Going into 2019, insiders considered the New York Jets an ascending franchise with playoff possibilities. Things can turn around, but there is a possibility that this season could end up with a worse record than last year.
Now we’re hearing what many surmised: Sam Darnold felt mono-like symptoms during the Buffalo Bills game. That would explain him not playing as sharp as he did in the preseason.
Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams likes to talk smack. But he stirred the pot with Friday’s “Odell who?” remarks — that came back to bite this team in Odell Beckham‘s MetLife return.
Having said that, “the DC” called a heck of a game against his former team. Baker Mayfield looked rattled most of the night. His injury-ravaged defense did man-up.
Football is a game of field possession. In the first half, five Jets drives started inside their 20. How many times did you see Lachlan Edwards punt out of his own end zone, and the Browns getting the ball at midfield?
But 12 penalties and a general lack of field awareness cost Gang Green at least 10 points. Jamal Adams committed a backbreaking roughing the passer that resulted in the Browns first-half TD.
And did Marcus Maye run away from Odell on that highlight-reel 89-yard touchdown?
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Here are five zeros and heroes from Monday night’s letdown versus Cleveland. Despite it all, there is some real talent on this team.
There are many issues to address before Sunday night when Luke Falk and his New York Jets travel to New England to take on the six-time Super Bowl champion Patriots.
Next: 5. Offensive/Not Offensive
5. Offensive/Not Offensive
HERO — Luke Falk, QB
Quarterback play was not the issue Monday night. After Trevor Siemian‘s gruesome season-ending left ankle ligament twist, the Washington State star performed admirably (20-for-25, 198 yards) and pumped some life into a moribund offense.
Sure, the Jets fell behind early. But why not alter the offensive game plan and put the game on the big shoulders of proven game-changing backs Le’Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery (three rushes for 25 yards) instead of last week’s practice squad QB?
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ZERO — Kelvin Beachum, LT
All night long, Mike Maccagnan’s most productive free-agent signing got wrecked on national TV by future Hall of Famer Myles Garrett. The veteran also committed a costly holding penalty on Robby Anderson‘s biggest play of his solid night (four catches for 81 yards).
But where was the coaching adjustment? That extra tight end help didn’t arrive until close to halftime.
Any discussion of Kelvin Beachum leads to the “F-level” O-line play. The Jets must determine how much of this is early season miscommunication or coaching scheme issues or just too many old players.
For instance, is Ryan Kalil out of shape or out of sync or just totally shot? As Bill Parcells famously said, “If you’re thinking about retirement, you’re retired.”
Next: 4. Big Name Free Agents
4. Big Name Free Agents
HERO — Le’Veon Bell, RB
No matter what you’ve heard, Le’Veon Bell has shown he’s a team player. He’s saying the right things and buying into the program. But he’s getting his butt kicked with few contributors around him.
Bell has not had so much as a crease to run through — he’s gained every yard on his own. What other back could generate 129 total yards under similar circumstances?
The Jets could keep it close in New England with a sustained two-headed rushing/reception attack of Bell and Ty Montgomery.
ZERO — Trumaine Johnson, CB
That means something else went down. Based on last year’s late-season benching, don’t be surprised if it was some similar in-house infraction, like being late for, or missing, a team meeting.
The cornerback’s inactivity was a refreshing reprieve from the Todd Bowles era — when few bad deeds went punished.
It would be a dicey move for Joe Douglas to cut Maccagnan’s $72 Million Man — if for no other reason than to retain a capable backup. Clearly, the new regime does not like this guy, and he’ll likely be gone by next March’s 2020 deadlines.
Next: 3. Line of Fire
3. Line of Fire
HERO — Neville Hewitt/Blake Cashman, LB
Going into Monday’s national game without defensive captain C.J. Mosley — compounded by his linebacker mate Avery Williamson‘s season-ending surgery — the Jets were concerned about manning the inside with a special-teamer and a rookie.
But they got some impressive play out of Neville Hewitt (three tackles, four assists, one sack) and Blake Cashman (two tackles, four assists, 0.5 sacks). Cashman could be one of this team’s defensive contributors moving forward.
Extra puntos to Tarell Basham, who will need to excel again on the edge in place of Jordan Jenkins — Jenkins went down early with a calf injury and that rarely heals quickly. This is where Brandon Copeland‘s PED suspension really comes back to hurt this team.
ZERO — Leonard Williams, DL
Everyone has defended him, but with injuries to Mosley and Quinnen Williams, it was time for Maccagnan’s 2015 first-rounder to step up big-time — and the man was invisible.
With every game, Leonard Williams gives the new regime more reason to not re-sign “the top talent of the 2015 Draft” at his allotted $18 million. Similar to Trumaine Johnson, there’s little chance the USC kid returns.
Next: 2. Something Special
2. Something Special
HERO — Sam Ficken, K
The Vikings and Ravens both drooled over big-legged, big-talking Norwegian Kaare Vedvik, before watching him choke on the big stage. So how could the Jets brain trust expect different results?
Sam Ficken, the former Rams stand-in, made his one 46-yard field goal. For that alone, Jets fans owed the man a standing ovation. He’s light-years beyond Vedvik, Chandler Catanzaro or Taylpr Bertolet; another indictment of ex-GM Maccagnan’s decision to shortchange Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers.
ZERO — Trenton Cannon, RB/KR
Trenton Cannon returned three kickoffs for a combined average fifty yards. That’s just 16.7 per return. How is that even possible? If he just caught the ball and dropped to a knee, they’d get the ball at the 25!
As stated, Ty Montgomery needs to get more involved in this offense. He’s the Jets most game-proven return man since Antonio Cromartie.
Next: 1. The HC of the NYJ
1. The HC of the NYJ
ZERO — Adam Gase, HC
Two games in, one question arises: how did Adam Gase earn his “innovative” reputation? Do you still believe in the “quarterback whisperer” as the future-of-football? That’s what Christopher Johnson proclaimed at Gase’s eye-opening introductory press conference.
The Jets sold their fanbase on Gase as an experienced game-day manager. But on a national stage, down 10 points and still in the game, 1:45 before halftime and with three timeouts remaining, Gase had Falk throwing the ball as if Darnold was in there.
That allowed for clock stoppage and the game-sealing Browns field goal at the final whistle, 16-3.
Next week in Foxborough, you know that Bill Belichick will aim to run up the score. But he’ll toil even harder for another shutout. Think Alabama vs. Rutgers. Take the Pats with the 22-point spread.
How can an 0-6 or even 0-7 start not be in the cards?