It’s going to be a little while before the Jets waste another red-zone opportunity or get flagged for a personal foul.
Give it about a week.
The Jets don’t play again until Oct. 11 against Arizona. That should give the coaches time to figure out ways to get this 0-4 team to stop hurting itself. The players also have extra time to reflect on what has gone wrong. One word — plenty.
Blaming the Jets' struggles on injuries is weak. All teams have had them. Now it’s possible quarterback Sam Darnold could miss time with a sprained right shoulder. Teams have won without their starting quarterback. One just played in MetLife on Thursday.
The Broncos had 11 players on injured reserve, including All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller, leading receiver Courtland Sutton and starting quarterback Drew Lock. Yet Denver sacked Darnold six times and held the Jets offense to one touchdown in a 37-28 Broncos’ victory. Denver’s third-string quarterback Brett Rypien led seven scoring drives in his first NFL start.
That game was symbolic of the Jets’ season: They couldn’t score in the red zone. They couldn’t stop the opposition. If and when they did, a mindless penalty would extend a drive.
"Penalties after the whistle isn’t necessary," safety Marcus Maye said. "We just got find a way to cut it out because it’s hurting us."
Those penalties and an overall lack of discipline are absolutely killing the Jets.
They had eight defensive penalties for 93 yards against the Broncos. Six were personal fouls, and three were roughing the passer infractions. Denver got six first downs as a result of penalties.
Quinnen Williams grabbed Rypien’s facemask on third down with five minutes remaining. Instead of the Jets getting off the field with a one-point lead, it extended the Broncos’ drive. They scored and went ahead for good.
"We know what happened [Thursday] can’t happen," coach Adam Gase said. "We can’t hit the quarterback in the head. We can’t hit with any part, with our helmet with our hands. We’ve got to lower our strike zone."
The Jets’ seven roughing-the-passer penalties are an NFL high. Twenty-nine teams have fewer than two. Both Williams and Tarell Basham have been flagged for two each.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, known for his role in Bountygate while in New Orleans, is starting to get criticized for his unit’s actions. Former Carolina receiver and current NFL Network analyst Steve Smith said Williams is behind this reprehensible play.
"Wherever he goes, the nonsense follows," Smith said. "That’s how he runs his defense and that’s how he does it, straight up.
"If it smells like a pig, it looks like a pig and it’s oinking? Then guess what, my friend? It’s a pig."
Gase said he has told the players that they can’t continue to do this, and said Williams has too.
"I know Gregg’s followed up on it and covered it himself because some of the meetings that are done virtually, I’m in there," Gase said. "I hear what he’s saying. I know it’s been covered by me with the point of emphasis around the league on hits on the quarterback."
The only time the Jets are hitting the quarterback is after the whistle. They have had zero sacks the last two weeks. Williams hasn’t been calling as many blitzes because the Jets have been brutal in coverage. The Broncos picked on cornerback Pierre Desir, and won most of the night.
Desir gave up two touchdown passes, and other long receptions. He did have two interceptions, one of them a pick-6. But he definitely has had his struggles. He was benched in Week 1, didn’t start in Week 2, and has two of the Jets’ four defensive pass interference penalties this year.
On offense, the Jets look inept. They have scored six TDs. Only two have come in the red zone in nine trips. That 22.2% red-zone effectiveness ranks last in the NFL.
"It’s unacceptable," Darnold said. "We’ve got score when we get down there."
There is very little creativity in the red zone. Tight ends Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin were effective there the previous two years. They’ve been invisible.
The Jets got inside Denver’s 20 three times, resulting in three Sam Ficken field goals. They ran five plays and moved the ball 7 yards. Darnold was 0-for-2 passing. Overall, he’s 3-for-9 for 22 yards, one TD and one interception in the red zone.
The Jets have combined for 37 yards on 17 plays inside the opponents’ 20.
Le’Veon Bell is eligible to return from IR before next week’s game. He should be able to help the overall offense, and in the red zone. The Jets could use any help they can get right now.