You can pick your adjective to describe the Jets’ performance on Sunday.
Embarrassing, pathetic, unacceptable, unwatchable, putrid, and horrific all immediately come to mind. They all accurately describe the Jets’ level of play yet they still feel inadequate.
The 2021 season for the Jets is being judged on the nebulous criteria of making progress. It can be sometimes be difficult to sort out progress from the win-loss record.
We have no such difficulty in today’s 54-13 loss to the Patriots. There was no progress shown.
The Jets have excuses to be bad this season. You can explain away them not winning many games by talking about their youth, the stage of the rebuild, the injuries to key players on an already thin roster, and more.
Those excuses ring hollow if you try to use them to rationalize this performance. The Jets were never in the game. At no point did you feel like they were competing in any phase.
The offense got off to its typical slow start. The defense never showed any sign of life. The special teams failed in moments where it could have helped set a more positive tone.
This was the type of widescale team failure that makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Where does the coaching failure end and the terrible execution begin?
Here’s one thing I can say confidently. As awful as the loss was, the game’s worst moment for the Jets had nothing to do with the scoreboard. It occurred when Zach Wilson suffered an injury in the first half that forced him to leave the game. We will just say he took a pair of hits that were borderline and leave it at that.
Wilson would not return, and his future status is unknown. Mike White replaced him and was predictably inept. White somehow managed to not even come close to averaging 7 yards per attempt and throw a pair of interceptions despite being in a prevent defense situation for almost the entire time he was on the field.
The most important part of the progress of this season had to do with Wilson’s progress. If he is forced to miss any appreciable time, much of the rationale for watching the Jets this season goes out the window.
Before the injury, Wilson was showing some signs of life. The Jets’ offense, however, started slow in part due to some confounding early playcalling. With two weeks to prepare, Mike LaFleur started the game with a pair of runs out of double tight end sets, putting Wilson behind the eight ball.
The defense couldn’t bail the Jets out either. New England scored on all five first half possessions. It’s difficult to see how much was scheme and how much was execution. Both were terrible. The Patriots were happy to exploit the advantages the Jets handed them. With CJ Mosley out, the Jets placed undersized converted safety Jamien Sherwood into the MIKE linebacker role. The Patriots were comfortable running the ball right up the middle where Sherwood was no match. While playing a quarterback in Mac Jones whose strengths are predicated on short passes, the Jets dropped into deep zones, rarely challenging the New England receivers. This led to Jones having all the space he needed underneath to hit passes. It also left the Jets very vulnerable to screens.
But performance was also dreadful. The Jets lost in the trenches. They didn’t communicate in coverage. Everything they could have done wrong...they did wrong.
A game like this probably has one of two legacies.
If the people running the Jets do turn this thing around, we might look back on this in a few years as rock bottom and appreciate how far the team came.
We also might just look back on this as another early sign the Jets hired the wrong people.
Only time will tell which scenario plays out. For now the Jets are left picking up the pieces after such a hideous effort.