The Jets reached a break in their season after a 34-21 victory over the Bills on Thursday night and now have 10 days off before facing Tampa Bay. After nine games, a little more than halfway through the season, we breakdown what’s been good and what’s been bad in 2017.
It’s Josh McCown, right? The 38-year old quarterback was supposed to be the bridge for young quarterbacks Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, but all he’s done is maintained the job with a quiet grace. He’s second in the NFL in completion percentage at 70.4 and his four victories are the most he’s had since 2004 when he played for Arizona. McCown’s ability to make the safe play underneath and take chances with one-on-one coverage has been the key to his success. Waiting for the shoe to drop? McCown says keep waiting.
Biggest disappointment of the first half
A tough call between defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and cornerback Buster Skrine, but we went with Skrine. Wilkerson has played so well the last three weeks and he’s dealing with some health issues. What’s Skrine’s excuse? He was beaten for two touchdowns in a loss to Miami and was penalized three times in that game, including twice on the game-tying drive. Offenses are targeting Skrine more often. Buffalo threw his way seven times and in his previous contest, against Miami, he was targeted four times. On the season, he leads the team with eight penalties, that’s way too much for a corner playing with a team with a small margin for error.
Surprise of the first half
Chemistry. You could say it’s only good when you win and bad when you lose. Well last season the Jets’ chemistry was bad as grumpy veterans Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick complained during a 5-11 year. Todd Bowles was determined to fix that by promoting togetherness and after Sheldon Richardson continued his feud with Marshall, he was sent to Seattle in a trade. The only near complaint was Matt Forte talking about a lack of a commitment to the run game, something that changed the next week. If you don’t believe in chemistry, this is what Josh McCown had to say: “I really believe it’s our chemistry. It’s the makeup, and I still go back to halftime at Oakland. We had the muffed punt and all the things go bad, and I’ve been on teams where they get in the locker room and it’s quiet and everybody is whispering and they are pointing at that guy, and that locker room, everybody was together. Everybody was [saying] we’re going to bounce back, everybody was for one another, and back then it just confirmed what I believed to be true, that we had great chemistry, but that showed it.”
Five best moments of the season
1. Safety Jamal Adams coming from the other side of the field to stop Marshawn Lynch for a touchdown in Oakland.
2. Running back Bilal Powell dove over a defender, Superman style, and when he wasn’t touched got up and went 75-yards for a touchdown against Jacksonville.
3. Safeties Marcus Maye and Adams together forced a fumble of the Bills’ Nick O’ Leary.
4. Chandler Catanzaro makes a game-winning 41-yard field goal in overtime to beat the Jaguars.
5. Matt Forte, showing some spry, broke four tackles, getting 21-yards on a screen pass against Bills. Offensive coordinator John Morton said he showed off the play to his players the next day in a meeting.
Five worst moments of the season
1. Returner Kalif Raymond muffed a punt late in the first half against the Raiders, leading to a touchdown. It was Raymond’s third muffed punt in two weeks. He was eventually released.
2. The Jets lost a 14-point fourth-quarter lead to the Dolphins on the road. The Dolphins scored 17 fourth-quarter points.
3. After feuding with former teammate Brandon Marshall the previous season, Sheldon Richardson was told to cool it, went after him again. Richardson was traded to Seattle.
4. Veteran wide receiver Jeremy Kerley is under review for a possible suspension. Kerley said he’s awaiting word from the league to determine his status.
5. In a strange turn of events, Todd Bowles said during his news conference Muhammad Wilkerson’s shoulder was sore. Afterward, Wilkerson goes against protocol and gives the details of his injury. He’s got a sprained AC joint.
The final seven
Nov. 12 at Tampa Bay: The Jets are expected to be road underdogs in this game but with Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston nursing shoulder injuries, the Jets might pull off the upset and reach .500.
Nov. 26 vs. Carolina: Following the bye week the Jets should be a fresh team taking on Cam Newton. Newton lost his best receiver, Kelvin Benjamin in a trade to the Bills, so his offensive weapons should be limited. But this is still Newton and he’s an elite quarterback. A difficult day for the Jets.
Dec. 3 vs. Kansas City: This is a strange week because if the Jets enter this game on a two-game slide against one of the top teams in the AFC, will Josh McCown remain the starter? The Chiefs have too many weapons to contain.
Dec. 10 at Denver: A late afternoon road game and it’s winnable. The starting quarterback for the Broncos might be anybody at this stage of the season. For the Jets? McCown? Bryce Petty? Christian Hackenberg? Jets with a chance to steal a road game.
Dec. 17 at New Orleans: Saints have played much better since the trade of Adrian Peterson and could be playing for first place in the NFC South. Jets will be road dogs here and it will be hard to stop the Saints offense. But maybe John Morton, a former Saints receivers coach, can get involved in a high-scoring game.
Dec. 24 vs. Los Angeles Chargers: The bad news is the game will be played in the cold weather of MetLife Stadium. The good news is the Chargers will get booed in a road stadium instead of their own. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and Bowles are close friends.
Dec. 31 at New England: Could the Jets sneak in and get a victory in the regular season finale? The Pats could be playing for the No. 1 seed or just getting ready for the playoffs. The Jets? Will this be Todd Bowles last game as coach? Will a victory save his gig?