Dec 17, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh reacts from the sideline against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

What To Watch For in Jets Final Three Games

Welp, meaningless December football has arrived again in Florham Park, as the New York Jets fell to the Miami Dolphins 30-0 in week 15. This blowout loss officially eliminated New York from the postseason for the 13th year in a row, the longest streak in all of North American professional sports. Also, New York hasn’t hosted a playoff game in 21 years!

For Jets fans, these final three games can’t end soon enough, but there still are 180 minutes of football left, so let’s look at what to watch for in these remaining games.

What To Watch For in Jets Final Three Games

Development of Young Players

Despite investing a lot in veteran talent this past offseason, New York still has a handful of young talent that needs further evaluation on both sides. It is crucial that these young pieces get more opportunities to showcase themselves over the final three games.

Starting on offense, players like Israel AbanikandaXavier GipsonJason Brownlee and Jeremy Ruckert will all look to make an impact down the stretch. The Jets are very thin at receiver, meaning if they can get more evaluation on UDFAs Gipson and Brownlee, it could go a long way entering 2024. To add on, Abanikanda will look to solidify himself as a true number two behind Breece Hall, with Dalvin Cook most likely leaving in the offseason.

Ruckert, who is in year two, has shown flashes in minimal playing time. Since C.J. Uzomah went down, Ruckert has shown more consistent growth. He will look to firmly implement himself as the No. 2 tight end going into 2024 behind Tyler Conklin.

Another player to look out for is on the defensive side of the football and that is rookie edge rusher Will McDonald. This season, McDonald has appeared in 12 games and has logged two sacks. Being in such a deep defensive line room, he has mainly been in a development role similar to Jermaine Johnson a year ago. However, over the last two weeks, McDonald has begun to play well and he will look to continue that going into year two, where he looks to make a sophomore season jump.

Belief in Coaching Staff and Front Office

Whether you like it or not, all signs point towards the Jets bringing the band back together in 2024. Despite a disastrous 5-9 season so far, Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas will most likely return next season. Even with this being the case, over the next three games, it will be important to see if this locker room sticks together and plays for Saleh.

Right now, the locker room is still together. There may have been some fractures recently, but the locker room is not lost. If these losing ways continue and the Jets drop the final three games, it could get ugly. Even with Aaron Rodgers committing to Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas for another season, the possibility of losing home games to the Chargers, Falcons and Commanders is a terrible look for the front office and coaching staff.

The reality is this: Saleh and Douglas have done an alarming amount of losing since each took over. Saleh is 16-32 years old in his career, while Douglas is 25-55. Over the next three games, some sort of positive momentum needs to be built; otherwise, it is only going to look worse.

Stat Milestones

While the team standing at 5-9 has had a disastrous season, there have been bright spots that have put together big seasons, especially looking at the numbers. Over the next three games, a few players on both sides of the ball will be looking for important personal milestones.

Even with being part of one of the worst offenses in NFL history, Garrett Wilson has put up another big season in year number two. Wilson currently has 79 receptions for 882 yards and three touchdowns. Over the next three games, Wilson will need 118 yards to get to the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year. If Wilson can get 118 yards over the next three games, he will become the first Jets receiver to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since Keyshawn Johnson, who had back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in 1998-1999.

Many key pieces have stepped up on the defensive side of the football for the Jets this season. It is the reason why they are one of the best units in football. However, one of the biggest contributors who will look to do something he hasn’t done in his NFL career is Bryce Huff. Through 14 games this season, Huff has 8 sacks, which leads the team and smashes his previous career high of 3.5 sacks, which he set in 2022. Through the next three games, Huff will look to crack 10 sacks for the first time in his career and remain in the team lead.

Draft Position

Choo, choo! All aboard the tank train! For some fans, being eliminated from the postseason officially signals the time to start rooting for losses to improve the draft position. With three weeks left in the season, a lot can still change with where the Jets will stand come April.

Heading into week 16, the New York Jets currently sit at 5-9, which puts them picking at seventh overall. Most likely, the Jets will remain in the top 10; the big question is, where? Right now, New York has an 11.5% chance of getting a top-five pick and a 70.3% chance of getting a top-10 pick. Chances are the Jets will remain inside the top 10, which has happened a lot over the 13-year playoff drought.

New York will close out the season with the Washington CommandersCleveland Browns and New England Patriots. Sitting at 5-9, the Jets can, at best, finish 8-9 or, at worst, 5-12.

Main Image: © Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

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