The views expressed here are those of Eric Allen of the New York Jets. All other views are those of Gang Green Nation and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the New York Jets.
The Jets are entering the homestretch of their 2014 season and this was supposed to be, at minimum, a make-or-break time.
But the Jets repeatedly came up short in an eight-game losing streak, avoiding the longest single-season streak of futility in franchise history with a win over the Steelers. Being on the wrong side of history means New York's AFC representative has already been assured a fourth consecutive non-winning season.
Once thought to be the quarterback of the present and the future, Geno Smith will be Mike Vick's backup Sunday in Western New York as the Jets and the Bills meet for a second time. It was the first meeting between the teams that pushed Rex Ryan to make the move to Vick as Smith was intercepted three times in less than a quarter of work.
Vick, who also turned the ball over three times in the 43-23 blowout loss, has not been charged with a turnover in either one his two starts. Before their Week 11 Bye, the Green & White upset the Black & Gold in a game nobody gave them much of a shot at winning. Six games remain and a little uneasiness has to exist for even the most positive of fans.
Quarterback is arguably the most important position in football and the Jets don't have many answers at the present time. Is Vick a short-term solution or can he be more than a bridge player beyond 2014? Can the up and down Smith turn things around after 24 professional starts? Should Smith see time down the stretch regardless of the way Vick performs? Is the Jets' 2015 opening day starter at QB even on the roster?
Even before the Jets look at the quarterback position, CEO Woody Johnson will decide if he has the right men leading the football side. Management, coaches and scouts all will be evaluated.
On multiple occasions, I have been asked if the Jets can actually win by losing. If the season ended at the bye, the Green & White would have owned the No. 3 overall draft selection. But a high draft pick doesn't necessarily mean a franchise quarterback is walking through your door. If you look at the past couple of decades, Matt Ryan and Steve McNair came off the board at No. 3. But so did Vince Young, Joey Harrington, Akili Smith and Heath Shuler.
By Tuesday morning, the Jets had dropped down to No. 5 overall and that number could keep on dropping with a few more wins. I can tell you that nobody in that locker room is thinking about draft positioning or if some heralded quarterbacks are going to declare early for the draft.
"You're going to be evaluated by somebody, even if it is by someone who admires you, one of your fans who like the way you play, who appreciates your game," said Vick. "It is always high expectations. Even though the playoffs are not in the picture, we have to understand that a strong finish is very key. It is important for the morale going into the following year or whatever it may be, or just for you yourself. I think you just have to keep the right mindset and keep plugging away."
On Monday, the music was blaring in the locker room and the fellas were smiling. Rex Ryan said the team was flying around and preparing to jump back on the moving train. Under Ryan, the Jets are just 1-4 after the bye week and this is a team that is 0-4 on the road this season and 2-10 in their last 12 away from MetLife Stadium.
The win against the Steelers was nice, but can the Jets get rolling over these final six games? And if they do, how will it impact future decisions? The Jets season will end in South Florida on Dec. 28, but you get the sense from the locker room that the guys are embracing what remains.