With eight weeks left in the NFL season, beginning today with the annual three-game Thanksgiving schedule, then 17 regular season games, the AFC East division is far from settled. But it’s no surprise the 2-8 Jets are in last place.
This is another of their rebuilding years. They began the season with a rookie quarterback, a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and a new defensive coordinator. Each of the coaches are working in their positions for the first time in the NFL.
The Jets’ 24-17 loss this past Sunday to the Miami Dolphins at MetLife was their third loss in a row, following defeats to the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills, and their fifth in the last six games. The 4-7 Dolphins have now won three straight after dropping seven straight.
The 6-4 Bills, preseason favorites to be AFC East champions, are in a tight race with the New England Patriots, who have become a strong playoff contender this season after a rare year of not making the playoffs last season. The Patriots lead the division at 7-4.
When Jets head coach Robert Saleh named veteran quarterback Joe Flacco the starter over Mike White for the matchup versus the Dolphins, it was an unpopular decision among the fanbase. White had given the team a spark after replacing Zach Wilson, whose first season has been a struggle. White helped the Jets take down the Cincinnati Bengals 34-31 in Week 8, throwing for 405 yards and three touchdowns.
Wilson sustained a sprained PCL in a 54-13 loss to the Patriots on Oct. 24. He is expected back as the starter this Sunday when the Jets play the Houston Texans on the road this Sunday. Flacco completed 24 of 39 of his passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns in facing a solid Dolphins defense. One TD was to receiver Jamison Crowder and the other to rookie receiver Elijah Moore, who had a breakout game in finishing with eight catches for 141 yards.
“We did some good things,” said Flacco. “But we made too many mistakes to win the football game.” The Jets were in contention for most of the afternoon but couldn’t overcome the errors. The score was tied 14-14 in the fourth quarter when Jets defensive end John Franklin-Myers was called for a roughing the passer penalty on Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on an incomplete pass on third down, keeping the drive alive and ultimately leading to a Miami touchdown.
“Ninety percent of the games in this league are lost, not won,” said Jets head coach Robert Saleh. “And this one was lost.”