nfl

Jets’ Buster Skrine: ‘You can’t rebuild in New York’

With strong-armed Josh McCown at the helm, coach Hue Jackson leaned hard on the vertical passing game, throwing the ball 20 times over Cleveland’s first 25 plays to help forge a 20-7 lead at the half. McCown picked up where he left off in Week 2, ripping through New York’s secondary for completions of 35, 32, 32, 24, 18, 17 and 15 yards. The offense vanished in the second half, though, with two straight punts before McCown — 25 of 49 for 341 yards and two scores — tossed back-to-back fourth-quarter picks to refocus Cleveland’s attention on what really matters today: the Indians.

Anyone still doubting Terrelle Pryor isn’t watching him play. The massive-bodied Browns receiver piled up 101 yards playing primarily against Darrelle Revis. The Jets cornerback found out what NFL defenses have discovered week after week: Pryor makes plays no matter who he faces. The quarterback-turned-wideout crossed the 100-yard barrier with three-plus minutes left in the first half, but disappeared along with the rest of Cleveland’s offense down the stretch. While elements of his game still require refinement, Pryor’s performance won’t stop the questions around the spotty play of Revis.

Ryan Fitzpatrick went belly-up on Wednesday. After an eyebrow-raising flip-flop from Todd Bowles, the Jets decided to bench The Artist Formerly Known As Fitzmagic in favor of Geno Smith. This was something of a cosmic joke for Jets fans certain they’d already boarded the GenoCoaster for the final time.

The seeds for Fitzpatrick’s demise were planted back in Week 3. The Jets flew to Kansas City on a high, coming off a Thursday night win over the Bills in which their quarterback played like a better-educated Joe Namath. Seriously, I invite you to watch the Game Pass footage. Fitzpatrick was an outrageous mad bomber. Unfortunately for the Jets, it turned out to be a mirage. Against the Chiefs, Fitzpatrick suffered a six-interception meltdown and never recovered.

Brought in as a free-agent addition before the 2015 season, Skrine was an acquisition for a team that was ready to contend. That Jets squad finished just outside the playoffs with a 10-6 record, and things seemed to be trending toward a postseason appearance in 2016. Then the wheels fell off.

Skrine has a point: The Jets do still have a handful of players that make them somewhat competitive. But New York has also bid adieu to Nick Mangold, Brandon Marshall and Darrelle Revis, among others. It’s been a signal that the team is deconstructing to start over with new pieces. The Jets are going young, and with youth and roster anonymity usually comes more losses than wins. But Skrine is under contract for three more seasons, so he has to trumpet his franchise’s chances.

This is an interesting time for the Jets. While owner Woody Johnson has been criticized up and down in recent years, he recently admitted he is finally pushing for a youth infusion on the roster. While this does not necessarily include the term “rebuild” I am guessing that’s implied.

Comments like these from Vick, I feel, used to stick in the organization’s craw and keep them competitive during times when it should have powered down the engines and focused on repairing some glaring holes that were developing on the roster. At the moment, the team is hurting across their offensive line, in the secondary, at linebacker and in the backfield. One reason? When general manager Mike Maccagnan came aboard, their immediate instinct was to take one last run at the Patriots by signing the likes of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie and trading for Brandon Marshall. They didn’t trade valuable end-of-career assets for picks. They didn’t play young talent and lean on a new coaching staff.

Decker’s 2016 season was a wash, with the 30-year-old pass-catcher landing on injured reserve in October with a torn rotator cuff. He underwent hip surgery and an operation on his shoulder and was still in a red non-contact jersey during Monday’s organized team activities — his last in New York.

Decker needs to get healthy, making a trade extremely difficult. Once he’s set free, though, someone is bound to come calling for one of the league’s better scoring threats. His wife, Jessie James Decker, certainly hasn’t lost faith

The odd component is watching Davis head back to New York. In a way, it defines the Jets’ desperation to get Pryor off the roster. Davis was a player apparently not worth the two years and $8 million the Browns signed him for back in early March last year in the Jets’ eyes. Now, he could find himself working back into the starting lineup. Davis started 15 games for Cleveland last year with two sacks and 59 solo tackles. Before that, he was a 16-game starter for the Jets each of the last three years.

So it goes in the NFL where the new Browns regime has established itself as one of the league’s more enjoyable wheeler and dealers. After stripping the roster of all their dead weight like Justin Gilbert and Barkevious Mingo via trade, they acquired Brock Osweiler from the Texans and now Pryor from the Jets.