What do you want first: The good news or the bad news?
Since it’s the holiday season, let’s begin with a couple highlights in the silver lining’s playbook:
1) The Jets didn’t roll over and quit against their most hated rivals.
2) You didn’t need to bring a winter coat to witness this game on Sunday. The weather (sunny and 54 degrees in late November!) was sublime.
Alas, the Jets were not.
Gang Green’s 27-13 loss to the Patriots officially eliminated them from winning the AFC East (as if there were any doubt), prompting a frustrated fanbase to absorb more pain in the run-up to another meaningless December.
The Jets (3-8) are mired in a five-game losing streak for the first time under Todd Bowles after getting smacked in the face by the best coach and quarterback in football history.
“It sucks,” said veteran Josh McCown, who went 26 for 45 for 276 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in his second consecutive start for an injured Sam Darnold. “Obviously, it is not ideal. … It tests who you are and what you’re about… and your ability to get back up.”
Truth be told, there’s an air of apathy amid the fanbase hoping for a race to the finish line. They want a change on the sideline. So, this latest loss, frankly, didn’t sting that much.
“We get a lot of negative comments and we understand it,” Jamal Adams said. “I get it. I get the frustration, but at the end of the day, we are hurting twice as much as you. So, just stick in there with us. We’re going to figure it out. Do I know when? Do I know the timetable? No.”
The when is the most important part. Sure, it would have been nice to beat The Evil Empire, but some folks that live and die with the franchise weren’t exactly surprised that this team couldn’t topple the big boys.
Players haven’t quit on Bowles, who will be coaching under a dark cloud for the rest of the season, but the mistakes haven’t disappeared. And more talented players aren’t walking through that door in December.
Sure, they looked nothing like the guys who laid the biggest of eggs in an embarrassing 41-10 loss to the Bills two weeks ago. Sure, they showed professional pride and put up a fight to hang around Tom Brady & Co. for 2 ½ quarters.
But they still lost.
They still let Lord Vader’s team roll up 498 total yards, including 215 on the ground. They still got gashed on one big play after another. There’s no excuse for giving up 10 plays of at least 20 yards. They didn’t have a takeaway for a franchise-record fifth consecutive game.
The Jets offense moved the ball well (338 total yards), but they still only scored 13 points. That makes a grand total of 56 points during this five-game slide. That flat-out stinks.
Oh, and they had a 50-12 pass-run play call ratio in a game that was tied late in the third quarter to a team that had given up 150 rushing yards in its previous game.
Todd Bowles’ first-quarter decision to accept an offensive pass interference penalty to give the Patriots a 3rd and 12 from the Jets 34-yard line rather than a fourth-and-2 from the 24 was another forgettable moment in this latest defeat. Brady (20 for 31 for 283 yards, 2 TDs) made the Jets pay by firing a 34-yard touchdown to Rob Gronkowski on the next play.
“Third and 12 are better odds than fourth-and-2 and we knew they were going to go for it, because they typically do on fourth-and-2,” Bowles said. “We had a better chance at fourth-and-2…. Third and 12 were good odds for us. We’ve been pretty good at third and 12…. We figured if we backed them up, we had a chance (for them) to kick a field goal. It didn’t work out.”
The Jets tied the game 10-10 at halftime on Jason Myers’ 55-yard field goal, but nothing went right after the break. The Patriots used 75- and 80-yard touchdown drives to put it away.
Bowles’ defense, the best in the league at forcing three-and-outs, disappointed in key moments yet again. After the Jets tied it at 13-apiece, Brady needed just four plays to cover 75 yards on a drive capped by a 21-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman to give the Patriots the lead for good.
Although Leonard Williams maintained that “we are a legit defense,” Bowles admitted that the litany of explosive plays that they gave up were a result of “some people trying to do too much and over-jumping their gaps and miss-fits.”
“It’s the same issues,” Williams said. “It’s an execution problem at this point. We’ll have the right play in. We’ll have the right defense in. We’ll have the right guys in. Everyone’s playing with a lot of energy and high motors, but we just don’t execute the play properly, the way we’re supposed to.
“It’s something that’s been our Achilles heel all season,” Williams continued. “If we can’t execute the defense or make the big plays like we need to, great teams like the Patriots are going to beat us. It’s up to us to change that.”
But what evidence do we have that will change? Nobody should question Gang Green’s effort, but that isn’t nearly enough anymore.
“I don’t care about moral victories,” Quincy Enunwa said.
He shouldn’t. Nobody should.