Jacksonville, FL (CBS New York)- All of the optimism that surrounded the Jets following their first win of the season over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6 went up in smoke Monday night when the team was blown out by the Patriots, 33-0.
It wasn’t so much the fact that they lost to New England. That was to be expected, as the Patriots are in the midst of a unbeaten season and sport arguably the best defense in the league. The issue was more the play of the offense and the struggles of quarterback Sam Darnold, who threw four interceptions, fumbled once, and generally looked confused by the various blitzes and looks the Patriots were giving him.
Now, again, the Patriots defense has done that to everybody this season. Darnold’s play isn’t an indicator that he’s a bad quarterback. But it was another struggle for an offense that has had a rough go of things so far this season under head coach Adam Gase.
“First thing that jumps out is the Jets offense and how historically bad it is. 200 yards per game. 50 yards worse than the next worst team, which is the Miami Dolphins,” said SportsLine senior NFL analyst Larry Hartstein. “They have had 105 yards, 128 yards and 154 yards of total offense three times this season that is almost impossible in the NFL these days.”
Now the team heads to Jacksonville, looking to exorcise some of the demons from last year’s 31-12 loss to the Jaguars. And, there are some reasons to believe that they can do just that.
“There are a few things that do prop up when you go a little bit deeper. Two weeks ago, Sam Darnold, offensive player of the week for the AFC,” said Hartstein. “But, Le’Veon Bell ran the ball really well, 4.7 yards per carry. He is going to have a big game against a Jags defense that does not stop the run very well and is dealing with injuries.”
The Jaguars defense is far from the dominant one of two seasons ago or even the above average one of last year. They rank 17th in the league in defensive efficiency according to Football Outsiders, and they are 27th against the run. The Jags have allowed opposing backs to average 4.8 yards per carry and over 117 yards per game on the ground. Bell, who carried 15 times for 70 yards Monday night, should be able to find some gaps to exploit.
The passing game might be a bit more challenging as the Jaguars are still fairly good in that area despite the trade of star corner Jalen Ramsey. Protecting Darnold will be the number one issue as the Jags ranks fifth in the league in sacks with 21 this season. Josh Allen (5), Calais Campbell (3), Dawuane Smoot (3) and Yannick Ngakoue (2) have punished opposing quarterbacks so far this season. The good news is, the Jaguars largely like to pressure with their front four rather than blitzing so as long as the line holds up there could be some opportunities. And, there is one more reason to think Sunday could be a potential bounce back game for Darnold and the offense.
“Then, you look at tight end Chris Herndon. He hasn’t played all year, but was a tremendous rookie last year. He was suspended, he had a hamstring injury. He could come back,” said Hartstein. Herndon was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday but if he returns, it would add another option for Darnold to get the ball out of his hands quickly leading Hartstein to say, “I think there is value in the Jets getting all of these points.”
The Jets are listed as 6.5 point underdogs on the road, with Sunday’s game scheduled to kick off at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.