The New York Jets are stumbling toward one of the worst seasons in franchise history -- and that's saying something. It has been a failure on every level, one that will likely result in the ouster of coach Rex Ryan and -- who knows? -- maybe general manager John Idzik.
They have a poorly constructed roster that lacks speed on both sides of the ball, especially in the secondary. Ryan stayed too long with the turnover-prone Geno Smith, waiting until they were out of contention before turning to Michael Vick. The offense has lacked an identity from Day 1. We could go on and on, but you get the point. This is a mess.
Midseason MVP: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. He has managed to stay above all the bad, playing at a consistently high level. He combines a blue-collar mentality with elite skills. Wilkerson plays every position along the line, and he never complains about having to sacrifice individual glory for the good of the team. Wilkerson (team-high 4.5 sacks) and Sheldon Richardson lead a solid pass rush, one of the team's few strengths. Wilkerson is due a big payday, and the Jets would be wise to lock him up with a long-term contract extension.
Biggest disappointment: Quarterback Geno Smith. Expectations were higher after an encouraging finish to his rookie year, but Smith has failed to develop as the organization had hoped. There were some positive signs in the preseason, but he hasn't been able to kick the turnover habit (12). He was so bad in a Week 8 loss to the Buffalo Bills that some fans were longing for the departed Mark Sanchez. Ryan had no choice but to bench Smith last week, raising serious questions about his future. He no longer can be considered a viable long-term option for the Jets. It looks like they will be starting over at quarterback -- again.
Best moment: This might be a reach, but Percy Harvin's performance last week provided a glimmer of hope. Two weeks after his stunning trade from the Seattle Seahawks, Harvin produced 225 all-purpose yards in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He was the best player on the field for the Jets, demonstrating much-needed explosiveness. He delivered the first 100-yard receiving performance in more than a year, if you can believe that. Harvin has a lot of off-field baggage, so he's hardly a sure thing, but it gives the Jets reason to believe they actually did something right by dealing for him.
Worst moment: There are so many to choose from, dating to the offseason (see: bad free-agent signings). In truth, the worst moment -- the one that symbolizes the entire rotten season -- occurred in Week 2. A potentially game-tying fourth-quarter touchdown pass against the Green Bay Packers was wiped away because the Jets called a timeout a split-second before the snap. There was confusion on the sideline and Richardson ended up calling the timeout by mistake. Too bad; it was one of Smith's best throws of the season. The drive ended up stalling and they lost a game they once led 21-3.
Key to the second half: It's all about developing the young players, with an eye toward 2015. In an ideal world, they'd love for Smith to come off the bench and get hot, but who are we kidding? That's unlikely. Safety Calvin Pryor and tight end Jace Amaro, both rookies, have a chance to establish themselves as building-block players. The Jets must determine if Harvin is a one-year rental or part of the long-term solution. With a nonguaranteed $10.5 million salary in 2015, he's not likely to return on his existing contract. They'll probably be willing to renegotiate if he stays hot and doesn't slug any teammates.