The Jets took care of the Browns 24-13 yesterday, overcoming a 10-point first half deficit with mostly mistake-free football. This was the way they hoped to win games all year (and until the bye week, that was going to plan): Mix in enough creativity to gain some offensive momentum, don’t take too many risks and lean on the defense to get you off the field. Then, crucially, execute down the stretch, which the Jets did when they drove for a game-clinching touchdown with just over three minutes to go.
There were some positive signs from some of the younger players and guys who will be expected to contribute next season, but perhaps the most positive sign was the fact that they played hard for their coach throughout and avoided leaving the home fans with a sour aftertaste with which to end the season.
You could attribute this win to the fact that the Browns are a poor team and I’d agree that the absence of Davone Bess and Jordan Cameron certainly limited their offense. However, despite losing their sixth straight game, the Browns had been competitive in the previous three, two of which were against playoff hopefuls, with the other being against the improving Jags.
This leaves the Jets with a game in Miami where the a Jets win would knock one of their main rivals out of playoff contention. (Barring any ties, a Dolphins win would give them the sixth seed unless the Ravens win and the Chargers lose). I think most Jets fans would like to see the team go all out in an effort to win that one and end the season on a positive note, rather than treat it as meaningless and experiment with some of their younger players.
Naturally, we have no idea whether these last two games have any influence on head coach Rex Ryan’s employment status with the team. I’d have thought winning two meaningless games wouldn’t affect any decision, but (if they win) does the season as a whole produce an impressive enough body of work to keep him? Does a .500 record with a roster which experts ridiculed all offseason constitute an impressive enough coaching performance to earn a shot at coaching with a replenished roster? Did Rich Cimini not say “Rex Ryan deserves consideration for Coach of the Year if Jets finish above .500”? Surely, there is some middle ground between “Coach of the Year candidate” and “Sacked”.
Whatever happens, Ryan will be helping his future employment prospects by finishing the year strong. We know what most of the players think. Unfortunately for Ryan, the decision isn’t up to them.
Next up…we kick off our player analysis with Geno Smith, who continues to show signs of improvement as the season winds down…