The Jets enter its bye week, following Tuesday’s practice, full of questions and doubt.
Not only is the starting quarterback position up in the air – at least until head coach Todd Bowles makes up his mind – but there are issues in the passing game itself, the offensive line, and a secondary that features an admittedly old future Hall of Fame cornerback.
The week away from football may be just what the Jets (3-7) need, though, as the players get to decompress and perhaps get away. The coaching staff, however, will likely be holed up at the facilities for most of the week, figuring out what’s gone wrong during the current two-game losing streak that featured consecutive fourth-quarter meltdowns.
Bowles and co. will be in full evaluation mode during the break, as they decipher game tape and hold lengthy discussions about what to do with personnel – specifically at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick has come crashing down to earth this season, following a stellar 2015-16 campaign in which he registered career highs in yards (3,905) and touchdown passes (31). He currently leads the league with 13 interceptions, doing so despite missing the Rams’ game, last week, and has completed just 56.4 percent of his passes for 1,983 yards with eight touchdowns in eight starts. He’s already been benched once, but that didn’t stick, mainly because Geno Smith, who replaced Fitzpatrick under center in Week 7, suffered a season-ending knee injury in his first start.
That led to Bryce Petty getting the start, last week, but he never took the job by the reigns. Whichever quarterback Bowles decides on for the Jets’ next tilt, a Nov. 27 matchup against New England, will need to show more than they’ve already done so far. The season is already lost and playoff hopes are a distant memory, so Bowles would be wise to give Petty another shot, so the coaching staff and management can decide if the second-year signal caller has a future with Gang Green, in 2017 and beyond. And as for the rookie Christian Hackenberg, Jets fans shouldn’t hold their breath, as it’s unlikely he sees any meaningful snaps this year.
The quarterback quandary is the highest-profile issue with the team, but not the only one. The back-end of the defense has been exploited on a weekly basis, particularly cornerback Darrelle Revis. The Canton-bound defender has admitted that he’s “getting old,” which is tough to overcome in what is a young man’s game. No longer able to jam slippery receivers, or keep up with wideouts at their top-end speed on go-routes, Revis will get a long evaluation in the remaining six games. This process will likely determine if he’s still useable at cornerback, or should he be asked to go the route so many cornerbacks whose coverage skills have fallen off a cliff, and asked to play safety in 2017.
Revis, once the preeminent cover corner in the league started the season in a funk, as he was lit up by Cincinnati Bengals star wideout A.J. Green (12 catches for 180 yards) and has seen his performance scrutinized each week. Whether it’s been a relative unknown like Buffalo Bills wideout Marquise Goodwin (84-yard touchdown on a fly pattern in Week 2), or a converted quarterback in Terrelle Pryor of the Cleveland Browns (six catches for 101 yards), Revis has shown a penchant for getting picked on by opposing passing attacks. He’s not only aging in front of Jets’ fan’s eyes, but he’s also been a victim of his own extraordinary success and standards, making his steep decline even more painful.
The remaining six games will be a critical time for both Revis and the Jets to see where the former All-Pro stands in the grand scheme of Gang Green’s system.
Bowles noted the Jets need to “get better” and “get healthy” during this break, as the team will likely do a lot of soul searching in hopes of finishing the campaign with pride. But time is running out for New York in seeing if they have enough of a core unit to solidly compete next season, or whether they need to blow most of it up and do wholesale changes.
Whatever players they have auditioning from now until Week 17, one this is for sure, the team will endure its sixth-consecutive season of missing the playoffs.
Gang Green notes:
- The Jets are struggling so much and have an offense that’s considered such a bore that America has avoided a nationally-televised nightmare. The league announced that the Chiefs-Broncos Week 12 game will be flexed into the Sunday Night Football slot on Nov. 27, replacing the previously scheduled Patriots-Jets tilt.
- Center Nick Mangold (ankle) and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) did not practice on Tuesday.
- Wideout Eric Decker, who is on season-ending injured reserve, underwent surgery on his shoulder, Tuesday. He previously underwent hip surgery, last month.