Jets vs. Dolphins: Week 9 offensive grades
By Justin Fried
The New York Jets offense put together a putrid performance with the team’s latest 13-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins. What lackluster grade does the unit deserve?
The New York Jets lost their third consecutive game to fall to 3-6 on the season behind another dreadful showing from the team’s offense on Sunday. It was a downright deplorable effort from the offense with coaching woes, turnovers, and snapping issues all contributing to the team’s shortcomings against their division rivals, the Miami Dolphins.
But while we can sit here and list all the things that went wrong in the game, let’s first begin on a positive note and talk about what actually went right.
Quincy Enunwa returned from injury and didn’t appear to have lost a step finishing the day with three grabs for 40 yards. The fourth-year wideout likely should have been involved more in the gameplan and only received just over 70 percent of the team’s offensive snaps limiting his production. The highlight of his afternoon, and likely that of the Jets day as well, was a 23-yard screen pass late in the fourth quarter where he carried Dolphins defenders for an extra 10 yards after he appeared to be wrapped up.
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Enunwa is the Jets most effective offensive playmaker and it was certainly confounding to see the team use him as little as they did in the game. Perhaps the team was just easing him back into the offense but it is essential that the team starts to gameplan around him in the upcoming weeks.
Elsewhere, tight end Chris Herndon put together another productive day catching four passes for 62 yards, leading the team in both categories. Herndon remains the Jets best all-around tight end and his development has been one of the few encouraging aspects of the offense this year. The team should continue to utilize the rookie as both a receiving threat and as an in-line blocker to assist with pass protection going forwards.
Running back Elijah McGuire returned from the injured reserve to make his season debut and the second-year man was effective on his touches picking up five first downs on just 10 total touches. McGuire split time with Isaiah Crowell who out-touched the younger back 14 to 10 but one encouraging sign is that McGuire was actually on the field for more snaps than Crowell.
With the offense struggling as much as it is, it would be wise for the team to use these three players, McGuire, Herndon, and Enunwa, as much as possible and really gameplan the offense around them.
As for the rest of the offense, there really aren’t any positive takeaways.
Quarterback Sam Darnold put together his worst statistical performance of his rookie season throwing four interceptions in an ugly, turnover-filled game. The rookie struggled to make correct reads but he wasn’t helped at all by his supporting cast.
The offensive line had their worst game of the season in pass protection scoring a 38.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. Their previous low on the year had come against the Denver Broncos when then unit graded out at 58.2 putting their recent blunders into perspective.
Right tackle Brandon Shell had by far his worst game of the season allowing two sacks to Cameron Wake and taking a boneheaded late hit penalty on Darnold’s first interception. Shell has been one of the Jets most consistent linemen this year so it was certainly discouraging to see him struggle as much as he did in this one.
But it’s impossible to talk about the offensive line without talking about Spencer Long. Long’s snapping issues essentially sabotaged the Jets offense in the second half and head coach Todd Bowles‘ refusal to remove the struggling center may have very well cost the team the game.
For starters, nobody should be blaming Spencer Long himself. The man is a football player just trying to tough it out through a finger injury. But at a certain point, the coach has to be the one to realize that his injury is too much to overcome and that it’s hurting the team too much.
Bowles needed to pull Long and he didn’t until it was too late.
Backup center Jonotthan Harrison started in Long’s place last week and performed adequately. Is Harrison really that much of a step down from Long that Bowles would determine that the consistent errant snaps weren’t a big enough deterrent?
Or was Bowles just that stubborn?
Personally, I have long been a big defender of Todd Bowles as coach of the Jets but the coaching staff’s inability to adapt mid-game and make appropriate changes has become the Achilles’ heel of the team. This was just the latest, most obvious example.
There is no valid excuse for Long remaining in the game as long as he did. Per GangGreenNation.com’s Michael Nania, Darnold finished 4-of-10 for 23 yards while taking three sacks on plays that had errant snaps. During plays without an errant snap, Darnold was a much more appealing 17-of-29 for 206 yards while he only took one sack.
That’s a stark difference, one that really puts Long’s impact into perspective and shows just how poor of a decision it was to keep him in the game. There’s no good reason as to why Long should start next week against the Buffalo Bills if his finger injury remains a concern, but at the same time, Jets fans shouldn’t be holding their breath that a change is made.
The coaching staff also failed Darnold and the Jets with another unimaginative, bland offensive gameplan that did no favors to the team’s rookie signal-caller. The lack of creativity on offense continues to be an issue as does the team’s failure to get their best players involved.
As an offensive coordinator, your job should be to gameplan the offense to scheme around your most effective playmakers. Quincy Enunwa received just three receptions while Chris Herndon saw just four. Jeremy Bates needs to do a better job of creating plays designed to get the ball in his best players hands.
All around, a struggling offensive line, poor play from Darnold, and obstinate coaching decisions led to an inexcusable game from the offense. This time, without a touchdown, there’s no silver-lining to save the unit from a failing grade.