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The Jets were crushed by the Colts, 41-10, on Monday night at MetLife Stadium as they fell to 3-9 on the season. Bryce Petty replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick during the game and will be the starter for the remainder of the season. Here's insight and analysis regarding the Jets' awful Monday night performance...
Ryan Fitzpatrick's performance speaks for itself. He only completed one pass beyond the first down marker, had a completion percentage below 50 percent, and punctuated his performance with an interception on the kind of forced throw he's been unable to get away with all season.
He's basically done here now, so there's little sense in breaking down his performance in any more detail. So, let's move on -- in both senses.
Taking over after halftime, Bryce Petty had a few positive moments, but overall was disappointingly bad.
Head coach Todd Bowles and OC Chan Gailey have taken a lot of heat for their assertion that Petty is "not ready" over the past month or so, buy Monday's performance from Petty suggests they had every reason to take this stance. Petty looked out of his depth at times and his inaccuracy even on routine throws was worrisome.
With the Colts not bringing much in the way of pressure and playing soft coverages, it should have been a good opportunity for Petty to build some confidence and develop his credibility with his teammates and the fanbase. Unfortunately, he really struggled on almost everything that wasn't a straightforward dump-off to a receiver underneath or in the flat.
Even so, this was enough to supposedly "earn" him the starting role for the rest of the season, so it's a performance he'll hopefully be able to improve upon over the next month once he's had more preparation time, chemistry with his receivers and a chance to build his comfort level facing live bullets.
His numbers were worse than they could have been because he missed on a few makeable throws and also had his receivers unable to bail him out on some inaccurate but still catchable passes. However, he can't expect defenses to play as soft when he's starting games rather than coming off the bench with a four-score deficit, so it's going to be more difficult to move the ball as the starter.
The approach taken by the Jets was different from when Petty made his previous start in that they actually tried to throw down the field a lot. This seemed counterintuitive because against the prevent defense, Petty probably should have been checking down and taking what the defense gave him more often, whereas when starting games, taking a shot over the top is probably a less risky proposition for him than trying to read the defense from the pocket. Sure enough, they went to the well too many times and eventually the safety came over to intercept one.
Petty finally connected with Robby Anderson on a deep ball for a 40-yard touchdown. However, that only came after several failed attempts, by which time the achievement was rendered totally underwhelming. It was reminiscent of a slam dunk contestant who finally throws one down only after having failed miserably on multiple previous attempts and barely gets a golf clap for their efforts.
As a result, what should have been an important moment -- Anderson's first career touchdown and a connection between two young players trying to establish themselves -- felt completely flat and uninspiring. I guess in that respect it fit perfectly within the context of the rest of the game.
Petty's inaccuracy on deep throws was one thing, but he also misfired on several shorter passes, with one more badly underthrown interception and almost a third as he recklessly flipped the ball into no-man's land on a busted screen play.
Ultimately, the reality is probably closer to Bowles' "Fitzpatrick gives us the best chance to win right now" than the "anyone is better than Fitzpatrick" philosophy subscribed to by much of the fanbase. But since winning is irrelevant now, they might as well give Petty some extended playing time to see if he's capable of making any progress over the next month.
Based on Monday's game, though, it might not be pretty at times.
When you're only completing 43 percent of your passes as a team, it might be a good idea to hand the ball to your running backs more than 12 times over the course of a game. The Jets didn't have much success when they did run, though, averaging a miserable 2.6 yards per carry.
However, despite hardly ever running, they still managed to choose some unusual moments to attempt to run the ball. After going three-and-out on their first two drives, the Jets finally moved the chains on Fitzpatrick's first completion on the first play of the next drive but then ran three straight times and ending up punting.
On their next drive, they ran a draw play on 3rd-and-5 from the eight and had to settle for a field goal. Then, on the drive after that, they opened with two straight runs and immediately put themselves in a 3rd-and-6 situation from which they ended up with another three-and-out.
Many fans have been calling for Bilal Powell to play a bigger role, but this was one of his least productive games in recent memory. That draw play inside the 10-yard line was his only carry and he dropped his only target in the passing game. While he didn't see as much action, CJ Spiller saw more of the ball with a short catch and two short yardage conversions. In fact, those were the only two first downs on the ground for the Jets all day.
Matt Forté was held to just 25 yards on nine carries, but did turn back the clock with some open field running on a 40-yard screen pass that actually accounted for just under half of Fitzpatrick's passing yardage total. He had two other catches, including one other short reception for a first down. Despite the disappointing output, Forté surpassed 1,000 yards from scrimmage on the season and only needs to average 54 rushing yards per game over the last four to attain another thousand-yard rushing season.
