Just when we start to believe in the New York Jets, they have a way of crushing our hopes and dreams. Why the, did we think the 2013 Jets would be any different?
Until Sunday, the Jets had neither won two games in a row nor lost two games in a row all season. That strange pattern came to an end in Baltimore as the Ravens handed the Jets their second straight loss, dropping them from the playoffs, at least for the moment.
To be sure, it’s been a strange year around the NFL. Teams that struggled to win games early are now making mad dashes into playoff contentions, while others are stumbling down the stretch, looking completely vulnerable.
The Jets, at times, have looked like a true contender in the AFC. At their finest, the Jets can compete with, and indeed beat, any team in the league. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that the Jets were beating the Saints and the Patriots.
Unfortunately, the Jets have become the new poster-team for the phrase, “yeah, but.” With key wins over top opponents, the Jets should be in full control of their own playoff destiny. Instead, they’re fighting in a pack of 5-6 teams in the AFC for the final playoff position. Unfortunately, the Jets are cooling off at exactly the wrong time.
To this point, New York has lived or died at the hands of Geno Smith, who has made a bad habit of turning the football over in recent weeks.
Since throwing his last touchdown on October 20th, Smith has been intercepted seven times. In that span of time, the Jets have won just one game. Not surprisingly, Geno Smith didn’t throw any interceptions in that match between the Jets and the Saints.
Smith’s rookie woes are nothing new in the NFL. Rookie quarterbacks must always adapt to a completely different speed, and many times, they’re victimized by their own confidence, especially when trying to fit a pass into tight windows. The problem isn’t that Geno Smith is struggling. The problem appears to be that he’s not improving as the season has continued.
The Jets’ offensive problems aren’t centered on only Geno Smith, however. In their last three losses, the Jets have run the ball relatively ineffectively. Against the Bills, the Jets were able to gain 134 yards on the ground, but the game was so out of hand, the added rushing totals did little to help them pull the game closer.
Against the Saints, the Jets’ lone win in the past month, the Jets ran the ball for 198 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. In that game, the Jets’ ground attack ate clock and allowed New York to rest its defense while keeping the Saints’ potent offensive attack on the sideline. That’s the type of offense the Jets have to be to continue their early season success, and that’s exactly what’s not happening now.
Geno Smith came into a less-than-ideal situation when he was drafted by the Jets. Frankly, he’s not ready to be the Jets’ starter, but he was thrust into that role, and there’s little he can do about it.
At the moment, the Jets are still very much alive in the playoff race, but if they continue to play poorly on offense, that dream will be gone and right quick. For his part, Geno Smith has to control turnovers. The Jets’ defense is a stout unit, and it won’t surrender points easily, but if the Jets are backed up from the get-go, there’s little the defense can do to get the opposing offense off the field.
In addition to controlling mistakes, the Jets have to find their running game once more. They don’t function well without it, making it that much more important. It alleviates pressure from their young signal caller, and a strong running game has the ability to keep them in football games the Jets probably have no business winning. Basically, for the Jets to get back to winning games, they need to get back to their own brand of football and quit letting their opponents control the tempo of the game.