NEW YORK – Ghosts, unnerving turnovers and an ugly loss.
That was the New York Jets in a nutshell Monday night as they were embarrassed 33-0 by the New England Patriots in front of a prime-time TV audience.
Bill Belichick dialed up so many blitzes, the Patriots’ defense had quarterback Sam Darnold “seeing ghosts” – completely throwing him off his game and forcing him into crucial errors in the worst game of his young career.
“I didn’t play well,” Darnold said after the game. “I can play a lot better.”
Well, he never played worse.
He was 11 of 32 for 86 yards with four interceptions and a dismal 3.6 quarterback rating. Darnold also lost a fumble on a sack and later batted a ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Darnold got social media buzzing with his “ghosts” comment while wearing a microphone for ESPN’s broadcast. Coach Adam Gase said Tuesday the Jets were angry about that being aired, but it just capped a brutally bad night for a team that was coming off its first win and full of optimism.
To add injury to insult, Darnold injured a toe during the game and Gase said the quarterback had a toenail removed.
“It’s a game where it’s very painful and frustrating to go through,” Gase said. “You have to take as much as you can as far as learning from mistakes made, learn from the experience and put yourself in a position to where that doesn’t happen again.”
At 1-5, the Jets are in trouble.
Gase is taking heat for his playcalling. Darnold is being ridiculed for his comment and regression after being selected AFC offensive player of the week. And, fans are wondering when they’ll see a playoff-caliber team again.
“There are still a lot of games left to play,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “Anything can happen. The most important thing is to just keep playing together and keep working. It’s bad to just give up, and I definitely don’t see that in anybody on this team.”
That doesn’t mean the Jets are having an easy time dealing with the losses. That was particularly the case Monday night with New York getting a bit healthier with linebacker C.J. Mosley back from a groin injury that kept him sidelined since he was hurt in the season opener.
The defense still couldn’t stop Tom Brady, who marched the Patriots down the field on a 16-play, 78-yard touchdown drive that are up nearly nine minutes to start the game.
“It’s very frustrating,” safety Jamal Adams said of the losing. “Been here for three years. At the end of the day, we’ve got to continue to grind. It’s all we can do.”
The Jets’ struggles on offense continued, despite Darnold coming off his terrific performance against Dallas. New York ranks 32nd – dead last – in the NFL in total offense and passing offense. The running game is only slightly better, coming in at 30th through seven weeks of the season.
“What we put on the field is on me and it wasn’t good enough,” Gase said. “Obviously, I haven’t found the formula yet to make us anything close to consistent.”
Gase and his staff – overtime on the game plan for Sunday’s game at Jacksonville.
“The biggest thing we have to find a way to do,” Gase said, “is make our gamedays look like what our practices look like.”
What needs help
You name it.
OK, here’s one: The Jets’ beleaguered offensive line allowed the Patriots’ blitzing defense to harass Darnold all night.
“They brought everyone on their pressures and they show it to you, they don’t disguise it,” Gase said. “They just say, ‘Here, we’re coming, good luck blocking it, good luck setting it up right.’ And once we mis-executed the first one, it opened the flood gates up.”
Running back Le’Veon Bell. Despite the overall struggles on offense, the running back had his best game for the Jets. It was hardly an eye-popping total, but Bell ran for a season-high 70 yards on 15 carries – good for 4.7 yards per carry. He came in averaging 3.0 yards, so it could be a sign Bell is starting to get going.
Darnold. He had one of the most drastic swings in performance from one game to the next you’ll see in a while.
“I have a lot of confidence in Sam bouncing back from this,” Gase insisted.
Center Ryan Kalil is dealing with elbow and shoulder ailments that could keep him out a day or two of practice. … Mosley has what Gase said is “some soreness right now” in his groin. The team will “keep a close eye on him.” … There’s hope tight end Chris Herndon (hamstring) could practice this week. … Running back/kick returner Trenton Cannon is having another MRI on his foot. “We’re trying to really figure out what’s going on with him,” Gase said.
3.6 – Darnold’s dismal passer rating, which was the lowest in the NFL since Vince Ferragamo’s 2.8 for the Rams in 1984 – also in a Monday night game – in a 20-13 loss to Dallas, according to Pro Football Reference. Ferragamo was 11 of 33 for 84 yards and four interceptions.
The Jets need to flush the loss to the Patriots quickly because they’ve got a short week to prepare to fly to Jacksonville to take on the Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars on Sunday.
“We have to go back to the drawing board,” Bell said, “and get better, period.”
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