Initial Reaction – Darnold Thrives, Tank Rolls, Jets Lose Again

Joe Caporoso with initial reaction to

Prior to the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers game, most sensible fans would have asked for a great Sam Darnold game in a shootout loss to the Green Bay Packers. Well, Merry Christmas! Darnold played the game of his career for the second week in a row and the Jets blew a 14 point lead in a 44-38 overtime loss. The Jets dropped to 4-11, the third straight year of losing at least 11 games with Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles leading the way and are still in contention for the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. For historical context, Maccagnan and Bowles have the lowest winning percentage of any GM/HC combo in franchise history who have been employed for more than two years. 

Darnold carved up the Packers defense to the tune of 24/35, 341 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 turnovers with a gaudy 9.7 YPA. He was accurate, aggressive and able to regularly extend plays with his legs. He continued to be on the same page with Robby Anderson, who had his best game of the season with 9 receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown for the third straight week. Chris Herndon also added a season high 82 yards and caught a touchdown, continuing one of the most impressive seasons we have seen from a Jets tight end in a long time. Elijah McGuire didn’t do much running the football but looked good in the passing game with 50 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Keep in mind Darnold is producing like this with a weak offensive line (Spencer Long was awful today) and Brent Qvale starting at right tackle. McGuire is a nice complementary player but not a starting running back and he dealt with Jermaine Kearse and Andre Roberts as his other receivers in the Jets three wide formations. This is about as bad of a supporting cast as is out there and he still easily went over 300 yards passing. The Jets…have their franchise quarterback.

Defensively, what can you say? The team has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into their secondary over the past four years from Darelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, Marcus Gilchrist, Morris Claiborne and of course Trumaine Johnson and the unit outside of Jamal Adams is either old, bad or injured. Johnson had a back breaking pass interference penalty in overtime and Claiborne struggled all day to slow down DaVante Adams.

The front seven got after Aaron Rodgers in the first half but faded down the stretch. Leonard Williams got himself ejected for throwing a punch after he finally broke his streak of games without a sack. The Jets also failed to force a turnover…again. It is a mediocre unit led by a Head Coach who is supposed to be a defensive specialist.

It was another banner day for the Jets special teams, as Andre Roberts returned a kick for a touchdown, they converted a fake punt and forced a fumble from Green Bay on a kickoff. This is the best special teams unit in the NFL but it isn’t enough to overcome the bad coaching, lack of talent on offense and mediocrity of the defense.

The Jets are very likely to pick in the top 3, a valuable thing to help their rising quarterback. They are very likely to fire their Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator, both of which will help as well. Hopefully, they fully cleanly house so the people signing the free agent contracts and making the draft picks are god enough at their job to help him as well.

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 EVP of Content at Whistle Sports