Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jalin Marshall (89) celebrates after a long punt return against the Buffalo Bills during the 3rd quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Jets took the 2016 season series against the Buffalo Bills, defeating them 30-10. It was a game full of reserves, dumbfounded play, and questioning.
With the season finale looming in the Meadowlands, the New York Jets were welcomed by a half-packed MetLife Stadium to face the Buffalo Bills. This wasn’t necessarily a “game for the ages,” as both teams had nothing to play for, other than sheer bragging rights.
The Jets can’t have a draft pick lower than six, but with a loss, they could’ve gone as low as three. Many fans, including myself, wanted a loss so that we could build more with a higher pick. But, the true, sentimental fan in myself wanted the Jets to pull out a victory and close 2017 with a rare win.
It wasn’t that interesting of a game, as it was two very mediocre teams going at it in a meaningless game. The Bills had just fired Rex and Rob Ryan (which made me happy, being a Jet fan), and had offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn serve as interim head coach. Lynn played EJ Manuel, and later put in Cardale Jones for the fourth quarter. Without further ado, here are your Week 17 grades.
Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to pass against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
In a game that means absolutely nothing in terms of Fitzpatrick and his future with the Jets, he sure made it was his best of the year. Maybe just a little too late? Fitz went 20-30 for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
Bilal Powell and Jalin Marshall were the recipients of the scores. The veteran quarterback showed off his arm (a rarity) with a heave to Quincy Enunwa for 51 yards. This gave New York a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, both something fans aren’t accustomed to; touchdowns, and a lead. It was the first time the Jets had scored a touchdown in NINE quarters. 2 1/4 games. That shouldn’t happen at the pro-level.
Bilal Powell has proven himself that he can not only lead the charge at running back for the Jets, but also for half of the NFL as well. Finishing with 122 yards on the ground, Powell brought himself to an even-600-yards for the year. He bullied the Rex Ryan-less Bills defense, both on the ground and in the air. He caught three passes for 15 yards and a touchdown.
Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) breaks the tackle of Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) after he makes a reception during the 3rd quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
It was a slew of options for Fitzpatrick, as he hit seven different players for catches. Of his 30 attempts, 20 passes were hauled in. Enunwa lead the targeting category with eight, bringing in five for 81 yards; 51 of which came on a go-route in the first quarter.
Robby Anderson was also a factor, which is a rarity when Fitz is under-center. Usually, Anderson looks to only connect with Bryce Petty. The rookie had four catches for 43 yards. Alongside him, were the two other guys that were widely talked of in the beginning of the year; Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall.
With Brandon Marshall out, we got to see a young-and-opportunistic receiving group; quite possibly the future of the Jets. Marshall and Peake would both have 22 yards receiving, with Marshall having one more catch (3) compared to Peake (2).
Even tight end Brandon Bostick joined the party, catching a pass for seven yards. Rookie Brandon Wilds had two catches for 20 yards and got four carries on the day. It was certainly a bit refreshing seeing such variety in the passing game, it just is unfortunate it took 17 weeks to get this.
Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Cardale Jones (7) is hit as he throws by New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) and New York Jets safety Calvin Pryor (25) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Defensive Line: B
The defensive line finally showed up, and would’ve gotten an ‘A’ if they hadn’t waited since Week 1 to have any impact on a game. Unfortunately, they chose one of the most meaningless games to give effort towards.
Sheldon Richardson had six combined tackles, two of which were for losses. Given what he has done on social media and his lack of performance, it is very possible that this was Richardson’s last game as a Jet. Seems about right that he’d show his worth in this game and the low-stakes it held.
Fellow linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Deon Simon combined for seven total tackles and two sacks. The defensive line did a nice job of holding both EJ Manuel (18.2 QBR) and Cardale Jones (17.0 QBR) to weak performances. One thing is guaranteed, the Jets have used up their time holding a “dominant defensive line.” This defensive line will look a lot different come June.
One thing is guaranteed, the Jets have used up their time holding a “dominant defensive line.” This defensive line will look a lot different come June.
Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Mike Gillislee (35) runs the ball up the middle and is tackled by New York Jets outside linebacker Darron Lee (50) in the 2nd quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets brought a bunch of new faces into the linebacking group in this game. Of them all, Corey Lemonier had one of the nicest hits, if not the nicest, anyone on the Jets has had all year. It was a strip-sack for the much-traveled linebacker, who was only .5 sacks away from tying Richardson (1.5) on the year. Let that sink in.
Jordan Jenkins had a sack on the day as well, giving him 1.5 for the season. Rookie Darron Lee was right behind veteran David Harris in tackle-leaders, as he’s done for a majority of the year. His development behind Harris has been outstanding, and a joy to watch.
Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive back Jonathan Dowling (31) is tackled by New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) after a reception during the 2nd quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Defensive Secondary: A
Woahhhh! Is that an ‘A’ for the defensive secondary? Why yes, yes it is. Darrelle Revis FINALLY got an interception, and almost returned it for a touchdown. I was so excited. Fans have been wanting that all season, and we finally got it. Although it wasn’t on a defensive play, safety Doug Middleton had the play of the game.
The Bills had some kind of communication error, or just didn’t know what was happening as the Jets kicked the ball off in the third quarter. Bills players went to down the ball as if it was a punt, and as the ball went into their end zone, Middleton recovered it, therefore giving the Jets a touchdown.
It was as if the Bills took a play from the Jets’ playbook, as it was such a Jets move that they committed. This gave New York a 30-3 lead in a sequence in which they scored 10 points in zero seconds. Efficiency at its finest.
At the end of the day, the Jets still had a horrendous and mediocre year, finishing 5-11. Now, their fate lies in the hands of the 2017 NFL Draft and free agency. Uncertainty roams the mind of the common fan of this franchise. As a fan, we can only hope that winning and success portrays the near future.