The New York Jets fell to their division rivals, the New England Patriots, on Sunday by a final score of 27-13 to bring their losing streak to five games. How does the team grade out following yet another loss?
Another week, another loss. The New York Jets were defeated in their fifth consecutive contest on Sunday, this time at the hands of their archrivals, the New England Patriots, by a final score of 27-13.
While the team indisputably put forth a more competitive effort than they did in their previous embarrassment of a performance against the Buffalo Bills, they were unable to make the game interesting down the stretch. The Jets held tough with their opponents throughout most of the first half but came out flat in the second half and never could recover.
None of this should come as a surprise, though.
The Patriots are the far superior team and a 14 point defeat, on paper, should be encouraging after the disaster from two weeks prior. At the same time, it was evident that Tom Brady and the Patriots were not playing at their best. In turn, New England’s “C-game” was good enough to defeat the Jets by two touchdowns.
It’s concerning but ultimately not all too surprising.
Although there were slight improvements, any sense of optimism around this team has seemingly faded over the past few weeks. The energy of the team and fanbase as a whole has been vacuumed out and disposed of in the trash bag of pessimism, something all too familiar with fans of this franchise.
That being said, let’s take a look at each of the Jets positional units and determine why the team failed to succeed in their most recent defeat.
The Jets offense performed much better than expected albeit with expectations set about as low as Nathan Peterman’s career quarterback rating — when the team is down it’s easiest to deflect the hurt on to others.
It’s a defense mechanism.
In all seriousness, quarterback Josh McCown held his own and realistically put together the best performance from a Jets signal-caller since Sam Darnold in Week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts. McCown finished the day 26-of-45 throwing for 276 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in a valiant defeat.
Tight end Chris Herndon paced the team with a career-high seven receptions for 57 yards as the rookie continued his strong season. The Jets did a good job of getting him involved in the passing game in this contest and it seems that he has fully taken over as the team’s dominant number one tight end.
Receivers Qunicy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse each had solid games with the former making the most of his limited targets and the latter putting together a very nice bounce-back performance. Despite Kearse’s big game, the Jets would be better off phasing him out of the offense over the final few weeks and giving younger players such as Deontay Burnett an increased role.
It speaks volumes that Kearse actually leads the Jets in targets this season. Given his lack of production with his targets, it just doesn’t make sense to continue feeding him the ball.
The offensive line was perhaps the MVP of the entire offense playing a very solid game in pass protection keeping McCown upright for much of the afternoon paving the way for his rock-solid game. Spencer Long was given the start at left guard with usual starter James Carpenter out with a shoulder injury and the former Washington Redksin played very well.
Long was paired next to reliable backup Jonotthan Harrison, who started in place of Long at center, and the Nebraska product had perhaps his best game of the season. With Long still nursing a finger injury, it would be wise for the team to continue to play him at guard even if the injured Carpenter is able to return. Especially with Carpenter unlikely to return with the team next year, the Jets might as well see what they have in Long and Harrison as potential starters on the interior offensive line.
All in all, it was an improved performance from the Jets offense and the play of the offensive line bumps the grade up a bit. Still, the team was only able to reach the end zone once so it’s hard to give them too high of a grade.
Final Grade: C-
Next: Defensive Grades
The Jets defense followed up their string of underwhelming performances with another less-than-stellar effort against the Patriots.
While the unit certainly had its moments, the same issues with the pass rush (or lack thereof) plagued the team as they have all year long. The Jets failed to record a single sack as Tom Brady was given all day to throw from the pocket, a recipe that rarely works.
Although Brady definitely wasn’t at his best, the 13-time Pro Bowler was able to find receivers open over the middle on multiple occasions, likely due to the lack of pressure. He took a couple of hits throughout the game but the Jets were ultimately never able to bring him down for a loss.
The more concerning issue came with the Jets continued lack of success defending the run. What has been one of the team’s strengths over the past two years has now seemingly become one of their biggest weaknesses on defense as the Patriots were able to gash the Jets front seven for multiple big gains on the ground.
Rookie Sony Michel finished with 133 yards on 21 carries while James White was able to rumble forwards for 73 yards on just nine carries. Altogether, the Patriots were able to muster up 215 rushing yards against a talented Jets front seven that has really struggled as of late.
In games like this, you need your most talented players to step up and make plays and for yet another week, defensive lineman Leonard Williams was silent. The 2016 Pro Bowler was regularly blocked out of running lanes and beaten one-on-one in blocks.
This wasn’t a case of being double teamed nor was it a case of teams not running his way, Williams was simply overpowered and beaten by a Patriots offensive line that played a very solid game. Williams name will be a hot topic over the final weeks as the team will ultimately need to make a decision on whether to sign the talented lineman to an extension or not.
