The New York Jets continued their up and down season with a porous offensive effort in Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Fans in Tampa have suffered through a rough first half, losing five straight and six of eight coming in, along with losing starting quarterback Jameis Winston to a shoulder injury. To make matters worse for the home team, they have struggled historically against Gang Green, winning just one of their previous 11 meetings. The Buccaneers haven’t had much success against AFC East opponents either, losing 9 of their last 11 games entering Sunday.
In a season where the unexpected has occurred on a regular basis, the team that Jets fans saw in a dominating 34-21 win over the Buffalo Bills the previous week did not show up on Sunday.
Offensively, the Jets game plan looked like the days of Rich Kotite, as the Jets had two more three-and-outs (five) than they did third-down conversions (three).
Josh McCown threw for 262 yards in the loss. However, 141 of them came on the Jets’ last two drives when the Buccaneers defense was in prevent mode.
For most of the day, McCown and the offense was horrific. Their offensive line was abysmal, giving up six sacks to a Buccaneers defense that was last in the NFL with just eight coming into Sunday.
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The running game, which exploded for 194 yards against the Bills, finished with just 56 yards against the Bucs.
Penalties once again reared their ugly head, as the Jets committed eight of them for 77 yards. Many of those penalties extended Buccaneers drives or pushed the Jets back on offense.
Sitting at 4-6 and looking at a schedule that features games against four first-place teams—Carolina and Kansas City at home, New Orleans and New England on the road—the playoffs are obviously a long shot.
However, like most realistic fans understood before the season began, the 2017 season was never supposed to be about making the postseason. It was about seeing the youngsters the New York Jets trusted their future with developing into players.
While no one was noticing, fourth-round draft pick Chad Hansen was showing just what he could do when passes were thrown his way. After not recording a reception in the first nine games this season, Hansen caught three passes for 33 yards.
The Jets’ young defense continued to impress, holding the Buccaneers to seven drives of four plays or fewer. Eventually, after being on the field for most of the second half due to the Jets inability offensively to sustain drives; they became tired, leading to the Buccaneers only touchdown drive of the game in the fourth quarter.
Despite the loss, the Jets held the Buccaneers to under 20 points for the eighth straight meeting. The last time Tampa scored more than 20 points against the Jets was in 1985.
Entering Sunday the Jets defense ranked third in the NFL with 16 takeaways. Only the Ravens (18) and Bills (17) had more than the Jets, who had 14 all of last year. They forced just one turnover on Sunday, snapping a streak of five straight games in which they forced at least two turnovers.
Offensively, this team is going to suffer ups and downs with a journeyman quarterback and suspect offensive line. However, the experience that players like Robby Anderson, who has caught a touchdown pass in four straight games, the previously mentioned Chad Hansen, ArDarius Stewart and Elijah McGuire are getting will prove to be invaluable.
Don’t despair Jets fans. The future is bright.