CINCINNATI — Jets coach Adam Gase made the bold prediction the day before training camp began in July.
“We’re going to play meaningful games in the end of November and December,” Gase said on July 24. “That’s what we’re going to do.”
Sunday is the first day of December and Gase has been proven right. The Jets are playing a meaningful game against the Bengals. It might not be in the sense that Gase meant it in the summer. The playoffs are mathematically possible for the Jets, but not realistic.
However, this game is meaningful because the Jets are riding a three-game winning streak and have a chance to keep those miniscule playoff hopes alive with a win over the 0-11 Bengals. A win on Sunday would give the Jets their first four-game winning streak since 2015.
They are 4-7 and feel like they have come a long way since the beginning of November, when they lost to the previously winless Dolphins. We’ll see how far they actually have come if they can avoid a letdown against the Bengals. It would be embarrassing to give both the Dolphins and the Bengals their first wins of the season. It would also erase the good vibes the team is feeling after a blowout win over the Raiders last week.
“For us, we’re 4-7. We were 1-7 not long ago,” Gase said this week. “We had our struggles and things turned around a little bit for us. So, we’ve had great focus the last two weeks, [and] especially [against] Cincinnati’s defense, they’ve played well. They just haven’t won the game. But, you see the improvement on tape and that’s what our biggest focus is. We talked about it today. We watch the tape. We prepare. We go and practice. We have to go execute and we’re going on the road in the NFL and those are never easy games to be a part of, weather is probably not going to be great. We have to be wired in. We have to make sure that we bring our A-game.”
The Jets offense played its A-game last week. They accounted for 27 of the 34 points they scored against Oakland, and quarterback Sam Darnold played one of his best games as a pro. The offense looks something like the one the Jets talked about having in those heady days of training camp.
“It’s something similar to it,” Darnold said. “I think there are still, for us, there are areas we need to improve, like every team has out there. But, yeah, I think we’ve definitely done a lot better job of sustaining success and putting drives together.”