As of now, Williams is under contract through the 2019 season but his future with the team beyond that point is yet to be determined.
In the secondary, safety Jamal Adams had himself another incredible day both in coverage and in run defense. The second-year safety was able to shut down tight end Rob Gronkowski for much of the afternoon and delivered a multitude of punishing hits throughout the contest.
Adams has been not only the Jets most improved player of 2018 but likely the team’s best and it shouldn’t be long before he is considered a household name and one of the best at his position.
Darryl Roberts filled in for the injured Marcus Maye starting his first career game at free safety and he performed admirably. It was nice to see the Jets reward Roberts for his recent performances although it was discouraging to see Maye miss another game. Maye will look to finish the year strong as the Florida product has spent more time on the sidelines than on the field during his sophomore campaign.
Overall, it was another disappointing performance from the Jets defense highlighted by another poor showing from the run defense. The play of Adams saves this grade from being lower than it could have been.
Final Grade: D+
Next: Special Teams Grades
Special Teams Grades
The Jets special teams put together the best showing out of any of the team’s positional groups, a theme that has become commonplace this year. The overall turnaround of the unit has oddly enough been one of the most positive takeaways from 2018, something very few would have expected.
Kicker Jason Myers was the highlight of the afternoon once again nailing a kick from 55 yards out to tie the game at 10 going into the second half. The former Jacksonville Jaguar made history with that very kick becoming the first kicker in NFL history to connect on five field goals from 55 yards or more in a single season.
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Myers has been perhaps the team’s most consistent player and without a doubt one of the biggest surprises of the year. Entering 2018, Myers had connected on 81 percent of his field goals attempts in his career and just 77 percent over the past two seasons. More significantly, Myers had missed a staggering 12 extra point attempts over his three seasons, the most by any NFL kicker since 2015.
Not only has Myers had by far the best year of his career in 2018, but he’s statistically been on par with some of the best kickers in the game. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get serious Pro Bowl consideration, something no one could have predicted entering this season.
Another Jets special teamer who could be deserving of a Pro Bowl nod is return man Andre Roberts. While Roberts didn’t make any game-changing plays in this one he did have a nice 35-yard kickoff return that of course ended with a Jets punt.
Speaking of punting, punter Lachlan Edwards had a quality game pinning the Patriots back inside their own 20-yard line twice. There should have been a third time if not for gunner Trenton Cannon losing track of the ball and allowing it to bounce into the end zone for an undeserved touchback.
The special teams grade is mainly boosted by Myers who continues to shine and only negatively impacted by Cannon’s inability to properly down the punt.
Final Grade: B+
Next: Coaching Grades
The Jets coaching staff once again did little to inspire positivity as the offensive play calling sputtered and questionable decisions made by head coach Todd Bowles came back to bite the team.
On offense, the Jets ran the ball just 12 times with the combination of Isaiah Crowell and Elijah McGuire forcing quarterback Josh McCown to drop back to pass nearly 50 times. With the game close for much of the afternoon, you have to wonder why offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates opted to steer clear of the run game as much as he did.
The Patriots entered the day around the middle of the pack in run defense and it’s not as if the Jets were incompetent running the ball when they did. Crowell finished with 30 yards on his six carries and while McGuire only totaled 19 yards on his six carries, the team would undoubtedly have been better served running more than they did.
Bates once again failed to utilize any sort of an intermediate passing game, relying mostly on short passes to the flats and the occasional deep shot. The lack of creativity in the passing game has hurt the Jets on third down as the team currently ranks 30th on third down conversions.
In terms of in-game decisions, Bowles was haunted by a mistake he made late in the first quarter. With the Jets leading 7-0 and New England driving, the Patriots were called for an offensive pass interference call on 3rd-and-2 that should have ended the drive and forced their opponents to kick a field goal. Instead, Bowles opted to accept the penalty and put the Patriots in a 3rd-and-12 situation, still in field goal range mind you. On the very next play, Tom Brady hooked up with tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 34-yard touchdown to tie the game up at the time.
The decision was one that made little sense at the time as it was unlikely the Patriots would have attempted to convert on fourth down regardless of what Bowles had estimated. Bowles has been questioned for his in-game decision making and in many cases, the questioning is a bit overblown but this was one instance that should have left all Jets fans scratching their heads.
At the end of the day, there were little redeeming qualities from the Jets coaching staff in this game as the offense was once again predictable and ineffective while Bowles poor decision led to a New England touchdown. The only positive takeaway saving this from a failing grade is that the team didn’t seem to quit on Bowles as they did two weeks prior.