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Jets Q&A: Is offense getting ‘too cute’ in red zone?

Chiefs defensive back Steven Nelson takes down

Chiefs defensive back Steven Nelson takes down Jets receiver Quincy Enunwa as a pass into the end zone falls incomplete in the second half in Kansas City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. Credit: AP / Charlie Riedel

Why are the Jets so inconsistent in the red zone?

Brandon Marshall seems to have a theory. The Jets star said the offense may be getting “too cute” near the goal line — an indication that Chan Gailey’s play-calling could be the issue.

“We may be a little overconfident. We may be getting too cute,” said Marshall, who had three catches on 10 targets for 27 yards. “So we’ll go back and watch film and try to figure those things out. When I look at myself in the mirror, what I see is a guy who’s gotta make more plays, gotta make the tough plays. That’s what we did last year, it wasn’t like things were just wide open.”

Asked to clarify what he meant by “too cute,” he replied: “I said what I said, I’m not going to go in depth on that. Just we’ve got to play better.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s six interceptions certainly didn’t help the unit, but Gailey’s aversion to running the ball into the end zone with either Matt Forte or Bilal Powell was noticeable. On one third-quarter drive, the Jets had six tries from the Chiefs’ 18. Aside for a 2-yard run by Forte, Fitzpatrick threw four incompletions before throwing an interception on a short, over-the-middle pass to Bilal Powell. The Jets finished 0-for-4 in the red zone.

Why couldn’t the Jets stop Travis Kelce?

The Jets saw firsthand how much of a difference-maker a big, strong, pass-catching tight end can be.

Even though they fully expected Kelce to be a focal point of the Chiefs’ attack, Bowles’ defense couldn’t figure out how to stop him.

“We knew what was coming,” said safety Calvin Pryor, who played against the tight end in college. But the Jets failed to contain Kelce, who had six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.

Asked what didn’t work Kelce, Bowles said: “Evidently nothing. Nothing worked.”

Five of Kelce’s catches came in the first half and he also stiff-armed safety Marcus Gilchrist at the end of a 42-yard, third-quarter completion. (The play led to a Spencer Ware touchdown that made the score 23-3 before it was overturned by the officials.)

“Kelce is a Pro Bowl guy,” cornerback Buster Skrine said. “He showed it on film before we played them. He made some good plays today.”

Added linebacker David Harris: “We just didn’t play up to our ability. Give him credit. He’s a good tight end. We didn’t make enough plays.”

Three different Chiefs tight ends caught a pass. At one point, Chiefs coach Andy Reid even used a four-tight end set.

Why can’t Jalin Marshall take care of the football?

For the second game in a row, the rookie receiver/returner had a fumble that led to a touchdown for the other team.

Against the Bills on Sept. 15, he got lucky because the Jets eventually won the game. But in the second quarter against the Chiefs, he returned a kick 19 yards before losing control of the ball at the Jets’ 23. It was caught by Demetrius Harris, who ran it back 27 yards for the score.

“Just lack of focus sometimes. That’s it,” Marshall said of his latest mistake. “We’re just going to fix it. That’s football. Stuff happens. We’ll get back in there tomorrow and fix the issues we had today and go win next week.”

Asked if he can continue using the mistake-prone Marshall on returns, Bowles said: “Not if he’s gonna turn the ball over. But like I said, we had a lot of turnovers today. It wasn’t just Jalin. So we’ve got to clean that part of it up, we’ve got to clean up the defense, we’ve got to clean up the offense. We’re not going to beat anybody playing the way we played today.”

Marshall also injured his left shoulder just before the game ended. “I’m all good,” he said. “I just wanted to come out of the game for precautionary reasons. I got the X-rays and I think everything will be fine.” But the rookie grimaced as he tried to get dressed.

Is Darrelle Revis OK?

The cornerback left the game briefly because of a right eye injury. At first, it appeared he was going through the concussion protocol on the Jets bench, but Revis later explained that the front of his helmet came over his eye as he tried to make a tackle late in the second quarter. His vision was initially blurry, but it eventually returned to normal and he returned.

Were there any other injuries?

Defensive lineman Law rence Thomas suffered a shoulder injury. Bowles, however, wasn’t sure if his injury or Marshall’s was serious.


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