FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A funny thing happened on the way to Tanksville: The New York Jets won a game.
The Jets are 3-3, coming off a competitive loss to the New England Patriots, and they actually believe they're good enough to compete for a playoff spot.
"Oh, yeah, without a doubt," defensive end Leonard Williams said Monday.
Nose tackle Steve McLendon echoed that sentiment, adding, "In order to be a playoff team, we have to beat Miami" on Sunday.
This would be a good time to cue the old Jim Mora sound bite: Playoffs? Playoffs?
While coach Todd Bowles insisted "playoff talk for me is not valid at all," let's consider the circumstances.
Considering the Jets' place in the AFC standings, making the postseason is not impossible. They're only one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East, with a rematch in the season finale, and they're one of nine AFC teams at .500 or better.
So, yes, there's a chance on paper, but is it realistic? The answer to that question is no, not the way they're playing on offense.
The Jets are averaging only 18.2 points per game (26th in the league), not having scored more than 23 in a game. They still have a handful of high-scoring teams remaining on their schedule, and there's no way they can match that firepower, not with an offense that is too reliant on Josh McCown's 38-year-old right arm.
Offensive coordinator John Morton called 54 pass plays against the Patriots, in part because the running game was ineffective. His job is to find a rushing attack because 54 is an absurd number. It's not conducive to winning football, and it could be hazardous to McCown's health. He was hit 10 times by the Patriots, including four sacks.
"I don't know too many quarterbacks who want to sit back there and throw 50 times a game," left tackle Kelvin Beachum said.
Another area that needs to be addressed is the run defense, usually the bedrock of playoff-caliber teams. The Jets are allowing 139 yards per game (28th), an unacceptable number.
"We're showing more good than bad, but in order to play into January in the postseason, you have to be able to stop the run," McLendon said.
Truth be told, the Jets don't do any one thing particularly well, so the playoff chatter probably is premature. And yet ...
They possess certain intangibles that can't be ignored. They fight. Except for a six-minute stretch in the second half of the Week 2 loss to the Oakland Raiders, who scored three touchdowns in that span, the Jets haven't been bullied or outclassed. They hang around.
Williams pointed to how the defense responded Sunday after Austin Seferian-Jenkins' controversial fumble for a touchback. Instead of moping about the call, the defense held Tom Brady & Co. to a three-and-out.
"The thing I love is we have a lot of passion, we have a lot of want-to and a lot of fight," Williams said. "That's what's going to get you there."
By there, he meant the postseason.