Whatever temporary bragging rights Jets fans feel entitled to following an ugly 13-10 overtime victory over the in-state rival Giants should quickly be met with the harsh reality that the team's overall outlook still looks quite bleak. As Gang Green attempts to leave Big Blue alone in the Meadowlands outhouse, those supporting the former must come to realize the team is arguably further away from finding long-term success.
Yes, the Jets forced overtime due to a pitiful Giants offensive drive that ended with kicker Graham Gano missing a 35-yard field goal with just 28 seconds left in regulation. Yes, the Jets then managed to travel 58 yards on four plays, and drill a field goal to knot the game 10-10. But that's besides the point. The truth is, neither fanbase could've been content with what transpired on Sunday.
The Jets and Giants combined for 24 punts -- the most in a game since 2003, according to the CBS broadcast -- and the Giants finished with minus-9 yards in passing after third-string quarterback Tommy DeVito was forced to fill in for backup Tyrod Taylor, who injured his ribs midway through the second quarter. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Giants had a 99.9-percent chance to win with 1:19 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson did enough to capitalize on the Giants' slew of mistakes, but he did little to inspire confidence in his abilities. Even amidst a three-game winning streak, with matchups against the Chargers and Raiders on the horizon, Wilson's lack of command -- on and off the field -- will remain a cause for concern.
It's not like anyone expected Wilson to play up to the level of an injured Aaron Rodgers, or even carry the load until a potential Rodgers return later this year. On that note, Wilson's improved ball security can be viewed as a baby step in the right direction -- he's turned the ball over once over the last three games.
Still, it'd be a Pinocchio-sized lie to say Wilson has progressed to the point of instilling confidence. At best, these Jets are a sub-.500 team competing for a final AFC wild-card spot. Perhaps it's something to celebrate, considering that both "Inception" and "The Social Network" were Best Picture nominees when the Jets last made the playoffs in 2011.
So where do the Jets go from here? How does general manager Joe Douglas capture this lightning in a bottle and hide it inside MetLife Stadium? The team is still without a franchise quarterback on its active roster, and despite having a defense that's clearly in win-now mode, they've received very little support. The proof? The Jets needed every break and a non-existent passing offense from the Giants in order to pull out the win. While stacking wins brightens the perception about the Jets' prospects, a 4-3 record can be deceiving.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh's lukewarm endorsements of Wilson sound like a teacher giving rave reviews about his students to the principal, just to make himself look better. We understand that he's the adult stuck in detention with a promising, yet misbehaving, child.
Maybe the wins are keeping Saleh off a hot seat that's had a propensity to go from freezing to scorching in just a matter of weeks. Plus, these Jets are best off riding out the ups and downs of Wilson, as opposed to seeking an outside alternative. But, all of this doesn’t mean the team is placed in an ideal spot.
Understandably, monitoring NFL Draft positioning this early into a season has gotten tiresome, and there's certainly no shame in celebrating victories for a team that's been trapped in the basement for over a decade. The only issue with this Jets team is, each win doesn't do much to contribute to the goal of building an AFC powerhouse and championship contender.
Make no mistake, the Jets are much further from being that than their current record indicates. Once the jealousy of watching the Giants reach the playoffs in Year One under head coach Brian Daboll wears off, the Jets should try and learn from the situation that's unfolded with a 2-6 rival that looks absolutely nothing like they did a season ago.
History is often doomed to repeat itself, and the Jets' false sense of comfort that's come with a few fluky wins is completely misguided. While it's fine for Jets fans to relish the Giants choking in a rivalry game, most of the attention should go beyond the final stat sheet. These Jets need to ensure they're not the poster child for taking one step forward, only to slide one step backward.