The NY Jets will need to do these three things to achieve the unlikely and win their first game.
The NY Jets‘ infamous acronym ‘Just End The Season’ applies now more than ever. At this stage, Jets fans feel that the team is better off losing as much as possible. A sound long-term strategy except for one catch, the fanbase has to endure 11 more losing games.
The realization has set in for several weeks now that the franchise will likely not win a single game this entire season. You have to wonder if the players and coaches feel the same way. Team morale and confidence has to be at an all-time low for this group.
Despite sharing a winless record with two other teams in the NFL (the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants), the Jets are clearly the worst team in all of football. And they have gotten progressively worse with each week that has passed.
Here we are in Week 6 of the 2020 season, and the winless Jets are headed to Miami as nine-point underdogs. They are without quarterback Sam Darnold and prized first-round pick Mekhi Becton, and now they are without the newly christened Kansas City Chiefs running back Le’Veon Bell.
This is exactly what 0-5 is supposed to look and feel like.
It feels like an eternity since the Jets have actually won a game. One of their final wins of last season was a game that Miami felt that New York stole when the Jets squeaked past the Dolphins 22-21 in controversial fashion.
Facing a 3rd-and-18 at the Miami 46, New York was trailing 21-19 with under a minute remaining. Darnold threw an incomplete pass, that would have forced the Jets to go for it on fourth down or attempt a 65-yard field goal.
What happened next would set off a firestorm on the Dolphins sidelines. The now-defunct pass interference replay reversed Darnold’s incompletion in the flat and gave the Jets an automatic first down at the Miami 38-yard line.
Four plays later, Sam Ficken would kick the game-winning field goal for New York.
For the Jets to win a game this season. They might need some divine or referee intervention again. Barring that, here are the three keys to an unlikely Jets victory on Sunday.
Next: 3. Force Ryan Fitzpatrick to turn the ball over
3. The NY Jets must force Ryan Fitzpatrick to turn the ball over
Jets fans are facing a very familiar foe Sunday in Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Truth be told, Fitzpatrick is one of the most difficult players to root against. He’s a cult favorite and has endeared himself to so many NFL fans. Partially due to his unique style and look and because he has played for a quarter of the league’s teams.
Jets fans experienced the highs and lows of Fitzpatrick during his two seasons with Gang Green. In 2015, Fitzpatrick broke the Jets franchise record for most touchdown passes in a season (31).
The last time New York was on the brink of a playoff berth was with Fitzpatrick leading the charge. Coincidentally, Fitzpatrick’s longtime partner in crime, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is back with Fitz in Miami after teaming up with him in New York.
Fitzpatrick led the Jets to 10 wins in 2015 but followed that up with a 2016 campaign that saw him throw for only 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. It’s been the story of Fitzpatrick’s entire career — he’s had so many up-and-down seasons and performances.
One week, Ryan is “Fitzmagic” and the next he’s “Fitztragic”. Admittedly, the last few years of Fitzpatrick’s career have resembled the former.
However, in two of the Dolphins three losses this year, against New England and Seattle, Fitzpatrick threw for zero touchdowns and five interceptions.
If the Jets see the magical side of Ryan Fitzpatrick. The game will be over by halftime. The Jets’ defense is one of the league’s worst and has struggled mightily against all the quarterbacks they have faced.
The lone game where New York was competitive was against Denver, where the Jets defense forced three turnovers. One of them was returned for a score.
With New York’s offense struggling to score points, their defense can help them get the Jets’ old friend Fitzpatrick to go back to some of his old bad habits.
Next: 2. Scoring in the red zone
2. The NY Jets must be better in the red zone
This particular key pertains to both sides of the ball and both teams. Lost in last week’s 30-10 blowout loss with the Arizona Cardinals was how close the game was for the first three quarters.
Midway through the third quarter, the Jets were only trailing the Cardinals 17-10, despite the fact that the team had numerous blown opportunities in the red zone.
