After a very promising start, the New York Jets form has fallen off quite drastically over the last month, which might be directly connected to Brandon Marshall struggling to be the game-changing factor he was earlier this season.
Marshall himself can pinpoint the moment things changed for him and the Jets – the loss to the New England Patriots. The Jets were 4-1 heading into that game, with Marshall having four consecutive games of 100 receiving yards or more before that contest. The Patriots decided to take that big play ability from the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick, double teaming Marshall whenever possible, holding him to only 4 receptions and 67 yards without touchdowns.
And since then, teams have been making it their goal to double team Marshall and let the Jets try and win by throwing to Eric Decker. Decker has caught a touchdown pass in each of the last three games (the team going 1-2 in them) but hasn’t shown an increase in his yards or yards per reception, while Marshall has a combined 67 yards in the last two games against the Jaguars and Bills, with teams picking up on what worked for the Patriots.
The obvious answer to this problem? Marshall finding a way to beat the double coverage, but obviously, that’s very easy to write and say, not do. The real answer to the problem is having a third receiving threat emerge to help out Marshall and Decker, who might be reliable, but isn’t going to blow up and make up for the big plays Marshall can’t make while the defense focuses in on him. The third leading receiver on the team is Chris Ivory, which means short gains, nothing more, followed by Jeremy Kerley, but we all know by now it’s not going to be him.
Looking at the younger guys on the roster, maybe it’s time to give Devin Smith or Chris Owusu more targets and time on the field. The Jets are a team that plays rather conservative football and Fitzpatrick works better when he doesn’t have to take risks and make big throws downfield, but with the postseason slowly slipping away from them, it might be time for Todd Bowles to open up a little bit and start getting creative. Hovering around .500, at or a win above, might not be enough to even finish second in the division considering how well the Buffalo Bills are playing right now.