As I write this, the Jets are putting the finishing touches on our slim playoff hopes. You guys definitely did your part, with a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback win over the Pats, and we even got some help from the Chiefs (it's like I say every year: KC and Denver ALWAYS split, it doesn't matter how good or how bad they are, they'll always split. It's one of those "sports things"), but in the end you put yourself in a position where you had to depend on too many other teams to get you in to the playoffs.
You made a great effort here at the end. Finishing with a four-game win streak is nothing to sneeze at. Finishing second in the division for the first time ever is totally a plus. Having a winning record on the road is fantastic. Two weeks ago, we were one of seven teams fighting for two playoff spots. Going into tonight's Jets/Bengals game, we had cut it down to being one of two teams fighting for one spot. Only problem was, we were out of the fight, and we needed Cincinnati to do our fighting for us. A team that's already wrapped up their division vs. a team at home fighting for their playoff lives.
Yeah, that's gonna work.
And so, for the third year running, we remain mediocre. We're a slightly better mediocre than the last two years, at 9-7 instead of 8-8, and don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the winning season. Seven losses? Not too shabby.
You know, we didn't have to put ourselves in this place. We didn't have to depend on the Bengals. You know, if we'd have played as well at home in week one as we played today, the Jets wouldn't have even been in the hunt. That's, ultimately, a great example of what I'm going to take from this season: The "if only's".
If only we didn't drop the ball, literally, on the goal line vs. Jacksonville. And Arizona. And Indy. (And boy, did that hurt in Indy)
If only our kicker didn't miss the most field goals in the NFL (11).
If only our defense didn't give up scoring runs of 50+ yards the first THREE consecutive weeks of the season.
If only we could have gone better than .500 at home.
If only we would have won two of our six division games.
You realize that if only one of those "if only's" weren't on the list, we'd be a playoff team?
This is essentially the course we ran last year and the year before that. Rough start, better middle, mid-to-late-season-slump, and then fantastic finish. Not good enough. I understand Coach K will be back next season, and I'm fine with that. But I hope we will not settle for another 8-8 or 9-7 without the playoffs. Not when our team is supposedly "this close" to being a playoff team.
Now, I don't want to be a downer here, so I will say the following as well:
Thank you for playing meaningful games in December for the first time.
Thank you for exciting wins against the Pats, Dolphins, Titans, and Bengals.
Thank you for not choking against Oakland this year.
Thank you for that great game in Indy, even if we did choke it away first at the end of the first half and then again at the end of the second. It was overall a good performance against a great team.
Thank you for making improvements in last seasons' areas of weaknesses. Please, please continue this trend and deliver a winner in Houston next season.
'Cause I've only been a fan down here for five years; your longtime fanbase deserves a winner after all they've stuck through with you.
See you next fall!