By Steve Silverman
The NFL season cannot simply be plotted out from game-to-game, especially for a team like the Jets that is going through a major transition.
The pessimists believe that disaster is around the corner after losses to Miami and Cleveland. Both are looked at embarrassing defeats, but the belief here is that neither one deserves to fall into that category.
Mistakes were made in both games and there are problems, but they can be overcome. The Jets are about to go into a more challenging portion of the schedule with a road game coming up at Jacksonville, followed by three straight home games against Denver, Indianapolis and Minnesota, before going on the road to Chicago.
Quarterback Sam Darnold obviously has a favorite receiver in Quincy Enunwa, and he is a solid contributor. Darnold has targeted Enunwa 29 times and he has caught 17 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown. While Enunwa is not a burner, he is a solid runner after the catch in that he will take on the tackler and often win the battle. He will not go down after the first hit unless it is square on the numbers.
However, where are Terrelle Pryor and Robby Anderson? Pryor has just eight receptions (14 targets) while the speedy Anderson has six catches (10 targets).
This is on offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and head coach Todd Bowles. Even if Bates has issues with either Pryor or Anderson, it is Bowles’ job to understand the big picture of offensive strategy. Throwing short-range passes and depending on the receiver to break big plays cannot be the only way to go.
Bowles may have come to a head coaching position because of his defensive proficiency with the Arizona Cardinals, but there is no excuse at this point for not understanding how to configure the offense.
The running game with Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell is functioning at a decent level as both are averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but there are limitations. They do not have a Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott or Saquon Barkley, so the Jets are not going to make a lot of dynamic plays. However, that duo is productive.
The offensive line has not been at its best in the last two games, but nearly all teams are a work in progress at this point. Darnold has been sacked seven times in three games and the protection has to improve quite a bit this week against the Jaguars.
Expect Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue to be at their best as they come after Darnold. If the rookie quarterback has been challenged in the first three games of the season, the danger level goes up exponentially against an angry Jacksonville team that has perhaps the best pass rush in the NFL.
The anxiety for fans at the moment is wondering what will happen against a team like the Jaguars after the offense has sputtered in its last two performances against less ferocious defenses in the Dolphins and Browns.
Well, there’s no reason to go into this game with fear. The Lions also had their way with the Patriots, and they were even more dominant in that game than the Jaguars were in their confrontation with New England.
The Jets took apart the Lions in Week 1, and that’s life in the NFL. Whatever the expectations are, there are always unexpected outcomes.
The Buffalo Bills dominated the Minnesota Vikings on the road Sunday, and many expect the Vikings to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Bills are supposed to be the worst team in the NFL, and they ignored all media predictions and just went out to play.
If the Bills can beat the Vikings into submission, why can’t the Jets do the same to the Jaguars? This is a week where Bowles must have this team prepared and have all eyes focused on the opponent – and not on the tabloids.
It is one of the biggest tests for Bowles if the Jets are going to get this season going in the right direction.