The Jets fell to 1-1 today after a 20-12 loss to the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. The season opener produced a ton of optimism as the Jets blew out the Lions on the road. Today in their opener the Jets squandered numerous opportunities on their way to a frustrating loss.
Let’s take a look at what went wrong.
Offensive Line: Above all others, this group did its best to destroy any optimism that might have come from a solid Week 1. The men in the trenches got no push in the running game as the team was limited to 2.2 yards per carry. The Dolphins had 3 sacks and generated consistent pressure through the game. The line also had 3 penalties. The biggest reason this team struggled so much on offense was how poor the Jets were up front.
Chris Herndon: I’m not writing Herndon’s career off because of a poor second game in the NFL, but I also don’t think you can excuse his errors as rookie mistakes. He was part of two minute drills in college so he knows the value of getting out of bounds. He knows how to catch a football so a drop is not a rookie mistake either. Maybe you can argue him not getting into the end zone as the first half ended was the result of not being used to the strength of NFL tacklers, but this was just an ugly outing for Herndon.
Terrelle Pryor: It’s odd to put him in the bad column considering he had a 44 yard reception to ignite a drive in the 2:00 offense near the end of the first half and had another critical reception to convert a 3rd and 15. Even odder, I don’t think anybody is going to argue with sticking Pryor in this column. Poor route running and ball tracking played a big role in Sam Darnold’s second interception, which cost the Jets an opportunity to cut the Miami lead to 7 early in the second half. He also saw a big third down pass from Darnold go through his hands. We essentially saw why Pryor keeps getting jobs in the NFL but also why he struggles to keep them.
Robby Anderson: He was largely invisible aside from a fumble that set up a Miami touchdown.
Buster Skrine: Skrine’s worst game a year ago was against the Dolphins, and this was a similarly ugly effort. He was the culprit on Albert Wilson’s 29 yard touchdown. It wasn’t the only time he was burned on the day. He also was flagged twice. One of the penalties extended a drive on a third down stop.
Morris Claiborne: A Claiborne penalty also extended a drive after a third down stop. That drive turned into a touchdown. Later in the game, Claiborne was burned deep for what would have been a touchdown, but Ryan Tannehill missed the throw.
Darron Lee: The playmaking Lee of Week 1 was nowhere to be seen. The Lee of 2016 and 2017 who seldom made plays and was frequently wiped out by blocks returned. Lee was totally washed out on Miami’s first touchdown.
Doug Middleton/Avery Williamson: The duo weren’t on the same page in zone coverage on a Miami touchdown.
Sam Darnold: I know I’m going to get grief for this one so let me talk this through.
Was Darnold the primary reason the Jets lost this game? No. Did Darnold have good moments? Yes. Were there a number of things we saw that look positive for the long-term? Yes.
And I know Darnold had a good statistical game. Well remember how I said his poor preseason statistics were deceiving? The reverse goes here. Certain plays within games make a big difference. There were a number of these plays Darnold didn’t make from the first interception to not spotting a wide open Quincy Enunwa right before the half. Were these rookie mistakes? I think the first interception is something Darnold will learn from.
With that said if we are only evaluating this game, Darnold goes in the bad column.
Play Calling: This goes on both sides of the ball. There were a lot of things I didn’t like. I get that Jeremy Bates likes to use base personnel in all situations, but something has to give eventually at the tight end position. The Jets eventually have to take a tight end off the field in certain situations where there is zero quality on the roster at the position.
More than that, there have to eventually be adjustments when the team is down 20 points and Plan A isn’t working. I think people lean on “making adjustments” too frequently as a way to criticize coaches, but the first down runs eventually needed to end when they kept putting the Jets behind the sticks.
On the defensive side, I still can’t get over the aggressive blitz on the 3rd and 19 late in the fourth quarter. Even an 8 yard gain in that situation is a win for the Jets and would lead to a Miami punt. I understand that players can execute, but that was not the situation for a high risk call. That goes double considering the extent to which Miami’s passing game was built on screens and run pass options. Ryan Tannehill had shown little ability in this game to stay in the pocket and deliver the ball down the field.
Edge guys on bootlegs and zone reads: This was a position-wide problem. Don’t these guys know it should set off alarm bells when the offense doesn’t block you? You can’t get overly aggressive. These Jets edge guys looked like they had never defended these plays before.
Quincy Enunwa: Enunwa was electric in this game. He led the team with 7 catches for 92 yards. He did a little bit of everything from making plays after the catch to grabbing contested passes.
Bilal Powell: Going back to playcalling, I’m not entirely sure why the Jets didn’t do more to attack the Miami linebackers in coverage with Powell. It worked when the Jets tried it. He had 5 catches for 74 yards, including a 28 yard touchdown.
Jamal Adams: Adams did lose his man on that third and 19 play, but he was stellar again up to that point. He tied for the team lead with 7 tackles and had a strip sack in addition to doing solid work in coverage.
Trumaine Johnson: The Dolphins didn’t have much of a downfield passing game, but we didn’t hear much about Johnson today. That is usually a good sign for a corner.
Brandon Copeland: He had a sack and was in the backfield a couple more times.
Henry Anderson: He continued to be a disruptive force, registering a sack.
Leonard Williams: The Dolphins had a tough time blocking him. He had 6 tackles, including 2 for a loss. He also had a half sack that was taken off the board by Claiborne’s holding penalty.
The Jets don’t have much time to recover from this loss. They have a short week leading up to a road game in Cleveland on Thursday.