New York Jets victory ruins perfectly bad season

By Chris Mascaro, The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 25, 2017 at 8:01 PM
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Nearly everything went right for the New York Jets on Sunday in a 20-6 win over the Miami Dolphins.

The owner, general manager, coaches and players had a display of solidarity during the national anthem, locking arms in unity. On the field, the play was spectacular, with explosive passes, hard-nosed runs and lockdown defense.

The crowd, though not a sellout, was at full pitch as the Jets built a sizable lead. Even the weather cooperated, an almost-too-hot 88 degrees at kickoff.

But there's a catch.

Many Jets fans were resigned to the fact that this would be a rebuilding season, and thus, set their sights on finding a foundation quarterback.

Despite a somewhat shaky start to his college season, USC's Sam Darnold seems to be the apple of the Jets fans' eye, calling this the "Suck for Sam" season.

One fan even brought a custom-made Darnold Jets jersey to the Trojans' win over Cal in Berkeley on Saturday.

However, with the Jets' win Sunday's, their chances of securing the top pick in next year's draft fell from 38 percent before kickoff to 24 percent, according to ESPN Analytics.

While fans may care about such matters, the stat means very little to the men inside the locker room, who desperately needed a win after a brutal start to the season.

"Yeah, it's a relief, great feeling, whatever you want to say," said current quarterback Josh McCown, who won for only the second time in his last 20 starts, after the game.

"Like I said, internally, there's a method that we go about and then there's obviously an external narrative that people have for this team. We have not bought into that."

Head coach Todd Bowles said countless times over the last couple weeks that the team only needed to correct a few mistakes to find success. Few outside the locker room believed him.

But for at least one game, he was spot-on. After giving up a league-worst 370 rushing yards the first two games, they bottled Jay Ajayi up for 16 yards on 11 carries after he had 122 yards and two touchdowns in Week 2 against the Chargers.

"Everybody was where they were supposed to be," said Bowles, who improved to 16-19 as Jets head coach. "We didn't leave any open gaps. We gang-tackled instead of tackling with single people. We got after it and everybody communicated."

Looking around the roster:

--Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins played his first game of the season after serving a two-game suspension for a DUI arrest last year. Now, more than eight months sober, the 24-year-old out of Washington caught five passes for 31 yards on Sunday and played 48 of the team's 63 offensive snaps.

During the offseason, Seferian-Jenkins lost 32 pounds and said on Monday, "It's like playing in a whole different body," adding that his run blocking has also improved.

--Running back Matt Forte had an X-ray on his toe on Sunday, and it came back negative, Bowles said Monday.

--Right guard Brian Winters didn't play Sunday because of an abdomen injury, but he is feeling better, per Bowles.

REPORT CARD VS. DOLPHINS

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Josh McCown threw for a season-high 249 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He had a deep bomb to Robby Anderson, shorter passes to Jeremy Kerley and Jermaine Kearse and he meshed well with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the latter's return from a two-game suspension. Wide receiver ArDarius Stewart also had a nice diving grab for 24 yards, and defensive end and former college fullback Lawrence Thomas had a 15-yard catch-and-run, or catch-and-rumble for him.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Nothing sexy, but the running game got the job done, as running backs Bilal Powell (37), rookie Elijah McGuire (34), Matt Forte (25), and McCown (seven) combined for 103 yards on 34 carries. Powell had a 1-yard TD run, but McGuire looked the best of the bunch despite a late fumble.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- Sure, it would've been nice to get the shutout, but the Jets held Jay Cutler to only 75 passing yards through the first three quarters, rendering the fourth quarter meaningless. Safety Jamal Adams had his first career sack and safety Terrence Brooks intercepted two passes.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- A shocking turnaround from the first two weeks, the Jets held Jay Ajayi to only 16 yards on 11 carries. Linebacker DeMario Davis had 12 tackles, including three for losses and a pass deflection, and David Bass, who the Jets acquired on waivers last week, had two tackles for a loss.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Chandler Catanzaro missed his first field goal of the season, but he made two others, and new punt returner Jeremy Kerley had four returns for 31 yards, and, most importantly, he didn't fumble. Also, Lachlan Edwards netted an impressive 46 yards on his five punts, including three inside the 20 and a 61-yarder.

COACHING: A -- The fact that the Jets won, let alone in decisive fashion, after the first two weeks speaks to the adjustments head coach Todd Bowles made this week. And many players said the team had its best practices of the year this past week.

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