There was another costly penalty by gameday captain Mike Pennel; Austin Seferian-Jenkins not reaching for the markers on a key third-down nab, and McCown’s rookie-like INT misfire to Robby Anderson. But the entire game went down similarly.
The Jets got dominated in every phase of the game, and with the 2017 season on the line, totally humiliated themselves. With ten minutes left in the game, WR Demaryius Thomas amassed more total yards than the entire Jets offense. The Broncos looked as good as they should be, and the Jets looked as bad as they could be. This destruction felt like something straight outta the Rex Ryan era.
Now is the time the turn on the page on this rough season, and turn all focus to building the 2018 roster. Here are five songs by Long Island’s Blue Oyster Cult that exemplify what is, and what should never be.
Next: 5. Burnin' For You
5. Burnin’ For You
The experts were not wrong on Sunday: this Jets offense looked like the worst in the NFL, if not one of the worst of all time. With Josh McCown suffering a broken wrist on his non-throwing arm, there are three more games to see how far rock bottom can truly be. The vet QB — realizing that his end his near — showed class in his post-game conference, welling up with tears while uttering, “This sucks!”
Before this game, Gang Green’s wildly derided WR core felt unstoppable. Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse had proven the critics wrong. And rookie fourth-rounder Chad Hansen had come on strong with games on the line. At this point, they’ll have to wait on injured Quincy Enunwa, who hasn’t played this year, but whose off-field efforts have him in the running for the NFL Man of the Year.
The front office has made enough moves that offensive coordinator John Morton has the pieces to spread things out, between his multi-faceted WR tandem, a big TE over the middle, and a decent running game. Too bad that none of that mattered in a lost Sunday of unfocused miscues.
The offensive line did not get the job done. Second-year tackle Brandon Shell showed tremendous progress versus KC and knew that he had to deliver big time against Von Miller. Too bad the Broncos’ All-Pro blitzer ate him for lunch. Third-year GM Mike Maccagnan has only invested two fifth-rounders on O-linemen (Shell and 2015 camp washout Jarvis Harrison). Solid free agents James Carpenter and Kelvin Beachum fell on their faces against Denver’s injury-ravaged front seven. Wesley Johnson deserves a 2018 job, just not at starting center — especially after this game.
Next: 4. Fire of Unknown Origin
4. Fire of Unknown Origin
This game’s defensive meltdown was complete. The vaunted D-line made Trevor Siemian look Tom Brady-esque, with enough spare time in the pocket to pick his targets. Leonard Williams may be a disruptive force despite his profound lack of sacks. But in this game top-ranked talent of the 2015 NFL Draft was invisible. Linden, NJ’s Muhammad Wilkerson is about to blow a great thing, with $50 Million in earnings over his 7-year career. But the Temple alum is punching his ticket out of town. Even the previously reliable Kony Ealy delivered nothing against Denver’s fair-to-middling O-line.
There may be no ceiling on how good rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye may be. But in this game, they seemed overwhelmed by the lack of support from their own front seven. Morris Claiborne had a long and arduous afternoon against the great Demaryius Thomas. But why the heck did the coaching staff fail to change things up and try anything different? After all, the definition of insanity is trying to do the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results.
Going into this season, the team’s defensive stars were Williams, Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. At this point, the lone bright spots are Demario Davis, Jordan Jenkins, and the rookie safeties. The Jaguars have proven this season that you can turn around a defense with one or two key free agents (in their case Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye). Trader Mike knows this fact better than anyone.
Next: 3. Career of Evil
3. Career of Evil
Despite this week’s devastating performance, expect contract extensions for the coach and general manager. While incredibly erratic and flawed, Todd Bowles has apparently shown ownership what they needed to see. That’s why it’s a huge stretch to campaign for the Elizabeth High School grad as NFL Coach of the Year!
Much of this franchise’s future will be determined by 2018 free agency and April’s NFL Draft. The gridiron press is endorsing this writer’s conclusions — like that the Jets should re-sign 38-year-old McCown for one more year and draft a young stud like Namath-like Oklahoma gunslinger Baker Mayfield. Florham Park insiders say GM Mike Maccagnan adores Wyoming’s Josh Allen, a flawed but chiseled cannon-armed QB; too much like Christian Hackenberg. Overspending cap space on Kirk Cousins would not be wrong, but he’s likely not this team’s answer.
A major weekend surprise was activating rookie CB Jeremy Clark, who was not expected to play this season. The sixth-rounder outta Michigan would’ve been a Top 50 pick were it not for his devastating September 2016 ACL injury. But he was still a healthy scratch on Sunday. Clark’s signing, along with the corresponding practice squad addition of former Michigan State star running back Jeremy Langford, a disappointment in Chicago and Baltimore, bodes well for this franchise moving forward.
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Despite the 2017 feel-good story, the Jets have much work to do before they’re ready for contention. Re-hauling the offensive and defensive lines can be added to a shopping list including young running backs, pass rushers, kick returners, and shutdown corners. And of course, a franchise quarterback.
Next: 2. Feel the Thunder
2. Feel the Thunder
It’s difficult to implement effective situation football, when the offense can’t move the ball, and the defense cannot stop it. That’s what we observed from the Jets’ special teams unit in Denver.
Lach Edwards had to punt the ball eight times in this game, which was a terrible sign for Gang Green’s offense — that only succeeded on 3 of their 13 third-down conversions. Even with an injury to long-snapper Thomas Hennessy — ably replaced by Eric Tomlinson — the Aussie booted 365 total yards, averaging 45.6 per with a long of 56.
Chandler Catanzaro felt he had to stay disciplined if the Jets were to win in Denver. Unfortunately, the kicker’s positive mental attitude had negligible impact on this game. The former Arizona Cardinal blasted his kickoffs into the end zone, and never got a single chance to line up for a three-pointer.
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JoJo Natson seems lost trying to field punts and kickoffs. But the coaching staff must know much more about this subject to keep him gainfully employed in the NFL. This team has not had a decent return game since close to a decade ago under legendary ST coordinator Mike Westhoff. If there is going to be an immediate game-changing addition to the 2018 roster, it will be a lethal kick-returner.
Lucky Whitehead, back from a season-long foot injury, is likely not the answer either. Most of the current NCAA leaders in this category are underclassmen. So expect this team’s front office to seek creative solutions to this intractable problem. For this return-game, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Next: 1. Don't Fear the Reaper
1. Don’t Fear the Reaper
How did the Jets not come to play? How could they play their worst game of the season with so much to play for? Why did they not get up for a team that lost eight in a row with possibly the worst starting gunslinger in the entire league? Where were the locker-room leaders to stand and deliver? Where were the halftime adjustments? This is exactly why there is zero confidence or belief in this team.
There are a few reasons to believe this Jets team can go down to the Superdome next Sunday and defeat the ascending Saints. For those of you deranged Gang Green fans who demanded to witness this season the inaccuracies of Bryce Petty (2-9, 14 yards) and Christian Hackenberg (likely unavailable against New Orleans with a finger injury on his throwing hand), now you’ll have your opportunity.
This was a game of historic ineptitude. Coach Bowles’ most egregious on-field error was not using one of his three timeouts as Denver lined up for a 53-yard field goal before halftime. Even mild-mannered announcer Trent Green went nuts over the (non) decision. Much has been made of Bowles building a winning culture in Florham Park. But he’s lost 20 of 30 games, and six of his last eight.
This writer proclaimed more than once this offseason, that Gang Green was destined to win five or six games this season. Barring divine intervention, they will likely not win another game this season. Here’s one positive way to look at this mess: we’re only four months away from the 2018 NFL Draft!