It’s not mathematically impossible for the Jets to makes the postseason (they would need to win out and have the Dolphins and Ravens lose out and the Chargers and Steelers to drop one each, as well). However, realistically, that hope is gone. In fact, it probably ended sometime between the conclusion of last week’s game and yesterday’s kickoff, with all the results elsewhere going against the Jets.
The season isn’t over. Instead, the remainder of the season is about something else. It’s an opportunity to continue to develop young players and establish who is a part of your future and who isn’t. From now on, seeing flashes of promise from some of the guys who will return next year, perhaps in a bigger role, outweighs the end result. However, perhaps the most important factor to evaluate is how competitive the team can be in their last two games. That could influence both personnel decisions after the season – on the roster and in the coaching ranks.
Unlike in most of their losses Jets were competitive into the fourth quarter in this one, although to be fair they still found themselves down 17 midway through the fourth. As is typical, you can point to a couple of major breakdowns that were the difference between the sides, as they wrestled for momentum all day.
It will be extremely interesting to see what approach the Jets take over the last two games. Will older guys like Calvin Pace, Ed Reed and Antonio Cromartie continue to get the lion’s share of the playing time, perhaps tipping their hand as to whether they’ll be back next season? Do some of the younger guys yet to have featured get their chance now that winning is no longer a priority for the team? Do they still go all out to win, giving the head coach a chance to save his job – or has that decision already been made?
Whatever happens, it should be interesting and we should still learn a lot about this team and many of the players on it over these last two games.
Here’s my best shot at finding the silver lining: The Jets will now almost certainly get a chance to play spoiler against the Dolphins in the final game of the season. If that happens, it will end up being a far more triumphant conclusion to the season than a first round playoff exit on the road would have been…
Next up…we kick off our player analysis looking for signs of improvement in Geno Smith’s performance, as he sought to build on last week’s win.