The Jets fell to 0-3 today, falling to the New England Patriots in Foxborough by a 30-14 margin. The final score is deceptive. The Jets played a noncompetitive game. They were down 20-0 two minutes into the second quarter. From there, the only time they got the margin under 20 was the result of a garbage time pick six from New England’s backup quarterback with under seven minutes left.
This was a complete failure in all phases of the game. There might be a temptation to credit the defense, but that unit hung the Jets with a quick 20-0 deficit allowing Patriots touchdowns on New England’s first three drives.
I will say this. The fact they actually got a few stops made them the better of the two units the Jets put on the field. The offense was just unfathomably awful. The Jets averaged 2.2 yards per play in this game. They had six first downs and didn’t convert a third down all game. Additionally, none of the 14 points was due to the offense. The Jets scored their first touchdown on a muffed punt recovered in the end zone. They scored their second on the aforementioned pick six.
After a performance like this, there is no point in using our traditional recap style, breaking this down player by player. This was a team-wide awful performance.
I think there are two large elements that contributed to this loss.
The first is that the Jets stepped on the field at a major talent disadvantage. A healthy Jets team would have a difficult time competing on the road against the Patriots. The roster was not well-constructed and has holes at numerous key spots. Darryl Roberts should not be a starting cornerback in the NFL. Most Jets fans knew that heading into the season. The decision-makers for the Jets disagreed. We have seen him get torched in two of three games. We probably will see him torched in many more going forward.
Compounding the issue is how the Jets have suffered injuries to numerous key contributors. They are down to their third quarterback. They played this game without Sam Darnold, C.J. Mosley, and Quinnen Williams. These are core players. The team was also playing without important role players such as Chris Herndon, Jordan Jenkins, and Quincy Enunwa.
Finally, some players are just underachieving. Ryan Kalil looks like a guy who probably shouldn’t have gotten off his couch to return to the NFL. He needs to spend the bye figuring out whether he can get acclimated. If not, a decision will have to be made. Leonard Williams has become invisible. Well, I take that back. He wasn’t invisible when he committed a penalty to extend a drive. But that was about the only time I noticed him. Fellow first round pick, Jamal Adams, also isn’t making impact plays aside from that interception in a 30-7 game late in the fourth quarter.
There are a few subelements at hand, but the players are one of the two big issues facing the team.
The other would be the coaching, particularly the coaching on the offensive side of the ball.
Given the personnel problems, bad performances on offense could be excused, but what the Jets are doing is so putrid that the coaches need to take a heaping portion of the blame.
This offense has scored one touchdown in three games. Right now the Jets are averaging 11 points per game. For context, the Cleveland Browns went 0-16 two years ago. That Browns team averaged 14.6 points per game.
Even this oversells how the Jets are performing on offense. Of their 33 total points, 15 have been scored directly by the defense, and 7 were scored directly by special teams. This offense has put up 11 points in 3 games.
I’ve watched offenses with Geno Smith and Bryce Petty be more productive, and those offenses didn’t have a single player with anything close to Le’Veon Bell’s talent.
At some point the issues become greater than the players.
Adam Gase came in and was sold as an offensive guru. If you are a good coach, you are making the team better than it would be otherwise. With an offense averaging 3.7 points per game, what exactly is Gase making better? Would they be getting shutout? Is Gase’s genius moving the needle by getting them that field goal plus per game?
Even when you are down to your third quarterback...even when key players are injured...even when you lack talent, there are things you can do to manufacture offense.
A good playcaller understands his opponents tendencies. Every play your opponent runs has a vulnerability the right call can exploit.
Take a look at this play, and tell me which coach understood the tendencies of his opponent.
Here is the play. "Offensive genius" Adam Gase runs on 3rd and 15.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 22, 2019
He lost 7 yards and punted.pic.twitter.com/XHncV0XLOj
A coach can’t produce a 40 point game on his own, but he can do things to help his offense succeed. He can scheme guys open. He can note defenders who are being overly aggressive and exploit that.
And he can figure out ways to put his best players in a position to make plays. A lot of pregame analysis focused on how the Patriots would try to “take Le’Veon Bell away.” That wasn’t a revelation. Defenses always try to take away the elite talent on the other team. The true offensive gurus don’t let it happen. They find creative ways to get their talent into favorable situation. They don’t do what you saw in that clip above.
Even if the Jets had players, what the coaches did gave them little chance to win this game. I mentioned that stat about the team failing to convert a third down all game. In the first half the Jets ran one passing play on third down where a receiver was targeted beyond the first down marker.
Down 20-0 with three timeouts in their pocket, the Jets took a knee to end the half rather than try to generate something before the half to try and change the complexion of the game.
Because of their non-offensive touchdowns, the Jets against all odds got the ball back with 4:46 left in the fourth quarter down two scores. The drive saw two runs, a pass, and a punt. Let me repeat. With under five minutes left, needing two touchdowns the Jets ran the ball twice...AND PUNTED.
If the Jets wanted Todd Bowles style game management from their head coach, they could have just kept the real thing.
If the coaches aren’t coaching to win, the team isn’t going to win.
To a degree, the first problem will likely start resolving itself over the next few weeks. The Jets will start to get back some of their key players. This should lead to improvement, even though the roster remains flawed and perilously thin at key spots.
The coaching is a deeper concern. While the Jets are missing numerous integral first string players, the guys running the game today are their first string coaches. When Sam Darnold comes back, the offense should be better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the coaching will be more effective. It just means a more talented player will be throwing the passes.
With the bye coming up, hopefully Adam Gase does some serious soul searching and changes his ways because through his first three games, he has looked like a guy totally in over his head.