By Steve Lichtenstein
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The glass-half-full Jets fans will take Thursday night’s 27-25 loss at New England as a harbinger that good times are just around the corner.
Trust me, the only people who should be ecstatic about the Jets’ effort were CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, who got to call a Thursday night game that wasn’t decided by halftime.
Yes, for the second consecutive week the Jets hung tough against a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback, with Denver needing a last-minute pick-six to seal its win on Sunday and New England blocking a potential game-winning field goal on the final play on Thursday.
But don’t for a second believe that the 1-6 Jets have a chance to turn this season around even if they play with the same spirit they showed in the last two weeks.
They’re simply not good enough.
I’m sure coach Rex Ryan gets it, as I swear I saw blood coming out of Ryan’s mouth from biting his tongue hard during his testy postgame press conference.
Ryan talked about how his team has the fight to win these games, the heart to win these games.
For the first time, he neglected to mention “the talent” to win these games. I don’t think it was an oversight.
Jets fans would be tired of hearing about general manager John Idzik’s “plan” if they ever heard from him. Idzik, who conspicuously left about $21 million of 2014 salary cap room on the table, hasn’t made many public appearances since the season began.
Because of Idzik’s frugality, Ryan is forced to play at key spots so many people who barely belong in the league. The wide receiver crew, outside of Eric Decker, is a joke. The first completed pass to a wideout other than Decker on Thursday was to Jeremy Kerley—with under seven minutes remaining in the game.
The secondary is even worse. Antonio Allen was victimized on three huge plays that directly led to 17 New England points. Even Ryan’s best defensive designs can’t work with this personnel.
And forget what you heard about the Jets’ schedule getting “easier.” (By the way, what do you think the reactions of the Jets’ upcoming opponents are when they see “New York” on their schedule? Trepidation?)
Even though the Jets won’t be facing Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers or Peyton Manning any more (they get Tom Brady and the Patriots again on December 21), I doubt they will be favored to win more than three of their final nine games.
Even next week’s home game against Buffalo will be a slog. The Bills happen to have the NFL’s top-ranked rush defense, yielding just 67.5 yards per game. Don’t count on another 218-yard day on the ground like the way the Jets just gashed the Patriots. And we’ve seen what happens when the Jets have to rely on second-year quarterback Geno Smith and his band of rarely-open receivers.
After that comes a date in Kansas City, one of the toughest places to play in the league, before the Steelers and their traveling army invade MetLife Stadium. Ben Roethlisberger and his uncanny playground style has always been tough for Ryan and the Jets to combat.
After another tilt against Buffalo, the Jets could easily be sitting at 1-10. Even if they were 3-8, who would care how they finish?
The point is that Thursday night was not even a moral victory for the Jets. If anything, it showed how bad this team is — they couldn’t take a game that was practically given to them.
The Jets made four trips to the red zone in the first half and the only time they crossed the goal line, a holding penalty negated the touchdown. They yielded a touchdown pass on a third-and-goal from the 19-yard line—it was the aforementioned Allen who allowed Danny Amendola to sneak behind him despite knowing that all that was needed on that play was to defend the goal line.
And even Nick Folk, who has been one of the Jets five best players during these dismal last two seasons, couldn’t lift his kick above the rising Chris Jones, who blocked the 58-yard attempt to send Jets fans to bed wishing the game was a rout so they could have at least gotten a good night’s sleep.
For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Jets and the NHL, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1.
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