The Jets aren’t tanking, and other Week Five thoughts

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Heading into this season, everyone knew the Jets were tanking. Trying to lose. Hoping to be the worst team in the NFL this year so they could get the first pick in the draft next year. Purposely throwing their season in the toilet.

Oh, sure, the Jets themselves denied it, but everyone knew that’s just what teams always say, because tanking is viewed as something nefarious, essentially ripping off your fans when they buy their season tickets. The Jets would deny it but everyone knew this season was going to be a 1-15 disaster.

And now we can add preseason predictions about the 2017 Jets to the long list of things “everyone knew” that turned out to be wrong.

The Jets are 3-2 after Sunday’s win over the Browns. They’re on a three-game winning streak. Although beating the Browns is no great accomplishment, a week earlier they beat the Jaguars, who are a solid team at 3-2 themselves, and a week before that they beat the Dolphins, who are 2-2. The Jets are in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East, with the Patriots and Bills. The Jets are most certainly not tanking.

And the truth is, none of their personnel moves that were decried as tanking have really turned out to look so bad. Yes, the Jets got rid of old veterans, but those veterans have been nothing special on their new teams. Receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker aren’t exactly making a lot of big plays on the Giants and Titans. Linebacker David Harris has barely played for the Patriots. Center Nick Mangold and cornerback Darrelle Revis haven’t played at all or even found a new NFL team. Maybe the Jets got rid of all these guys not because the Jets wanted to lose, but because the Jets wanted to win, and they knew all those old veterans weren’t going to help them win anymore.

So who is helping the Jets win? For starters, receivers Jeremy Kerley and Jermaine Kearse, both of whom caught all four of the passes thrown to them yesterday. The Jets brought Kerley back after he didn’t pan out in San Francisco this offseason, then brought in Kearse in a trade with the Seahawks that sent Sheldon Richardson to Seattle that also got the Jets Seattle’s 2018 second-round draft pick. Some called that trade a tanking move, but Kearse has been a solid addition this season. Adding those two guys wasn’t about tanking, it was about winning.

And if the Jets actually wanted to lose, they wouldn’t have Josh McCown as their starting quarterback, ahead of the much younger Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. The 38-year-old McCown has no role in the Jets’ long-term future, but he’s a better player today than Petty or Hackenberg, and he’s starting because he gives the Jets the best chance to win today. That’s not what a tanking team does.

Will the Jets stay in first place for long? I doubt it. They play the Patriots next week, and the Patriots will probably win, and next Sunday will probably be the last morning the Jets wake up in first place.

But it says something that the Week Six Jets-Patriots game is a legitimately interesting game, one where the Jets have an opportunity to make a huge statement. That’s not the kind of game most people thought the Jets would be playing this season.

I don’t know what the Jets’ final record will be. It will probably be worse than 8-8. Maybe it will be 3-13. The Jets’ roster isn’t all that good. But having a roster that isn’t all that good is not the same thing as tanking. The Jets are trying to win. And succeeding, three weeks in a row.

Here are my other thoughts from Week One:

Adam Vinatieri is ageless. Vinatieri will turn 45 in December, and he’s better now than he was in his 20s and 30s. On Sunday he made all his kicks, including a 52-yard field goal to get the Colts’ scoring started against the 49ers, and a 51-yard field goal to win the game in overtime. That was his 10th career game-winning field goal in overtime, an NFL record. Vinatieri is now 24-for-32 on field goals 50 yards or longer from his age-40 season in 2012 through his age-45 season this year. In his 20s, Vinatieri was 7-for-11 on field goals 50 yards or longer, and in his 30s he was just 5-for-14. Although Vinatieri got a lot of attention for a few clutch kicks with the Patriots in the early and middle parts of his career, he has actually been a better, more consistent kicker later in his career than he was when he was younger. Vinatieri’s longevity is absolutely incredible.

The Lions’ stubbornness about Eric Ebron may have cost them Sunday’s game. It’s been obvious for years that the Lions made a mistake when they used the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft on Ebron. But it’s odd that the Lions simply refuse to admit that mistake. Yesterday, refusing to admit their mistake may have cost them the game against the Panthers. In the first quarter, Ebron dropped what should have been a touchdown pass in the end zone and the Lions had to settle for a field goal, costing them four points. As is it turned out, the Lions lost by three points. Later in the game, the Lions phased Ebron out of the offense and went to their much better backup tight end, Darren Fells, and Fells responded with two touchdown catches. Perhaps if the Lions had gone to Fells instead of Ebron from the beginning, Fells would have caught the pass Ebron dropped, and the Lions would have won. After the game, Lions coach Jim Caldwell continued to defend Ebron. It’s bizarre the extent to which Detroit continues to defend a player who simply isn’t doing his job.

