The New York Jets limped their way to the end of the season with a 38-3 loss to their rivals, the New England Patriots. What grade did each unit earn to close out the year?
The Todd Bowles era in New York came to an end not with a bang, but with a whimper.
The New York Jets entered their final game of the season on Sunday with little to play for and even less at stake. Their head coach was already a guaranteed goner and everyone in the organization, including Bowles himself, was well aware of this. They were certainly not vying for any playoff spot as at 4-11, the team had eliminated themselves from contention weeks ago.
Instead, it was a game of nothingness. It was a trivial exercise of completion. The season had long been over, but this game marked the official conclusion of what had been a disappointing 2018 campaign, to say the least.
The Jets had the opportunity to play spoiler against their biggest division rivals who were trying to secure a first-round bye, but the team fell flat on their faces and stumbled to the finish line. Gang Green was outplayed in every facet by a Patriots team with more talent and more on the line.
It was a fitting, yet dismal ending to the Jets 2018 season and the team and fans alike can only hope for better play come 2019. With that, let’s take a look at the team and assign grades for the final Jets game of 2018.
The Jets offense took a major step back in the final game of the season after the unit had played so well since Sam Darnold’s return from injury.
Darnold looked less sharp than he had the previous few weeks but given his supporting cast, it’s hard to blame him. The rookie was playing without Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse at receiver giving ample playing time to undrafted rookie Deontay Burnett and glorified returner Andre Roberts.
To his credit, Darnold was able to get the most out of each of those players particularly Burnett who capitalized on the increased playing time. Burnett finished the day as the Jets leading receiver hauling in five catches for 73 yards.
The USC product did his best to show why he should have been given more snaps earlier in the year with an impressive Week 17 performance. Burnett should remain on the team and fight for a roster spot come the preseason and with the right development, could turn into a solid slot receiver of the future for the Jets.
At the very least, Burnett provides some much-needed depth at the receiver position, something the team hasn’t had in quite some time.
The Jets once again lacked any semblance of a running game as running back Elijah McGuire was bottled up for just 41 yards on 18 carries. McGuire has proven himself to be a capable receiving option and an adequate blocker but hasn’t been able to stand out as a runner. Part of that is due to the Jets offensive line which is due for an upgrade in 2019 but some of the blame should undoubtedly fall on McGuire as well.
Overall, it was a poor showing from the offense saved from a failing grade by a strong showing from Burnett and a capable one from Darnold.
Final Grade: D-
Next: Defensive Grades
The Jets defense played the role of the Patriots scout team on Sunday. The unit did a good job of preparing their division foes for their future opponents in the postseason by offering up little resistance against Tom Brady and company allowing New England to march up and down the field time and time again.
Now to be fair, the Jets were playing with a decimated secondary starting the likes of Rashard Robinson, Derrick Jones, and Rontez Miles in place of established starters. It would have been unfair to expect the defense to perform well against Brady and the Patriots given who the team was starting.
That being said, we’re not grading on a curve here.
Brady finished the day 24-of-33 for 250 yards to go along with four touchdowns as the Patriots legend easily moved the ball against New York’s subpar defense. Robinson was Brady’s favorite target to pick on as the former San Francisco 49er struggled mightily in coverage.
The Jets traded for Robinson midway through last season in exchange for a fourth-round pick and to this point, it doesn’t seem as though that trade has been anything more than the forfeiture of a valuable mid-round draft pick.
On the other hand, Jones shined when finally given the chance to see the field playing well and earning the second-highest Pro Football Focus grade by any Jets defender in the game. The 2017 sixth-round pick had been inactive for every game this year up until Week 17 and his solid performance combined with his excellent preseason play makes you wonder why he hadn’t seen the field before this game.
Jones could be in line for increased playing time in 2019 given the Jets lack of depth at the cornerback position if he is actually given the time of day under the new coaching staff.
Altogether, the Jets defense did little to prevent the Patriots from scoring and moving the ball down the field. Despite the solid play from Jones and the lack of starting experience in the secondary, the Jets defense doesn’t deserve anything other than a failing grade to end the season.
Final Grade: F
Next: Special Teams Grades
Special Teams Grades
Despite being the Jets best overall unit of 2018, not even the special teams could do anything of note to save the team from a miserable final game.
Kicker Jason Myers concluded his stellar 2018 season by connecting on a 40-yard field goal to give the Jets their only three points of the afternoon. Myers had seemingly hit a wall as of late but the Pro Bowl kicker finished the season strong and will hopefully look to carry over the momentum of an incredible year into next season.
Return man Andre Roberts wasn’t able to do much as the Patriots opted to kick away from the Pro Bowl return man when given the chance but Roberts did manage to return one kick for 32 yards. Much like Myers, Roberts will look to build off of his breakout 2018 season and catapult that into more success in 2019, hopefully with the Jets.
Punter Lachlan Edwards had a solid outing in his final game of the season. Edwards punted five times and averaged over 47 yards per punt while pinning the Patriots back inside their 20 once. At the same time, it’s hard to get excited over the performance of a punter when the rest of the team played so poorly.
It was an uneventful day for the Jets special teams but at least they didn’t do anything that negatively impacted the team. As a result, they earn the highest grade out of any of the units.
Final Grade: B-
Next: Coaching Grades
It feels empty and somewhat eerie grading the coaching staff at this point. Like critiquing the performance of an actor after his passing, the undertaking feels hollow. Still, for completionist’s sake, a grade must be assigned.
Unfortunately for Todd Bowles and his staff, this grade isn’t going to be one to hang on his fridge.
The Jets showed up on Sunday and once again looked like a team that had no purpose being on the same field as their opponents. After a few weeks of competitive performances, the Jets came crashing down with a dud of a performance against New England.
In the team’s defense, it’s hard to expect anything different. The majority of the players were clearly just going through the motions and with a coaching staff with one foot (if not most of their bodies) well out the door, it isn’t all too surprising.
The effort just wasn’t there and even given Bowles imminent departure, you’d like to see the players play hard one last time for their coach and try to play spoiler against their division rivals.
Instead, what we saw was just an exercise of futility. A game that meant nothing and accomplished nothing.
What a fitting way to end the Todd Bowles era in New York.