There are a million differences between winners and losers in the NFL that have nothing to do with talent.
Sure, it would be awesome if Aaron Rodgers, Todd Gurley, Antonio Brown, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack rolled into Woody Johnson’s state-of-the-art facility on One Jets Drive, but there are ways to succeed without a treasure trove of All-Pros.
The most disturbing part of this lost season is the loser’s lament coming from this place in the past month or so.
First things first: Who cares if you kept the game close?
That’s a common refrain of losers.
Although I appreciate trying to view this disastrous five-game losing streak through a glass-half-full prism, I’m going to hurl myself out of a window if I hear another Jets player or coach talk about how the opponent made one or two more plays than they did.
I’m all for keeping your spirits up amid rough times, but that’s just plain delusional. If you’re trying to convince yourself that the Jets were only a play or two away from winning most of the games that they lost, then you’re either clueless, an apologist or on the payroll. Take your pick.
“With the exception of the Buffalo loss, which was not a good day, it’s just a guy here or there,” Todd Bowles said Monday about the common thread of his team’s five-game losing streak. “We’re in the games into the fourth quarter. And we got to close them out. That’s one guy here or there. Whether it’s execution, whether it’s something else… or communication, we’re not closing them out… and we got to close them out regardless of who it is or what side of the ball it’s on. We just haven’t been consistent closing them out.”
Full disclosure: Bowles has forgotten more about football than I’ll ever know, but you don’t need a PhD in Gridiron Studies to realize that bad teams are bad teams because they’re maddeningly inconsistent.
The Jets have had encouraging moments (see: Lions and Broncos’ games) that turned out to be nothing more than false flickers of hope.
This is a broken team that needs to be fixed in the offseason. The angry mob has set its sights on offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates amid this horrific five-week scoring slumber (56 points), but Bowles reiterated Monday in the wake of their 13-point output against the Patriots that he’s not changing play-callers.
Bowles wants to minimize disruption for Sam Darnold, whose status for this week’s game in Tennessee remains uncertain. Making an offensive coordinator switch with five games left makes little sense given the dynamics at play.
The mob will get what it wants soon enough, but continuity for Darnold for the final month matters most for the franchise.
Bowles maintained that Bates “called a good game” that included 50 pass play calls and only 12 runs (and a 4-to-1 pass-to-run ratio in a first half that ended 10-10).
“We had some things in place that we wanted to open up and go down the field more,” Bowles said. “I thought we had some things dialed up that were pretty good. They made some plays… and we didn’t make enough of them.”
Opponents have routinely made more plays than the Jets this season.
“We got to play better and we got to coach better,” Bowles said. “It’s everybody involved. It’s not just Jeremy. It’s the other coaches and it’s the players as well. We’re all involved in that. It’s never pointed to one person.”
That’s a fair point. Bates hasn’t distinguished himself as the best play-caller in the history of the world, but he’s far from some lost guy with his head buried in a play chart, either. It’s a challenge working with a rookie quarterback who is learning and seeing things for the first time. That’s not an excuse. It’s reality. And the most important reality is that Bates hasn’t done a good enough job through 11 games.
“I think we’re all playing with high effort,” said offensive lineman Spencer Long.
Real talk: Playing with high effort is the bare minimum for this profession. That’s the baseline. If you’re not playing with high effort, you need to pack your bag. You don’t need to go home, but you got to get out of here.
“We were in it most of the time… Late in the third (quarter), they started to pull away,” Long said about the loss to the Patriots.
Is there a window nearby?
Being in the game through 2½ quarters means nothing. Who cares?
I’d rather be bold and get blown out than play it safe, keep it close and ultimately lose anyway.
Besides, the Jets were down by at least two scores entering the fourth quarter in three of their past five losses. So, let’s not pretend that these defeats were all white knucklers that could have turned on one play. Because that’s fiction.
The truth is that Bowles’ team has faltered on both sides plenty of times. Linebacker Avery Williamson admitted Monday that “some guys didn’t hear some calls” on defense, which prompted the Patriots to gash them for 215 rushing yards.
“It’s real disheartening to play as sloppy as we did,” Williamson said. “Everybody’s not on the same page.”
How can this be? Seriously, how is that even possible? We just finished WEEK 12!!!
The sheer volume of communication lapses is inexcusable. It’s a poor reflection on the players and coaches.