— The Sports Xchange —
New York Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins said something most people would deem odd after his team finished its second straight five-win season with a loss in New England on Sunday.
“The gap is not big at all,” Jenkins said comparing the Patriots, the top seed in the AFC playoffs, with his Jets, the last-place team in the AFC East for the second year in a row.
But that attitude epitomizes the type of season it was for Gang Green. They were supposed to be horrible, with some predicting a no-win season. Instead, they were just good enough to get a lower draft pick (No. 6) than most fans would have liked.
Close to the Patriots? No. But the players believe the team is turning the corner. So, too, does ownership, as seen in the two-year extensions given to head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan last week.
At the Jets’ first home game, there were a handful of green “Darnold” jerseys, as in current USC sophomore Sam Darnold. New York was 0-2, and many believed headed for the top pick in the draft.
But the Jets dominated the Dolphins on that balmy late September afternoon, the first of a three-game winning streak that had the same delusional fans thinking they would go 0-16 starting to talk playoffs.
Josh McCown, the team’s 38-year-old journeyman quarterback, galvanized a ragtag group on offense that provided some entertaining moments, especially at MetLife Stadium. But the Jets still lost nine of their last 11, and the wheels completely fell off when McCown broke his hand in Week 14 in Denver and was replaced by Bryce Petty.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: The Jets took a flier on McCown, signing the 15-year veteran to a one year, $6 million contract in the spring. He paid off, with career highs in passing yards (2,926) and passing touchdowns (18) before breaking his hand, and the 11th best passer rating in the league (94.5). He also developed a strong deep-ball rapport with Robby Anderson, as the receiver had 17 receptions of 20 or more yards, 12th best in the league. Also, the Jets played well at home, going 4-4, with all four losses coming by one possession or less.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Closing out games. The Jets were outscored 140-64 in the fourth quarter, and they lost two games in which they held a 14-point lead and three they led at some point in the fourth quarter. Their minus-4 turnover differential was tied for seventh worst in the league, and their only road win came against the winless Browns by three points.