The New York Jets fell to 5-10 with a sluggish 14-7 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Which players are at fault for Gang Green’s most recent setback?
Seldom does a game’s climax come in its first 10 seconds, but that’s exactly what happened on Sunday when the New York Jets lost yet another game, this time to the Los Angeles Chargers at home.
The game started off with a bang as the Jets became the first team since the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles to successfully recover an onside kick in the first 30 seconds of a game. Surely we were in for an exhilarating display of football with score after score coupled with back-and-forth action that would keep us on the edge of our seats.
There were a combined 18 punts in the game. Both teams had more punting yards than total yards. The only exciting moments after the opening kickoff came on a pair of long Bilal Powell runs and a Keenan Allen interception. Yes, the Chargers number one receiver picked off Bryce Petty on a Hail Mary attempt.
It was a weird game.
Elsewhere, Petty continued to prove that he’s not a capable NFL quarterback with another poor performance, this one likely worse than his last. Petty’s ineptitude ultimately cost the Jets a real chance in this game as, despite the defense’s excellent play and Powell trying to play to role of Superman, Petty’s incredible lack of accuracy and pure impotence proved too much for the rest of the team to overcome.
While it may be clear that Petty is one of the players on this list, who were the other four players that cost the Jets a victory in the team’s final home game of the season?
Next: 5. The Pass Rush
5. The Pass Rush
Before we begin it should be noted that we’re scraping the bottle of the barrel here. In all honesty, Petty probably deserves at least two spots on this list but for the sake of continuity let’s still take a look at five different entries.
While the pass rush didn’t necessarily have a bad game per se, it’s still true that another week has passed by and the Jets failed to record a sack…..again.
Praise should be given, however, to defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers who dialed up numerous blitz packages and created pressure frequently throughout the game. The plan worked this week, but the fact of the matter is that the Jets shouldn’t have to manufacture all of these blitzing schemes to get pressure on the quarterback. Sometimes they should just be able to produce organic pressure without needing to send five or six men.
The Jets simply don’t have an effective edge rusher to be a constant presence in opposing backfields. Josh Martin is coming off his best game of the season but even he struggles as a pass rusher and is more of a consistent run stopper and edge setter. His partner in crime is second-year player Jordan Jenkins who despite making strides, still has a long way to go before he could be considered a true pass rusher. Jenkins projects more as a strongside linebacker who could defend the run well but contribute little as a pass rusher.
Although it certainly wasn’t their poorest showing to date, the Jets ultimately came away with zero sacks. And that’s a number that must be improved upon going into 2018.
Next: 4. Buster Skrine
4. Cornerback Buster Skrine
Much like the last entry, it’s not as if Buster Skrine’s performance was a major factor in the Jets loss. But it’s safe to say that his recent string of stellar outings came to an end on Sunday.
The veteran cornerback was beaten multiple times by rookie Mike Williams and a couple of missed plays by Skrine led to Los Angeles’ first scoring drive. On said drive, Skrine missed tackles on two different plays that resulted in bigger gains for running back Melvin Gordon than they had any right to be.
The Tennessee-Chattanooga product was later beaten badly in coverage by tight end Antonio Gates on a play that gained 27 yards and put the Chargers in the red zone for the first time all day. Skrine appeared to bite on the play fake and consequently had to make up significant ground to catch up to the ancient Gates who was already well past him. This was, of course, to no avail.
Later, Skrine was called for defensive pass interference in the end zone while covering the aforementioned Williams. This set up the Chargers in a first-and-goal situation from the one-yard line. Two plays later they were able to punch it in for the first score of the game.
While Skrine did manage to bounce back, the 28-year-old was partially responsible for one of only two Chargers scores and he finds himself on this list for that very reason.
If the Jets are going to bring Skrine back for next season it’s likely to be at a reduced rate. Despite his recent stretch of excellence, Skrine is still not a reliable option and age is not on the hard-hitting defensive back’s side.
Regardless, the Jets have very little depth at the cornerback position so it would make sense to at least give Skrine another look. Perhaps his play in the final game of the season could influence the team’s decision.
If that’s the case, I’m sure Skrine is looking for a better performance than this one on Sunday.
Next: 3. Matt Forte
3. Running Back Matt Forte
At this point in the season, there is simply no good reason for why Matt Forte is getting as much playing time as he is. Forte is not going to be on the team next season. Both Powell and Elijah McGuire will.
