The Jets suffered another embarrassing defeat on Thursday, falling 37-28 to the previously winless Broncos on national TV. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. It is now fair to wonder: When is this team going to win a game? I usually think talk of 0-16 or 1-15 is silly and alarmist, but I think it is fair this year. Thursday night was the Jets’ best chance to get a W and they failed. The Broncos are a team with numerous injuries to key players, including their best defensive player, Von Miller, and their starting quarterback, Drew Lock. The Jets were facing a third-string quarterback in Brett Rypien making his first NFL start on a short week. The Broncos had to travel across the country.
Everything was set up for the Jets to win and they couldn’t. So what makes you believe they can beat anyone at this point? It is a toss-up which is worse — the offense or the defense. The talent level on this roster is terrible. The Jets look like an expansion team right now. They will get some healthy bodies back next week, but will it make a difference?
Looking at the schedule, maybe they can beat the Dolphins once? That seems to be their best hope right now. The Chargers don’t look great, but they are better than the Jets. There are surprises in the NFL and maybe the Jets pull one off, but right now, 0-16 is not that crazy a thought.
2. While Adam Gase is rightly taking plenty of criticism for the Jets’ 0-4 start, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams should not skate. Williams’ unit looks atrocious right now. Like Gase, he does not have great players to work with, but that does not totally excuse how poorly they are playing.
The defense failed to get a sack for the second straight game. Nothing is working, even against Rypien. Other than the fourth quarter, when Rypien threw them a couple of passes, the defense did nothing against a player making his first start. They did not get near him. They gave him open receivers to throw to. Everything about the Jets defense right now looks soft. The coverage is soft. They are giving up long runs. They look lost out there.
Then there is the discipline problem. Williams coaches right up to the line of dirty play and sometimes crosses it. Remember he was suspended for his role in the Saints’ Bountygate scandal? You can find an audio recording on the internet of him telling his players to injure the other team. The seven personal fouls against the Broncos are inexcusable. They handed Denver seven first downs. You can’t win games like that. Williams needs to get his unit under control and find ways to pressure the quarterback.
3. The loss of Jamal Adams is really starting to show. Adams was an eraser for the Jets. He covered up a lot of their blemishes in the last few years with his play and the energy he brought. The Jets don’t have that kind of player on defense right now. Adams was not always a great leader off the field, but he always was on it. He led by how hard he played and breathed life into his teammates. The Jets desperately need a spark right now. Adams used to be the one who provided it.
4. The Jets are the worst red-zone offense in the sport right now, scoring touchdowns on 22 percent of their trips. That is staggering. The Jets went 0-for-3 on Thursday night. It has gotten to the point where you just assume Sam Ficken is going to need to kick a field goal when the Jets get down there.
I think some of the criticism of Gase’s play-calling is overdone, but his red-zone play-calling is terrible. He is too often predictable when he gets close to the end zone. It is astonishing to consider that the Jets have scored five offensive touchdowns this year, and only one has come on a play run as it was called and designed. The Jets scored once against the Bills on an audible by Sam Darnold. The Josh Adams garbage-time touchdown was on a designed play. Then Darnold improvised on touchdown passes to Braxton Berrios against the 49ers and Colts and ran 47 yards for a touchdown Thursday night.
Gase has nine days to prepare for the Cardinals. He needs to do some self-scouting of his red-zone calls and figure out how to be more productive.
The Broncos gained more first downs from penalties (7) than rushes (4). The Jets defense gave Rypien a huge assist in this game.
Surprising snap count
Jeff Smith played 73 snaps (95 percent), the most of any wide receiver in the game. Smith was activated off injured reserve just before the game. Smith showed promise in training camp before injuring his shoulder, but it was surprising to see him play this much.
Jamison Crowder returned from his hamstring injury and had seven catches for 104 yards, including several big catches late in the game. Crowder is one of the few playmakers the Jets have.