A few takeaways from the New York Jets’ 30-24 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings:
1. The hallmark of an outstanding team is its ability to improve in certain areas throughout the season. Look at the New England Patriots; their offensive line was a mess early in the season and people wanted to run Tom Brady out of town, saying it was his fault. How are they looking now?
We bring this up because of the Jets’ ongoing struggles in the red zone. It was an issue early in the season, and it’s an issue now. On Sunday, they made five trips to the red zone and ran a total of 13 plays inside the opponents’ 20, none of which resulted in a touchdown. Seven of those plays failed to gain yardage – three incompletions, two runs for losses, one for no gain and a sack. Jeff Cumberland dropped a pass in the end zone and Chris Ivory fumbled at the 2.
“The story of our season,” tackle Breno Giacomini said of the red-zone failures.
They haven’t changed the storyline. It’s one of the reasons they’re 2-11.
2. The Jets are 2-6 in games decided by one possession (eight points or less). But you know what? Even if they flipped it, they’d still have only a 6-7 record. That illustrates just how far they are from being a good team.
3. Percy Harvin showed the Jets why they should keep him for 2015 – and why they should think twice about keeping him. He was terrific on the field, producing 124 receiving yards and a touchdown, but he couldn’t stay on it. The fourth-quarter ankle injury was a reminder of his long injury history. It makes no sense to pay him $10.5 million next year. They should try to renegotiate the final four years of his contract. Failing that, cut him. Maybe he’d re-sign after testing the market.
4. What do the conspiracy theorists have to say now? Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called a balanced game – 37 pass plays, 37 run plays. Was that sticking it to Rex Ryan?
5. I think the Geno Smith-to-Jeff Cumberland connection needs a little work. Over the last two games: Three targets, no completions, one interception and one dropped pass in the end zone. The tight-end production in the passing game has disappeared without Jace Amaro (concussion), who could return this week.
6. Smith rebounded nicely after serving up a pick-6 on the first play of the game, but now let’s see if he can carry the momentum into the next game. That’s called consistency. He returns to Nashville, the scene of his infamous Behind-the-Butt Fumble last season.
7. Sheldon Richardson. Wow. He delivered the Jets’ first three-sack game since 2009.
8. This was a nice bounce-back game for the special teams. Nick Folk, dealing with a hip issue, tied a career high with five field goals. They also forced a takeaway and helped the Jets gain a decisive advantage in field position.