Lichtenstein: New Faces But Same Old Jets In Week 1 Debacle

Gang Green Blows 16-0 Lead In Loss To Bills

Steve Lichtenstein
September 09, 2019 - 9:50 am
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Welcome to the Jets, Adam Gase.

Listen to your team news NOW.

That gaudy 20-6 record in one-score games in the last three seasons coaching Miami? The Jets just threw it out the window.

The Gase Era in New York opened exactly where the Todd Bowles Error left off. The Jets blew a 16-0 second-half lead at home Sunday to bumbling Buffalo, which committed four early turnovers that Gang Green converted into just six points.

It was another epic fail for a franchise that wrote the book on them. General managers, coaches and players come and go, but the story of the Jets snatching defeat from the jaws of victory never changes.

This one was just as unfathomable as some of the classics. Per ESPN, the last time a team has overcome a minus-4 turnover differential (the official stat sheet credited the Jets with a turnover on their final multiple-lateral play, but I’m not counting it for this purpose) while coming back from 16 points down was in 2006.

“(The Bills) got away with one today,” Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams said.

You think? The Jets came unglued in all three phases. Let’s review.

OFFENSE

I’ve been saying it for the last month — the performance of the Jets’ line is the key to their offense. On Sunday, they were atrocious. 

It’s far easier to point at quarterback Sam Darnold — Gase sort of did.

“It wasn’t every play,” Gase said when asked about the line’s miscues and whether the lack of preseason time together as a unit had an impact. “To me, right now, everything is magnified. When you see things after a series is over and you can point out one or two plays where you’re going, ‘Wow, that could have been a game-changing type play,’ it’s just magnified right now. We had a chance to win this game, and that’s what every game in the NFL is going to come down to.”

Gase was likely referring to two plays when wide receiver Robby Anderson had his man beat over the top on the possession immediately after the Jets fell behind with three minutes to go. One was underthrown needlessly off Darnold’s back foot, and the other was overthrown.

Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson drops a pass against Bills cornerback Taron Johnson on Sept. 8, 2019, at MetLife Stadium.
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports

That doesn’t excuse an attack that produced one measly touchdown drive all game, especially in the first half when the defense set them up with decent field position. But seven pressures and three sacks in 18 Darnold dropbacks, per ESPN, prevented the Jets from taking proper advantage. 

As for Gase’s role in this mess, all the things that riled Jets fans throughout the predictable Bowles years — the second-and-long runs, the third-down passes well short of the sticks — they were on full display Sunday.

Jamison Crowder was very successful on short routes out of the slot (14 receptions, tying a team record for wide receivers, for 99 yards). But when asked why he didn’t attempt to sneak downfield, Crowder said: “My position, I don’t really run a lot of deeper routes. I’m more short and intermediate routes. I’m sure if we watch film, there probably were some opportunities where we could have gotten behind them.”

Running back Le’Veon Bell had a nice game in his first action since January 2018 with 92 yards from scrimmage on 23 touches, but it felt like the Jets could have used him more to take advantage of mismatches in the passing game like they did on his touchdown reception in the third quarter. Though his plunge converted a huge fourth-and-1, Bell wasn’t targeted at all on the most important drive of the game.

DEFENSE

Good teams have a next-man-up mentality. And then there are the Jets.

Linebacker C.J. Mosley’s groin injury late in the third quarter proved to be Sunday’s turning point. The Jets’ defense had been pitching a shutout. It had also produced eight points of its own on Mosley’s pick-six and a safety. 

After the Bills converted a field goal at the conclusion of that drive, they marched downfield at will on their next two possessions, accumulating 165 of their 370 net yards on the day.

Whereas the Bills had almost completely abandoned the run game (aside from quarterback Josh Allen’s scrambles) before Mosley exited, they suddenly were able to gash the Jets for 60 yards on just five rush attempts on the drive that cut their deficit to 16-10.

The Jets’ secondary wasn’t affected much by Mosley’s injury. They were colossally awful before and after. Only Allen’s sloppiness saved New York from an early hole. I wouldn’t say the Jets forced four turnovers — three were outright gifts, and the other was a fortuitous bounce off linebacker Harvey Langi’s batted pass.

Jets corners Trumaine Johnson and Daryl Roberts struggled against Bills wideouts John Brown and Cole Beasley. Wait until they face the Browns (Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry) and Patriots (Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman and Antonio Brown) in the next two games. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

One thing you can be sure of: Monday will start another round of kicker auditions. 

Kaare Vedvik, just picked up off waivers on Sept. 1, missed four field goals in a row from the 40-plus range in Sunday’s warmups. That was merely a prelude.

While Bell’s two-point conversion reception minimized the impact of Vedvik’s missed PAT after Mosley’s pick-six (the Jets likely wouldn’t have gone for two up 14-0), I can’t say the same for his shank on a 45-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

How much did the Jets lose by? 

I know, this was just one game in a long season. The Jets walloped Detroit on the road in the opener a year ago and it meant nothing in a 4-12 debacle. It’s not like anyone with a brain picked the Jets to go to the Super Bowl. They still have time to achieve their more modest goal of playing meaningful games in December.

“One game doesn’t define this team,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said.

Yeah, it kind of does.

For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Devils and Jets, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1.