Successful football teams must execute consistently in all three facets of the game. Can the offense put points on the scoreboard? Can the defense keep points off that scoreboard? Do special teams give the hustle and extra push required to win ballgames?
The Jets currently have a major flaw in their mechanics, it’s a leak. It’s not coming from the defense or special teams. In order to identify the location of the leak, look no further than their offense. It’s lifeless and continues to redefine the meaning of inept.
You’d be hard-pressed to find any signs of life within the Jets’ offense. It’s dormant and so is their win column. What other logical conclusion can be drawn after another anemic effort?
New York’s 31-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field was an alarmingly brutal display of just how bad an offense can look when everything which could go wrong in a season, goes wrong.
The Jets, now 0-4, convinced themselves their bye week was exactly what they needed to help get back on track. The much-needed rest was supposed to be a reset on the season. They, instead, looked like a team which shouldn’t be allowed to take another day off until January.
How bad were the Jets this past Sunday? Before we address that, let’s be clear on what wasn’t bad.
The defense showed up ready to play. The unit, coached by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, continues to display a bend, don’t break mentality. They struggled early containing Philadelphia on their opening possession and allowed three third down conversions. This ultimately led to a 1-yard touchdown run from Jordan Howard. But the defense was able to tighten up and keep the Jets in the game until eventually they could no longer cover for the futility of the offense.
Special teams brought the hustle. The Jets, trailing 21-0 at halftime, finally put a dent on the scoreboard thanks to the special teams. Trenton Cannon recovered a muffed punt by the Eagles’ Corey Clement and set the Jets’ offense up with excellent field position. Wide receiver Vyncint Smith scored on an end-around on the next play. The two-point conversion failed, however the end-around was easily the best highlight for the offense. Give a tip of the hat to the special teams’ unit for stepping up and making a play.
The offense…yes, let’s address the elephant in the room. Where to even start?
Before Smith’s touchdown, the Jets went 12 consecutive quarters without an offensive touchdown.
The hope for the Jets was quarterback Sam Darnold would be ready to return from the injured list. That hope was extinguished when Darnold wasn’t cleared by the medical staff. This left backup Luke Falk to put down his clipboard and make only his second NFL start. Then there’s the realization that Falk only had one day to practice with the starters.
“He had a lot of reps the last few weeks, head coach Adam Gase said afterwards of Falk. “He did plenty this week to be ready for this game. I don’t think that was the reason we had an issue.”
It may not have been the primary issue, it did, however, look to be a major one.
Falk, understandably so, looked unprepared and, at times, held the football entirely too long. It wasn’t long before the Eagles’ defense realized they were about to feast on Falk. He was 15 of 26 for 120 passing yards, many of his throws lacked any confidence behind them or were poor reads. The Eagles sacked Falk nine times and hit 15 times, a couple of those hits were brutal. The last hit ultimately led to the concussion protocol where he was eventually cleared.
For as bad as Falk looked on Sunday, and let’s keep in mind he was on the practice squad when the season started, blame shouldn’t be placed entirely on him. The offensive line didn’t do Falk any favors in this game.
Anytime a team’s quarterback is sacked 10 times (the Eagles left room for backup quarterback David Fales at the sack party in the fourth quarter) it’s indicative of poor pass protection by the big boys upfront. The Jets’ offensive line allowed more sacks than the team scored points. The running game remains Le’Veon Bell grinding his way for every yard while the line repeatedly fails to open any lanes for him.
The biggest culprit in all of this, however, is Gase. The head coach was brought in to be an innovative mind for the offense. All Gase has done, however, is bring increased awareness to why previous head coaching job in Miami ended in failure.
Gase didn’t give Falk much to anytime to prepare for the Eagles. “Mental reps” came off as an excuse to blanket having too much confidence in the possibility Darnold was ready to play. The Jets were a beaten team before they even took the field.
What’s next? The Jets are back at MetLife Stadium in Week 6 to host the Dallas Cowboys. Darnold has been medically cleared to return for this game, his presence will be welcomed by the fans, Gase, and the team.
Dallas has problems of their own, they’ve lost two in a row and will be looking to get back on track against a statistically weaker team.
The big picture: Darnold’s return to action will bring a much-needed emotional lift to the offense. Gase, however, must put his franchise quarterback in a position to succeed while also easing him back into game action. This again put the onus on two areas in the offense where the Jets are struggling. The offensive line must run-block and pass-protect, this must get better. Gase must be more creative on first and second down instead of trying to force feed the football to Le’Veon Bell.
If the Jets can figure out how to jumpstart their lifeless offense it will take a huge load off the defense which is doing all they can to help hold it together.
“I told those guys in there that I’ll get it fixed,” Gase said. “It’s on me, nobody else. That’s what we’re going to do.”
It’s time this offense starts carrying their end of the bargain, and that responsibility begins with the head coach.