CHICAGO – The Jets committed eight penalties for 45 yards in Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Bears, numbers that are on the high side but do not fully explain how damaging those calls were.
They were not loud, long penalties, but rather the kind that drive coaches nuts and scuttle drives even before they can get started.
The worst of it was five false starts, which continually put the Jets into unfavorable down-and-distance situations. That was the last thing the offense needed on a day when it was missing key players because of injury.
“I think [it was] some guys just being antsy, wanting to get off the ball,” quarterback Sam Darnold said. “I think that’s really it. At the same time, there’s no excuse for that. We just have to hold our water a little bit better and just go from there.”
The Jets had false starts on each of their first three possessions. The first took them from second-and-7 to second-and-12. The second took them from first-and-10 to first-and-15. The third took them from third-and-4 to third-and-9. They did not score on any of those possessions.
Offensive linemen Jonotthan Harrison and Kelvin Beachum both said the crowd noise at Soldier Field was no factor in the false-start penalties, because the crowd was not particularly loud by Chicago standards.
“We shot ourselves in the foot on that, especially when the crowd wasn’t that loud,” coach Todd Bowles said. “Those were just concentration things. It was pretty much a different guy each time.” (He was right. There were five different Jets penalized for false starts.)
“The biggest thing for us is staying in manageable down and distance, not getting false starts,” Darnold said, later adding, “It’s obvious that we have to cut down on the penalties. Those are drive-killers and we just can’t have them.”
The defense was not without fault. Leading 7-3 in the third quarter, the Bears had a third-and-goal at the 9. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams then committed a neutral-zone infraction that moved the ball to the 4-yard line.
Mitchell Trubisky threw a touchdown pass to Anthony Miller on the next play.
“Penalties hurt, and you just try to avoid them as much as possible,” Williams said. “I’m not sure about the cause. I don’t know if it was jitters for some people or what it was.”
Said cornerback Morris Claiborne: “The good teams don’t do that. The teams that win the Super Bowl and are in the playoffs don’t do that. They don’t jump offside. They don’t have costly penalties and stuff like that.”