Whether or not Sam Ficken’s game-winning field goal went through didn’t matter in one regard; we know who the 2019 New York Jets are.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—It wasn’t the ’81 championship game. This much… we’re certain.
The New York Jets 22-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium featured not a thing resembling a legendary back-of-the-end-zone catch (later dubbed “The Catch”) or a young quarterback ready to take the world by storm (you know, the game guy who once hilariously pointed out John Candy in the Super Bowl crowd). Instead, what the faithful received fell under the ordinary bucket.
This is amazingly true despite a game-winning 44-yard field goal that sent the fans home happy. (Better yet, they traveled homeward as happy as this disgruntled fanbase can get.)
Sam Ficken’s heroics improve the Jets to 5-8 while helping avoid a season sweep at the hands of the inept, once intentionally-tanking Fins. Yet an empty feeling remains, causing folks to overanalyze and overthink, asking the football gods, “Why is this team so maddening week after week?”
Don’t torture yourself. This is who the 2019 Jets are.
Rarely explosive, oftentimes sloppy and incredibly unpredictable all help comprise what is this season’s nagging formula. Never can a big-boy NFL victory be stripped, but the overall season votes have all been counted.
From allowing ghosts to enter the building on Monday Night Football to dominating the Dallas Cowboys and nearly knocking off a tough Buffalo Bills team, consistency is a laughable concept at this point.
Expecting anything different makes you the questionable one. Already crowing a franchise quarterback digs your own hole 100 percent deeper.
Sam Darnold’s approval rating now closely resembles the one of Shaquille O’Neal’s favorite products, IcyHot. The kid just cannot find regularity.
Young Darnold, 22, didn’t exactly bounce-back from a nonexistent outing in Cincinnati. Throwing for 270 yards, two scores and an interception on 20-of-36 passing, count this performance as one the box score can’t even begin to paint an authentic picture.
The California kid overthrew an intended target far too often. Whether it came in the form of Braxton Berrios down the sideline or Robby Anderson running a 9-route, No. 14 missed receivers all day and looked uneasy in the pocket. (And no, the offensive line can’t be blamed this particular week.) Only a single sack relented with plenty of clean pockets allowed Darnold and the Jets to coast early in the contest.
A wide-open Anderson hammered home a 26-yard score in the first quarter to put the Jets atop, 6-3 (missed extra point on a sloppy snap and hold). Darnold’s move up in the pocket (against a three-man rush) marked a signature Sam sight: throw-on-the-run ability.
What happened? Gase attempted to explain after the game.
“We started off good,” the Jets first-year head man said. “Once we got into the second half, he had some decisions that I am sure he is going to want back. I had some calls that I definitely want back. I don’t think I helped him out enough today. I put him in some really bad third-down situations. Some of those things are on me as much as it’s on him.”
“I don’t think I helped him out today,” Adam Gase said in reference to Sam Darnold’s play.
“I put him in some real bad 3rd-down situations. It’s on me just as much as it’s on him.”
— RobbySabo (@RobbySabo) December 8, 2019
From the Thomas touchdown forward, nothing about the Jets offense looked alive and the quarterback led the way.
As usual, the kid chose the right words in the locker room, remaining ultra self-critical.
“We got in a really good rhythm in the first half,” Darnold said. “(The) second half, I thought I didn’t play as (well as I did in) the first half, to be quite honest. I know there are some things on tape that I am not going to like when I see it, but for me, I just have to learn from it, our guys have to learn and we will be better.”
"There are some things on tape I'm not gonna like when I see it, but for me, I gotta learn from it, the guys gotta learn, and we'll be better," Sam Darnold after the Jets' 22-21 win over the Fins.
On Sam Ficken's GWFG:
"I was confident. He drills those all the time in practice. pic.twitter.com/R0dAfSd4Sd
— RobbySabo (@RobbySabo) December 8, 2019
Darnold was moderately helped by the rushing attack. Bilal Powell, Sunday’s starter thanks to a Le’Veon Bell illness, finished with 74 yards on 19 carries. His 3.9 yards-per-carry on this day blows away Bell’s ugly 3.2 mark for the campaign.
The club was also in the mix thanks to a Gregg Williams defense that put forth the perfect gameplan without its undoubted leader and most valuable player, Jamal Adams. Williams’s bend-but-don’t-break defense featuring a two-deep, soft zone coverage allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick and company to march down the field with ease, but forced seven Jason Sanders field goals.
The landscape couldn’t look more appetizing. A solid offensive line performance, a manageable rushing output, a defense that did its job and a poor Dolphins team—of course this Jets team should fly.
In truth, narratives are just that… narratives. The popular, casual collective opinion builds over time and becomes the norm. In reality, this Jets roster isn’t much better than the Dolphins, Bengals or Redskins of the world, especially when considering games lost due to injury.
Look up and down all the rosters involved. Compare, understand and dissect. Which offensive line is superior, Jets or Dolphins? Which pass rush is more effective? Is Robby Anderson, Demaryius Thomas and Jamison Crowder a better trio than DeVante Parker, Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson?
Once done, don’t overanalyze the situation. Instead, realize what you’ve been watching over 13 games.
The 2019 New York Jets aren’t a good football team. The organization fell way behind thanks to a lack of infrastructure upfront (on both sides) and it’s now Joe Douglas’s job to repair the damage done.
Don’t even attempt to decipher Sam Darnold’s long-term franchise-QB value. Until the kid is equipped with a league-average five-man unit, there’s no point.
As for Adam Gase, yeah, sure… go ahead and continue the anti-Gase campaign that gets Jets diehards through the week. If it helps, we’ll label it “therapy” for good sport. Give Joe Benigno a ring and have a depressing ball. Either way, the Jets embattled head coach openly welcomes the criticism (as seen in the quote above) and continues to say the right things.
“Right now, it’s just getting that feeling back,” Gase said. “Last week wasn’t a fun week for any of us. Guys were disappointed that happened. They did a good job of putting in a good week of work. I saw those guys come out with really good practices on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.”
And hey, don’t turn confused; a football team in the NFL can never take a win for granted. It’s the job of these professionals to get it done for the fans.
It’s everybody else’s job to state the truth.
So, while you’re cursing out the head coach and enjoying the early part of the week thanks to a man identified as “Kickin’ Ficken,” make sure you understand the reality at hand.
The 2019 Jets are a poorly-constructed roster carrying the talent level of the worst in the league (thanks, in part, to injuries and mostly thanks to a prior regime that treated premier offensive line talent as optional). Very little can be truly evaluated, and anything that happens from now until Douglas flips at least three offensive linemen and finally captures that long-lost edge rusher, is stuffed into one painful, lengthy foreword.
These are who the New York Jets are and nobody will ever know what’s coming next. Such a poorly-constructed roster creates these infuriating and extreme results.