EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Bad roster. No discipline. Questionable coaching.
The New York Jets hit the loser’s trifecta in a 37-28 loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, falling to 0-4 for the second straight season and magnifying the biggest question surrounding the team:
What becomes of coach Adam Gase?
Before the game, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson was thought to be leaning toward no change. Because the Jets actually were competitive for the first time this season, the best bet is he continues to ride with Gase — unless he’s irked by the mindless penalties.
Yeah, the Jets have a low bar.
They lost to an injury-ravaged, previously winless team that started a third-string quarterback on a short week. But, hey, they fought hard, scoring 12 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to make it game. (That’s sarcasm.)
“We’re working to get this thing right,” Gase said, when asked about his job security. “I’m not happy about this. I know we can play way better than this and not beat ourselves.”
In reality, the Jets managed to squander their best chance to win a game in 2020. They were undermined by dumb penalties, none bigger than Quinnen Williams’ face mask on quarterback Brett Rypien with under five minutes to play. It prolonged what turned out to be Denver’s game-winning drive.
“Brutal,” Gase said of the penalties.
They also were ruined by terrible playcalling in the red zone by Gase, whose offense managed one touchdown — a 46-yard scramble by quarterback Sam Darnold. They went 0-for-3 in the red zone and missed a crucial two-point try.
They’re the worst team in the NFL.
Troubling trend: The Jets have a discipline problem on defense, as they added to their league-leading total of roughing-the-passer penalties. Williams, Tarell Basham and Steve McLendon were flagged, raising the unit’s total to seven — four more than any other team. Ridiculous. All told, the Jets committed 11 penalties for 118 yards, including six personal fouls on the defense. Williams was responsible for two. Quite simply, they lost their cool. That’s on coordinator Gregg Williams, whose edgy coaching style has its drawbacks. This is one of them.
Troubling trend, Part II: When they weren’t being penalized, the Jets got picked apart by the untested Brett Rypien, a former practice-squad player who began the night with only nine career pass attempts. And he had a short week to prepare for a road game against an allegedly complex Gregg Williams defense. Rypien absolutely embarrassed the Jets, who intercepted him twice in the fourth quarter to make it a game.
QB breakdown: Darnold (23-for-42, 230 yards) was better than last week, but he struggled again in the red zone and he took a killer fourth-down sack late in the game. He didn’t make winning plays. Don’t question his courage, though. It appeared he had suffered a serious right-shoulder injury on a first-quarter body slam by linebacker Alexander Johnson, but he returned after a series and showed plenty of grit as he led the Jets’ talent-deficient offense.
On TV, Fox analyst Troy Aikman speculated it might have been a fractured collarbone. After a trip to the locker room, presumably for an X-ray, Darnold showed no ill effects from the scare. He kept the Jets in the game, especially with his legs. Before the slam, he scored on the longest rushing touchdown for a quarterback in franchise history.
Biggest hole in the game plan: There was a numbers problem at cornerback. Before the game, the Jets released veteran Nate Hairston. They didn’t dress Quincy Wilson (concussion), leaving only three veteran corners and two rookies. So what happened? Bless Austin (calf) got hurt and Pierre Desir (two TDs allowed) stunk in coverage, forcing rookie Lamar Jackson into action. The Hairston release made no sense. Desir had one of the weirdest games ever; he scored on an interception return in the fourth quarter.