The Jets have never been in a more awkward position than they are right now.
With seven games left, they sit at 3-6, riding a three-game losing streak where they have played arguably their worst football of the season. Their 21-year-old quarterback Sam Darnold is now in a walking boot after spraining his foot, causing him to miss this week’s game against Buffalo.
Some fans might question whether the Jets will “tank” the rest of the way out to get a higher draft pick, seeing as they have a better chance of not making the playoffs than sneaking in.
Tanking doesn’t appear to be on the Jets’ list of things to do, especially with the seat underneath Head Coach Todd Bowles seemingly getting warmer by the week. For Bowles and Maccagnan’s sake, they need to win as many games going forth as possible. Their jobs may depend on it.
Luckily for them the Jets schedule is favorable to close out the season. They play the lethargic Bills twice, the underachieving Packers, and the seemingly inconsistent offense that resides in Tennessee. Aside from playing the Patriots twice, all the games are winnable and within reach.
Next step is a decision at quarterback. Josh McCown will get the start this week, so that leaves this question. Are the Jets in a better position to win with McCown under center? McCown was solid on a team with low expectations last season, throwing for 2926 yards, 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in 13 games. He also completed a career high 67% of his passes.
Assuming the foot problem is a one week issue the question marks at who will be playing quarterback might be a little more deeper than those think.
On Thursday, Bowles assured that when healthy, Darnold would be back out on the field and back to his position as the starter.
Picture this though. If McCown goes out on Sunday and gives the Jets a winning performance, does he sway Bowles and Maccagnan’s decision going forth? Realistically both those two, mainly Bowles, are feeling the pressures of turning this franchise around after years of mediocre and inconsistent play. Their job security might depend on racking up more wins, even in a season where they were never under any real pressure to make the playoffs. Another 5-11 or 4-12 season might be the the kicker that sends them packing.
It might sound crazy but not crazy enough for someone like Bowles, who is arguably coaching for his life week by week.
Following the Buffalo game, the Jets should be playing Darnold if he is 100% healthy. Four interceptions against Miami is not only a learning curve, but part of the rookie process. He must make mistakes to learn from them. Keeping him sheltered off the field won’t help him progress with any in-game reads or understandings of the game.
The Jets have a lot of decisions to make in the coming weeks. They can make the decision they feel is more of a win now choice, or they can think more in terms of future development and growth. Sometimes the agendas of those on the hot seat become a little different than the overall team’s agenda.