Even with that knowledge, Forte still totaled eight rushes for 19 yards and managed to be on the field for 42 percent of the team’s snaps. Comparatively, Powell was on the field for the same number of snaps as Forte while McGuire was only out there 15 percent of the time. McGuire also didn’t record a single carry and was targeted once which resulted in an incompletion. To put that in perspective, third-string tight end Neal Sterling was on the field for more snaps than McGuire.
Now it should be noted that McGuire was dealing with an illness going into this game, but that’s still no excuse for his lack of playing time in other weeks. And this is also no excuse for the fact that Forte and Powell each split playing time despite the latter having one of his best games of the season. Forte, as previously mentioned, rushed for just 19 yards showing little burst in the process and coughed up a fumble at an inopportune time when the Jets were driving just outside the red zone.
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The Jets continued reliance on Forte has been a major question mark and in this case, actually hurt the team’s chances at winning. With Powell having perhaps his best game of the season and Forte likely having his worst, the duo still split snaps which is mind-boggling, to say the least.
Forte has had himself an incredible career but it’s time for the Jets to give players who have a future with the team more looks. Here’s to hoping the team’s final game of the season brings this much-needed change.
Next: 2. Jamal Adams
2. Safety Jamal Adams
It’s been a year of growth of Jamal Adams as the 6th overall pick has had his fair share of ups as well as his fair share of downs.
His most recent game against the Chargers, unfortunately, falls into the “down” category.
Adams was at least partially responsible for both Los Angeles touchdowns as Chargers tight ends torched the rookie all afternoon. First, it was Gates who bodied the youngster to come away with the ball and the first points of the day. It wasn’t bad coverage by any means but more experience will go a long way toward allowing him to make a better play on the ball in the future.
On the second Chargers scoring drive, Adams allowed a long 23-yard reception to backup tight end Sean McGrath that set the Chargers up at the two-yard line and was the proverbial assist to the eventual Melvin Gordon touchdown run. That was just McGrath’s third, and longest, catch of the season so it’s not as if he was up against Rob Gronkowski.
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Adams has shown flashes of being the exceptional player that the Jets drafted him to be but he remains inconsistent in both his coverage and tackling ability. Conversely, his neophyte colleague, Marcus Maye, has been the prototype of consistency and has arguably had a better season than the first round pick.
Adams is still a special player. His aggressive playstyle on the field is compounded perfectly with his boisterous leadership off of it. His inconsistencies are likely the fault of inexperience and Adams simply trying to do too much. He will settle down and once he does we’ll get a glimpse of just how good Adams can be.
For now, we’ll just have to deal with the growing pains before Adams can truly blossom into the fantastic player he will hopefully be one day.
It’s all just a part of the maturation process.
Next: 1. Bryce Petty
1. Quarterback Bryce Petty
There has not been a player more responsible for a Jets loss this season than Petty was against the Chargers. In fact, all five of these entries could very well have been dedicated to Petty and his Hall of Shame-like performance. Let’s break down his most recent display of incompetence.
Petty is not a viable NFL starting quarterback. Some may have been in denial, but that fact was pretty clear before the start of this season. However, the hope was that Petty could potentially develop into a quality backup and perhaps factor into the Jets long term plans in that regard. If Petty has shown anything over his two starts this season, it’s that hoping for something as bleak as that may even be out of reach.
The former Baylor Bear was erratic, made poor decisions, and seemed like he had no business being on a professional football field. His inaccuracy was his terminal downfall, but it wasn’t the only concerning aspect of his game.
Once again Petty’s footwork was all over the place and that was no more evident than when he rolled out of the pocket. His steps were reminiscent of a man with two left feet trying to play quarterback.
While he was ultimately pretty safe with the ball, Petty’s failure to get even the basics down at the position showed just how far he is away from being a competent quarterback. He mistimed routes and misplaced balls on plays that a typical quarterback would make.
One specific play came late in the game when Petty tried to hit Robby Anderson in the corner of the end zone on fourth-and-seven. If Petty places the ball on the inside and hits Anderson on his back shoulder it’s likely a touchdown. Instead, Petty threw the ball on the inside giving Anderson almost no chance to make the catch and actually giving cornerback Casey Hayward more of an opportunity to make a play. Needless to say, the pass fell incomplete.
If Petty is to get another start, which it appears he will, the third-year signal-caller will have to show a lot to prove his worth and earn a roster spot on next year’s team. But there’s a good chance that Sunday could be Petty’s last start with the Jets and if he’s not careful, his NFL career.