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 »This Week in History
New York Jets
INSIDE SLANT

  Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel | Player Wire

  Jets still searching for identity

What are the New York Jets, exactly?

Sure, we know they're a rebuilding franchise. But, unfortunately for their fans, it's seemingly been a perpetual rebuild since Super Bowl III.

But let's be serious for a second and hone in on the current iteration of the Jets as they head into their bye-week break.

They lack an identity, they rely on more veterans at key positions than one would think and the cornerstone of their team appears to be rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, but while safety is a position of growing importance in today's NFL, it isn't as valuable as a franchise quarterback or dominant pass rusher.

The Jets have lost four of their last five, but somehow seemed overconfident in Tampa this past Sunday. In the midst of their three-game losing streak to the Patriots, Dolphins and Falcons, the narrative became "The Jets can compete with anyone, and if they could just stop blowing leads, they'll start winning."

Well, they did just that in a complete performance in prime time against the now-sliding Bills (5-4), who decided to bench quarterback Tyrod Taylor on Wednesday.

The Jets had a couple extra days off, during which time the defense's dance moves became a brief Internet sensation. Did they get a big head?

Defensive end Leonard Williams said after the loss to the Bucs there was "a lack of urgency (and) a lack of drive," and cornerback Morris Claiborne said the team was "flat" and "not playing like ourselves."

Leading up to the game, head coach Todd Bowles repeatedly said the Jets had nothing to be overconfident about because they were still 4-5. But the Jets played lethargic and scored a season-low 10 points.

"It was more frustrating than it was (Sunday)," Maye told reporters after film study of the game on Monday. "We saw all the areas that we beat ourselves and we saw where we left plays out there on the field."

Now, the Jets are in limbo. It would take a miracle to make the playoffs and it doesn't make sense to tank at this point because they have virtually no shot at a top-three pick.

This, truly, is the same old Jets. Throw (stuff) against the wall and see what sticks.

They haven't made the playoffs since 2010, and what do they have to show for the mediocrity of the last seven years?

They've never drafted higher than sixth in that span and nary an offensive player, let alone a quarterback, selected in the first round.

What are the Jets afraid of?

They didn't want to play Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg at the start of the season, the latter, we surmise, to save their fans from getting a panic attack knowing the team wasted a second-round pick on a guy who doesn't belong in the NFL.

So they signed journeyman Josh McCown in the offseason. A nice story and an even nicer guy, but the Jets had to realize that while the 38-year-old may make them a tad better in the short term, there was always a ceiling on what he could accomplish over the course of a season.

Bowles is a fine coach, but talk that he should be in the running for NFL Coach of the Year was premature and trumpeted by the same people who thought the Jets would go winless before the start of the season.

Preseason predictions aside, the Jets were never the least talented team in the league. The Browns and 49ers have less, and the Jets' roster is no worse than on par with teams like the Colts, Bears and yes, even the Bucs.

Here's the one positive of the Jets doing just enough to be mediocre again: They're great against the spread. Since Week 3, the Jets are 6-1-1, with Sunday being the lone loss. Only the Eagles (seven times) have covered the spread more than the Jets this season.

So, Jets fans, maybe you can at least recoup some of your season-ticket money down the stretch.


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