The New York Jets lost to the Houston Texans 29-22 last night in a highly competitive back and forth game to drop their record to 4-10. Last night’s game highlighted a few things that have been obvious all season but more importantly was a major step forward for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Candidly, everything that happened last night that didn’t involve Darnold is just footnotes for this team right now.
Against one of the best defenses in the NFL, Darnold went 24/38, 253 yards, 2 TDs with 35 rushing yards and zero turnovers. It is the second time in four starts he has not turned the football over despite playing a top tier defense (Chicago a few starts back). Even with the standard unimaginative playcalling, a pair of sixth round running backs, Andre Roberts, Jordan Leggett and Eric Tomlinson all playing over 25 snaps, Jermaine Kearse playing over 60 snaps, Darnold made plays all over the field. The improvisation/young Tony Romo skills were on full display:
Making plays in the red-zone pic.twitter.com/3mP309CSg7— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) December 16, 2018
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) December 16, 2018
Those 253 yards were earned. There were no easy completions and big runs after the catch to puff up the stats at all. Darnold gave the Jets a glimpse of just how good he could be, as he elevated his supporting cast for the second week in a row and allowed their offense to become competitive.
As for that supporting cast? Robby Anderson put together another strong game with 7 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. Chris Herndon made a few plays and finished up with 53 yards receiving. They are going to be good complementary pieces in the coming years but more is needed as the Jets lack of depth and overall talent was on full display last night. You cannot have players like Leggett, Kearse, Tomlinson and Dakota Dozier being large parts of your game plan. The same really goes for Trenton Cannon and Elijah McGuire, who is best used in small doses as a backup. The Jets have no running game to speak of.Defensively, it was a common script for the Jets. They sacked Deshaun Watson six times, hung tough into the final minutes and then allowed a game winning drive. They had no answer for DeAndre Hopkins, as Todd Bowles made multiple confusing decisions (surprise, surprise) with his personnel usage on the back end. Despite a banner night from Henry Anderson (3 sacks!), the Jets didn’t have enough when they had a chance to steal an upset.
The coaching left something to be desired last night. The roster construction left something to be desired last night. These are recurring themes when you are 24-38 overall and headed to your third straight 11 or 12 loss season. Fortunately there was a silver lining on this loss thanks to Darnold’s breakout performance but that performance only adds more urgency to making sure this offseason is handled properly. The Jets cannot go full Ryan Grigson and waste multiple years of his career with such a poor infrastructure around him.