The 2021 NFL season is not over for fourteen teams. The Jets are among the eighteen unlucky teams who saw their campaign end this weekend. The final game was a 27-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills, dropping the team’s final record to 4-13.
Because of various injuries, the Jets did not put an NFL caliber offense on the field in this game. They were without multiple starters on the offensive line and three of their top four receivers, which grew to the team’s top four receivers when Jamison Crowder left the game early with a groin injury.
In this context, the Jets were going to either need some players to surprise with career games or for Zach Wilson to take this team on his back.
It is safe to say that neither happened. The Jets ended this game with an unfathomable 53 yards of offense. You have to live with a general lack of production with this many backups and practice squaders on the field. Still, these are players in the NFL. It is never acceptable to put up this type of performance.
Nobody could do much of anything on that side of the ball, though. The offensive line was completely manhandled, and receivers called up from deep on the depth chart failed to get much separation.
For his part, Zach Wilson ended his rookie season with a thud, completely unable to build off a strong performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend. The Jets didn’t give Wilson any help in this game, and he can’t be blamed for the loss.
With that said, Wilson wasn’t doing much to help matters. This game was a pretty significant regression from last week. Around half of the nine sacks the Jets surrendered were at least partially due to Wilson’s lack of pocket awareness. His accuracy issues on short passes also returned as his mechanics consistently broke down. The supporting cast was of no use, but of the things that can be isolated specifically to quarterback play, Wilson failed. It was an ugly end to a lost rookie season. All anybody can hope is Wilson uses his time to work in the offseason productively and comes back in the summer looking like a completely different quarterback. Near the end of the season he at least showed a far greater ability to protect the football than he did in the early part of 2021, but he did not show a consistent ability to guide a productive offense.
Was this game Zach Wilson’s fault? No.
Did this game display several consistent tendencies that urgently need to be corrected this offseason? Yes.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets have received some praise for their performance in this game. It probably says everything you need to know about the Jets season on defense that a 27 point game by the opponent is viewed as a positive.
This game might be described as a good defense sandwich on bad defense bread. The Jets allowed the Bills to go right down the field on the first two drives and jump out to a 10-0 lead.
Then the unit began to stand tall. A stop after a blocked punt stabilized the game, and the unit started controlling the trenches. The defensive backs also made some plays. The Jets defense forced multiple punts that turned into catastrophic events for Buffalo. If only the offense could have taken greater advantage, the game might have turned. It was not meant to be, and a pair of late touchdown drives by the Bills all but ended the game.
That’s all there is to say for this season. I think at the end of the day it is difficult say 2021 was a success for the Jets. The team might have shown improvement from a year ago, but that is a very low bar. I don’t think there was enough progress to feel good about what happened.
But that is all done now. We have a full offseason in front of us, and the Jets have plenty of resources to make another effort at improving the team. Through the years we have learned that merely having resources is no guarantee of success, but it does provide the team with the opportunity to build a better 2022 and beyond.