This is difficult to suggest, but could this have been Nick Mangold's last game as Jet? Mangold re-injured his foot and it therefore seems plausible he won't play again this season. As for next year, the Jets will have a tough choice to make with Mangold's high cap number and his mounting durability issues over the past few years. There's no question in my mind that Mangold is still a superior player to Wesley Johnson who had been starting in his place, but Mangold's return seemed to unsettle the cohesion on the line, at least initially.
On the first snap, Brian Winters was leveraged into Mangold's path allowing Mangold's man to drop off underneath Winters to stuff the run. Then, on the same series, the protection was messed up as Ben Ijalana went to pick up a blitzer off the edge even though the back stayed in and James Carpenter wasn't able to recover in time to prevent the defensive end from getting a clean hit on Fitzpatrick.
Mangold had one good second-level block and wasn't beaten in pass protection, but his rust also manifested itself in a couple of low snaps. Eventually, Johnson was called upon to finish the game in his place.
Carpenter had a solid game as a run-blocker but struggled in pass protection. He was beaten for a sack -- albeit on a play where Petty was indecisive and held the ball for too long -- and fell over in pass protection on another play, leading to a pressure. At right guard, Winters had a few good run blocks, but was inconsistent in space and got beaten for a couple of quarterback hits.
Breno Giacomini had another rough game at right tackle, as he was beaten a couple of times in pass protection, had no impact in the running game and had two penalties. Had Giacomini not injured his back at minicamp, you have to wonder if he would have been a cap casualty.
There's been plenty of focus on the money spent on several underperforming stars this year and you can add Giacomini and his $4 million salary to the list. I'm not sure what Giacomini has done to earn all of the playing time over Brent Qvale, who was at least as good over the first half of the season, for a fraction of the cost.
Having started the year as the right tackle, Ijalana held up quite well, but was beaten a few times in pass protection. There was also a good example of growth as a run blocker, as he made a good initial block at the point of attack, but when the runner was forced to cut back, he managed to readjust his leverage and hand position well to stay on the block and enable the runner to pick up positive yardage.
Ijalana has held his own at left tackle, but is still probably playing at a below replacement level. So was Ryan Clady who was also earning much more money in the process, though. Would Clady also still be starting if he didn't get hurt? Probably.
Rookie Robby Anderson led the Jets with 61 yards on four catches and his first career touchdown, but it was a rough game for the most part. Anderson was only targeted once in the first half, but Petty threw to him 11 times in the second half and he had a couple of drops, including a bad one on an underthrown deep pass.
Anderson continues to consistently get downfield separation on go routes and perhaps could have had a much bigger day if Petty had been more accurate, but the mistakes are disappointing, especially after he lost a fumble last week. The production is encouraging though and maybe that first touchdown will accelerate his path towards a more significant breakout performance.
After a fantastic game last week, Quincy Enunwa had just one catch, dropped a pass and missed a couple of blocks. It would be nice to see Enunwa string together a few productive performances over the remainder of the season. The one catch he did have was a simple dump-off to the flat, which saw him break a tackle to pick up the first down. He's so good after the catch I can't understand why they don't run more plays like that to get the ball in his hands.
Brandon Marshall caught four passes for 43 yards, including three nice first downs, but his production remains way down on last year. While that's obviously attributable to poor quarterback play, it does call into question whether it would be wise for the Jets to retain him next season. With the likes of Enunwa and Anderson emerging and Eric Decker still under contract, is a veteran number one receiver like Marshall a necessity or would he only serve to block to progress of some youngsters that could potentially match his production at a lower cost?
Charone Peake was back in the lineup due to Jalin Marshall's concussion but his only target was a throw at his feet after Petty failed to adjust to a low snap.
The tight ends are starting to become a more significant feature of the passing game in recent weeks. Brandon Bostick and Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught three first down passes between them. Seferian-Jenkins was targeted five times, including once on a badly-placed fade route in the end zone by Fitzpatrick. Eric Tomlinson's role seems to be gradually increasing too and all three made contributions as blockers.
Earlier this week, Bowles raised eyebrows when he said that he expects Muhammad Wilkerson to have a strong finish to the season and that he is noticing Wilkerson's explosiveness starting to return in recent games. After yet another listless performance, you have to wonder what he's talking about.
