The New York Jets put up an inadequate fight against the Los Angeles Chargers. A similar performance will doom them in this brutally difficult season finale against the New England Patriots.
The end of the 2017 regular season has arrived and it’s a familiar one for the New York Jets. They’ll visit Gillette Stadium to take on their division rival New England Patriots, just like they did in Week 17 of 2016. When Gang Green hosted the Pats in Week 6, they lost in controversial fashion. Don’t expect theater in this one.
New York posted a stinker in their loss to Los Angeles with their lone touchdown coming on a long run from Bilal Powell. If the Chargers make that stop, they probably pitch a shutout. The offense is lifeless minus Josh McCown and will be facing one tough defense on Sunday.
New England routed Buffalo 37-16 to take a huge bite out of their playoff aspirations. Tom Brady and the offense were stagnant before pouring on 24 second-half points. Tyrod Taylor and company mustered up 326 yards, but their red zone efficiency (0/4) did them no favors.
Let’s not sugarcoat it. It’d be stunning if this is kept close. The Patriots are at the top of the AFC and New York could very well be the worst team in football without McCown. Here are New York’s three keys to a miracle.
Next: 3. Simplify it for Bryce Petty
3. Simplify it for Bryce Petty
A majority of the current issues stem from Bryce Petty. The Baylor product is missing open targets and continuing to struggle with his awareness. He took three sacks last week, all of which occurred because he failed to escape the pocket/get rid of the ball. Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise will make him pay if he does the same on Sunday.
On the year, Petty is 36/76 for 312 yards, a touchdown, and three interceptions. The 47.4 completion percentage is the glaring stat as it ranks second-to-last amongst quarterbacks who have made at least 70 attempts. We can’t play the supporting cast blame game anymore. He’s in his third season and his receivers have had a successful 2017.
John Morton has to make things simple. Petty isn’t capable of consistently eluding pressure and making the downfield throws. Check downs and screens will help in avoiding another poor showing. It’ll also keep the clock moving. It typically doesn’t go well when Brady has the ball.
Next: 2. Empty the bench
2. Empty the bench
Emptying the bench may seem crazy, although Gang Green has nothing to lose at this point. There are certain players who normally don’t earn snaps who have something to prove. This could be their platform to show they can be a piece of the 2018 puzzle. It’s better to make judgments now than in a few months when the pads are off.
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What’s currently happening with Muhammad Wilkerson is a perfect example of why it’s okay to give the backups reps late in the year. ‘Mo’ wasn’t being the leader he normally is, so guys like Mike Pennel and Xavier Cooper have benefited. Both are making the most of their uptick in playing time. Pennel owns a 72.3 overall grade on Pro Football Focus while Cooper has a 79.
Bowles shouldn’t be afraid to let some of the others loose. Elijah McGuire is fighting for a spot in New York’s future backfield. The same can be said for rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen in the receiving core. Christian Hackenberg deserves his shot as well. He could give the offense an unexpected yet much-needed spark, however, we’ll never find out unless his tires are kicked.
Next: 1. Get creative
1. Get creative
Gang Green can’t go wrong in terms of creativity in this matchup. For most teams, it’s an “all systems go” mentality in the season finale. There’s nothing to hide when you’re 5-10 playing the spoiler role. Bowles pulled the trigger on an onside kick to start last Sunday’s game and it worked to perfection. Let’s look back at some of the Jets’ tricks in recent Week 17s.
In 2014 at Miami, Ryan Quigley tossed a 38-yard fake punt to tight end Zach Sudfeld. Earlier in that game, Jeremy Kerley attempted a pass in the flat to Geno Smith. Sheldon Richardson stole the show in the 2013 finale with his goalline touchdown. Late in the fourth quarter, Bilal Powell threw a dagger 30-yard ball to Jeff Cumberland which ended the Dolphins’ season.
The playbooks should be wide open in all three phases. Flea flickers, reverses, fake field goals/punts, wildcat, you name it. The goal in this one is to do whatever it takes to knock New England from the top of the AFC. It’ll take some clever play calling to get it done. New York can’t go toe to toe with the Patriots at the moment.