PHILADELPHIA — They made lineup changes. They ran more plays in practice than usual. The coaches raised the decibel level at practice. They held a full-squad film session in which no one’s feelings were spared. They said it would be different after the bye. A new season. A reboot.
The New York Jets were wrong. Embarrassingly wrong.
Their 31-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field was a new low for their historically bad offense, which needed a late gift from the Eagles (a muffed punt) to score its first touchdown since Week 1. Vyncint Smith‘s 19-yard run on an end-around was their first touchdown in 40 possessions. It was the best kind of drive for the Jets — only one play. Fewer chances to screw up.
How bad was it? The Jets were outscored by the Eagles’ defense, 14-6.
In reality, the Jets’ chances — albeit slim — were wiped out Thursday night when Sam Darnold‘s lab results revealed a still-enlarged spleen, a residual effect from mononucleosis. Coach Adam Gase was counting on Darnold’s return — he gave him all the first-team reps Wednesday and Thursday — but that ill-advised plan backfired with their 11th-hour pivot to Luke Falk. Predictably, he was overmatched against the Eagles.
It was poor planning by Gase, whose reputation as an offensive mastermind has taken a major hit. It’s a nightmarish situation — how many coaches could win with a third-string quarterback? — but this goes beyond winning. They can’t execute simple plays. They can’t convert third downs. The red zone might as well be in Antarctica. The Jets looked unprepared, and that falls on Gase.
They’re as bad as the NFL has seen in a long time. The Jets dropped to 0-4 for the first time since 2003, and they could be 0-6 with the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots up next on the schedule. On the horizon is a potential showdown (ha, ha) against the winless Miami Dolphins in Week 9 — the Gase Bowl.
Describe the game in two words: No hope. The Jets produced only 128 total yards and converted only three of 14 third downs.
QB Breakdown: Falk was terrible, but what did you expect? This was his second NFL start and he had only one day to practice with the starters, thanks to Gase’s miscalculation with Darnold. Falk (15-of-26, 120 yards) threw an early pick-six, putting the Jets in a 14-0 hole. In the fourth quarter, he coughed it up on a strip sack and it was returned for a touchdown by Orlando Scandrick.
Facing the NFL’s 32nd-ranked defense, Falk should’ve been able to exploit Philadelphia’s banged-up cornerbacks, but he struggled to get the ball to the perimeter. The wide receivers combined for only seven receptions. Falk, with a deer-in-the-headlights look, held the ball too long and lacked decisiveness. This is what happens when you have to start a quarterback off the practice squad.
Troubling trend: Gase made two changes on the offensive line, benching longtime right tackle Brandon Shell in favor of rookie Chuma Edoga. He also replaced left guard Kelechi Osemele (shoulder) with Alex Lewis, but that was injury related.
The overall result: Same old mess. The Jets allowed 10 sacks and created no push in the running game for Le’Veon Bell. You can’t blame the line for every sack — Falk showed no pocket presence — but there were the usual miscommunications that were supposed to get cleaned up during the bye week.
Biggest hole in the game plan: Gase didn’t want to spend $13 million a year on a running back, but he sure likes calling Bell’s number. Bell finished with 22 touches — 15 rushes and seven receptions. He played his rear end off, fighting for every one of his 88 total yards from scrimmage. Problem is the Jets were too Bell reliant. Gase needed to do a better job of spreading the ball around.
Pivotal play: It’s hard to pick out one play in a blowout, but why on earth did Gase try a 55-yard field goal into the wind instead of trying a fourth-and-3? Sam Ficken‘s kick wasn’t even close to reaching the goal post. Bad decision.
Bold prediction for next week: The Jets’ coaches will conduct a midweek prayer session hoping Darnold can play.