Two minutes into Monday night’s game, the contest seemed over. All that was left was to count how many times ESPN commentator Troy Aikman would have some incredulous comment about the New York Jets‘ inept offense. Aikman and everyone else had plenty of fodder.
The Jets have no margin for error, and they made a big error in the opening minutes of Monday night’s game. Los Angeles Chargers rookie Derius Davis took a punt 87 yards for a touchdown. That came shortly after the Jets announced punter Thomas Morstead as part of pregame introductions, a nod to the fine season he’s having and maybe a cheeky commentary on how often he has been punting this season when Jets drives stall.
It wasn’t so funny for fans tuning in hoping to see a competitive game. The Jets’ defense was awesome and everything else was abysmal as the Chargers cruised to a 27-6 win. It wasn’t an easy Chargers win because the Jets’ defense knocked them around all night. But the result was never in much doubt after the Chargers took an early 7-0 lead.
The Jets are in many prime-time games because they were supposed to have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Plenty of people are still tuning in to watch them, but it might be more of a morbid curiosity over how bad their offense can get.
Jets fall behind early
The first few minutes decided the game. There was the punt return. Then Garrett Wilson fumbled, and the Jets certainly can’t afford their good offensive players turning it over. Then Zach Wilson lost a fumble on the next possession.
Wilson missed a short pass early to a wide-open receiver and Aikman bemoaned Wilson missing a layup pass. Wilson missed dunks, layups, mid-range jumpers, 3s … and they were all airballs, too.
Wilson has struggled most of the season and he didn’t give the Jets much chance Monday night. Of the Jets’ first 12 possessions, they had seven punts, three fumbles and two field goals.
In some other Jets games this season, the defense fights and battles and somehow the offense comes through with a play or two to inexplicably win the game. That wasn’t happening on Monday.
Fans around the country were turning off this Jets performance, if they didn’t fall asleep first.
Jets defense plays well
The Chargers’ offense won’t roll out of bed Tuesday feeling like it had an easy win. The Jets’ defense had a great night, holding a talented Chargers unit to just 191 yards. The Jets hit QB Justin Herbert just about every time he dropped back. The Chargers got two touchdown runs from Austin Ekeler, both set up by Zach Wilson fumbles. Keenan Allen had one of the prettiest catches you’ll see on a third down to set up a field goal. But that was about it for Chargers offensive highlights.
With less than four minutes left there was a song and dance in which the Jets technically weren’t out of the game, trailing 20-6, but the odds of them scoring two touchdowns seemed astronomical. Then Khalil Mack stripped Wilson on a sack, Alohi Gilman scooped up the fumble and returned it to the 2-yard line and that was the game. Ekeler scored on the next play to put the game to bed.
Like the Jets trailing by 14 points in the final minutes but still talking themselves into having a chance, they’re 4-4 but it seems hard to believe they stay in the playoff race playing this style of football. It has to be disheartening to the defense. In some alternate universe, the Jets might look like the best team in football with Rodgers playing quarterback. Instead, he’s out with an Achilles tear and the Jets are difficult to watch.
Just to cap off the night, the Jets had a meaningless drive deep into Chargers territory in the last minute. They dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone and on fourth-and-goal Tyler Conklin caught a pass but was tackled on the 1-yard line.
Monday night was rough. There were penalties at inopportune times, passes that were well off the mark, costly turnovers and way too many sacks due to an offensive line that isn’t very good either.
It’s hard to be the Jets right now. But hey, at least they’re not the Giants.