The Jets aren’t showing any progress under Adam Gase. Sam Darnold looks to be regressing.
The third-year quarterback had an awful game on Sunday. Darnold threw three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns, in the Jets’ latest lopsided 36-7 loss. They allowed 29 unanswered points and were crushed, 36-7, by the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Jets are now 0-3 for the second consecutive season – both under Gase. They have been outscored 94-37 through the first three games this season.
"We just can’t go out there and just get beat and just lay down and take it," nose tackle Steve McLendon said. "That’s the biggest thing. We cannot do that."
ESPN reported before the game that the seat under Gase officially is hot, less than two weeks after CEO Christopher Johnson said he believed in his coach. But Johnson said he wanted to see progress. That’s not happening.
Injuries are contributing to the Jets’ struggles. But the Jets aren’t even being competitive. They host the Broncos on Thursday. If the Jets show no fight again against winless and injury-depleted Denver, Gase could be in real danger of losing his job over the mini-Bye Week.
"We haven’t done a good job," Gase said. "We all have to do better, coaches, players, myself. We have to do a better job. We have to find a way to clean all the mistakes up and put ourselves in position to compete in the game."
Darnold did little to help his beleaguered coach. He finished 17-for-29 for 168 yards, one touchdown pass and three interceptions. The Jets need to play near perfect games to even have a chance. Darnold was far from perfect.
His first official pass attempt was picked off by Xavier Rhodes and returned 44 yards for a touchdown just five plays into the game. Rhodes also intercepted Darnold in the end zone in the second quarter with the score 17-7.
That was a huge momentum killer for the Jets. They never really recovered.
"If we score a touchdown there, it’s a whole different ball game," Darnold said.
"That red zone pick is deflating. ..I can’t make mistakes like that."
T.J. Carrie completed the trifecta. He picked off Darnold and raced 47 yards for the touchdown on the final play of the third quarter to make it 31-7. Darnold was also sacked in the end zone for a safety in the fourth quarter.
"We can’t make the mistakes that we’re making," Gase said. "They’re brutal mistakes that cost you games."
The Jets were without lead back Le’Veon Bell (hamstring), starting receivers Jamison Crowder (hamstring) and Breshad Perriman (ankle), center Connor McGovern (hamstring) and right tackle George Fant (concussion). They lost rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton in the first half with a shoulder injury.
A number of these players will be out Thursday also. Bell and Perriman won’t play for sure.
The Jets showed signs on offense early. They moved the ball well at times, and Darnold led an impressive scoring drive in the first quarter. But that proved to be unsustainable.
The Jets’ defense didn’t help matters. Phillip Rivers and backup Jacoby Brissett, who entered early in the fourth with the game out of reach, faced no pressure. The Jets had no sacks, allowed 234 yards passing and 119 on the ground.
"That team is a good team," McLendon said. "But I feel that we’re a really good team. We’re playing hard, we’re playing fast, I don’t think we’re playing smart enough right now."
Rivers was 17-for-21 for 217 yards and one touchdown pass. Rookie Jonathan Taylor ran for 59 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
Braxton Berrios caught four passes for 64 yards, and the Jets lone score.
The game started miserably for the Jets for the second straight week. Last week, the defense allowed an 80-yard touchdown run by San Francisco’s Raheem Mostert on the first play from scrimmage. This time it was Darnold on Play 5.
A bad pass intended for rookie Lawrence Cager – making his NFL debut – was intercepted by Rhodes, and he took it all the way in for the score.
Darnold and the Jets responded on their next series, putting together a 14-play, 88-yard touchdown drive. Darnold made a great play on his 16-yard TD pass to Berrios. Darnold evaded the rush, scrambled right and threw a dart to Berrios for the game-tying score.
The good feelings didn’t last long. Gregg Williams’ defense put up no resistance on the Colts’ first possession. Rivers threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to the tight end Mo-Allie Cox. On the prior play, former Colt Pierre Desir was called for defensive pass interference on T.Y. Hilton in the end zone.
Later, trailing 17-7, the Jets had first-and-goal from the 7, and Darnold made another really bad decision. The Colts had busted coverage, but Rhodes recovered quickly. Darnold ended up throwing into double coverage and the pass intended for Cager was picked off by Rhodes in the end zone.
After the Jets opened the third quarter with a three-and-out, the Colts went ahead 24-7 on Taylor’s 1-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-1. On the ensuing possession, Darnold threw his second pick-6.
"We have two choices," Darnold said. "When you’re pinned up against the wall, you can sit there and crumble or you can get up and fight. That’s going to be our mentality, getting up and fighting."
The Jets haven’t shown any yet.