A disappointing 1-3 stretch since the New York Jets’ late-season bye has left the team with little to play for over the final two weeks.
Yes, they will still try to beat the visiting San Diego Chargers on Sunday — and then sink the New England Patriots on the road for the first time since 2011. But really, these last few weeks are about evaluating talent for the future.
Some pieces clearly are part of the long-term plan, such as rookie safety Jamal Adams and talented young receiver Robby Anderson. Others will have plenty to prove.
Here’s a look at some of the players the Jets must take a long look at against San Diego and New England.
Bryce Petty continues to show he isn’t a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. While he’ll get the start Sunday, second-year pro Hackenberg needs to play a significant portion of the remaining eight quarters.
The fact that Hackenberg hasn’t surpassed Petty on the depth chart is a red flag, but it’s time to see what he can do in an NFL game that counts — especially against teams like the Chargers and Pats, both of which could be playoff-bound.
The 25-year-old tight end, at 6-6, is a huge red-zone target. That’s what makes his three touchdown grabs this season look strangely low for a team that aired it out so often in 2017.
Seferian-Jenkins will be a free agent in the offseason, so he will be motivated as anybody to make a good impression.
A sixth-round pick in the spring, 23-year-old McGuire has been buried on the depth chart behind running backs Bilal Powell and Matt Forte. Still, he’s managed 321 yards on 84 carries and 161 yards on 14 receptions, with two total touchdowns.
Forte remains under contract for next year, but he’s 32 years old and clearly has lost a step. Even Powell will turn 30 next October. If McGuire can stick as a Jets rusher moving forward, now would be a good time to give him more responsibilities.