HomeFootball DirtJets struggling to end another season with losses and disappointments

Jets struggling to end another season with losses and disappointments

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One more game.

That’s all that’s left in a season that went terribly wrong for the New York Jets just as it was getting started.

And it’s ending just about how most thought it would when Aaron Rodgers tore his left Achilles tendon four snaps into his regular-season debut with the team — with lots of losses and disappointment.

The Jets (6-10) clinched their fourth straight season of double-digit defeats with a 37-20 drubbing in Cleveland on Thursday night.

“I got a chance, obviously, to watch it on the plane and again this morning,” coach Robert Saleh said Friday. “Pretty much what we thought coming out of the game.”

Translation: It was an uncharacteristically rough first half for the defense, which came in ranked No. 3 overall but allowed Joe Flacco to carve it up as the Browns raced to a 20-7 lead in the first quarter and 34-17 at halftime.

“Defensively, the first quarter, just a little bit off,” Saleh said. “It just wasn’t like us, in terms of from a precision standpoint.”

The Jets had their first opening-drive touchdown of the season, but then the offense couldn’t get back into the end zone. Trevor Siemian’s pick-6 also helped swing the momentum and turned it into a two-score game before Cleveland pulled away.

“I thought offensively that first drive was really good,” Saleh said. “The pick-6 was unfortunate, but overall, I felt like the offense was moving the ball. We’ve just got to find ways to continue to take advantage of our opportunities in the red zone.”

The Jets were 0 for 1 there, contributing to their league-low 34.3% conversion percentage.

“The margin for error against a defense like this is so thin,” said Siemian, who started a second straight game in place of the injured Zach Wilson. “Just didn’t get it done.”

Even New York’s normally reliable special teams unit had its issues with Greg Zuerlein having a field goal blocked and Israel Abanikanda fumbling away a kickoff return.

It all made for a microcosm of the Jets’ season that began with Super Bowl hopes and Rodgers leading the way. Owner Woody Johnson has already said Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas will be back next season in a do-over, of sorts, with a healthier Rodgers.

But the road to the end has been brutally frustrating for the team and its fans, who have only next season to dream about.

“I just tell everybody to get their laughs out now,” running back Breece Hall said, “because it won’t be like that in the future.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Wide receiver Garrett Wilson has played with six starting quarterbacks in his two NFL seasons as part of one of the league’s worst offenses and has still produced. He’s the first wide receiver in Jets history to record 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first two seasons and only the 16th player in NFL history to do so.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

You name it. But it’s clear one of Douglas’ priorities during the offseason will be to revamp the offensive line. Injuries and inconsistency have made it an unreliable unit and only center Joe Tippmann and guard/tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker, who’s coming off a torn Achilles tendon, are certain returning starters.

STOCK UP

LB Jermaine Johnson. The edge rusher has had a breakout second season after a modest rookie year. Johnson, a 2022 first-rounder who’s second on the team in sacks with 6 1/2, made an athletic interception for a pick-6 against the Browns when he leaped twice and tipped Flacco’s pass to himself and ran 37 yards to score. He later had a fumble recovery that could’ve been another score, but the play was blown dead before he headed to the end zone.

“Jermaine’s play at a Pro Bowl level,” Saleh said. “Grossly underrated in my opinion, but he’s going to be good for a long time.”

STOCK DOWN

RB Dalvin Cook. This season has been a massive disappointment for Cook, who signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the Jets during the summer. He was in uniform, but didn’t play at Cleveland and has no touches in the last two games. Cook, who has just 214 yards on 67 carries, has been surpassed by Abanikanda as the backup to Breece Hall.

“Dalvin’s been great and I know this has been a hard season for him,” Saleh said. “It’s been a hard season for all of us. I appreciate the heck out of his professionalism and the way he goes about his business and who he is around the building, the support he gives his teammates. … I know he’s hurting, but his story is not over. Plenty of juice in his legs.”

INJURIES

Zach Wilson remains in the concussion protocol and Saleh said the Jets will see how he feels next week before deciding on a starting QB at New England. “He’ll definitely be part of the discussion,” the coach said. “We just need to get him healthy first.” … OL Jacob Hanson, who started the last four games at right guard, is also in the concussion protocol.

KEY NUMBER

26 — The number of penalties the Jets have in their last two games, including 12 at Cleveland. New York leads the NFL in penalties with 123. “We’ve got to find answers to it,” Saleh said.

NEXT STEPS

The Jets have some motivation to finish strong in their season finale. They can snap a 15-game losing streak to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots when they square off on Jan. 7.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL


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