The Dolphins beat the Jets 24-17 at MetLife Stadium, dropping New York’s 2021 record to 2-8.
Today began what I thought was an important stretch for the Jets. Starting today the Jets have a run of winnable games against sub-.500 competition. Even for a team whose season goals are based on the elusive notion of progress, it will be very difficult to claim that progress is being made without some victories.
Today’s game was more competitive than recent Jets games, but I’m not sure how much that had to do with the Jets and how much it had to do with Miami’s miscues. In games against clearly superior competition like Buffalo last week, the opponent will exploit mistakes and jump out to a big lead. That wasn’t the case here. The game was competitive into the fourth quarter.
In some ways I feel that a loss like this is even more frustrating than the defeats of the last few weeks. At least in those games you could rationalize that the Jets were clearly at a disadvantage. Not so in this one. It seemed like the Dolphins were doing everything within their power to keep the Jets in the game. Our guys just wouldn’t take advantage.
Part of the issue came at quarterback. It isn’t easy when you are on a third starting quarterback of the season. For his part, I’m not sure how much more Joe Flacco could have done. Against a ferociously blitzing Miami defense, he took only two sacks. Still at this point of his career, Flacco is a very limited player. He hit Elijah Moore for a 62 yard touchdown in the third quarter. His other 38 attempts averaged less than 6 yards. He might be able to take what he is given, but he can’t really create more.
Flacco was part of the issue as well. He made two glaring red zone errors fumbling the ball away on an admittedly hard blindside hit and committing an intentional grounding penalty that pushed the Jets back just before a missed field goal.
That missed field goal was one of two for Matt Ammendola, and I think we are at the point where the Jets should be discussing kicking tryouts during the Thanksgiving week.
The Jets again were let down by their defense. This wasn’t a game-long fiasco the likes of which we have seen in recent weeks, but at 14-14 late in the third quarter, the Jets allowed a 14 play touchdown drive of 75 yards and a 12 play field goal drive of 54 yards to put the game out of reach. It felt all day like the Jets were getting pushed around up front. The defense couldn’t get a big stop, and Miami’s frequently use of misdirection plays had guys out of position all day. Beyond that, the Jets allowed third down conversion after third down conversion in the final quarter unable to get off the field (when they weren’t committing third down penalties to extend the drive).
There were at least some positive signs. Moore had the breakout game fans have been anticipating since training camp as he went for 8 catches, 141 yards, and touchdown, to go with a 15 yard run after a lateral that technically went down as a rushing attempt. Fellow rookie Michael Carter was also on his way to a big game before leaving with an injury. These are important developments.
However, so is the Jets’ inability to take advantage of the opportunities presented in this one.
Zach Wilson will likely be back soon, perhaps as soon as next weekend. His progress will have an outsized impact on how positively we view the final half of the season. No matter what happens at quarterback, the Jets have to get out of their own way.
I don’t think this is the type of game you could say the Jets lost primarily from a lack of talent. They were their own worst enemy.