Key drops early on killed drives and on two occasions in the red zone, the Jets failed to score a touchdown. One came when the Jets could not convert a yard twice and turned it over on downs and the other on a dropped touchdown pass in the end zone by receiver Jeff Smith.
The final outcome and result would probably not have changed for the Jets last Sunday but three trips in the red zone netted the team only one touchdown.
When you are struggling like the Jets to score on offense, you have to take advantage of any opportunities you get. The Jets can’t afford to leave points off the board.
On the opposite side of the coin, the team with the second-most field goal attempts in the entire league is the Miami Dolphins. Because of an inconsistent ground game, Miami has struggled to finish drives in the red zone. It’s a big reason why the Dolphins pursued Le’Veon Bell.
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Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders has been called upon a lot to put points on the board for Miami. And he’s been fantastic this season, a perfect 14-14 on field goals, but nearly half of his field goals have come from inside 30 yards.
If the Jets want to keep this game close, that trend has to continue. New York’s defense needs to hold Miami to field goals in the red zone and on the flip side, the Jets offense needs to capitalize on the rare occasion when they do get into scoring territory.
Next: 1. Attack the Dolphins 20th-ranked defense
1. The NY Jets must attack the Dolphins 20th-ranked defense
A crazy notion on several fronts.
Firstly, the idea that the NY Jets are capable of exploiting an opposing team’s weakness — especially considering the ineptitude of the Jets coaching staff — and lastly, the idea that the Jets have enough talent to win their matchups against any opposing defense right now.
To further lay waste to this key, Miami is coming off of their best defensive performance of their entire season against the San Francisco 49ers. Everyone who plays fantasy football has picked up the Dolphins defense, simply because they are playing the Jets.
Humor me for a moment and consider this. The Dolphins defense played a quarterback last week in Jimmy Garoppolo, who struggled to throw off of his back foot due to an ankle injury that has sidelined him since Week 2.
Despite Garoppolo’s limitations, The Niners ran the ball with great success last week but Jimmy G’s issues made Miami’s defense look dominant. The Dolphins tallied five sacks on a quarterback who couldn’t move or set and throw the ball effectively.
Let’s take a look at the overall defensive numbers for Miami. The Dolphins are ranked 20th in the league. In Week 1, the Patriots rushed for over 200 yards against them.
Miami’s pass defense has also struggled. The Dolphins secondary gave up 775 yards passing to Russell Wilson and Josh Allen combined.
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No one is putting Joe Flacco in the class of those quarterbacks but the veteran signal-caller did a respectable job last week against Arizona. Flacco’s overall numbers would’ve been better if not for multiple drops by the likes of Jeff Smith and others.
Le’Veon Bell may be gone and who knows what Frank Gore has left in the tank against one of his former teams but the Jets are getting healthier at wide receiver.
NY Jets MVP front-runner Jamison Crowder has done his part since returning from injury. He’s coming off three straight 100-yard games. Crowder has given the Jets passing attack some juice. However, he can’t do it alone.
The Jets supporting cast around Crowder needs to step up. Tight end Chris Herndon has been one of the team’s biggest disappointments. Perhaps a return to his former stomping grounds in Miami can help redirect his downward spiral.
Breshad Perriman is also on track to potentially return for this game. His veteran presence and big-play ability are sorely needed.
The most interesting aspect of this Sunday’s game is the Jets’ morale and their effort level moving forward. A team like the Jets who are starving for a victory should come into this game motivated, but many believe that the players are demoralized after what happened with their leader Le’Veon Bell.
Quite frankly, considering the track record of the Jets head coach Adam Gase, it would not shock me if he’s unable to motivate his troops. How the Jets perform on Sunday will be a sign if Gase has lost the entire team completely.
In a season that is already lost, the losses keep on coming. For the Jets and its fanbase, it’s going to be a slow death — one game at a time.