Jets vs. Jaguars: Week 4 offensive grades
By Justin Fried
The New York Jets offense put together another lackluster performance on Sunday as the team fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars by a final score of 31-12. How does the unit ultimately grade out following this poor showing?
The New York Jets arrived in Jacksonville this weekend for their Week 4 meeting with the Jaguars but it’s hard to say that they truly showed up. The team’s offense predictably struggled against the mighty Jaguars defense but some questionable coaching decisions and missed opportunities saw the unit underperform despite the already low expectations. For the second week in a row, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold struggled with the lack of a supporting run game and a shotty offensive line.
Once again, this is the Jaguars defense. The feared defensive unit sporting more than half a dozen All-Pro starters with the likes of Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell headlining the regiment. It should be expected that the young Jets offense would struggle against the Jaguars mighty eleven.
But that doesn’t mean that blame shouldn’t go around. Nor does it mean that the team couldn’t have fared any better. In actuality, the team didn’t just get outplayed on Sunday, they were outclassed.
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The Jets offense didn’t look like they belonged on the same field as the Jaguars defense and while there should be a noticeable talent gap, one as wide as what we witnessed this weekend is concerning, to say the least.
Darnold showed signs of improvement from last week’s game, perhaps simply because he was allowed to do more with the football in his hands. While offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates didn’t have a flawless game by any means, the playbook seemed more extensive than previous weeks.
The offense didn’t solely rely on screens and bootlegs to move the ball through the air. Instead, the team asked Darnold to drop back and throw from the pocket more than he had in the past and while they still didn’t find a ton of success, the opportunities were there.
Unfortunately, Darnold failed to capitalize on a handful of those opportunities overthrowing his targets on three crucial passes. Bilal Powell, Quincy Enunwa, and Robby Anderson were all victims of overthrows during Sunday’s contest with the most egregious of which potentially being the miss to Anderson.
The speedy receiver has been nearly invisible on the stat sheet through the first three weeks but had a chance to connect on a first down fly route midway through the fourth quarter. Anderson had broken free from Ramsey, one of the league’s premier cornerbacks, but was overthrown on a play that could have very well changed the outcome of the game.
The Jets would wind up going three-and-out.
The misses to Enunwa and Powell proved to be equally as costly and it’s these types of plays that Darnold will need to make going forward. This is a developmental year for a reason, however. These misses shouldn’t be concerning at the moment and if anything, Jets fans should be happy that he was allowed to even attempt these plays.
Eventually, the near misses will become completions. But for now, the developmental game is one that must be played. Other than that, Darnold finished the day without a turnover but was bailed out by a defensive holding call on an overthrown interception and was the beneficiary of two dropped picks by Ramsey and fellow cornerback A.J. Bouye.
The final stat sheet might not look terrible, but the game film shows that Darnold struggled mightily against the elite Jaguars defense. Part of that likely had to do with the team’s utter lack of a run game. Running backs Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell combined for only 12 total rushes and trailing early shouldn’t be an excuse for the team shifting away from the ground game entirely. While the Jags run defense is no joke, their pass defense is arguably the best in the league with elite corners and a dominant pass rush.
It would make sense for the team to try and establish a run game early on but Bates and the offense instead opted to go five wide on multiple short-yardage situations putting more pressure on Darnold. Bates also elected to throw on first down significantly more than last week which on paper is good but ultimately forced more third-and-long situations in the end.
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No receiving target’s numbers stood out particularly as a result of the poor passing showing but it’s clear that Quincy Enunwa isn’t only the most effective weapon at the team’s disposal, but perhaps even the most talented. Enunwa flashed his big-play ability with multiple huge runs after the catch breaking numerous tackles en route to large gains.
Unfortunately, he had a nearly 40-yard gain wiped out by a Kelvin Beachum hold late in the fourth quarter which would have looked nice on the stat sheet.
Rookie tight end Chris Herndon was also the victim of a poorly-timed hold that eliminated a juggling, highlight-reel 33-yard grab, this time courtesy of Eric Tomlinson. It was an encouraging showing from Herndon who showed glimpses of his athletic potential with the catch that wasn’t and an 18-yard reception late in the first half.
Fellow tight end Jordan Leggett also made his presence felt hauling in his first career touchdown in the fourth quarter which turned out to be the only time the team reached paydirt in the game. Leggett had the second-most receptions on the team with three and seems to be making a case for more playing time once Neal Sterling comes back.
The Clemson product’s NFL career has gotten off to a shaky start with injuries and inconsistency but Leggett is looking to carve out a role on this offense and Sunday’s game was a good start.
The offensive line struggled as expected as the unit attempted to block the clearly superior Jaguars defensive line with the aforementioned Beachum having the worst game of them all. The Jets left tackle was tasked with blocking Pro Bowler Calais Campbell and it went about as poorly as it could have gone.
Beachum was bullied in both pass protection and in the ground game all day long with perhaps his most embarrassing mistake coming on the Jaguars safety at the beginning of the third quarter. The former Pittsburgh Steeler took a terrible angle on Campbell and proceeded to whiff badly allowing the 300-pounder to tackle Crowell in the end zone for a safety.
While none of the Jets offensive linemen played especially well, Beachum’s play stood out in particular, and not in a good way.
Overall, it’s hard to give this offense any type of a positive grade given how poor they played. Unfortunately, Darnold misses far too many opportunities and the rest of the offense struggled accordingly. The offense grades out with a ‘D’ and in this case, the ‘D’ stands for Darnold.