Might a quarterback better than Luke Falk be able to save this Jets offense? Maybe, if general manager Joe Douglas had orchestrated a postgame trade Sunday and taken Tom Brady home on the plane with him.
But Sam Darnold? He is a talented, promising young player, and the team rightly is betting its near future on him. That is a long way, though, from expecting him to walk out of sick bay and immediately fix this mess.
The Jets’ 30-14 loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium had them scoring one touchdown on special teams, one touchdown on defense, no points on offense and no third-down conversions in 12 tries. They totaled 105 yards on offense. One hundred and five!!!
The Jets have one offensive touchdown this season, no rush longer than 15 yards, no pass longer than 36 and no idea what has befallen what was supposed to be a competent, veteran line.
Asked if he believes Darnold can solve this when he returns from a battle with mononucleosis, perhaps after the upcoming bye week, receiver Robby Anderson said: “I would hope so, but I don’t have a crystal ball. I would hope so. I wish so.”
That wasn’t all that was said by Anderson, who is the Jets’ best deep threat and is more important than ever with Quincy Enunwa done for the season.
After his three catches for 11 yards, he said he cares more about wins than individual statistics, but he made it clear that he thinks more long balls in his direction would help.
“It’s obvious,” he said. “I think the world knows what I’m capable of . . . I know my passion, I know what I am capable of and I know what I am here to do, so it is frustrating.”
But that would require not only a better quarterback but better quarterback protection.
In a news conference during which coach Adam Gase described his offense’s performance as “atrocious,” “as bad as you can get,” “brutal” and “infuriating,” no group was hit harder than the line.
When a reporter mentioned the Patriots were getting to Falk while rushing only four players, Gase volunteered: “They got there with three one time. Yeah, it’s not good.”
Said guard Brian Winters: “We all take blame. It is what it is. Obviously, it starts up front.”
The 0-3 record, offensive dysfunction, lack of play-calling creativity and general malaise is not a good look for a coach hired because of his feel for offense in general and quarterbacks in particular.
You almost had to feel bad for the Patriots’ defense, which despite its shutout was denied some history.
If not for the two non-offensive touchdowns, the Pats would have become the first team since the 1937 Bears to hold their first three opponents without a touchdown and the first since the 1921 Buffalo All-Americans to outscore their first three opponents by a combined 100 points.
The Jets’ locker room was unanimous in one opinion: When the schedule came out, everyone thought a Week 4 bye was too early. Now it seems ideal, among other reasons to get Darnold back ASAP.
It will be difficult to say for sure where all of this is headed until the starter returns, but Le’Veon Bell has been around long enough to know that the problems run deeper than that.
“It’s a team thing; it’s not just the quarterback,” Bell said. “Regardless of whether Sam is in the game or not, we still have to protect him, we still have to make plays on the outside. We just have to clean up the little things and we’ll be fine.”
Sounds good, but this offense’s problems seem more big than little.
“I don’t think this is a bad team,” center Ryan Kalil said. “I think this is a team that’s not playing well offensively.”
On Sunday, it was impossible to separate the two.