EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - In the end this will be another losing season and another year where the playoffs happen without them. And in the end, it's probably another in a decades-long string of disappointments given how many of these games the Jets should have won.
But give the Jets this much: In a season where the expectations were about as low as they could go, the Jets did something very unexpected. Almost all season long they played competitive football.
It may be unsatisfying in the end, but for most of the year the Jets did give their fans a thrill.
They did it again on Sunday against a Los Angeles Chargers team with a powerful offense and an outside shot at the playoffs, hanging around all game and ultimately losing only 14-7. The Jets' offense looked mostly awful, but they were only down 7-0 at the half and tied midway through the third quarter. Entering the fourth, it was only a one-touchdown game and as a fan of a young, rebuilding team, it's hard to ask for more than that.
OK sure, at this point maybe it doesn't matter. There certainly weren't many people at the Meadowlands on Christmas Eve to witness the competitive, yet otherwise drab game. And there certainly are some fans who would rather see the Jets lose out at this point to secure a first-round pick higher up in the Top 10.
But the Jets having so many close calls is going to be a confidence builder for the future. They know they've been good enough to hang with just about everyone - really except for their games in Oakland and Denver - and they can study what they did wrong to lose so often. That will be an invaluable teaching tool for a team that should have a huge influx of additional talent next year.
Here are a few more thoughts from the Jets' 10th loss (eight of which they easily could have won):
- Good for Todd Bowles, calling for an onside kick to open the game. For one thing: What do the Jets have to lose at this point? It was a great way to catch the Chargers off guard in a game they were desperate to win to stay in the AFC playoff hunt. And it had the potential to energize his young team, which despite their situation was still trying to win and finish strong. The onside kick worked. They didn't get any points out of it, but it was certainly worth a shot.
- Bryce Petty sure does have a strong arm. It's just incredibly inaccurate. In the first quarter alone he had Jermaine Kearse open deep and he tossed it way over his head, and he had tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins open for a mid-range pass streaking down the sidelines, and he tossed it far enough over his head that he didn't even reach for it. He was 9 of 20 in the first half for 81 yards and finished just 15 of 28 for 119 yards. That's pretty much been the tale of Petty's six career starts, and it's why he has no shot of being the franchise's quarterback of the future.
- There will be some outrage over why Bowles didn't put Christian Hackenberg in this game, perhaps justifiably so. Petty was pretty bad, and not only has Hackenberg been getting increased reps as the No. 2 quarterback lately, he's at the end of his second year. If the former second-round pick isn't ready now, will he ever be? The problem, though, is this: Bowles is trying to win. The Jets, as awful as the offense looked, were only down 7-0 at the half. Petty wasn't turning the ball over. Going to a completely inexperienced quarterback would've sent the wrong message to a team really trying to win. That's why he's not doing it.
- Despite Petty's inaccuracy problem, Jets offensive coordinator John Morton twice called for passes on 3rd and short in the first half - and both failed. His aggressive tendency isn't a bad thing, but he may have been overestimating the abilities of his quarterbacks. Petty was not on his game, and the Jets needed to rely more on the run.
- Speaking of the run … Bilal Powell continues to prove why he should be the Jets' feature back in the future. He had a terrific, game-tying, 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, which put him over the 100-yard mark for the second time this season. And he finished with 145 yards on 19 carries (with one touchdown). He's been underused his entire career. With Matt Forte likely gone in the offseason, the Jets should be very pleased to ride a Powell-Elijah McGuire tandem for the foreseeable fuure.
- Continuing the theme of playing to win, the Jets' defense was very aggressive against Chargers QB Philip Rivers. Their defensive line - sans Mo Wilkerson, of course - got fairly consistent pressure on him, and they brought pressure from many different places. Rookie safety Jamal Adams is going to be a dangerous blitzer in this league if the Jets choose to use him that way.
- Cornerback Buster Skrine had another strong game. He's been playing so well of late he may have secured his future with the Jets, although with a 2018 salary of $6 million and a cap number of $8.5 million he might be a tough sell if he doesn't accept a reduced rate.