The Jets got beat up on Monday night by the Browns, losing 23-3 to fall to 0-2. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. After watching the game again, here was my biggest takeaway: there were too many plays were Le’Veon Bell looked like the only one trying. Bell gave so much effort in this game. Yes, he fumbled late but that was because he was fighting for extra yards.
Bell had 31 touches in the game and seemed to be the Jets’ only hope of generating offense. There are plays where it looks like Bell’s teammates are just standing around and watching him instead of matching his effort.
One play like this that really stood out to me was early in the fourth quarter. Luke Falk threw a short pass to Bell as Myles Garrett drilled the quarterback … again. Bell was surrounded by Browns tacklers but managed to escape. He then got hit by a Browns tackler and escaped again and managed to gain 8 yards when it should have been a loss. But he did it on his own. I tweeted a photo that showed Jets teammates just watching him instead of finding someone to block.
Bell is great, but he needs help. One of the challenges for Adam Gase is going to be to find players that love football as much as Bell and Jamal Adams do. The Jets have too many players that seem OK with losing.
2. There is a lot of talk about 0-6 out there because of how challenging the Jets’ schedule is and how bad they looked Monday night. They are 22 ½ point underdogs to the Patriots this week in New England. After a bye week, they go to Philadelphia and then play the Cowboys and Patriots at home. They will be underdogs in all four of those games, so the 0-6 talk is not baseless.
The key is going to be how quickly Sam Darnold can return from mononucleosis. There is hope that he could be back for the Eagles game. If he returns then, the Jets should have some hope of winning again. Remember the expectations for this team were 7-9 wins. That took a hit with Darnold being out, but if he can only miss two games they should still be able to hit that range.
3. Good for Gase for benching Trumaine Johnson. The Jets’ previous regime unwisely handed him a five-year, $72.5 million contract and he has been a total dud here. Johnson has been ineffective on the field and has been a problem off of it. He missed meetings and was late last year. That led to former coach Todd Bowles making him inactive for the final game of the season in New England. This benching was not disciplinary. It was just about the total package. He did not play well in the opener and does not have a great attitude.
It is refreshing to see a player get benched for his play. Bowles usually only benched players for disciplinary reasons and it took multiple transgressions. He stood by Darrelle Revis in 2016 even when the cornerback was struggling. This sent a good message to the locker room. It does not matter what your salary is. Everyone will be held accountable.
Also, so much for the idea that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams could bring out the best in Johnson.
4. I think Gase is taking a little too much heat about the offense’s struggles. Falk had never been active for a game before. It is hard to be creative with a guy who has probably not even taken a first-team snap in practice.
I did have two issues with Gase’s play-calling. The first came just before halftime. The Jets seemed intent on running out the clock and getting to the locker room, which I thought was a good idea since Falk had entered the game in the second quarter. Trailing by 10, they did not call a timeout when the Browns had the ball. But then Gase decided to throw the ball with 49 seconds left. Josh Bellamy dropped the pass and the clock stopped. The Browns ended up kicking a field goal to stretch their lead to 16-3 at halftime.
The other questionable call came in the third quarter. The Jets actually put together a good drive and made it to the Browns’ 12. On third-and-2, Gase decided to throw the ball instead of running it. Falk missed Robby Anderson in the back of the end zone and then Bell got stopped short on fourth-and-2. I would have put the ball in Bell’s hands twice there. If you want to pass, make it a short pass to Bell.
Revealing stat: The Jets have lost seven straight home games. That is the longest active streak in the NFL. You’ve got to win your home games.
Surprising snap count: Kyle Phillips played 30 snaps in the game. The undrafted free agent defensive lineman was the beneficiary of Quinnen Williams being out of the game with an ankle injury. Phillips had two tackles in the game.
Game ball: It would be easy to give it to Le’Veon Bell, but I’m going with Luke Falk. It was really impressive what he did. This was the first game he was ever in uniform for and he played pretty well. Falk completed 20-of-25 pass attempts for 198 yards. That is really hard to do when you’re not even getting first-team reps. Falk was signed off the practice squad Monday afternoon.