The Jets dropped to 0-4 Sunday with their 31-6 loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. The Jets have plenty of issues right now, but one thing that has hindered them greatly over the past three weeks is they have trailed quickly and for the entire game. It is difficult to play from behind, especially when the lead gets large. The opposing defense knows you’re passing and can rush without any fear of you running. On offense, the urgency grows and the playbook shrinks. Defensively, the pressure mounts and people start pressing.
The Jets have not led in a game since Week 1 against the Bills when they had a 16-10 lead in the fourth quarter before the Bills went ahead with three minutes left to play. Since then, they have either been tied 0-0 or behind.
Their opponents have opened up sizable leads quickly, too. The Browns led 13-0 early in the second quarter. The Patriots went up 20-0 early in the second quarter. On Sunday, the Eagles took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter with one offensive possession, thanks to a pick-six.
Everything will start to look better offensively if the Jets can play from in front. Right now, they are spotting teams leads and it is killing them.
2. I get why people are upset that Adam Gase gave all of the first-team reps to Sam Darnold in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. It is not a good look. My personal opinion is it would not have made much of a difference if Luke Falk took more reps. He is what he is and right now that is not a starting quarterback in the NFL. He belongs on the practice squad, where he was before Darnold was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Would Falk have played better if he had been given the lion’s share of the reps this week? Maybe slightly, but he had all the reps before the Patriots game and how did that go?
I understand why the Jets gave Darnold the work last week. First, they were confident he was going to play. The doctors indicated that they believed he would be cleared, but Darnold’s body did not respond the way they expected. If Darnold had been cleared by the doctors, the Jets faced a decision about whether he was ready to play. Was he in shape? How was his timing? Did he still look sluggish from the mono? The only way to answer those questions was to have him practice hard. They did that and they were ready to give him the OK if the doctors cleared him. That did not happen.
One mistake I think Gase did make was getting his team’s hopes up. I think he needed to maintain more of a stance that Falk was probably going to start and if Darnold is cleared, it would have been a big lift. Instead, it felt all week like Darnold was going to start and then when he was not cleared, it deflated the team.
It was a difficult balance for Gase to strike. He had to get two quarterbacks ready and one had not taken any snaps in three weeks so he needed extra work. It is not as clear cut as some people are making it seem.
3. The Jets are not playing well offensively. That is not a news flash. But one thing I think is getting a little overlooked is how good the defenses they’re playing against are.
In the first four weeks the Jets have played some of the best defensive teams in football. The Patriots are No. 1 in yards per game allowed. The Bills are No. 2. The Eagles are No. 10 and the Browns are No. 12 (entering Monday night).
Overall, these teams are tough, too. The Patriots are the consensus best team in football right now. The Eagles and Bills are top-10 teams and the Browns have shown the potential to be one.
The schedule makers did the Jets no favors. Up next are the Cowboys, who are No. 6 in total defense, followed by the No. 1 Patriots again.
The good news for the Jets is they have two games against the Dolphins (No. 32), a game with the Bengals (31), the Giants (30) and the Redskins (28) remaining on the schedule. The problem is they may be 0-7 before they see any of those teams.
4. Speaking of good defenses, the Jets have one right now. I am shocked at how well the defense has performed. This team has huge holes at edge rusher and at cornerback. They are missing their leader in C.J. Mosley and a key player in Jordan Jenkins. Still, they have put up a strong effort against the Eagles and Patriots over the past two weeks with no help from the offense.
Give a lot of credit to Gregg Williams for creating good game plans. They also have gotten some outstanding individual performances from Jamal Adams, Neville Hewitt, Marcus Maye, Tarell Basham and Brian Poole.
Revealing stat: The Jets allowed more sacks (10) than they had first downs (9). That is a recipe for a bad game.
Surprising snap count: Kyle Phillips, an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee, started at outside linebacker and played 45 snaps in the game. He had a tackle and a pass defensed but gave up a long pass in coverage.
Game ball: Linebacker Neville Hewitt was supposed to be a backup this season. Then, he was supposed to replace Avery Williamson when he went down. Now, he is filling in for C.J. Mosley as the main signal-caller on defense. He has done a really nice job and was everywhere on Sunday. He finished with 10 tackles, one for loss and a quarterback hit.