Josh McCown: I used to think Mark Sanchez was the king of the deceptive stat line. He had so many lines that would look great if you looked at the box score but were surprising if you actually watched the game. Sometimes context is lost on the stat sheet, and that was pretty clearly what happened in this game.
McCown somehow threw for 307 yards with 3 touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was launched into double coverage, and ended with Robby Anderson making a circus grab between two defenders. Another capped a drive late in the fourth quarter with the Panthers holding a two score lead and playing prevent.
The Anderson play was typical of McCown’s game. He was throwing it up for grabs. It felt like most of his reads were predetermined, and I counted seven throws into double coverage. McCown was victimized by Austin Seferian-Jenkins missing a pair of touchdown throws that hit his hands. If you are going to credit those to McCown, however, you must also accept that the types of throws he made easily could have resulted in 3-4 more turnovers and a blowout loss.
Of course, the one turnover McCown did commit ended up being important. The Jets owned a 20-18 lead in the fourth quarter. An offensive line breakdown led to a free runner up the middle. It should have been a sack and a negative play, but McCown showed the lack of understanding of game situation we have seen so frequently in key spots this year. He tried to throw the ball as he was being hit and fumbled it away. The Panthers returned it for a touchdown, and they never trailed again. Does a stat padding drive after the Jets allowed another score and fell behind 12 late in the fourth quarter make up for the fumble? Maybe it does on the stat sheet, but you can tell me whether it does in reality.
Brandon Shell/Brian Winters/Wesley Johnson on the fumble: That play should not have resulted in a touchdown, but the blocking was a mess that allowed a free runner up the middle. That set the wheels in motion.
Lachlan Edwards/Thomas Hennessy/Eric Tomlinson/Bruce Carter/Josh Martin: The Jets had an incredible stretch in the fourth quarter when they went from leading by 2 to trailing by 12 without the defense setting foot on the field. The McCown fumble started the avalanche, and a 60 yard punt return for a touchdown continued it. Edwards didn’t get enough hang time on the kick. Hennessy whiffed on the first tackle attempt, and the other three players either couldn’t get off blocks or missed tackling opportunities.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: He dropped what should have been an easy touchdown pass early in the game. He seemed to make up for it later in the game with a diving catch, but a review overturned it. Was it a bad call? Should he have been awarded a touchdown? Perhaps, but he also could have been stronger on the ball and prevented it from moving. He has to get at least some of the blame for that play.
Matt Forte: 10 carries, 26 yards.
John Morton: I thought this was Morton’s worst game since he took over as offensive coordinator. There is no reason Matt Forte should be getting more carries than Bilal Powell at this point. His situational playcalling also left a lot to be desired. Three passes from the one yard line was head scratching. So was the frequency with which the Jets ran the ball down two scores with under 10:00 left. So was the lack of urgency getting the line. Some of that might be on McCown, but I really did not like Morton’s approach.
Mike Pennel: He ruined a solid game with a boneheaded roughing the passer penalty that cost the Jets one last chance to get the ball and put together a game-winning drive.
Jamal Adams: It was a rough game for Adams. He too frequently overran plays and was too soft on a few of his tackles, allowing runners to grind out extra yards after contact.
Demario Davis: I think we can throw out the tackle stat as a meaningful indicator of Davis’ quality of play. He was beaten in coverage consistently, and all that stood between him and a brutal game was Cam Newton repeatedly missing throws. He also took a roughing the passer penalty.
Jordan Jenkins: An offsides penalty wiped out a fourth down stop and help turn the drive into a touchdown drive.
Robby Anderson: Anderson would be the runaway winner of this week’s game ball had the Jets won it. He posted a monster 6 catch, 146 yard, 2 touchdown stat line. Even that might not tell the story. Both touchdowns were things of beauty. The first was a circus catch on a ball that probably shouldn’t have been thrown. The second was a nice adjustment of his route on a broken play. I have been saying for close to a year that Anderson needs to diversify his route tree and become more reliable on short and intermediate routes. Maybe he doesn’t if he keeps playing like this and getting deep despite the defense trying to prevent him from doing so.
Jermaine Kearse: Kearse was more reliable than he usually is running good routes and beating coverage. He gave the Jets a second 100 yard receiver with 7 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Leonard Williams: It might not have shown up in the stat sheet, but Williams dominated up front. He was consistently winning his battles, disrupting plays, setting other guys up, and hitting the quarterback. It was beautiful.
At 4-7, the Jets have now lost five of six. This season feels like it is falling apart. The bye did not fix what was wrong. We will see what comes next.