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Jets’ midseason report: good, bad and ugly

November 2, 2016

This was supposed to be a season in which the Jets took a leap forward.

They were coming off a 10-win campaign, and re-signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year $12 million deal after a record-breaking season.

Instead, the Jets reached the midway point with a 3-5 record. Fitzpatrick called the first half of the season “a huge disappointment.”

Here’s a look at why. Passing offense The lackluster play of Fitzpatrick and the passing game has been the biggest disappointment of the season. Fitzpatrick’s start to the year (five touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 1-5 record) was so bad that he got benched after just six games. He got his job back after Geno Smith’s season-ending ACL tear, but has been inconsistent in the 1½ games since. A telling stat: in the second half this season, Fitzpatrick has 10 interceptions and one touchdown. It’s not entirely his fault as the Jets offense has struggled to recover from the loss of Eric Decker (hip and shoulder surgery), Brandon Marshall had become a non-factor, and the offensive line has been dealing with injuries all season. But with the exception of Quincy Enunwa (36 catches, 502 yards, three TDs), the Jets’ passing game has been cringeworthy. Running the ball The Jets’ running game has been the offensive propulsion for their three victories this season. For example: In wins, the Jets have seven touchdowns and average 149.7 rushing yards per game. The Jets still haven’t scored a rushing touchdown in a loss, and average only 86.4 yards per game. When the Jets run the ball well, they win. But the problem is, they’ve been far too inconsistent. After scoring three rushing touchdowns in a Week 2 win over Buffalo, the Jets didn’t score another rushing touchdown until Week 7. That’s right, they went their entire four-game losing streak without a rushing touchdown. The Jets have now had two consecutive good performances on the ground – perhaps they can build on it. Stopping the pass The Jets’ secondary has been a complete mess. Darrelle Revis, who is getting paid $17 million this season, looks like he’s taken a serious step back at age 31. And the rest of the secondary hasn’t been much better. The Jets are giving up 289 yards per game through the air, most in the NFL. And when they mess up, they give up huge plays. The Jets have given up three touchdowns of longer than 70 yards. The pass rush has been underwhelming, too. The star-studded defensive line has only 15 sacks this season, near the bottom third of the NFL – and the Jets have had just eight sacks in the last seven games after having seven sacks in Week 1. Stopping the run This has been one of the few bright spots this season. They’ve allowed only 74.0 rushing yards per game, which makes them the league’s top run defense. And they’ve surrendered only two runs of more than 20 yards, which is tied for best in the NFL. But stopping the run doesn’t really mean much when you’ve got the worst pass defense in the league. Coaching The Jets have been a team in turmoil for much of the first half of the season, but coach Todd Bowles has never seemed to be rattled by it. He’s said the right things publicly, and maintained respect and control in the locker room through a rocky start. But on the field, he’s made some puzzling decisions. In Week 2 in Buffalo, Bowles didn’t go for two with the Jets up 12. It nearly came back to bite them as Buffalo got the ball back with a chance to go ahead in the final minute. Bowles admitted his mistake, calling it “my bust.”

Mistakes happen, but his decision in Week 5 was more perplexing. The Jets trailed Pittsburgh by 11 with 7:36 remaining and faced 4th and 2 near midfield. Bowles went uber conservative, electing to punt. Wen the Jets got the ball back, about six minutes later after a Pittsburgh scoring drive, the game was essentially over. Bowles defended his decision, but it was the wrong one. To his credit, he went for it on 4th and 2 in Cleveland on Sunday, and Forte scored the go-ahead touchdown. But just like this team, at 3-5, Bowles has plenty of room for improvement.