Years go by, and some things don’t change: The New York Jets enter their road game against the New England Patriots with an awful record (1-5) and quarterback problems, while their opponents silenced critics of both the team and specifically Tom Brady with two impressive victories.
After it seemed like everything was falling apart in the days after the bad loss in Kansas City, the Patriots have replied by winning against the Cincinnati Bengals at home and the Buffalo Bills on the road. Tom Brady is coming off his best performance in quite some time, throwing for 361 yards and four touchdown passes while completing 73% of his passes against the Bills, as he put together two consecutive games with a passer rating of 100 or more this season.
Geno Smith might not be the only problem for the New York Jets, but he’s a big one. The running game is doing OK, so this isn’t a case of an offensive line leaving it’s quarterback completely exposed. His decision making simply hasn’t been where it should be after a season and a half in the NFL. He’s 31st in the NFL in completion percentage (57.1%), 33rd in yards per attempt with 5.96, is tied for second with 7 interceptions so far and his passer rating is also the worst among qualified players, 33rd with a 69.7.
The interesting thing about how badly Smith is doing, seemingly not making a single inch of progress in comparison to his rookie season, is that a lot of his mistakes are coming on first down and not when the team is in some desperate, third-and-long situation. Since the beginning of last season, his 15 interceptions on first down plays are an NFL worst, one more than Eli Manning with 14. His completion percentage of 55% on first downs is also an NFL worst.
The Jets are good against the run. Despite being behind most of the time this season, they’re allowing just 92 yards on the ground. They’re not getting lit up by quarterbacks either, but it doesn’t matter when their passing offense is the worst in the NFL, producing just over 180 yards of offense each game through the air. The name of Michael Vick keeps coming up, but Rex Ryan isn’t giving up on Smith as his starter, and maybe the problems begin with the coaching staff – Ryan himself and the offensive coordinator.
But while the overall numbers seem fine, they’ve been giving up too many yards in losses to the Broncos and the Chagers. Defensive players are starting to wither away due to injuries, and there’s only so much they can do when there’s no time to rest as Smith keeps causing short three-and-outs or turns the ball over so often. The Patriots have key losses on the defensive end themselves, but at least they know their offense can keep up with most teams if needed.
This seems to be the game that decides whether the New York Jets season might have some sort of silver lining in it or will it be completely terrible, which will cost Rex Ryan his job and eventually do the same for Geno Smith. With their last regular season win against the Patriots on the road coming in 2008 (they had one in the playoffs of the 2010 season), the odds are clearly stacked against them to turn their season around.