EJ Manuel was a bargain. Manuel, a free agent the Raiders got for $800,000, made some solid plays for the Raiders while filling in for the injured Derek Carr yesterday. They didn’t win, but that was more the defense’s fault than Manuel’s. Consider that Manuel and Mike Glennon both became free agents at the same time, and the Bears gave Glennon more than 20 times as much money as it would have cost to sign Manuel. Glennon has now been benched, as the Bears will turn to Mitch Trubisky tonight. Chicago should have signed Manuel.

25 responses to “The Jets aren’t tanking, and other Week Five thoughts

  1. While Vinatieri’s record is impressive, his improvements later in life can be linked to the fact that he kicks indoors for half the games in a season.

  2. Another observation – maybe if the 49er’s fans should kneel in protest when the team plays instead of half the team kneeling during the Anthem. Concentrate on football instead of protesting.

  3. Ebron is atrocious to watch. Couple that with the fact that he pretty much defends his play on social media and encourages the fans to boo him “for not knowing the whole story.”

    Not sure what he implies when he says that, he can’t catch or block and the Lions lost the game.

  4. this is why i cant stand a lot of other fans..complete fools…anyone who thought the giants were superbowl contenders or the jets were intentionally tanking…complete fools

  5. Can we trade Tyrod for E.J.? Is all I want is to go down swinging, I long for the days of Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing for 320 3 TD’s and 4 4th quarter interceptions. At least the games were fun, players catching balls. Just so all the people on Tyrods jock are aware, Ryan Fitzpatrick routinely threw for 250-300 yards with receivers like Donald Jones, Scott Chandler, David Nelson, Namen Roosevelt, and Stevie Johnson. Not a single one of those guys were drafted ahead of the 6th round… Yeah, it’s definetly not his fault. SMH.

  6. The Jets have a great foundation and seem to be laying the groundwork for a very good team in the future. Getting guys like ASJ, Kony Ealy, Darryl Roberts, Demario Davis, and David Bass off the scrap heap. They had a great draft with Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Ardarius Stewart, and Elijah McGuire as well. Brandon Shell has been developing into a good LT with Carpenter still fairly young and Brian Winters on that offensive line. I could even see them keeping Kearse next season to be the #2 across from Enunwa. The defensive line has been underwhelming I saw a few fans mad about Leo Williams but the guy has been getting so close to a sack, all of his stats are in QB hits and TFL he’s been good but it won’t show on the stat sheet. Jets fan should be excited and I have to tip my hat to Bowles and Maccagnan.

  7. I never thought the Jets were tanking. I thought they were doing the right thing. I knew they would be a good defense, but would have problems scoring. They did get rid of overpaid Rex players, and surprise, the young guys are playing well. We’ll see what happens when they start playing the good teams, that can get up on them a couple of scores. I know next week’s game will be close.

  8. Another preseason prediction that everybody got wrong was that the Giants and Cowboys would lead the NFC East, and yet it is the Eagles and Redskins.
    HTTR

  9. The Jets GM was trying to tank the season. But Coach Bowles and OC Morton are trying to win. The players just play where and how the coaches tell them. Why are the Jets 3-2 and the Giants with a superior roster 0-5? Coaching.

  10. I would consider the sample size before pronouncing EJ Manuel a bargain. He still might be but considering the main objective is to win the game, this week might not be the most representative game to feature.

    As for Glennon, he represents more the cluelessness of the Chicago Bears front office than any comparison point to EJ.

  11. I’m part time positive for the Jets due they have good young guys playing well, consistently, and Todd Bowles has them pretty united, playing for each other. They’ve been hurting themselves too much with penalties which stunt drives on offense or on defense keeping their best unit on the field too long. The O line just isn’t where it needs to be and that will hurt them the most the rest of the year. The RB, WR groups have played better than expected. 3 of their next 5 games include the Pats, Falcons, Bucs. This year looks hopeful and very tough at the same time.

  12. Some other teams that haven’t lived up to the hype;

    Patriots, I cringed when I saw all the undefeated 19&0 predictions…

    Raiders, They haven’t played up to preseason expectations either…

    That’s why they play the games…

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