Sunday afternoon’s matchup out West between the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers has big postseason implications. Wait, scratch that. Big offseason implications.
See, neither team is going to be playing beyond Week 17. The Jets are 3-9, which sounds terrible unless you realize the Niners are 1-11 and haven’t won since their opener.
At this point, more harm than good would come out of the Jets winning again the rest of the way. Gang Green is tied with the Chicago Bears for the fourth-worst record in the NFL, and the Jets would improve their draft positioning with more losses.
But forces are working against that possibility. Here are three in the organization who especially would love nothing more than to look awesome in Santa Clara, California and get the victory.
The Jets’ second-year head coach followed up a surprising 10-6 season in 2015 with this mess of a campaign. It’s been so bad that some talking heads are wondering aloud if Bowles should be axed.
Does that sound like the kind of guy who’s thinking about the 2017 draft?
If Bowles is, in fact, coaching for his job, he’s going to prepare his charges to the best of his ability for a team that’s lost 11 games in a row.
Ryan Fitzpatrick appears unlikely to see the field again this season, barring a situation of compromised help. That makes the final four weeks Petty’s time to make his case that he deserves to be the long-term solution at quarterback.
Petty has seen a bit of action this season, completing 32 of 59 passes (54.2%) for 317 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. The Niners rank in the bottom quarter of the league in yards per pass attempt, so the matchup on paper is relatively soft.
The second-year pro must shine against a soft (on paper) defense so he isn’t benched in favor of 2016 second-round pick Christian Hackenberg.
Once in the conversation for a big-money contract, the former Pro Bowl selection’s production has dropped off considerably.
In 11 games, Richardson has just 1.5 sacks — his 3.5 as a rookie were the lowest of his first three seasons. Worse, he’s coming off a listless performance in which he registered zero tackles in Monday’s 41-10 loss to the visiting Indianapolis Colts.
It’s not out of the question the former first-round pick is moved in the offseason, but he would help both his team and himself by finishing the season strong regardless.