If Bowles thinks Wilkerson is anything like as explosive as the unblockable force that had been the dominant performer on the Jets' defense in every season since 2013 in recent weeks, you have to wonder if he's ever even watched film of his own player. There was concern that Bowles' system - which calls upon the linemen to attack rather than read-and-react -- could neutralize some of the best qualities of his linemen, but Wilkerson continues to drop off into read-and-react type assignments.
Did Bowles change the scheme or is he being less than honest about his levels of satisfaction in Wilkerson's role within it? I get that Bowles was trying to highlight the effect of his injuries, which might be a perfectly valid excuse for Wilkerson's disappointing production, and also might be trying to motivate Wilkerson with some encouraging words.
However, raising expectations for a guy who hasn't been producing doesn't seem like a good idea -- and neither does continuing to play your highest paid players at meaningless moments in meaningless games when they're less than 100 percent. Wilkerson ended up with one quarterback hit and was in on a handful of run stuffs, albeit mostly long after the game had ceased to be a contest.
As disappointing as Wilkerson was, Sheldon Richardson was just as bad, if not worse. He had zero tackles again, for the second time in under a month, and only got close to pressuring Andrew Luck once. He was also flagged for a late hit penalty.
At least Leonard Williams had a productive game. He had a career-high 10 tackles as he was in on several run-stuffs, recorded a half sack and was credited with three quarterback hits. He was moved around on the line in this game, but still saw plenty of reps off the edge.
I was interested to see how the Jets would react to nose tackle Steve McLendon being out. As usual, they gave Williams and Wilkerson some work there, but both were driven off the line a few times, as they obviously aren't naturally suited to playing that role full-time.
Deon Simon played significantly more than he has in any other game over the course of his career with McLendon out and showed some encouraging flashes. Initially, he was struggling to hold up against double teams, but there was a really encouraging sign later in the game when he was initially driven off the line by a double team but fought it off to get back in on a stop near the line. Simon also penetrated well a few times and got some good traction on the bull rush on passing downs. He was also credited with a half-sack. Finally, Anthony Johnson saw brief action off the bench and was in on one tackle.
Darron Lee had a difficult game. He was beaten for two touchdowns and two first downs in coverage and was also involved in a mix-up on the first touchdown, which saw Lee and Rontez Miles both following the same back into the flat while the tight end ran to the opposite side completely uncovered. Lee was in on a couple of plays at or near the line of scrimmage, including a couple in coverage. Also, on both touchdowns, his positioning was actually excellent and he was very unlucky not to break up the pass each time.
Still, Lee continues to be great at being half a step away from making plays. Will he ever find that half-step? If he can, he has a chance to become good. Demario Davis never did, though, so who knows if Lee ever will?
David Harris had two tackles for loss, but otherwise had a pretty quiet game and was blocked out of a few plays at the second level. He's another highly paid player who can't be considered a certainty to return next season.
With Lorenzo Mauldin out, this presented an opportunity for a more extended look at Jordan Jenkins and Mike Catapano in the outside linebacker roles. Jenkins did a pretty good job of generating pressure off the edge and redirected a few runs well in the running game. He lost contain on one play though. Catapano had just two tackles and a pressure, although that basically matches his tackle total for the rest of the season.
I thought we'd probably seen the last of Julian Stanford on defense. However, he got into the game just before halftime and immediately gave up a big pass interference penalty by failing to get his head turned around in time on a badly thrown pass. He would later badly miss a third down tackle to extend a drive.
I could tell almost immediately that Darrelle Revis wasn't going to have a good game. On the first pass of the game, Revis was playing off and the Jets tried to run a trap with Buster Skrine dropping from the slot to cover the quick out. Skrine didn't get there in time and the third down conversion was completed. Immediately you could see the shoulders slump on a dejected Revis. He's a broken man and things didn't get much better thereafter as he gave up three more first downs before breaking up a pass and making a play in run support long after the game was decided.
Later on, the Jets embarrassingly flubbed two coverages to lead to easy touchdowns for Dwayne Allen. On one of those touchdowns, Revis was probably saved from being beaten for a touchdown himself by the fact there was a blown coverage. He was badly beaten off the line for what would have been an easy touchdown pass if not for the fact that an even easier one presented itself to Luck.
The players involved -- Miles, Darryl Roberts and Marcus Gilchrist -- were seemingly discussing the matter with a coach on the sidelines. Where was the revered mentor and great teammate Revis? He was right there, but at the same time a million miles away, staring off into space, distancing himself from these teammates and his involvement in any screw-up or any responsibility in resolving it. It's not surprising to see that Revis can mentally retire to his happy place, which is no doubt a luxurious desert island somewhere, at the drop of a hat. It's too late now though. He's had his moment in the sun.
