The Chiefs pounded the Jets 35-9 on Sunday in Kansas City, dropping the Jets to 0-8 at the halfway mark of the season. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. It used to be when the Jets lost this bad there was anger and frustration, questions of how this happened. Even when the Jets were not a very good team, a loss by 26 points would bring some level of emotion out of players, coaches and fans.
It feels like everyone is numb. I actually found myself thinking the Jets were playing well when they were down 21-9 in the first half. I never thought the Jets would win the game, but I was thinking that they could make it a one-score game in the second half before the Chiefs eventually pulled away and that would be a moral victory for the Jets.
This is the biggest problem owner Christopher Johnson has right now: Losing has become acceptable for the Jets. It is expected. We’ll be surprised if the Jets win a game this year. A game. What does that tell you?
There will be massive changes for 2021, starting with the head coach and probably Trevor Lawrence if the Jets find their way to 0-16 this season.
But the changes will have to run deeper than that. Culture is a word that gets thrown around a lot in sports. It is overused. But it fits what the Jets are going through. They have a losing culture right now. This will be their fifth straight losing season and 10th without a playoff berth. There is a feeling of “here we go again” around the Jets every year when the losses begin to pile up.
Johnson must find a coach who can not only lead the team, but also breathe life into this organization. Rex Ryan did it in 2009 in a different way. The Jets did not have a loser’s mentality at the time but became tight under Eric Mangini. Ryan arrived and loosened things up and let the players breathe again. The task will be even more difficult in 2021 than when Ryan did it. Johnson and general manager Joe Douglas will have to find the right guy.
2. I have felt the most important thing about these last 10 games was getting a read on quarterback Sam Darnold, but I’m starting to rethink that. My thought had been that if the Jets get the No. 1 pick, they take Lawrence without hesitation. But if the Jets somehow win a game this year and end up picking No. 2 or 3, then they face a decision of whether to build around Darnold or take one of the other quarterbacks in the draft not named Lawrence.
But watching Darnold struggle so mightily the last two weeks and being reminded he is playing with an injured shoulder on Sunday, I question whether this is the right approach for Darnold or the Jets. Would it be better to sit Darnold for the rest of the year?
That would allow Darnold to get healthy and not take a weekly pounding behind a bad offensive line for a team going nowhere. I think it would also help the Jets in the offseason if they want to trade Darnold. His trade value is only getting lowered by the Jets playing him each week. He looks terrible. It is not entirely his fault. The line and the caliber of wide receivers he is playing with are killing him along with poor coaching.
Douglas is surely hoping he can get a nice return in a trade for Darnold. But if you are another team watching him, how much are you giving up for Darnold? Maybe a second-round pick and a middle-rounder? But the more Darnold plays, the worse he looks and the worse that trade return becomes.
The Jets should think long and hard about whether keeping Darnold on the field is the best thing for them long-term and Darnold.
3. Quinnen Williams continues to show why the Jets shot down those trade rumors last week. He was all over the field on Sunday before injuring his hamstring. He had a hit on Patrick Mahomes and bottled up Le’Veon Bell in the backfield. The second-year defensive tackle is on the rise. If you are the Jets right now, Williams, Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims are the players you feel like are a part of the core moving forward.
Williams took some criticism last year for not having an immediate impact after the Jets drafted him No. 3 overall out of Alabama. He was playing through a high-ankle sprain that looks like it severely limited him. Hopefully, Williams’ hamstring injury is not serious because he is one of the only bright spots of watching the Jets right now.
4. The Jets’ wide receivers on Sunday were Mims, Jeff Smith, Braxton Berrios and Vyncint Smith. Only Mims was part of the plan to start in the summer. The Jets have yet to have their planned starting wide receivers group on the field for a game this year. It is not like that group will be an elixir to fix everything wrong with the Jets offense, but it would be nice to see the group the Jets planned to have out there play for one game. There is a chance we’ll see it this week. Breshad Perriman is recovering from a concussion suffered last week against the Bills. It is impossible to predict concussions but the Jets seemed hopeful he would return this week. Jamison Crowder missed the last two weeks with a hamstring injury. He practiced a bit last week, a sign he may be ready next Monday night against the Patriots.
The Jets’ point differential is -144. That puts them on pace for -288 this season. The worst point differential in NFL history is -287 by the 1976 Buccaneers, who went 0-14. Sad company to keep.
Surprising snap count
OLB Jordan Jenkins only played 29 snaps (44 percent). That is low for one of their most consistent players. There are two possible explanations. He is very banged up right now with shoulder and ribs injuries and maybe they were resting him a bit. Or they want to play rookie Bryce Huff more as they shift to the youth movement.
Williams played the best game, but I’m going sentimental on this one. The game ball goes to Avery Williamson. He led the team with nine tackles on Sunday, but this is about his departure. The team traded him to the Steelers after the game. Williamson was a strong locker room presence for the Jets and a fun guy to get to know in his time here. He was always accountable and accessible with the media even in bad times, which they mostly were while he was here. The Steelers got themselves a good linebacker and a good guy.
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