The NY Jets’ opening week 27-17 loss to the Bills reveals everything that is wrong with this team.
The NY Jets opened their 2020 season thoroughly outplayed, outhustled, and outclassed by an above-average Buffalo Bills squad.
Gang Green has endured many worse losses over the years, but this was a particularly awful performance. As usual, with this frustrating franchise, it’s challenging to ascertain whether the biggest problem is the players or the system.
Josh Allen — a pedestrian quarterback by any measure — toyed with the Jets defense for a 21-3 halftime lead, and 300-plus overall passing yards. The Bills should’ve put 40 points on the board, but they made boatloads of error and then took their foot off the gas.
The Jets had every chance to get back in the game, but they looked like one of the worst football teams, with penalties, turnovers, missed tackles, and dropped passes.
Allen’s training partner Sam Darnold looks like he has not improved, performing like a boy among men making mind-numbingly poor decisions. He does not look the part of a third-year NFL QB.
The Jets are a poorly coached team that was not ready to play football. We are still awaiting the “offensive genius” of Adam Gase.
Wasn’t he the “quarterback whisperer” brought in to develop Darnold? Where is the creative play-calling? What were they doing in camp for six weeks?
How can the Jets right this ship and not get embarrassed next week against the ascending San Francisco 49ers? Here’s a look at this roster’s highs and lows, with ideas on fixing this mess.
Next: 4. Another brick in the wall
4. Another brick in the wall for the NY Jets
Many believed that general manager Joe Douglas did an excellent job revamping the offensive line. And even if they looked shaky against Buffalo, there is still time to gel.
Fifth-year ex-Broncos lineman Connor McGovern is a proven starting center. Douglas’ first 2020 free agent, George Fant, a college hoops star turned Seahawks tight end-turned-right tackle, made short work in camp of second-year tackle Chuma Edoga.
Against Buffalo, behemoth rookie first-round left tackle Mekhi Becton improved as the game went on. The guard tandem of Alex Lewis and Long Island star Greg Van Roten offers upside over last year’s train wreck.
But the only other viable lineman on this roster are Bills castoff tackle Conor McDermott (15 games over three seasons) and swingman Josh Andrews (25 games for the Eagles and Colts).
We heard how Darnold might rack up big numbers playing this season at empty stadiums. We know that Joe Flacco can step in when fully healed.
But how ineffective is sixth-year-pro David Fales to get passed over as Darnold’s opening game backup for unproven Western Kentucky project Mike White?
Detractors second-guessed Douglas’ decision to select James Morgan last draft, but the young gun possesses all the intangibles of a future 10-year NFLer.
Next: 3. Weapons supply
3. The NY Jets’ weapons supply
We knew that wide receivers were a question mark. So far, Robby Anderson’s replacement, Breshad Perriman, has been an enigma wrapped in swollen knees.
We now fear that the career trajectory of 2020 second-rounder Denzel Mims — missing the Bills game after pulling his other hamstring — is starting to feel like that of 2015 second-rounder Devin Smith.
On Sunday, we also saw that Jamison Crowder and Chris Hogan would have balls thrown their way all season long.
Former general manager Mike Maccagnan error Josh Bellamy has made the biggest wide receiver news, following his COVID-19 fraud arrest that even knocked the Giants’ Deandre Baker off the tabloid back pages.
We knew Darnold would have to rely on his tight ends. Both Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin have good hands and can lay down the lumber.
We thought Gase could upgrade his running game by employing the backfield skillsets of Trevon Wesco, and that special-teams coach Brant Boyer could utilize the proven special-teams abilities of veteran Daniel Brown.
Against Buffalo, Herndon made a soul-crushing fumble, and everyone else in the unit made no impact.
As for the troubling running back situation, Gase’s misuse last season of Le’Veon Bell was either case of offensive malpractice or petulant vindictiveness — neither excuse forgivable.
Bell’s injured hamstring occurred after a sure-fire first-half touchdown miss by Darnold, that worsened from Gase foolishly inserting him in the second half.
Now expect a rushing game spearheaded by 15-year grinder Frank Gore and practice-squad player Josh Adams, as injured fourth-round rookie La’Mical Perine sits and learns.
Next: 2. Hold the line
2. The NY Jets hold the line
Adam Gase is not even the best coach on this team. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can only do so much with what he has, especially without stars C.J. Mosley and Jamal Adams.
The Jets’ defensive line is a proven core roster strength. Williams has done a tremendous job with this unit, getting the most out of veteran Steve McLendon, and elevating the skillsets of grinders Kyle Phillips, Folorunso Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd, and even Jordan Willis.
But Maccagnan gave $24 million to underachieving Henry Anderson and possibly wasted the third overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft on “can’t miss” prospect Quinnen Williams.
Quinnen was on the field Sunday for less than half the snaps and committed two brutal third-down penalties that extended Bills drives.
Coach Williams knew that inside linebacker Avery Williamson was not nearly 100 percent rehabbed from last preseason’s ACL surgery. His inside mate Blake Cashman is one shoulder tear away from early retirement.
But he didn’t know he’d have to play the opener without Williamson and most of the game without Cashman, forced to rely on overachievers Neville Hewitt and Harvey Langi, both who performed admirably.
Expect future games with Hewitt and Langi starting, backed by veteran practice squad player Alec Ogletree, while the team awaits IR’d ex-Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor.
2020’s outside linebacker corps of Jordan Jenkins, Tarell Basham, and Frankie Luvu scare no one. Makes one excited to see contribution undrafted free agent Bryce Huff and IR’d third-rounder Jabari Zuniga.
Next: 1. Defenders of the Faith
1. Defenders of the Faith
The Jets’ roster includes six cornerbacks. This season’s shutdown corner Pierre Desir — still dealing with hamstring injuries — looked so awful with devastating penalties and inadequate coverage that he got benched before halftime.
Blessuan Austin excelled in camp and was the team’s best cornerback on the field against Buffalo. Nate Hairston, Brian Poole, and Arthur Maulet had so-so training camps and performed accordingly on Sunday.
By the end of the season, we will undoubtedly see more from practice-squad players Lamar Jackson and Javelin Guidry, and COVID-afflicted fifth-rounder Bryce Hall.
We knew that if safety Marcus Maye can avoid further injury, he and Seahawks send-off, Bradley McDougald, will make for an imposing starting unit. Maye was by far the Jets’ best player on the field and earned himself a fat new contract.
Third-rounder Ashtyn Davis didn’t play much against the Bills, but he is so electrifying that he could soothe Adams’ painful loss to the Seahawks.
As for the special teams, rookie punter Braden Mann and long-snapper Thomas Hennessy are keepers. Mann is already an improvement over the unemployed Lachlan Edwards.
But Sam Ficken, who excelled in his one field-goal attempt, is still the kicker. The expanded 16-member practice squad includes four wide receivers, five defensive backs, and two Kaufusi brothers.
The Athletic ranked Gang Green No. 30 in a 32-team league and predicted a 5-11 season. Now one has to question if Gang Green is even worthy of that lowly ranking.