It's pretty evident Revis doesn't want to be here and you wonder if he ever really did. Yes, the Jets are going to be on the hook for some dead money when he leaves and will potentially be paying Revis to play for someone else, where he'll no doubt perform much better purely from the fact that he'll be giving some semblance of an effort. It seems increasingly unlikely that the Jets have much to gain from retaining him, though.
The Jets only used five defensive backs, which is rare in this day and age. The Colts -- despite having two starters out -- used eight, for example.
Apparently the Jets trust the likes of Juston Burris, Nick Marshall, Dexter McDougle and Antonio Allen so little that they won't even give them a single rep in the fourth quarter of a game where the team is 38 points down. What's the risk anyway? They'd have been facing a back-up quarterback who only threw two passes, so even if they were overmatched the outcome wouldn't have been rendered any more embarrassing that it already was.
Instead, they leave Revis out there and he extends a drive with a pass interference penalty on third down anyway.
Roberts continues to fail to impress me. He was asleep at the wheel as the ball was snapped quickly on one play, leading to a wide open catch as his man ran across the field. He was also beaten three times on third down, although one was dropped, and gave up a first down on a pass that Luck was trying to throw away.
Buster Skrine made a couple of plays, but was beaten for two first downs and called for a late hit penalty. Gilchrist also made a couple of plays but gave up a first down in coverage.
With Calvin Pryor out, Rontez Miles made a series of good plays, but - while I would hesitate to try and attribute blame - was involved in a few mix-ups in coverage, including both of the first two touchdowns, and also gave up a third down conversion. He made a great play to force a fumble at the goal line just before half time; otherwise the winning margin could have been even bigger than 41-10.
Punter Lac Edwards has simply had a bad rookie season. There's no way around it. None of his five punts had a net of over 40 yards and one was a horrible shank that got a lucky bounce. His best contribution was that he helped prevent one of his punts from being returned for a touchdown by forcing the return man back inside. If you use a draft pick on a punter, you're hoping he'll be your punter for years, but the Jets would be doing themselves a disservice if they don't bring in some competition next year.
The Jets' return game continues to be underwhelming too, although Jeremy Ross got out past the 30 on one kick-off.
The blocking out in front of Ross was pretty bad, with Bostick in particular putting in a couple of lazy efforts. Although he's a starter now, it doesn't bode well for this roster that Bostick is secure enough in his spot that he feels he can put in a half-hearted effort on special teams. It's only Brandon Bostick! He should not be taking his spot for granted.
It's worth noting that Leonard Williams almost blocked a punt in the fourth quarter. That begs the question of why on earth Williams would be in the game on special teams trying to block a punt in the fourth quarter of a meaningless 30+ point game. There's no justification for that, surely.
At least Nick Folk had a drama-free game with a 38-yard field goal and a successful extra point. Two of his three kick-offs were touchbacks.
Finally, in coverage, the Jets gave up a big punt return on a play where Lee and Allen both got lit up and Burris had a couple of mistakes including a missed tackle.
You only had to look out into the parking lot to see that nobody in green and white bothered to show up for yesterday's game. That includes the players of course. However, the question of whether Jets fans get the team they deserve or the Jets team gets the fans it deserves is the makings of an ongoing chicken-egg debate I don't even want to attempt to answer. The season has spiraled downhill into a vicious cycle where the team couldn't muster up the pride to put forward a competitive effort against a good-but-not-great team in front of a national audience.
I think Todd Bowles has slowly-but-surely arrived at the realization that this season was over a long time ago and things aren't likely to get any better. There are some veterans on this team that don't deserve to be playing as many reps as they are while younger and hungrier players sit on the bench. While many of those players might struggle when they finally get the chance, if just one shines then that's a more productive outcome than anything they'd be likely to get from a disgruntled veteran that might be on his way out anyway.
The game was not entirely without positive signs as players like Simon and Jenkins showed some potential. Finding similar positive contributions to build upon over the next month should be the focus if they don't want to completely waste the rest of this season.
Coming up next is a game against the 49ers which is probably the Jets' best chance if they're going to win at least one more game this year. The 49ers have lost 11 in a row and are coming off a game where they benched their starting quarterback despite some competitive games over the last month or so.
Once that game is out of the way, the Jets have to weigh up the chance to play spoiler versus each of their AFC East rivals in turn against the importance of draft positioning. Play like they did yesterday, though, and they probably won't win another game anyway, regardless of whether or not they are trying to tank for a higher pick.