The Jets season careened off the tracks quicker than usual this season and now the team is dealing with an angry fan base, uncertainty around its coach and, barring a miraculous turnaround, another lost season in what has been a lost decade.
At the midway point of the season, the 1-7 Jets are a mess. They have been plagued by injuries, an offense that can’t move the ball and some odd off-field issues. All of it has led to questions about whether coach Adam Gase should be fired after one season and left fans with little hope.
“They’re not going to cancel our season,” Gase said this week. “We’ve got to go back to work.”
It has been a season of crazy storylines from quarterback Sam Darnold missing three games with mononucleosis to guard Kelechi Osemele having shoulder surgery without the team’s permission.
The Jets have eight games left to salvage something. All eyes will be on Darnold to see if Gase can get him playing well. The second-year quarterback has thrown eight interceptions in his last three games.
“It sucks to say, now that we’re 1-7, but we’re right there,” Darnold said. “We just got to clean up some things and we’ll be OK.”
That is hard to buy after watching the team lose 26-18 to the previously winless Dolphins on Sunday. Gase said he believes the Jets will get this turned around, though.
“I think the fact that the locker room is doing a good job of sticking together and focusing on coming here and putting in the work, and taking the critiques, and making sure they’re finding ways to communicate better and get better every day at practice,” Gase said. “These guys are working hard to really turn things around, and that’s the number one thing for us is those guys really nailing down, focusing on getting better every day, not worrying about what happened the week before, improve from the week before, correcting mistakes that we make, but move on. I think they’ve done a good job putting the practices together, we just have to do a better job on game day.”
Here is a look at the Jets at the midway point:
When C.J. Mosley exited the Week 1 game against the Bills, the Jets were leading 16-0 and it felt like they were on their way. He injured his groin and the Jets gave up 17 points to lose to the Bills and really have not been the same since. They have been outscored 211-80 since Mosley left that game. How could anyone be more valuable than Mosley? He returned against the Patriots three weeks ago, but did not look the same and has been shut down since.
It’s been that type of season where the most valuable player has played seven quarters.
Cornerback Trumaine Johnson was benched, regained his job and then was shut down for the year with ankle injuries. There is no doubt the Jets will cut him after this season, ending one of the worst contracts the organization has ever given. Johnson had one interception in seven games this year and got paid $8 million.
Least surprising surprise
The offensive line is atrocious. You could see it coming in the offseason, but the unit has been even worse than anticipated, partially because of injuries to three starters. The line has given up 37 sacks, the second-highest amount in the NFL. The team is averaging 66.3 yards per game rushing with no holes for Le’Veon Bell to run through.
Undrafted free agent Kyle Phillips has been a valuable piece of the defensive line and has played outside linebacker. Phillips was not on the radar when training camp began, but worked his way up the depth chart and earned a roster spot. Phillips has played seven games, starting three. He has a half sack, 26 tackles, five for a loss and four quarterback hits.
Can I make this a three-way tie? It is hard to choose from among Darnold, Gase and Bell in this category. All have been major disappointments. I’ll go with Darnold since I feel like the hopes were the highest for him. He missed three games with mono, so he gets a little bit of a pass. But he has thrown nine interceptions and just six touchdowns, and only played one good game out of five. His 70.5 QB rating is the worst among qualified quarterbacks.
Hmmmm, let me think. I’ll go with the team’s only win of the season — a 24-22 victory over the Cowboys that feels hard to believe now. The win gave Jets fans a glimmer of hope, but it was a mirage.
There are a few contenders here, but I’ll go with the Patriots destroying them 33-0 on national TV three weeks ago. Darnold turned the ball over five times and ESPN microphones captured him saying he was “seeing ghosts,” which gave people another punch line about the Jets.
Most revealing stat
The Jets have scored eight offensive touchdowns in eight games. There is nothing that is a worse reflection on Gase, who is an offensive coach. The Jets have only scored 20 points or more once this season. It’s hard to win like that.
Worst personnel decision
The trade for Kelechi Osemele in March could not have worked out worse. The Jets traded a fifth-round pick to Oakland for Osemele and a sixth-rounder. He played terribly in the first three games and then said he needed shoulder surgery when the team was ready to bench him. That resulted in an ugly dispute that came to a head with Osemele having unauthorized surgery and the team releasing him.
Team CEO Christopher Johnson must decide whether to fire Gase and go through another coaching search or stick with the man he hired in January. The next eight games are a key evaluation period for him.
For more on the Jets, listen to the latest episode of the “Gang’s All Here” podcast: