Despite being undermanned on both sides of the football, particularly with a recent rash of injuries, the New York Jets had opportunities to potentially steal a game against a superiorly talented Minnesota Vikings team. Unfortunately, they did not take advantage of those opportunities and the Vikings finally broke through in the second half to slam their foot down on the gas pedal en route to a runaway 37-17 victory. It is not overly surprising the Jets lost this game by double digits but it was frustrating to see them make mistakes that had nothing to do with the talent disparity.
Sam Darnold did not receive any help from his banged up group of pass catchers and a shaky gameplay from Jeremy Bates but still played arguably his worst game as a pro. He finished 17/42, 206 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions, 18 rushing yards and first career rushing touchdown. He forced too many passes into coverage and was inaccurate throwing outside the numbers multiple times. There are going to be outings like this for the rookie, particularly when Darnold is trying to force passes to players like Andre Roberts and Charone Peake. It would be surprising if the Jets did not make some type of move at receiver in advance of the Chicago game.
There was no running game to speak of as Bilal Powell left the game early with an injury. Isaiah Crowell only had 29 yards on 11 carries and still does not appear to be 100%. Rookie Trenton Cannon flashed in a larger role on offense, leading the Jets with 69 receiving yards. Rookie tight end Chris Herndon also had another encouraging game, scoring a touchdown for the second week in a row and finishing with 4 receptions for 42 yards. It was a fairly quiet game for Robby Anderson who only had 44 yards on 10 targets. Jermaine Kearse was shut out as the Jets unquestionably missed Quincy Enunwa.
Defensively, it is hard to complain too much. The Jets were without Trumaine Johnson, Buster Skrine, Marcus Maye and lost Doug Middleton in the first half to an injury. They allowed the Jets to hang around into the 4th quarter but eventually broke and allowed big play touchdowns to both Latavius Murray and Aldrick Robinson. They only sacked Kirk Cousins once (Brandon Copeland) and did not force any turnovers. Darron Lee and Parry Nickerson missed an opportunity to recover a backwards pass and Nickerson also dropped a second half interception. It was a tough day at the office for Lee, who was also cleared out of the hole on both of Murray’s touchdown runs. It was also a quiet game for Leonard Williams and Jamal Adams, compared to what we’ve seen in recent weeks.
Despite hitting a 55 yard field goal and having a big kick return that helped set up points, the Jets were sloppy on special teams as they recorded four penalties. Andre Roberts also did a poor job not catching a punt that gave the Jets poor field position, something they were forced to deal with all game. Todd Bowles also had his usual collection of game management gaffes, not accepting a penalty when he should have that helped set up a Vikings touchdown and not using his timeouts before a Vikings field goal attempt near the end of the first half.
Overall, the Jets didn’t have enough to compete today and need to do more to make life easier on Sam Darold, yet this one should have been closer, if they could simply clean up their mental errors. At 3-4, they now travel to Chicago to take on a hot/cold Bears team with one of the better defenses in the NFL.