The Jets’ first win of the season can’t come soon enough, especially for Sam Darnold and Adam Gase. For Darnold, it would temporarily halt the questions about whether he really is a franchise quarterback. For Gase, it could literally save his job.
But time is running out, and opportunities are scarce.
There’s a big one coming on Thursday night against an injury-depleted, 0-3 Denver Broncos team that even the Jets theoretically should be able to beat. Then again, the Jets (0-3) opened the season with three straight blowout losses and are riding the worst offense in the league.
The truth is, when looking at what everyone knew would be a tough schedule, there aren’t many obvious chances for wins anywhere on the slate.
Which leads to this painful question: If not Thursday night, then when?
Here’s a look (if you dare) at the Jets' best and worst upcoming opportunities to get their first “W” before Thanksgiving -- and before it’s way too late for everyone involved:
Thursday night, vs. Denver Broncos (0-3)
The Broncos’ offense has barely been better than what Gase has drawn up for the Jets, and now they’ll be without young quarterback Drew Lock. And whether it’s Brett Rypien or Jeff Driskel making the start, he won’t have No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton to throw to, either. Also, linebacker Von Miller and cornerback A.J. Bouye are on injured reserve and running back Phillip Lindsay (toe) is hurting, too.
Yes, the Jets are hurting worse, but at least their quarterback is healthy, which makes this perhaps their best chance to get their offense on track before CEO Christopher Johnson has to rethink labelling Gase a “brilliant offensive mind." If this game feels like a now-or-never proposition for the 2020 Jets, it’s because it probably is.
Win probability: Better than a coin toss, which is the best the Jets can expect this year. Call “tails” and hope for the best.
Oct. 11 vs. Arizona Cardinals (2-1)
If the Jets are 0-4 heading into this game, who knows how much things will have changed at One Jets Drive? But at least they’ll have 10 days to stew over their situation and ponder how to stop Cards quarterback Kyler Murray. The good news: He really hasn’t gotten going yet, not in the breakout way everyone expected. The bad news: The Cardinals still have the 10th-ranked offense in the NFL and the Jets have trouble with quarterbacks who can run, as Buffalo’s Josh Allen proved.
Win probability: If all those guys are back, it’s a little less than a coin flip. If they’re not, it’s about the same as the chance that one of their linebackers could beat Murray in a sprint.
Oct. 18 at Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)
The Chargers have played three tight games and took the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs to overtime, despite having to throw rookie quarterback Justin Herbert in at the last minute for his first NFL start. Not much is expected of the Chargers this year, but they have plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball, they’re exceptionally well-coached, and maybe they’ve got something good in Herbert. Too bad this game isn’t in San Diego. That would make this trip more enjoyable for the Jets.
Win probability: Same as the odds that the temperature will be below 75 at kickoff. Possible, not probable.
Oct. 25 vs. Buffalo Bills (3-0)
You saw the first game, right? The Jets had no answer for Allen (312 passing yards, 57 rushing yards). Darnold was under constant pressure. There was no room for any Jets running back to run. The offense couldn’t get going at all until the final three minutes of the game. These Bills are good, and now they’re confident, too. The Jets aren’t in their class yet.
Win probability: Slightly better than the chance that there’ll be fans back in MetLife Stadium by Halloween.
Nov. 1 at Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
Win probability: Seriously, forget it.
Nov. 9 vs. New England Patriots (2-1)
Remember when the Patriots lost their quarterback and everyone thought they were done and the AFC East was wide open again? Yeah, we were all dumb.
Bill Belichick’s Tom Brady-less squad may not be the best team in the division anymore -- though that remains to be seen -- but it turns out they’re still pretty good. Certainly they have more than enough to torture the Jets. This time it’s just Cam Newton instead of Brady, and the quarterback is much more of a dual threat. And actually, given the Jets’ recent history against quarterbacks like that, it makes this matchup even worse.
Win probability: Haven’t we all learned by now not to count the Patriots out? The Jets’ chances here are about the same as Newton being benched for Jarrett Stidham
Nov. 15 at Miami Dolphins (1-2)
The Dolphins are kind of what the Jets want to be (minus the supposed franchise quarterback). They’re a team that’s not quite there yet, but is showing a bright future and fighting hard. They hung tough with New England in their opener, barely lost to the Bills in Week 2, then put it all together and blew out the awful Jaguars. There’s undeniable progress there, even though eventually old friend Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to cede the quarterback duties to Tua Tagovailoa. Will that happen by this game? Like the Patriots, FitzMagic should never be counted out.
Win probability: The Jets also play the Dolphins again two weeks after this game, right after their bye (and after Thanksgiving). They have to win one of them, right? So make it 50-50 that this is the game and the Jets’ misery won’t ruin your turkey dinner.