JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sam Darnold probably won’t see ghosts in Jacksonville, but he can expect to a see lot of all-out blitzes and plenty of Calais Campbell.
After what the Patriots did on Monday Night Football, Darnold knows the Jaguars will be bringing heat against him, probably disguised differently.
“It’s up to us to make a team pay if they want to bring the house,” Darnold said.
Darnold couldn’t do that last week, resulting in the worst game of his career — 86 yards passing, four interceptions, one lost fumble and one “I’m seeing ghosts” comment that will haunt him for a long time.
But to Darnold’s credit, he seems to have put that behind him, and his teammates have confidence that moment won’t define him.
“You got to just let it go and I think that’s what Sam did,” running back Le’Veon Bell said.
“He’ll bounce back,” Jamal Adams said. “I know he will.”
As a team, the 1-5 Jets are in bounce-back mode. It’s not just Darnold who played poorly on national television. The defense didn’t put up much resistance and the offensive line looked lost.
Now that line is facing a defense that is fifth in the NFL with 21 sacks, 14 more than the Jets.
Rookie defensive end Josh Allen, whom the Jets bypassed to take Quinnen Williams, has five sacks and seven tackles for loss. The 33-year-old Campbell has three sacks and continues to be a force up front.
Adam Gase said Campbell is “playing as good as I’ve seen him play.” Darnold described him as “a beast” and Bell called Campbell a “top three most underrated player in the NFL” and said, “it’s hard to run the ball his way.”
Getting Bell involved will be critical for the Jets, especially in the passing game. The dual-threat back has totaled only two catches for 9 yards in the last two games.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets have to contend with Leonard Fournette and Minshew-mania.
Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, who replaced the injured Nick Foles, has completed 61.5 percent of his passes and thrown 10 touchdowns with two interceptions.
But the Jets’ primary focus is containing Fournette.
Jacksonville’s offense flows through Fournette. The AFC’s leading rusher has 715 yards on 144 carries, 5.0 yards per run.
“You got to keep Fournette happy,” Adams said of his former LSU teammate. “He wants the ball in his hands. I get it. He’s been doing a phenomenal job. This is one of his best years yet.”
Over the last four games, Fournette is averaging 25.3 carries and 134 yards. The Jaguars (3-4) have the fifth-ranked rushing offense. The Jets are 12th in run defense. The Jets aren’t thinking about last week, they’re thinking about what they have do to make sure Fournette doesn’t hurt them.
“No matter what happened last week,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said, “this is a week that we got to show up and we got to be not just resilient. We have to be aggressive. We have to be nasty. We have to come out there with a swagger. We have to be talking trash. They have one of the high-ranked running offenses right now. We have one of the high-ranked running defenses, so this is going to be a battle, like old-school football.
“They get in formations where they know the other team knows they’re running the ball, they still run it, anyway. That’s the mentality that that team has now. Like, ‘We’re going to out-aggressive you.’ We’re a pretty aggressive defense. It’s going to be a fight. They know it. We know it. It’s going to be a big brawl.”