FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets have reached their e-season.
"A bunch of young guys will get some playing time," coach Todd Bowles said. "They've been getting time; they'll probably get a little more."
This is a delicate balancing act for any coach because egos are involved. No one wants to tell a well-respected veteran to take a seat, but in a situation like this, it has to be done for the long-term benefit of the team.
They've already made the move at quarterback, benching Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of Bryce Petty. Now Bowles needs to scale back the playing time of three other core players: David Harris, Brandon Marshall and Darrelle Revis, none of whom is a lock to return next season. This isn't to suggest they should be benched, but there should be a gradual reduction of snaps. They can start with a series or two Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers and go from there.
Revis, whose swift decline has been shocking, probably will be a goner anyway because of his outrageous contract, so why not take a look at Nick Marshall or rookie Juston Burris at cornerback? Maybe they can give nickelback Darryl Roberts a chance to play on the outside. Rebuilding the cornerback position will be one of the top priorities in the offseason.
Brandon Marshall has shown his toughness by playing through injuries, not missing a game, but he's 32 and his production is down. He's due to make $7.5 million next year, so his future will be one of the most interesting internal discussions in the offseason. In the meantime, he doesn't have to be an every-down player for the stretch run. The Jets could -- and should -- give some of Marshall's snaps to Devin Smith, who probably will be active for the first time since blowing out his knee last December.
Harris runs the defense, so it's hard to take him off the field in base situations. But when the Jets go to the dime package, they can use rookie Darron Lee as the only linebacker, as they did a couple of weeks ago. Lee has a lot of talent, but he needs to be exposed to as much football as possible before he succeeds Harris as the quarterback of the defense. Almost 33, Harris' days as an every-down linebacker probably are over, which will factor into his offseason evaluation.
"We’re just going to get guys some playing time and start subbing them in here and there," Bowles said.
'Tis the season.