The Jets are expecting Le’Veon Bell to be fired up to face the team that waived him less than three weeks ago and the coach who couldn’t find the best way to use him. But they’re far more concerned with trying to keep Patrick Mahomes contained and from pulling off a highlight or two that is played over and over.
Two words: Good luck.
Mahomes is a master at eyebrow-raising, head-shaking plays. He could make more than one on Sunday when the winless Jets visit Kansas City.
"He’s the best quarterback I’ve seen," said Jets coach Adam Gase, who coached Peyton Manning in the twilight of his career. "The guy’s phenomenal. It looks like he’s playing at a different speed than everybody else. It seems like this game is way too easy for him."
The Jets (0-7) hope to make it difficult for Mahomes in a game that no one is giving them a chance to win — understandably.
Gase’s team is a 19.5-point underdog against the Super Bowl champs, who are rolling. Gase was the offensive coordinator for the Broncos in 2013 when they were 28-point favorites against Jacksonville, the largest point spread in NFL history. Denver won by 16.
The Jets say they’re not focused on the spread, but they know how everyone views this game.
"We see that stuff," defensive end Henry Anderson said. "None of us are trying to read too many stories these days because there’s not a ton of positive stuff being written. But it’s motivating for us."
Kansas City (6-1) has the NFL’s most talented offense with wide receiver Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. They added Bell after the Jets released him on Oct. 13.
Kansas City is averaging 31.1 points per game. The Jets haven’t scored 30 once this season. They have totaled 20 points in their last three games and seven offensive touchdowns all season. Sam Darnold has thrown three touchdown passes in 2020. Mahomes has thrown at least three in two games this season.
Scoring could continue to be difficult for the Jets against a defense that has 13 take-aways.
Wide receiver Breshad Perriman (concussion) has been ruled out and Jamison Crowder (groin) is doubtful to play. It will put even more pressure on the defense to try and keep KC out of the end zone.
"If you take your eyes off your man or your responsibility, it can go real bad real fast," linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. "This offense punishes bad eye discipline and violators of coverage and responsibility."
Gase downplayed facing Bell, who should be amped for this game. It wouldn’t be surprising if Bell got in the end zone, which he only did four times in 17 games as a Jet.
Bell rushed six times for 39 yards in his Kansas City debut last week playing in back of Helaire. He’s playing behind a superior line now and won’t get as much attention from the defense. But Bell still is on the Jets’ radar.
"He can do a lot of good things," Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. "He’ll be ready to play. He’s a very good, competitive person."
Of course, it all starts with Mahomes, who at age 25 already owns an NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP award.
This season, he’s thrown 16 touchdown passes to just one interception and his 109.8 passer rating ranks fifth in the league. But his off-script throws and plays really set him apart.
"When we’re doing evaluations of people you try to say [he’s the] same as, same as, but really he’s of his own and he has a lot of intangibles about him," Williams said. "I think he’s just scratched the surface. I think he’s going to continue to grow in this league."
That’s a scary thought.
"He’s ‘The Guy,’ " Jenkins said. "He’s just a hellacious player, he’s a play-maker . . . Imagine what a couple more years in this league will do to him. He’s still got a lot he can learn. He can just keep adding and adding and adding to his belt over the years."
The Jets placed safety Bradley McDougald, who was acquired from Seattle in the Jamal Adams’ trade, on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. They also activated cornerback Arthur Maulet from IR, signed kicker Sergio Castillo to the active roster and elevated linebacker Bryce Hager and wide receiver Jaleel Scott from the practice team.