I think it’s comfortable to believe everything about an NFL season is orderly. The good teams will always end up being good. The bad teams will always end up being bad. We like the world to make sense.
The NFL season is more complicated than that. Sometimes the difference between a successful season and a bad season is just a handful of plays here or there in close games.
As I was watching the Jets play the Eagles, it felt to me like there was a real possibility we might look back at this game as a turning point in the Jets’ season one way or another. A game was there to be stolen. The Eagles kept letting the Jets hang around by making mistakes. They left big plays on the field by dropping passes or taking bad routes to balls. They were missing chip shot field goals. They didn’t bring their A game to the stadium.
It’s crazy to think of a game against the last remaining undefeated team as one the Jets needed to win, particularly without their two star cornerbacks. Still, a loss would feel like a major missed opportunity. This was in part true because of the turnover luck the Jets had. They produced four. When I call something like this luck, people tend to misunderstand what I’m saying. You don’t take turnovers off the board. It’s just that no matter how effective the defense is, it’s unlikely that three balls will bounce right to your defenders in the same game. You have to take advantage when it does happen because those opportunities don’t present themselves every week.
For 58 minutes it didn’t look like they would. Then Tony Adams picked off a Jalen Hurts pass. Breece Hall breezed into the end zone, and the Jets defense held on the final drive to secure the upset.
Is this a sustainable formula for winning? The answer is almost certainly no. Again, you can’t count on four turnovers consistently no matter how good your defense is. The Jets will certainly need more than 244 total yards of offense, and Zach Wilson has to throw the ball more efficiently than today’s 5.6 yard average per attempt going forward.
In a way, though, this is what makes banking this victory all the more important. An opportunity presented itself for the Jets to get a win in an unorthodox way, and they ran with it. That victory counts in the standings for the rest of the year.
Instead of two weeks of listening to the media pick apart the offense and the third year quarterback, the Jets enter their bye 3-3. That was generally the goal for this difficult first six week stretch even when Aaron Rodgers was expected to be the quarterback. The Jets now have two wins over perceived elite teams, and the schedule will really start to open up as the weather gets cooler.
A few weeks ago when the Jets were 1-3, there were cynics who said the team was a punt return touchdown away from being 0-4. They weren’t wrong, but they missed the point. Again, a few plays can change everything in a season. The Jets got those plays Week 1. They got them again against the Eagles.
Now the Jets get a rest followed by a legitimate chance to end the NFL’s longest Playoff drought in their final eleven games.