Mediocre, subpar, disappointing, and lacking: these are all interchangeable terms that could describe the Jets’ 2017. They could also accurately describe the past seven years for the Jets, who have been absent from the playoffs since 2010.
But sifting through the dictionary of 2017 Jets terms, something seems different. Words such as “improvement,” and “competitive” began sprouting about more often than we’ve seen. It gives way to the notion that the Jets’ played through an emotional roller coaster of a season with an abundance of highs and lows.
To simplify the ride, we took a look at three games that all but summed up what 2017 represented for the Jets.
New York Jets vs Cleveland Browns | Week 5 | 10/8/17
Prior to the start of the season, many put an early label on the Jets as the league’s “new Browns.” They weren’t projected to win very much, if not at all, and a lackluster roster screamed “tank.” But as Week 5 approached, the Jets had a step on the Browns with two wins compared to zero. However, this matchup would likely solidify the tag of who would earn the spot as the NFL’s newest laughing stock.
And that theme seemed to be well and alive through the first 15 minutes. Neither the Jets nor the Browns could find any sort of momentum in the first quarter, thus making the game a hard watch.
The Jets finally struck first with a Chandler Catanzaro bomb of a field goal midway through the second quarter, but quickly slipped up. The Browns’ plugged in quarterback Kevin Hogan after DeShone Kizer continued to underwhelm, and it seemed as if they had found their stride.
Hogan came out of the locker room in the second half and exposed the Jets secondary off the bat. A long drive led to an early touchdown to tight end David Njoku, and the Jets were suddenly falling to the lowly Browns.
However, Josh McCown kept the Jets on their feet against his old team. He came back with a drive of his own to eventually find Austin Seferian-Jenkins for the go ahead touchdown. Shortly after, it looked as though he had put the nail in the coffin with yet another touchdown to Jermaine Kearse.
All the Jets had to do was hang in there.
Up 17-7 late in the fourth, things looked to be in the bag. However, the Jets did what the Jets do, and let Cleveland find a way back. Hogan ran the hurry up offense and shred apart the Jets defense, eventually finding Duke Johnson for the 41-yard touchdown. They quickly attempted an onside kick down only a field goal, but the Jets were able to recover and notch the close win.
Final Score: Jets 17 Browns 14
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills | Week 9 | 11/2/17
Now with a record of 3-5, the Jets were allowing their shocking season to come to a collapse. A Week 9 win against the Buffalo Bills was key toward their efforts to stay afloat. They had already dropped their first match up against them, and were sitting with a 1-2 record within the division.
The Thursday Night prime-time game was pressurizing for both teams. While the Jets were looking to stay relevant, the Bills were hoping to add onto their already dominant 5-1 record. It was set to be a blood bath under the lights. And it sure played out to be.
After coming off a delusional loss to the Atlanta Falcons where Matt Forte openly complained about not receiving enough touches, the veteran running back found the endzone twice.
The Jets defense also looked reborn. They put the pressure on Tyrod Taylor all night and racked up a season-high seven sacks and forced three turnovers. They were also able to put the plug on LeSean McCoy, who burned them in the Week 1 matchup. This time, he garnered only 25 rushing yards, a career low.
However, the Bills didn’t stop trudging until the end, as the Jets once again allowed for a fourth quarter comeback. Taylor was able to find the endzone twice within the last four minutes, closing the gap to be a two possession game.
That was just enough for the Jets as they walked away with the victory and kept their playoff hopes alive. It looked as though this was the game that would turn the Jets fortunes around, however, many know that didn’t end up to be true.
Final Score: Bills 21, Jets 34
New York Jets at Denver Broncos | Week 14 | 12/10/17
The Jets were now three weeks off their Bye, and were still hanging by a thread in the playoff hunt. Gang Green was coming off yet another emotional win against Kansas City and looked to keep the momentum rolling.
But a trip to Mile High screamed “trap.” The Broncos, though stout defensively, were riding an eight game losing streak. Their season was all but done, and perhaps the Jets took that notion too lightly.
Denver hadn’t won in over 70 days, and was caught in the midst of their longest losing streak in franchise history. Trevor Siemian was at the helm, and the Jets certainly expected their own defense to shine against the interception machine.
That didn’t happen. On the day, Siemian threw for 200 yards and looked as though he could have solved all of the Broncos’ issues. Him and Demaryius Thomas tore apart the Jets’ defense and put all the pressure on the offense to come out and make it competitive.
It was a crap-shoot. Josh McCown felt the pressure throughout the entire first half, taking a few monster hits while receiving no support from the O-Line. He was only 6/12 for 46 yards before one of those hits took him out of the game, and eventually the rest of the season.
Third year quarterback Bryce Petty was brought in to help stop the bleeding. He, similarly, failed to overwhelm. Rust was extremely evident as Petty continued to overthrow and miss open targets. He finished the day only 2/9 for 14 yards.
It was a demoralizing shutout for the Jets, who were now all but eliminated from the playoffs. They couldn’t squeak out a single point against one of the league’s worst teams, and their true colors finally showed.
Final Score: Broncos 23, Jets 0
That’s All Folks
Looking back at each of those games may sum up what the Jets were throughout 2017. The close game against Cleveland relayed the fact that the Jets were not as surprising as many thought. It opened the doors for harsh criticism in regards to their capped competiveness. It was also a foreshadowing for the slew of late-game collapses that soon followed.
The Thursday night demolition of the Bills encompasses the Jets’ hope for a great future. They played their hearts out under the lights, and showed their true potential for playing seamless football.
A Mile High beat-down closes the book, however. It proved to the fans and media that much work still needs to be done; that Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg may have been mistakes all along. It also put the spotlight on management and the coaching staff to better perform. Nothing should be taken for granted, and a young developing team should never be hoisted to such low standards and efforts at any cost.
Heading into 2018, the Jets should take these three games and boil them down to a full on recipe. Some ingredients will be absolutely necessary, while others can be replaced or discarded all together.