The Jets suffered a disappointing loss to the Dolphins yesterday afternoon. Disappointing because many people had hoped the Jets would build off of last week’s dominate victory over the Lions, but mostly disappointing because it’s, once again, a game that the Jets should have won. Watching the game live you could feel like the Jets should have won, watching the replay of the game and you know the Jets should have won.
By my estimations the Jets played close to excellent football for about 85 percent of the game, however that other 15 percent was bad enough that it cost them the game (writer’s note: I’m excellent at math, but I do math in my own way so those percentages aren’t to be taken too seriously). The interceptions, bad field position, costly penalties and drops hurt the Jets enough that it overshadowed how great Sam Darnold played for 95 percent of the game (writer’s note: see last writer’s note). It overshadowed how good Quincy Enunwa was again, Jamal Adams and the fact that the Jets actually do have somewhat of a pass rush. Not a great or even consistent pass rush yet, but there’s a semblance of one growing and that’s much more than we expected.
Let’s sort through where it all went wrong for the Jets. We can start with field position, seven out of their 12 possessions started with the Jets pinned inside their own 20-yard-line with four of those positions starting inside their own 10. Of course the Jets did start one drive, after the Jordan Jenkins sack-fumble, on the Dolphins 12-yard-line, but they couldn’t take advantage of it and more on that later. On their first position of the game the Jets started on their own four-yard-line, got the first down to create some space with a screen to Bilal Powell, but immediately followed that up with a false start on Kelvin Beachum then a botched handoff from darn old to Powell and all of a sudden it was 2nd and 17 on their own eight.
That first drive set the stage for how the rest of the day would go, start out backed up, make a play then undo all the good with penalties and simple mistakes.
Now let’s get to the interceptions. The first interception was completely on Darnold, he saw Enunwa had Minkah Fitzpatrick deep on a slant but he took the bait from safety T.J. McDonald who flashed like he was going up the field only to slide right back underneath the route for the easy pick and return. The second pick wasn’t a great throw, Darnold led Terrell Pryor just a bit too much but the fact that it turned into an interception was all on Pryor. It looked like he simply just didn’t see the ball in time to make a play on it, but after the game, to his credit, Pryor admitted he ran a lazy route because he didn’t think the pass was coming to him.
“The way Sam throws, he doesn’t look at you, he doesn’t stare at you when he throws, he believes that you’re going to be there. I let him down,” Pryor said. “I said to him after the game, ‘I hope you forgive me, I will make sure I’m there next time.’ That one, it’s not on Sam and I wish it could go on a stat for me.”
So the first pick was a rookie mistake, one Darnold will grow and learn from and the second was on the receiver who owned up to his mistake (side note: there was definitely illegal contact on that play as Xavien Howard bumped Pryor as Pryor was making his break inside 10 yards past the line of scrimmage). But the thing about those picks that proved so costly was the first one setup the Dolphins first touchdown and the second one stopped the Jets from scoring a touchdown of their own, which you would expect a team to do when they start a drive on the opponents 12-yard-line.
Those interceptions weren’t the only turnovers for the Jets, the other came in the middle of a run of the Jets shooting themselves in the foot. Robby Anderson fumbled after not feeling Kiko Alonso about to crush him from behind, knocking the ball loose, and right after it looked like Darnold was just starting to cook. That play was the third nice pass on that drive and the Jets were moving downfield. Then came the bad Buster Skrine sequence; 15 yard penalty for a face mask followed by Albert Wilson torching him on a short crossing route for a 29 yard touchdown to go up 14-0, one three-and-out later and just like that the Dolphins are up 20-0 and since the Jets continued to squander their opportunities that would be all the Dolphins would need.
Throw in the drive at the end of the first half, once again a great job to get down field but Darnold missed a wide open Enunwa in the end zone (Darnold threw the ball away before seeing how open Enunwa was) then hit Chris Herndon on the last play of the half but he threw it short of the goal-line with no timeouts and the clock running out. Herndon needs to be able to bully his way in there but Darnold needs to know that you either throw it in the end zone or throw it away and settle for the field goal. Again, rookie mistake and he’ll learn.
Herndon of course had a huge drop later in the game, a great play from darn old wasted simply because the tight end took his eyes off the ball just a touch early. Pryor had a couple of drops, but Anderson also played great defense and prevented an interception.
The offensive line struggled at getting any push in the run game and the Jets simply couldn’t get any consistent production on the ground, rushing the ball 19 times of 42 carries for a pitiful 2.2 yards per carry. And again the penalties, the Jets had multiple sacks negated by defensive holding and the real backbreaker came when the Jets offense moved the ball to the Dolphins 25-yard-line only to get back-to-back false starts and leave them in first-and-20.
The Dolphins really didn’t do that much (only 257 total yards and two turnovers) except capitalize off of the Jets mistakes, but that was all they needed to do because the mistakes turned out to be just that costly.
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