Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Young Jets Have Much to Prove Heading into Last Six Matchups

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Young Jets Have Much to Prove Heading into Last Six Matchups

Article excerpt

The unofficial midpoint of the season is behind us.

The Jets return from their bye week on Monday to get ready for a six-game sprint to the finish. They're probably not going to get back into the playoff hunt. But there's a lot at stake, especially for coach Todd Bowles and the young players on the team who are trying to establish themselves as trustworthy NFL players.

Here's what the final six games of the season might tell us.

Most talent evaluators predicted the Jets to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season and struggle to win any games. So with four wins, the Jets have already surprised most and exceeded expectations. But that pleasant surprise vibe could vanish if their recent slump continues.

The Jets' feel-good 3-2 start is not so rosy after losing four of their last five. And it's not just that they've lost these games, it's how they've lost them:

The 14-point first-half lead that evaporated against New England; the fourth quarter meltdown in Miami; the squandered second-half lead against the Falcons; and the no-show performance in Tampa.

The losses to Miami and Tampa are the worst because one can make a good case that this team should be 6-4 right now and in the thick of playoff contention. Still, if the Jets can get two or three wins in the final six games, they can salvage a surprising season. No one expected this team to win six or seven games. And if the Jets do, it will be a big confidence booster for a young and growing team.

But if the Jets lose out (making them losers of seven straight and 10-of-11) or finish 1-5 (making them losers of nine-of-11 to end the season), it will be more difficult to argue that 2017 is anything but a disaster: too many wins for a high draft pick, too many bad losses to feel that progress has been made.

The Jets are obviously in the market for a quarterback in next year's draft: general manager Mike Maccaganan attended Saturday night's showdown between USC quarterback Sam Darnold and UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. …

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