The New York Jets' never-ending disaster
By PAT RALPH
College Contributor Network
Through eight weeks of the 2014 NFL season, it is becoming clear which teams are Super Bowl contenders and which teams are going nowhere. In case you haven't realized yet, the New York Jets are going nowhere this season. Standing at 1-7 and a full three games out of third place in the AFC East, the Jets' 2014 season has been nothing short of a disaster.
The primary reason for the Jets' struggles this season has been their league-worst passing offense. During the offseason, the Jets signed free-agent wide receiver Eric Decker to a five-year, $36 million contract to get quarterback Geno Smith an offensive weapon. While Decker has not been fully healthy this entire year, Smith has had a very disappointing second season as the Jets' quarterback.
Failing to live up to the hopeful expectations, Smith has arguably been the worst quarterback in the NFL. Smith has thrown more interceptions, 10, than touchdowns, seven, so far this season, as the second-year man out of West Virginia has the worst passer rating, 65.6, in the league. In addition, Smith has the lowest completion percentage, average passing yards per game, and yards per passing attempt in the NFL this season.
With the Jets having now lost seven straight games since their opening day win over the Oakland Raiders (who happen to be 0-7), pressure was mounting for changes in New York. After Smith threw three interceptions in the first quarter, he was finally benched for veteran quarterback Michael Vick in this past Sunday's 43-23 home loss against the resurgent Buffalo Bills.
While Vick will be seen by most as a breath of fresh air compared to Smith, he has been not been spectacular in his brief appearances so far this season. In Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers, Vick entered the contest in the second half trailing 21-0 and failed to even get the Jets on the scoreboard and admitted he wasn't prepared to come into the game. Vick did lead the Jets to 23 points when he entered Sunday's game at the start of the second quarter, but the veteran quarterback threw an interception of his own and fumbled the ball.
It's a complete mess where the Jets have no clue who will be their quarterback of the future. Despite having respectable players around him on offense this season Smith has shown his inability to be a successful starting quarterback at the pro level. As for Vick, he's 34 years old now with his best days of football behind him. Nothing looks good right now if you support Gang Green.
On a positive note, the Jets' running game and defense have been rather strong all season. Running back Chris Ivory has quietly been one of the few players on this roster to have a good season and has offset the lack of a role that veteran tailback Chris Johnson has been able to establish.
The run defense has been one of the best in the league, however, like many people believed before the season started, the Jets' defensive backs have not been great. Their secondary has given up the most touchdowns, while obtaining the least number of interceptions in the league. In addition, opponents' passer rating against the Jets' secondary is the best in the league.
While there will be many changes to the Jets this upcoming offseason, including a probable new quarterback and revamped secondary, the most notable change will be at the head coaching position. It is unfathomable to think of any scenario next season that still includes Rex Ryan as the head coach of the Jets.
While Ryan is not the main reason for the Jets' struggles and has had some very good seasons in New York, there is always a fall guy when a team has a terrible season. The other man who will be asked to explain what has happened this season is general manager John Idzik, who recently said he takes full responsibility for the team's struggles.
Going forward this season, the best this team can do is to play for pride. Fortunately for the Jets, their schedule is not terrible for the rest of the season. While their next two games will be difficult (on the road against a tough Kansas City Chiefs' team, followed by a home game against the red-hot Pittsburgh Steelers), the Jets could salvage some of their season and try to close strong down the stretch. But at the rate the Jets are going, it may be asking a little too much.
As the old saying goes, it's just too little, too late for the New York Jets. The dye has already been cast: big changes are coming this offseason to New York.
Pat Ralph is a junior at Villanova University. He has a passion for Philadelphia sports, especially the Phillies and Eagles, as well as Villanova Basketball and the New York Knicks. Follow him on Twitter @Pat_Ralph