A couple of days removed from their embarrassing loss on Monday night; the Jets are trying to move on. Their franchise quarterback just had the worst start of his young career and there’s legitimate reason for concern.
Sam Darnold is only 22 years old; he knows there will be bad games, but he’s young and talented. But Darnold’s performance, in a 33-0 loss to the visiting New England Patriots, left many afterwards scratching their heads and understandably so.
Darnold was 11-for-32 on Monday night with four interceptions and one fumble. The five turnovers are bad, there’s no way around that. His decision-making and footwork were terrible and the Patriots clearly had him rattled. It was about as bad as it could get and it was in front of a national audience.
“It was a rough day out there,” Darnold said afterwards. “Obviously I’ve got to be better and learn from the mistakes. But we will get better.”
This wasn’t the Sam Darnold from last week and returned from a bout with mononucleosis to led the Jets to over the Dallas Cowboys. This was the total opposite of everything good Darnold has brought to the table.
Everything which could go wrong, for Darnold, went wrong. His “seeing ghosts” comment was picked up by the microphone he was wearing and aired on ESPN’s Monday Night Football audience. The aftermath obviously wasn’t good for Darnold or the Jets.
But while head coach Adam Gase made sure to let all of us know, when asked, how bothered the team was by those comments being allowed to air, there’s much more about the Jets to be concerned with.
The offensive line is in shambles, again. The left side of the line, tackle Kelvin Beachum and guard Kelechi Osemele, are hurting. Veteran center Ryan Khalil has been banged up and inconsistent. There’s been major communication issues with the line all season and Gase needs to address it more than he’s letting on.
The defense didn’t bring the fire and that’s an issue. For all the struggles the Jets have had putting points on the board this season, the defense for the most part has kept them afloat. This wasn’t the case on Monday night against the Patriots. Tom Brady picked the defense apart on the opening drive and went four-for-four on third down conversions. The case can be made New England’s opening score took the life right out of the defense. Brady, for most of the night, operated with a clean pocket which is always bad news for his opponents. The pass rush for the Jets remain inconsistent and hasn’t played to expectations. Where was the pride at on Monday night?
Gase and his staff didn’t do Darnold any favors. Darnold was only sacked once in this game, which is incredible considering how he never looked comfortable. Darnold deserves the criticism he’s getting, however, he’s not alone here. Gase never appeared to make adjustments when the Patriots were dialing up what looked to be the same blitz over and over again. That’s a poor reflection on the offensive line coach and it’s up to Gase to make sure there’s better results.
It’s important to leave room for a little perspective before writing off Darnold as the franchise quarterback. The Patriots are 7-0 for a reason, they’re damn good at what they do. Their defense has been stingy all season, it’s top-ranked in the league. They have the best coach in the league with the best quarterback.
The Jets, now at 1-5, find themselves at a crossroads. There are still 10 games left to play this season and the NFL trade deadline is approaching. They’ll be temptation to begin entertaining trade scenarios which can bring back a return of draft picks and increase salary cap flexibility for the future.
There’s also still time for the Jets to get Darnold back on the right track. Getting him to put Monday night’s nightmare behind him is the logical first step and that’s what Gase was hired for.