The Jets saw their season come to a heartbreaking conclusion today. Needing only a win to make the Playoffs, the Jets lost to the Bills 22-17 in Buffalo. There will be no Playoffs for the Jets for the fifth consecutive year. What is especially difficult about this loss were the failures of people who came through for the team all season long to put them in position. Let's talk about it below.
Coaching: In a season-deciding game the Jets did not look ready to go. There were two big coaching decisions that really left me scratching my head, though. There was one on each side of the ball. On offense Chris Ivory only got 6 carries. This was a bad weather game where throwing the ball was difficult. Ivory's legs looked like they had juice. He barely touched it even after his first carry went for 58 yards. Even Stevan Ridley got more carries. The second puzzling decision was the lack of adjustment in coverage when Darrelle Revis was having trouble with Sammy Watkins. Watkins caught 11 passes for 136 yards, mainly on Revis. Buffalo's second leading receiver was Greg Salas. It is tough to figure why the Jets did not send more help Revis' way or make some other sort of adjustment.
Darrelle Revis: Revis only played two really bad games all season. He is going to the Pro Bowl and will likely merit All Pro consideration. Unfortunately one of those two bad games was today in the biggest game of the year. In the first meeting with Watkins, the two guys battled back and forth. Watkins won today in a big way.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: The wind certainly had an impact, but Fitzpatrick's passes were too frequently off target early. He also threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter. One came as he was hit. Another was in a desperation situation in the last minute. The red zone interception, however, will be the one that haunts him all offseason. The Jets were in position to kick a go ahead field goal in the fourth quarter in the worst case scenario, but Fitzpatrick's interception cost them that opportunity.
Defensive Front: There was seldom a pass rush today. Perhaps the rushers were conservative because they wanted to keep Tyrod Taylor in the pocket, but they failed here too. Taylor's 18 yard scramble opened the scoring. They also allowed the Bills to convert on a number of key short yardage plays. One of the things the Jets were good at doing all season was limiting yardage after contact, but today defenders were dragged for a few extra yards as they brought down ball carriers.
Ryan Quigley: His 21 yard punt set up Buffalo's first score.
Quincy Enunwa: He had a screen set up in front of him with a potential touchdown, but Enunwa dropped the shovel pass.
Randy Bullock: It was a windy day, but his miss from 40 yards did not help matters.
Sheldon Richardson: He jumped offside on a fourth down to give the Bills the first down.
Leonard Williams: His personal foul aided a Buffalo score. You can argue he didn't start the scrum, but you don't get flagged if you simply walk away.
Kenbrell Thompkins: Even with everything that went wrong, Thompkins had the game in his hands on a deep pass in the final minute, but he could not come up with Fitzpatrick's thrown. A catch would have meant a walk in touchdown and a trip to the Playoffs. It was not a "drop" but the ball hit him in the hands. The play was there to be made. Last year's Super Bowl taught us that sometimes an entire season can come down to whether a depth guy makes the play to win the game. It didn't happen for the Jets today.
Stevan Ridley: He was the main back today, and really only had one good run.
Defense: I know I have touched on a number of aspects of the defense already, but the unit had a miserable game as a whole. They couldn't get off the field, and the Bills had the ball for over 39 minutes as a result. Buffalo was 9 for 20 on third downs and 2 for 2 on fourth downs. Twice the Jets allowed a scoring drive of over eight minutes immediately after the offense scored to cut the deficit to a single possession. The Jets allowed the Bills to climb out of a first and 20 after a holding penalty on one of those drives. This was a poor effort when the defense needed a good one the most.
Brandon Marshall: You have to feel bad for Marshall. He had a chance to go to the Playoffs for the first time, and he left everything on the field with 8 catches, 126 yards, and a touchdown.
Chris Ivory: Why the Jets didn't use him more after he broke his first run for 58 yards I will never understand.
David Harris: 14 tackles and 2 sacks.
Damon Harrison: The fumble he forced could have turned the game around under different circumstances.
This was a tough way to see the season end. I think it's tough to call a 10 win season a total failure, especially when those 10 victories represent a 6 win improvement. One thing I can't take is when people say, "Same Old Jets." The Same Old Jets were never good enough to win 10 games and have a chance to win 11 while clinching a Playoff spot. The Jets had a good team this year. They just lost a road game at the end of the year and had the misfortune of playing in a conference where 10-6 wasn't good enough. Most of the time 10 wins get you into the Playoffs.
At the same time, this was a disappointing finish. One important judge of an opponent is the head coach-quarterback combination. In the biggest game of the year, it's tough to figure losing to a combo as shaky as Rex Ryan and Tyrod Taylor, especially after being Bill Belichick and Tom Brady a week ago. This is something the Jets will have to think about all offseason.