CINCINNATI – The Jets suffered another embarrassing loss on Sunday, a 22-6 defeat to the previously winless Bengals. The Jets are now 4-8 and their three-game winning streak is a memory. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. With eight losses, the Jets are now guaranteed to finish with a non-winning season for the fourth straight year and eighth time in nine years. Another loss and it will be their fourth straight losing season and fifth in the last six years.
There has been a lot of losing around the Jets in the last decade, which begs the question: are they ever going to turn this around?
After a 34-3 win over the Raiders last week, optimism was high. Now, confidence in this team has cratered again. The truth is they are not as good as they looked against the Raiders and they are not as bad as they looked against the Bengals.
But make no mistake, this roster needs a lot of repairs. Joe Douglas sat in the Paul Brown Stadium press box on Sunday and I glanced at him a few times and wondered if he is overwhelmed by just how big this task is.
The Jets’ three main areas of need were on display again Sunday.
– Edge rusher: The Jets barely got near Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. They had two quarterback hits in the game and one sack. One of those quarterback hits was by cornerback Brian Poole and the other (and sack) was by nose tackle Steve McLendon. The outside linebackers did not do anything. It is hard to win games like that. Gregg Williams was able to create a pass rush with Jamal Adams against the Giants and Redskins. Now, teams have figured that out and are blocking him better. The Jets need someone who can win one-on-one on the outside.
– Offensive line: They had played better until Sunday. Then, they imploded. The group gave up four sacks and committed seven penalties. Everyone on the line had at least one penalty except guard Alex Lewis. Kelvin Beachum had three, including one that wiped out a long gain on a screen pass and another that resulted in a safety. Douglas may need to find four new linemen this offseason.
– Cornerback: Arthur Maulet and Bless Austin were a nice, little story for a few weeks. They played well during the winning streak, but it was a matter of time before a savvy quarterback picked on them. Dalton did that Sunday and the two corners were playing not to get beat deep, so they gave up a lot of short and intermediary passes where they were 3 yards away from the receivers. I think Austin has proven he can be a depth player next year, but Douglas should be searching for two starters.
We have not even gotten into wide receiver, which I think is just below those other three areas of need.
The Jets hired Douglas in June and gave him a six-year contract with the belief that he can find talent. He will be tested this offseason.
2. A lot is being made of Adam Gase not running the ball enough against the worst rushing defense in football. I get it, but the numbers are a little deceiving. He called 26 passes and nine runs in the first half, but 10 of those passes came on the final drive of the half when the Jets got the ball with 1:46 left and were not running because of clock management.
Gase came out ready to run in the third quarter and here is what happened: Le’Veon Bell for 2 yards, Bell for -1 yard, Bell for 23 yards but called back because of holding on Tom Compton. Then it is third-and-20 and they passed and then punted. The next drive starts at their own 2 and then gets moved to the 1 after a false start on Brandon Shell. First play, Bell runs for 2 yards. Second play, Beachum is called for holding and the Bengals get a safety. The Bengals then kick a field goal after getting the ball after the safety. Suddenly, the Jets are down 16 and there is 1:15 left in the third quarter. The Jets had to pass to get back into the game.
This is not to say I am defending Gase in this game. He had a terrible day. But it was about more than pass/run ratio. It was about his offense’s sheer inability to move the ball at all. He had no answers in this game. The Bengals had a great game plan against the Jets and they executed it.
3. First-round pick Quinnen Williams had another quiet game with just two tackles, one for a loss. On Thanksgiving, I watched Bills rookie Ed Oliver have a major impact against the Cowboys with two sacks, four tackles, a forced fumble and a pass defensed and thought that Oliver is the guy that Williams should be compared to in his career. Many people wish the Jets selected pass rusher Josh Allen and want to compare Williams to him, but they play different positions. Allen is allowed to just rush the passer from the edge. Oliver is a much better comparison, playing inside. Oliver has five sacks, four tackles for a loss and seven quarterback hits this year. Williams has 1 ½ sacks, three tackles for a loss and four hits on the QB.
There were some people inside the Jets who wanted Oliver with the No. 3 pick in April, but most of the organization preferred Williams. There were character and motor questions about Oliver. It is still very early but so far, Oliver looks like the better pick.
4. The NFL has become such a reactionary league that all perspective seems to get lost on Mondays. When the Jets won three in a row, people wanted to make pronouncements about how improved they were. Then, they lose to the Bengals and we’re back to the coach sucks, the team sucks, everything sucks.
Look around the NFL on Sunday. The Redskins beat the Panthers. The Dolphins beat the Eagles. It is a crazy, crazy league. That is why it is fun to watch. There is no such thing as a cupcake in the NFL and there are very few teams that stay dominant for long or remain a doormat for long. The Bengals were playing better in recent weeks and nearly beat the Raiders and Steelers. They might have won those games with Andy Dalton at quarterback instead of rookie Ryan Finley. You could see trouble coming for the Jets.
So yes, this was a terrible loss, but it also just underscores what life in the NFL is like. Unless you are one of the top teams in the league, you can get beat any week. Just ask the Eagles or Panthers.
Revealing stat: The Jets were 0-for-0 in the red zone. Not one trip to the red zone on Sunday. Well, they did actually get there once when Bilal Powell got to the 17 on a screen pass that was then brought back for a block-in-the-back penalty on Beachum. It’s hard to score when you can’t get inside the 20.
Surprising snap count: CB Darryl Roberts played eight snaps in his return from a calf injury even with Poole and Maulet leaving the game for a period of time with injuries. Maurice Canady played in front of Roberts, which surprised me. Roberts is not Deion Sanders but the Jets thought enough of him to be their starter for the first eight games of the year. It is weird that he is now buried on the depth chart.
Game ball: Not many candidates to choose from in this game. WR Robby Anderson had seven catches for 101 yards. He did drop a touchdown on the first drive, but he was less bad than most of his teammates so we’ll give it to him.