In a wild contest against a Denver Broncos team missing almost every difference maker on the roster, the Jets allowed an undrafted third string quarterback making his first NFL start to hang 37 points on them. It was that kind of night.
Injuries played a role in this travesty of a football game. Before the first half was over the Jets were missing their top three offensive tackles. I don’t know how you keep Bradley Chubb and Shelby Harris off of Sam Darnold playing Conor McDermott and Josh Andrews at offensive tackle. Apparently neither did the Jets, as the Broncos sacked Darnold six times and pressured him a lot more than that. With the Jets offensive line overmatched, it was up to the defense to keep the Jets in this game. The defense was not up to the task, partly because it was wildly undisciplined, with penalty after penalty, and partly because Pierre Desir is still a starter at cornerback.
Lets take a look at what went right and what went wrong in this latest loss.
Jamison Crowder. In his first game back after a hamstring injury Crowder was the best Jets player on offense. Seven catches and 104 yards, including a big contested catch down the field. Crowder was excellent.
Jeff Smith. Another Jets receiver coming off an injury, Smith racked up seven catches and 81 yards in his first extended playing time in the NFL. A promising start for the speedy Smith.
Sam Darnold. He wasn’t great. He got tackled by the turf for a sack, his accuracy was sporadic, and at times he didn’t read the field well. But under intense pressure Darnold led the Jets on six scoring drives, scored the only Jets offensive touchdown with a 46 yard scramble, and led all Jets rushers with 84 yards on six carries. He also played turnover-free football. Not superb, but much improved over what we’ve been seeing.
Sam Ficken. A perfect five for five on field goals, including a 54 yarder, plus booming kicks for touchbacks on kickoffs. He scored well over half of the Jets points. A nice night for Ficken
Braden Mann. Mann was a mensch, making a touchdown saving tackle on a punt return as the Jets defenders who were supposed to make the play whiffed.
I could go on and on listing the bad performances here. If you weren’t listed in The Good above, you probably could be listed in The Bad. The entire defense was atrocious, allowing 37 points to a third string quarterback. However, I will keep this short and just focus on the guys who truly stood out with their terrible play.
Pierre Desir. How does this guy still have a job in the NFL? On a night when Desir had two interceptions, including a pick six, it is notable that the bad still outweighed the good. Desir was picked on all night by the Broncos, who knew a mismatch when they saw one. The result was Broncos receivers making big plays all over the field against Desir, including two touchdowns, one of which bounced off Desir’s facemask and was wrestled away by Jerry Jeudy despite Desir having the better positioning. Desir cannot cover NFL receivers.
The Offensive Line. It’s probably unfair to get on these guys too much as they were down to the fourth and fifth offensive tackles on the roster. Nonetheless, these guys are still being paid to be NFL level players. Tonight they were not. They were manhandled in the running game and overwhelmed by the Broncos pass rush. The Broncos had six sacks and limited the Jets running backs to just 45 yards on 18 carries. It was a long night for the Jets depleted offensive line.
Chris Herndon. Herndon looks like a shell of his 2018 self. He is a non-factor on offense, and on the rare occasions the ball comes his way, he drops it. The Jets were counting heavily on Herndon being a playmaker on a roster with limited options in the passing game. Instead, Herndon has been a drive wrecker.
Kalen Ballage. Ballage blew a blitz pickup resulting in a Darnold sack on one play, and whiffed on a tackle on a long punt return the very next play, which would have resulted in a Broncos touchdown but for the saving tackle by punter Braden Mann. I don’t know what the Jets see in Ballage.
Pierre Desir. He was so bad I felt the need to mention him again.
I could go on through the night with more Jets who played poorly, but I just don’t have it in me.
This is a bad Jets roster full of bad NFL players playing bad NFL football making bad NFL decisions and taking bad NFL penalties. The offense is the worst in the NFL, the defense has fallen apart, the few decent players on the roster are mostly hurt or regressing. Perhaps when the Jets get Le’Veon Bell, Denzel Mims, Breshad Perriman and Mekhi Becton back the team may start to look a little better. Perhaps. Lord knows it can’t look much worse.