What hasn’t been written of the New York Jets’ catastrophic meltdown over the last two weeks?
After jumping ahead to 8-3, the Jets were supposed to be on their way to running the table and competing for a first-round bye in the postseason. But at 8-5, making the playoffs now seems like it could be a tough task.
When the Jets’ postseason hopes appeared theirs to lose, the Jets responded by doing just that. Consecutive losses to the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers have fans watching the rest of the season nervously.
Losses happen, fans can expect that. But the manner by which the Jets were defeated are the largest causes for concern.
Appearing completely inept, New York watched everything they tried fail miserably against teams that were well-prepared for them.
New York now sits in a three-way tie for sole rights to their division, and the Buffalo Bills are rolling into town to make matters more complicated for Gang Green.
Buffalo’s slump in the second-half of the season would lead some to believe that this game would be a good one for the Jets to right the ship.
But Jets’ fans know better—nothing is ever as easy as the standings and statistics when it comes to divisional games. The Jets and Bills games are always tough ones—and Sunday could be no different.
Adjust now or forever hold your peace
New York cannot stop the pass. It’s been the story of their season. Every quarterback can throw for close to 300 yards against New York.
But it’s not just any kind of pass. The Jets’ Achilles’ heel are quick passes to the flats, and crossing routes that run through the soft spot of the zone.
A short pass has the potential to double in yardage. Seven-yard receptions become 15-yard gains before the defense finally closes in on the receiver.
Once second in the NFL in sacks, the Jets seem to have called off the pass rush in an effort to leave more players in coverage. It’s not working.
As the Jets stopped recording multiple sacks per game, opposing quarterbacks managed to develop a rhythm. When no pressure is applied, the Jets allow enough time for the QB to roll out of the pocket, check targets twice, or even run for a first down.
It’s not that Jets’ fans should expect JP Losman to throw an interception every time he drops back—it’s that fans don’t want him to look like John Elway every time his number is called.
Is there going to be an offensive plan this week?
The last time the Jets and Bills faced off, New York escaped with what looked like an impressive victory, before Buffalo’s season went spiraling out of control.
But it wasn’t an offensive victory.
The game was broken open when Abram Elam returned an interception 92-yards for a touchdown. It was a defensive strike that completely flattened Buffalo’s morale and sealed the win for New York.
An offensive touchdown was scored by Thomas Jones, who ended the day with a 5.8-yard average on only 12 carries.
And that’s been the problem with the offensive gameplans. Jones provides great numbers and ends the day with an excellent average per carry, but he’s not given the opportunity to take over the game.
Perhaps it’s the Favre factor—he’s going to the Hall of Fame, so let him pass, right? Unfortunately, the Jets’ offense has been just as figured out as the defense.
There are no longer any elements of surprise. Favre has the arm to threaten the deep-ball, but he has no receivers fast enough to find it.
Defensive coordinators are challenging Jets’ receivers to burn them deep. And while they continue to drop passes and be phased out of games completely, Favre struggles to find open receivers often enough to move the chains consistently.
However, wide receiver David Clowney could be the spark that changes all of that.
Brad Smith was on the receiving end of a hard-hit by Patrick Willis late in last Sunday’s game, and could be inactive with a concussion against the Bills.
While his injury is unfortunate, it does give Clowney an opportunity to make it on the active roster and showcase his skills as a burner.
Jets’ fans haven’t seen him since he sprinted all around the field during the preseason. But they all remember his ability to track down the ball as he sprinted down field and caught touchdowns.
An injury during the preseason prevented him from continuing that reputation during the regular season.
But David Clowney can now become the Jets’ legitimate deep threat.
Regardless, New York is in a situation where their season needs to be turned around immediately. Their win in Buffalo at the end of October provided the Jets with the spark they needed to carry their win-streak through tough competition.
If the Jets can get rolling against the Bills again, it could shape the remainder of their regular season.
Angel Navedo covers the New York Jets for Examiner.com. His work can also be found on NYJetsFan.com, where he is the Head Writer, and on MyGridironSpace.com—a premier social networking site built exclusively for NFL fans.
He is also a Senior Writer at the Bleacher Report, where he is one of the New York Jets Community Leaders.