Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton experienced poetic justice in the form of a 31-21 loss to the NY Jets in Week 5. Payton referred to New York as the “offseason champs.” His thoughts on Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s stint as Broncos coach have been repeatedly quoted. The only thing the Broncos were riding on Sunday was a 1-4 record.
Jets players treated this game as if it had postseason ramifications. Tight end C.J. Uzomah was straight to the point with his brief profanity-laced pregame speech. The Jets' Twitter account complemented their "offseason champions" post with a slight troll of NFL Network's Adam Rank.
Payton is an intelligent football mind, but he’s not without character flaws. While Hackett did appear to be unprepared as a head coach, Payton recklessly disregarded the well-being of his players.
One infamous implicating recording of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams exemplified the brutal nature of the scheme. A league investigation concluded that Payton tried to cover up the actions of Williams and the participating players. If anyone lives in a glass house regarding coaching performance and setting the correct culture, it’s not Hackett.
The NY Jets saved their season in Week 5
Narratives aside, the Jets have temporarily saved their season. Even if the average fan assumes that they’ll fall to the Philadelphia Eagles, more winnable games will follow.
The next three opponents are the one-win New York Giants, the 2-2 Los Angeles Chargers, and a Las Vegas Raiders offensive line that can't get a consistent push for Josh Jacobs. With so much parity throughout the league, projecting wins weeks in advance is increasingly complicated.
Expectations have lowered since the devastating Achilles injury to Aaron Rodgers. Zach Wilson and the rest of the offense are finding an identity as coaches piece together a mangled offensive line. Sustained drives are essential in giving breaks to an overworked defense.
Entering Week 5, the Jets were last in the league in time of possession. They hadn’t scored a point in the first quarter until Greg Zuerlein's 30-yard field goal on Sunday. Despite the negative statistical indicators, the Jets may have a puncher's chance to make some noise in 2023.