1. I thought the Jets were supposed to be tanking the season, but here we are late in the year and your team has a far more legitimate shot at making the postseason than the Broncos. What are you seeing from your team that is helping your fan base feel like they are on the right track?
This team has seen a lot of individual players greatly exceeding expectations.
Their rookie safeties, selected back-to-back in rounds 1-2, have both stepped in and looked ready from day one. First-rounder Jamal Adams has special versatility and instincts. He's struggled at times with tackling and his man coverage against tight ends, but overall has played a big role in bringing this defense together - both on the field and off of it with his intensity. Though certainly not the best performing safety on the 2017 Jets, Adams has showcased a really high long-term ceiling if he can clean his issues up. Second-rounder Marcus Maye has been the biggest surprise. Playing mostly deep center field, he's been very consistent with his positioning both in coverage and the run game, helping to limit the big plays that plagued this secondary last year.
A few unheralded pickups are producing as well. Sheldon Richardson trade throw-in Jermaine Kearse is no superstar, but he has posted some really efficient numbers and been a reliable target for Josh McCown. Waiver pickup Kony Ealy has provided solid depth on the edge. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a quiet mid-season pickup last year, has been a huge factor in the passing game while also improving his blocking. There's also been the tremendous development of Robby Anderson, who has grown from a good deep threat with a limited all-around game to an unstoppable deep threat with a rapidly progressing all-around game. It's these kind of individual surprises spurring the Jets' beating of expectations.
2. Josh McCown is starting for your team and I'm honestly really impressed with the job he's doing. He's not a top-10 QB, but he's the kind of guy that a team needs on offense as the baseline if you are going to be competitive in this league. What is he doing well this year and what is surprising the Jets' fans about his play?
McCown has done a tremendous job operating within the offense, which rookie OC John Morton has done an admirable job with. He has done a nice job spreading the ball around and relying on his best matchups, not forcing too many awful throws. McCown has also been surprisingly money on his deep throws, dropping balls in the bucket down the sideline routinely with admirable efficiency.
The impact he has made with his legs has also been huge. The man has 5 rushing touchdowns this year and has had a knack for converting first downs on the ground. All in all, his consistency, legs, deep ball, and ability to stay healthy this long have all exceeded the expectations of the fans.
Don't be fooled though; as you said, he's still a middle-of-the-road QB at best. He has a tendency to take far too many sacks and makes rookie mistakes in the worst moments. With that being said, he's been a pleasant surprise, and most importantly has helped the young players (like Robby Anderson and ASJ) develop.
3. Give us some hope here. Are there any weaknesses you are seeing from your team's defense this season that are glaring? What are their strengths?
The Jets' edge rush is inconsistent. They don't really have anybody who can create an individual pass rush off the edge, though Jordan Jenkins has been coming on in recent weeks. Opposing tackles should sleep relatively well ahead of games with the Jets.
Corner is also a weakness of the defense beyond No. 1 guy Morris Claiborne, who has had a very solid season shadowing top receivers. Past him, the Jets are very beatable. Slot man Buster Skrine has had a few very, very rough individual performances that have cost the Jets games. Outside, Darryl Roberts has been highly inconsistent, while former 49er Rashard Robinson had a really poor game in his debut last week.
The Jets' safeties help to limit the deep ball, but you can beat these corners in the intermediate range, both toward the middle of the field and the sidelines. They're also among the most penalized groups in the league.
In addition to the safeties I mentioned earlier, Leonard Williams is a primary strength on this defense. If you just looked at his stats, you would wonder why he gets so much hype, but Leo is a legit star if you watch him. He dominates his matchups with star-level consistency, making him a nightmare in the run game and the team's best pass rusher. Also keep an eye on the inside linebackers, Darron Lee and Demario Davis. Both had downright brutal starts to the season, but have since become consistent forces in the run game while displaying improved coverage ability.
4. Every team has some young stud who's playing great and showing some supreme potential. Who's that guy on the Jets team this season and what about his game makes him special?
Marcus Maye would be that guy. As I mentioned earlier, he has been pro-ready from Week 1, quietly being the team's best defender for most of the year. He's an older rookie at 24 years old, so this has clearly played a role in his pro-readiness. He's a smart, disciplined safety, quickly diagnosing routes to the ball and finishing with force and consistency both on pass and run plays. He might never post dazzling stats, but Maye is already a quality starter whose IQ and consistency gives you reason to believe he can keep up this level for a long time.
5. Todd Bowles is close to wrapping up his third year of a four-year contract. How do Jets fans think of him and should he be extended?
It depends on the mood of said Jets fan. If you ask a Jets fan this question right now (coming off of a win), they'd likely be very supportive of him and praise his ability to lead this team far past expectations. If you asked it last week, they'd likely be critical of his team's constant blown leads and pressing penalty issues.
Bowles is going to be back next year, no doubt about it. There have been zero rumblings of his job ever being jeopardy. If the Jets were as bad as people thought they would be, winning 1-2 games, perhaps he would be let go. But since the Jets hit 3-2, he's been safe.
There are things to like. This team certainly has exceeded expectations, played very competitively with some great teams, and developed quite a few young players this season, all great looks for Bowles. However, Bowles' team has not competed on the road, is among the league leaders in penalties, and has blown far too many late leads. Bowles has been far from a complete embarrassment, but still has a lot to prove if he's to become a winning coach, and he's going to get another year to do it.
6. Drop that score prediction like it's hot and don't feel shy...we've lost games by 20+ multiple times this year!
This is tough! The Jets are 0 for 5 in putting out a good road performance this year. They're 1-4, with the one win being a sloppy one in Cleveland in which the Browns outplayed the Jets but threw the win away with unforced errors. The Broncos have also won three of their games at home.
With that being said, I think the Jets are simply more desperate and have a quarterback and offense playing much better. It will be ugly, but I think the Jets will win 20-14.
A Broncos’ win really wouldn't surprise me, though. The Jets lost in a very similar situation going into Tampa Bay to play a 2-6 Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Bucs team weeks ago, and this situation is strikingly similar. They need to prove they can bring their show on the road, regardless of the opponent.