There were no more miracles to be had this Sunday for the Jets. After a 23-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Jets were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Despite getting another opportunity to compete for a playoff spot, due to getting a bunch of help from other teams in Week 16, the Jets could not capitalize on it.
It was an unceremonious ending to the Jets’ playoff hopes in the 2022 season. Despite seeming like the Jets had a great shot at making it earlier in the season, especially with a 6-3 record at their Week 10 bye, the Jets faltered down the stretch. The team was not as dominant post-bye, forcing fewer turnovers on defense and allowing more yardage. The offense also sputtered, having an inability to move the ball down the field or score points consistently.
The struggles continued against the Seahawks in Week 17. The Jets came out flat on defense, immediately letting Kenneth Walker run for a 60-yard gain on the game’s first play. Two plays later, Geno Smith found Colby Parkinson for a 12-yard touchdown. The Seahawks never relinquished the lead after that scoring drive, controlling the game’s direction as a result.
While cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and D.J Reed shut down the outside receivers of the Seahawks, the Jets struggled to shut down the rushing attack and middle of the field. Seattle rushed for 198 yards on the ground, led by Walker’s 133 yards. Geno Smith, while only having 183 yards passing, found two different tight ends for his passing touchdowns. This was a by-product of the safety and linebacker play, as they struggled to cover these players while on their routes.
Even with the defense struggling, the unit still managed to hold the Seahawks to six second-half points. But, unfortunately, that effort was not enough, as the Jets’ offense faltered again and failed to make a true impact in the game.
In his first game back from his ribs injury, quarterback Mike White looked completely different from earlier in the season. He was consistently off target, missing open receivers, and not putting the ball where it needed to be. White’s decision-making was not great either, throwing two interceptions on questionable throws. The offensive line was not great, but it was not as poor as in recent weeks. With the running game also finding some stability against a weaker Seattle run defense, White’s bad performance was crippling to an offense that looked like it was finding balance.
After the game, Head Coach Robert Saleh spoke about the team’s performance over the past few games.
“I’ve got to look at everything, all the way from top down starting with me. Obviously with this whole second half of the season, is there something that we could have done differently from a practice schedule standpoint, anything, just to kick start it. We made some changes with this travel schedule, to come out a day earlier to get ourselves acclimated, but there’s a lot of things that I can look at individually for myself.”
Saleh also spoke about being eliminated from playoff contention.
“I promise you no one is hurting more than the people in the locker room, especially me. But at the same time, I know it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s still a lot of really cool things to look at from this season. But right now, it stings big time right now.”
For the Jets, it is now time to look toward the offseason. There are many positives to take from this season, mainly the emergence of stars like Sauce Gardner and the team’s progression from last year. By no means has the season been a complete failure, especially considering how the Jets were expected to perform.
Yet, many areas need to be improved on. The offensive line needs to be revamped in terms of starters and depth pieces. Safety is another position of need, with one starter likely needed, if not two. Wide receiver, edge rusher, and linebacker are other positions where the Jets may also require depth and upgrades. That does not include tweaks to the coaching staff, specifically on the offensive side of the ball.
Most of all, the Jets need to solve and upgrade their quarterback position. They cannot afford to have lackluster play from the position hold back the team’s overall progress next season, especially when a playoff appearance will be expected.
The Jets have the talent to compete for a playoff spot in the coming years, as they were very close to doing so this season. To have a chance to break the longest playoff drought in the NFL next year, though, the Jets need to improve the holes on their roster and make even more strides as a team. It is up to Saleh and Douglas to ensure this happens; if not, the organization could be heading toward another reset in 2024. For better or for worse, this offseason will decide what the future holds for the Jets.