Initial Reaction – Put Down The Smelling Salts, Jets Choke Away Opener

Joe Caporoso with initial reaction to the New York Jets 17-16 opening day loss to the Buffalo Bills

The New York Jets had a 16-0 lead midway through the third quarter. It appeared they were on their way to an ugly opening day win, where they would be able to weather the storm of multiple missed kicks and a lackluster showing on offense. They weren’t passing the eye test of a “contender” but wins are wins and 16 points looked like enough against a sputtering Buffalo offense.

It wasn’t. 

A fourth quarter meltdown gave the Jets a brutal opening day loss to the Bills, 17-16. The defense, which carried their end of the bargain today by forcing four turnovers and coming up with a safety, began to repeatedly get gashed in the running game, looked like the same unit that struggled in big spots the past few years. They wilted when it mattered the most. We have seen this movie before, as the “vaunted” defensive front only came up with one sack and could not make a big play on Josh Allen in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

CJ Mosley was the best player on the field through three quarters but left with a groin injury, which kickstarted the Bills comeback. It was a disappointing debut for third overall pick Quinnen Williams who struggled early before leaving the game with an ankle injury (he was spotted post game in a walking boot). The cornerbacks were as bad as expected, as Daryl Roberts was beat for the go ahead touchdown by John Brown and was called for multiple penalties, including one that negated a Marcus Maye interception. Trumaine Johnson was consistently picked on and looked like he will be a major liability all year.

Yet, the defense is not why the Jets lost today. The special teams, headlined by soon to be cut kicker Kaare Vedwick missing a PAT and 45 yard field goal, isn’t even the reason they lost today. It was the much ballyhooed offense that let the team down.

Adam Gase was given this job despite his mediocre performance in Miami because of his purported ability to be a “offensive genius” and “quarterback guru.” None of that showed up today. The Jets were flat, slow and conservative on offense. It looked like Gase calling plays for Ryan Tannehill.

The Jets were over dependent on Jamison Crowder (17 targets!), ignored Ty Montgomery (0 targets, 2 carries) and could not get Robby Anderson going. Some of that was on Anderson not coming up with a few contested catches and some of that was on Darnold being inaccurate a few of the times he did actually attack down the field. It was a disappointing game for the Jets second year quarterback, who was 28/41 (68%) but only threw for 175 yards (an ugly 4.3 YPA). He did avoid any turnovers but could not come up with a big play in the fourth quarter to win the game. If Darnold is making “the leap” this year, he is going to be expected do that…even if he doesn’t have a good offensive line and even if Chris Herndon is not playing.

It was a solid debut for Le’Veon Bell who had 92 total yards on 23 touches with a touchdown and two point conversion (the most memorable part of this game by far on an incredible play by Darold and him). There were no chunk plays but Bell was steady, looked healthy and was regularly breaking tackles.

The schedule is not friendly to the Jets moving forward. Cleveland will be desperate and will be a challenge despite the thumping they took today. New England (now with Antonio Brown) and Philadelphia (1-0) follow after. The clock is already ticking on Adam Gase (yes, I’m serious). The guy is 13-20 in his last 33 games as a NFL Head Coach and if Darnold is not playing well, then why exactly is here?

Darnold will have ups and downs this season but hopefully next week is a bounce back performance because Cleveland’s offense will wake up at some point and 8 points per week from the offense won’t cut it.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports