The Jets lost their fifth straight game on Sunday, falling 27-13 to the Patriots. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. As I was driving to MetLife Stadium on Sunday morning, I thought back to Week 2. That was the first home game of the season. The Jets were just coming off their big Monday Night win over the Lions. Sam Darnold was making his home debut. We were debating whether this was the most anticipated home opener ever.
My memory of that game will be the traffic. It took me 90 minutes to get from Route 3 to the parking lot. I had not seen traffic like that for a Jets game in a long time. This Sunday, I did not have to touch my brake pedal as I exited Route 3 until I got to the parking pass gate.
It is amazing what this season has devolved into. The Jets are a mess … again. No one expected this to be a Super Bowl team, but there was hope for this team back in the summer. Everyone expected growing pains from Darnold, but the defense looked good and thoughts of a .500 season did not seen unreasonable. But Jets fans were fooled again by this franchise.
Now, resignation and ambivalence are setting in – two deadly things for a professional sports organization. I have a feeling this was the last gasp of caring about this team for the Jets fans. Yes, they will still be interested in the development of Darnold the rest of the way, but the investment they make with their time in this team is about to drop. MetLife will be empty for the final two home games – other than the Packers fans sure to show up on Dec. 23. If your wife wants you to go somewhere next Sunday, are you going to argue you have to watch Jets-Titans?
Jets fans have expressed their frustration for six weeks now. What is there left to complain about? Todd Bowles is a dead coach walking. There is no use on repeatedly kicking him.
This is where the Jets are at: a season that began with hope and excitement is now a five-week countdown to the end. At least there won’t be much traffic for those final two home games.
2. What was Jeremy Bates thinking Sunday? The Patriots have given up 100 rushing yards six times this season, including 150 to the Titans in their loss two weeks ago. So what does Bates do? He calls 50 passes and just 12 runs. This is inexcusable and I don’t think firing Bates after that would be over the top.
Bates has done a terrible job this season in his first year as offensive coordinator. Yes, he has worked with a rookie quarterback for much of it. Yes, the Jets don’t have tremendous talent on offense. But what has he done well? They had a good day against the Broncos and were OK against the Colts, although they needed seven field goals that day. Other than that? Not much.
Sunday’s game reminded me of Brian Schottenheimer’s game against the Giants on Christmas Even in 2011. You remember that, don’t you? Schottenheimer dialed up 68 passes that night for Mark Sanchez. A few weeks later, he was out of a job.
Besides the ridiculous run/pass differential, Bates failed to get Quincy Enunwa involved in the second half. Enunwa had four targets and four catches for 73 yards in the first half. He had zero targets in the second half. Surely, the Patriots adjusted to take some things away, but Bates has to figure out a way to get him back involved. He is one of the best players the Jets have.
3. While there were expectations that the offense would struggle this season, there was actual belief that this defense could be pretty good. The Jets defense talked itself up this summer. The secondary gave itself a silly nickname (where are those New Jack City shirts these days?). But the defense has been exposed.
The Jets have given up 400 yards or more five times this season, including the last two games. They have gone five games without a takeaway, which is a franchise record. They have allowed 200 yards rushing in each of the last two games and at least 100 yards rushing seven times this season. They have only held an opponent under 20 points three times this year.
All of it adds up to a bad defense and that is what the Jets are right now.
4. Here might be the most depressing thing about this season for Jets fans: who of the current starters do you want to see back in 2019? There are not a lot of building blocks for the future on this team. Darnold is an obvious one. Chris Herndon has had a nice rookie season. Enunwa should be re-signed. Who else on offense do you want back?
On defense, Jamal Adams is having a very good season and has become a leader. Marcus Maye, when healthy, has shown promise. Leonard Williams is a good run stopper. Avery Williamson has played well. Anyone else? Darron Lee maybe? This roster needs a major overhaul this offseason. That is an indictment on general manager Mike Maccagnan, who has had four years to put together this roster and had more misses than hits.
Surprising snap count: Trenton Cannon only played nine snaps. Cannon is one of the few explosive players the Jets have. I would play him more down the stretch.
Revealing stat: The Jets are 0-7 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. They are 3-1 when rushing for more than 100 yards, the only loss coming against the Browns.
Game ball: Rookie tight end Chris Herndon continues to be one of the few bright spots on this team. He had seven catches for 57 yards on Sunday.
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