After the Jets had Wednesday off, they returned to action Thursday in Florham Park, New Jersey, for practice ahead of their 2019 season finale Sunday at the Buffalo Bills.
As the Jets (6-9) get back into action for the 1 p.m. kickoff against the Bills (10-5) at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York, head coach Adam Gase set the scene prior to Thursday's practice.
From a key injury update to a Week 17 preview and a big-picture outlook for the Jets as a whole, below is a handful of takeaways following Gase's morning press conference.
Robby Anderson Update
After he appeared on Wednesday's injury report, listed as limited with his calf injury, wide receiver Robby Anderson remains in that same category for Thursday's practice.
"We're just trying to make sure that he feels good to go into Sunday," Gase said.
While the Jets wait on Anderson's status, offensive lineman Tom Compton (calf), wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring/knee) and offensive lineman Alex Lewis (ankle) are still out.
"We'll kind of see how tomorrow (goes), how those guys are feeling, see if we can get them out at practice at all," Gase said. "It's just kind of up in the air right now."
Offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum (back/ankles), defensive lineman Henry Anderson (knee/shoulder) and Anderson are limited. But from Gase's comments, the following appear set to play Sunday after fully participating Thursday: Cornerback Nate Hairston (illness), safety Jamal Adams (ankle), defensive lineman Steve McLendon (knee/hip), linebacker James Burgess (thumb), quarterback Sam Darnold (knee/left thumb) and wide receiver Jamison Crowder (thumb).
"Beachum, Henry (and) Robby will be limited," Gase said. "Robby's just got some leg tightness, so we're just trying to be smart with that. But everyone else should be pretty good to go."
Facing Bills Defense
The offensive-minded Gase is set to battle former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator and Bills head coach Sean McDermott in what will serve as Round 2 from Sept. 8's opener.
The Jets started the season with Week 1's 17-16 loss to the Bills at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where they blew their 16-point lead in the second half. Gase's offense struggled despite taking the initial three-score lead, settling for one touchdown and a field goal after linebacker C.J. Mosley's 17-yard interception returned for a touchdown.
The result set the two teams on different paths throughout the next 14 games, with the Jets digging into a 1-7 start and the Bills clinching the first AFC Wild Card spot. Among all 32 NFL teams, McDermott's defense ranks second in points (16.4) and third in total yards (300.1) allowed per game, including third in passing (195.9) and 11th in rushing (104.2).
"This team is a tough team to go against, as far as -- Sean does a great job of these overload blitzes, especially Year 3 in their system and they have more players than what they had when they first started and guys that have been together, now, for three years," Gase said. "And it's just they can do a good job of disguising. They get lined up fast. They can call things. If you try to go hurry up, they're still getting their stuff. It doesn't affect them.
"(Quarterback Sam Darnold) has got to be able to see those type of things, make adjustments, change the (middle linebacker) point where (center) Jonotthan (Harrison) can a lot of times make it really easy for him and he's got to help work with him after they get the look.
Finishing 2019 Strong
The Jets rebounded from their aforementioned 1-7 start, but they did too little too late with elimation from the playoffs coming officially Dec. 8 -- despite Week 14's 22-21 win over the Miami Dolphins that day.
New York has won five of its past seven games, including Nov. 24's 34-3 rout of the Oakland Raiders and last Sunday's 16-10 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it also suffered Dec. 1's 22-6 to the then-winless Cincinnati Bengals.
As the Jets look to end their season on top Sunday, Gase hopes they can enter the offseason with momentum and make a run at the postseason next year, but missing out now stings.
"You always want to be playing another week," Gase said. "That's the toughest part about this week. You always want to be playing another week. You want to get the chance to get in the (playoffs) and see what happens because once you get in there, anything can happen. You've seen teams over the last decade or so that you get surprised when they kind of make a run. But we just didn't start off fast enough. How, for whatever reason that is, that's irrelevant.
"We've played better here in the back half of the season. There's a lot better complementary football. I think guys understand kind of how what want to play, from week to week. Last week is a really good example. I thought the guys did a phenomenal job playing exactly the way we wanted to play against that team. And hopefully we can build off just, really, our experiences from this year and then kind of see how things shake out as the offseason goes and then when we hit next spring we can keep building off we did here in the back half of the season."