The New York Jets took a disappointing step back tonight in primetime, losing to the Chicago Bears 27-19. We saw much of the same problems that plagued them through the first two weeks: turnovers, questionable coaching decisions and inconsistency throughout every position group. 1-2 isn’t a death blow to any team in the NFL but the Jets are flirting with a very dangerous situation if they can’t handle another NFC North team in 6 short days at MetLife Stadium. Let’s look at what went wrong tonight…
Geno Smith had an ugly game, despite completing 60% of his passes on 43 attempts and throwing for 316 yards. Those stats mean nothing when you throw a Sanchez-ian screen pass for a pick six and force a pass into the end-zone that ends up being intercepted. Simply put, Smith has to protect the football. He is pacing for over 25 turnovers this season, which is a number that will keep the Jets far away from the playoffs. The talent is there but the consistency and decision making isn’t yet.There are valid criticisms of the Jets lack of weapons on offense but tonight wasn’t the night for them. Eric Decker was foolishly suited up to play one quarter and then had to leave again because of tightness in his hamstring. Memo to Jets, let your players get to 100% before bringing them back. Now instead of having a 100% healthy Decker for the Lions, the Jets may have to wait another week or two to use him at all.
Back to the original point, with Decker out, Jeremy Kerley stepped up and balled out. 7 catches, 81 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Jace Amaro dropped a downfield pass but also hauled in one for 43 yards, converted a 3rd down and converted a 4th down, finishing with 54 yards receiving. Greg Salas made the play of his career on the Jets final drive with a 51 yard catch and run and finished with 56 yards receiving. Even Chris Ivory got in the receiving game act with 4 catches for 52 yards (along with leading the Jets with 44 yards rushing on ONLY 10 carries…but more on that shortly). So, the Jets other “weapons” stepped in and carried their weight tonight. If Smith doesn’t gift wrap 7 points to the Bears and throw away more points for the Jets in the redzone, they probably win and we are lauding how many weapons the team has because Smith was able to throw for 316 yards without Decker.
Back to Ivory – WHY ISN’T HE GETTING MORE CARRIES? There was no reason for Chris Johnson to receive an equal amount as him tonight, especially while Bilal Powell only had 2 carries. Johnson looked sluggish for the second week in a row and in particular a step or two slower than Ivory, who provided his normal burst to the Jets offense. It was a shaky night for Marty Mornhinweg, highlighted (or un-highlighted) by a Geno Smith draw on 3rd and goal from the 2, a bootleg bomb to Jeff Cumberland on 3rd and 2 at midfield while the Jets were running the ball down the Bears throat, and a handful of other shaky redzone playcalls.
Defensively, outside of an atrocious drive to open the second half, it is hard to criticize them too much. Out of the Bears 27 points, 7 were given by the Jets offense, and the Bears other TD drive started at midfield thanks to a Jalen Saunders muffed punt (and was boosted by a SHAKY DPI call on Darrin Walls). They also had 7 points wiped off the board on a should have been fumble return for a touchdown by Demario Davis thanks to a terrible call by the referees. The Jets sacked Cutler 4 times and forced a turnover. Alshon Jeffery did Alshon Jeffery things, finishing with 105 yards but the Bears only had 197 passing yards tonight…it is hard to kill Rex and company for that.Overall, it is an absolute gut punch to your team to fall behind 14-0 in the first 5 minutes of a game. The Jets scrapped back and outscored Chicago 19-13 the rest of the way but the deficit was too big…especially with the Jets shortcomings in the redzone. (More Ivory please. How about a fade or a back should throw to one of the tight ends?) Tonight was an ugly one for Smith but he rightfully will remain the team’s starting quarterback and will hopefully bounce back at home this Sunday. 2-2 with 0 AFC losses isn’t all that bad, if Smith can help lead a winning effort, but 1-3 headed into a brutal 3 game AFC stretch with Smith playing shaky could be too big of a mountain for the Jets to climb.