The Jets defeated the Chiefs 38-31 on Sunday, improving to 5-7 and keeping alive their scant playoff hopes. Here are some thoughts and observations of the game:
1. Each week, I usually like to look back the last time the Jets played that week's opponent. Sometimes it generates an idea of history or raises a good question. If nothing, just remind you of what happened the last time the two teams played.
Last week, I went back to watching the Jets-Chiefs game in 2016. That was a monumental game for the Jets. It was the beginning of the end for that team, even though it was only Week 3. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions in the 24-3 loss and the Jets got rid. Later, we discovered that he was worse off the field than in him. That was the game that featured the costume discussion between Brandon Marshall and Sheldon Richardson that led to a crack in the team. It was something the Jets never recovered from.
Fast forward to Sunday. This 38-31 triumph for the Jets over the Chiefs feels like another turning point for me, albeit a late one this season. The Jets found a way to win a game in the fourth quarter, something that has been a disaster for two months. That was enormously mental for this team.
Another aspect that I think will have some lasting effects was the fact that the Jets did not play well defensively and still won. We all thought (including myself) that the Jets were going to have to play "perfect games" to win this year. They showed on Sunday that is not the case. The defense was far from perfect, allowing a lot of big plays. However, the Jets offense picked them up and the team found a way to overcome the early deficit of 14-0.
This is the kind of game that the Jets have not won in a long time. When the Chiefs scored two easy touchdowns early, I started thinking that this could be a game like the Colts' loss on Monday night last year when Indianapolis simply stepped over the Jets and never got off the mat.
Now, the bad news for the Jets, this victory comes the first weekend of December. Jets coach Todd Bowles said last week that the Jets are still learning to win. They took a big step towards that Sunday, but they only have four games left.
However, this could be a bigger step towards the maturing of the team in the future. There were many young players on the field on Sunday who will form the core of this team in the coming years. The Jets have to hope that the lessons of what it takes to earn them will be maintained as they progress through their careers.
2. When Muhammad Wilkerson did not trot to the field with the team's defensive starters on Sunday, I thought, "Here we go again." It was evident that Wilkerson had been sent to the bench and that he had been sent to the bench in the last two years for being late, so I thought that was what it was again. After the game, we discovered that he was late for a meeting on Saturday.
It is inexcusable that Wilkerson still has problems with tardiness. I guess this was not the first time I was late this season, since Bowles usually does not feel like a player for being late only once. The players are late. Happens. Bowles said so much in the offseason when he made a joke about the alarm clocks that did not go off. But Wilkerson should be beyond this. He wants to be a team leader. The leaders do not stumble like this.
The Jets have a decision to make about Wilkerson this offseason. They can cut it and move forward in March without owing the $ 16.75 million their contract requires in 2018. It would also save them $ 11 million in salary space.
Earlier in the season, I thought the Jets would probably cut it because it was not working well. Then, he had an increase in the middle of the season and I thought that maybe the Jets would ask him to restructure his contract to receive a payment. After Sunday, however, I wonder how tired the Jets are with him. This could be the last month of Wilkerson as Jet.
3. Then there's Darron Lee. He arrived late Saturday and Bowles left him inactive for the game. Lee is in a different category than Wilkerson. This is the first offense we know. He is also 23 years old. Wilkerson is 28. Big difference.
That's not an excuse for Lee. I should arrive on time to work as we all should. The Jets have to wait for this to be a wake-up call for Lee, who has shown signs of immaturity in his two years with the Jets. The first round selection of 2016 sometimes acts as if it had done 10 Pro Bowls when it has not yet been tested. Maybe seeing from the sideline on Sunday will have a positive impact and this will not be a problem again.
4. The Jets offensive line has been difficult to resolve this year. They go through sections of good game followed by sections of really poor game and then back. It's hard to read how talented they are.
On Sunday, they had one of their best games. They did not allow a sack and the Jets did some long runs. The Chiefs have a good pbading career, led by Justin Houston. He was not heard since Sunday. Second-year tackle Brandon Shell has played quite well this season and on Sunday was outstanding.
The Jets general manager, Mike Maccagnan, will have a difficult evaluation on the offensive line this offseason. I think it needs an update, but with all the other areas of need, I wonder if Maccagnan will feel like he can move forward with this group for another year. It will be interesting to see.
Revealing statistics: The Jets ran 85 plays in the game. The Chiefs executed 46. If you just looked at that stat, you'd think the Jets blew them up, but the Chiefs had some big plays that kept the score close. Still, it illustrates an impressive performance by the Jets offense and the way they controlled the clock.
Amazing Instant Count: Rashard Robinson had the start at the cornerback and played 18 of 46 (39 percent) of the defensive clicks. The Jets acquired Robinson on the change deadline in October and have been accelerating since then. He did not do well in his first start for the Jets. He left the 79-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill and was sent to the bench after that.
Game ball: The 38-year-old wonder did it again on Sunday. Field Marshal Josh McCown had a great day. He completed 26 of 36 pbades for 331 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for two touchdowns. No one could have seen this coming from McCown. It has been excellent for the Jets this year.