The Jets can’t finish football games and it’s costing them their season.
Jets head coach Todd Bowles has mentioned the word “finish” in so many of his postgame press conferences, you’d think he should just write a book on it.
For all the feel-good storylines this team gave their fans early in the season it’s been overshadowed lately by their inability to close out football games.
For the third consecutive week, the Jets found a way to gift wrap a game for their opponent. This week’s gift was for the Atlanta Falcons, they left MetLife Stadium with a 25-20 win which dropped the Jets to 3-5 on the season.
The weather conditions for this game were miserable, there was a driving rain and swirling winds which made it difficult to do much of anything.
Bad weather and all, this is still professional football and players are paid to perform their job duties to the best of their abilities. The Jets didn’t lose this game because of the weather. They lost it for the same reasons they lost the previous two.
“We played hard, for the most part,” head coach Todd Bowles said afterwards. “It’s disappointing not to win. It’s disappointing we didn’t close it out. Too many mistakes in the fourth quarter. Can’t happen. Can’t put the ball on the ground. Can’t have timely mistakes. Everybody has to play their brand of ball. Hard enough, not good enough.”
No, it’s not good enough. Yes, it can’t happen. But it keeps happening.
The Jets went into the fourth quarter with a one-point lead, and that’s the problem. It’s a problem because it should ‘ve been much more than one point.
In three third quarter drives, the Jets went three and out, three and out (with a penalty), and missed on a 48-yard field goal try by Chris Catanzaro to cap off a 10-play drive which carried over into the fourth quarter. It was Catanzaro’s second missed field goal of the day.
For the Jets, this game was definitely lost in the second half, but the third quarter is where the body blows were delivered which ultimately led to their fourth quarter knockout.
In the fourth quarter McCown struggled, there was the missed field goal, and of course the defense giving up a 54-yard run by Falcons’ running back by Tevin Coleman.
The fourth quarter was just more Murphy’s Law for this team. What could go wrong, went wrong.
McCown didn’t throw any interceptions this week, but there were a number of plays in the second half where I thought he held the football entirely too long.
“It’s the same. It’s just frustrating,” a frustrated McCown said after the game. “It’s frustrating because we’re not closing games out. I would say, not discouraged, though, because I feel like we’re growing the same and building it. We just have to find a way to close out games. That’s the next step for us.”
What can the Jets do in order to take that next step? They need to start executing in all aspects of the game.
The running game has stalled in recent weeks, the Jets ran for 43 yards on 22 carries while averaging 2.0 yards per carry. That’s just not going to get it done. The penalties also continue to be a problem, six today for 50 yards.
And just because McCown didn’t throw any interceptions this week doesn’t mean the Jets were free of turning over the football. Jeremy Kerley’s muffed punt in the fourth quarter, with the Jets trailing 22-20, almost took the air out of the building.
“Can’t put the ball on the ground,” said Bowles. “As a returner, the number one thing is protecting the football.”
Three straight losses now for the Jets, three straight gifts for their opponents. They won’t have long to get ready for the next game, this Thursday they host Buffalo.
At 3-5, the Jets are still in a position to turn things around, beginning with Buffalo. But it won’t be easy and with every loss, Bowles’ job status for next season could become the new topic of conversation.
The message of “finish” has yet to get across to this team. Maybe it’s time for a new message. Finish or else.