Moral victories don’t translate to winning in the NFL. A loss is a loss, at the end of the day. But for the NY Jets, a moral victory is exactly what they needed.
After falling to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a final score of 28-24, head coach Robert Saleh stood at the post-game podium in utter disgust.
Have it be the 4th-and-2 play call in the fourth quarter that may have sent the Jets home with a win, or the defensive breakdown that quarterback Tom Brady surgically tore apart on the final drive of the game, it wasn’t ideal.
Regardless of the outcome, one thing was for certain — quarterback Zach Wilson is a baller.
The stat line doesn’t jump off the page: 19-for-33 (56.7 percent completion), 234 yards passing, one touchdown. It’s what Wilson did on the crucial downs that will be talked about for the remainder of the 2021-22 season, and beyond.
The NY Jets were able to convert 6-for-11 attempts on third down (54.55 percent). Their season average on third down is a 38.38 percent.
A big part of their success on these later downs was Wilson’s ability to throw into tight windows, an area where he has notably improved to the naked eye over the past few weeks.
One connection that has really stood out is the chemistry with wide receiver Braxton Berrios. Berrios has established himself as one of Wilson’s favorite targets. With Corey Davis and Elijah Moore unavailable, Berrios has really made the most of an opportunity that may just warrant a second contact in New York.
Speaking of New York, the Jets don’t have to travel far for their final matchup of the season.
The NY Jets are out for revenge against the Bills in Week 18
The Jets will be facing off against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park in what will be end of the road for New York. Quarterback Josh Allen and the Bills are currently fighting for first place in the AFC East.
Rightfully so, the game has been flexed from the 1:00 window to 4:25, a bit more of a primetime atmosphere for what could be a game that decides the fate of two teams who reside in the AFC East.
The Bills have already clinched the playoffs, but the Jets could still be in line to play spoiler against a familiar opponent.
Date back to January 3rd, 2016. The Jets are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot for the first time since the 2010 season, where they went on to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship.
“Win and you’re in” was the mantra that was circulating around the then-Ryan Fitzpatrick led Jets. They did not win. The Jets fell to the Bills by a final score of 22-17. Then-Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan had his revenge on the desperate Jets.
Fast-forward to January 9th, 2022. The Jets have a chance to repay the favor.
The Jets are hopeful that rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore will be available for Sunday, but they’ll know more about him later in the week. The same goes for running back Michael Carter, who suffered a concussion in Sunday’s game vs. Tampa Bay.
This will be the first time Zach Wilson and Josh Allen will face off. The Jets last played the Bills on November 14th, where back-up quarterback Mike White went on to throw four interceptions in a 45-17 blowout loss.
It could be a little different this time around. With Zach Wilson playing his best football to date, the Jets could potentially send Buffalo in a state of distress heading into wildcard weekend.
Although the Jets didn’t make a successful run at the postseason this time around, one can sense that there’s a different tone around One Jets Drive than in years past.
The building blocks are slowly getting set into place, the coaching staff is learning and improving on the job, and all but an infusion of talent may be needed to get this team over the hump.
No one quite knows if the NY Jets will find success next season, but we can guarantee you this, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And that light is as close as it has been since Week 17, 2015.