The Jets’ season can in fact get worse.
Sam Darnold could miss time after spraining his right shoulder in Thursday's loss to the Broncos. He finished the game, but still is being evaluated.
Adam Gase said during a conference call Friday that there are "a lot of questions to answer there." Gase added that himself, general manager Joe Douglas and the team medical staff would meet to figure out the best course of action with the franchise quarterback.
The Jets don’t play until a week from Sunday against Arizona, and Gase isn’t ruling out facing the Cardinals without Darnold.
"Anything’s on the table right now," Gase said. "We got to circle back with the doctors, we got to circle back with the trainers, Joe and myself. We’ll get together with those guys and we’ll get with Sam.
"We just need to make sure that we lay everything out and kind of see where we go from here and what’s best for him not just next week but long term."
None of this sounds promising. It certainly looked serious when it happened in the first quarter of the Jets’ 37-28 loss.
Darnold was slammed into the MetLife Stadium turf by linebacker Alexander Johnson. Darnold stayed in the game for one more play – a handoff – and then left. He jogged into the locker room and his right arm was hanging. It was surprising that Darnold returned on the next series and then finished the game.
"Just seeing his toughness and his willingness to go right out there and run right out there on that third down, that was very impressive to see what kind of competitor he was," Gase said.
The Jets are 0-4 and spiraling toward oblivion. For the third straight season, the only thing that matters is how Darnold develops and grows. But now his status is up in the air.
"He doesn’t feel real great today," Gase said. "We just got to see what our management program is going to be with him. How does that look with practice compared to games? We have a lot to go through. We got some time to figure everything out before Wednesday."
That’s when the Jets will return to practice, and there was a chance that Le’Veon Bell and Denzel Mims could come off IR, and deep threat Breshad Perriman could return from a two-game absence because of an ankle injury.
The Jets also claimed former Lions running back Ty Johnson off of waivers.
But if Darnold is out, and for an extended period of time, this truly will be a lost season.
Veteran Joe Flacco is Darnold’s backup. He came in the game for parts of two series Thursday night and played for the first time since undergoing neck surgery. Rookie James Morgan also is on the active roster.
Darnold ended up 23-for-42 for 230 yards but he didn’t throw a touchdown pass. He ran for 84 yards, including a 46-yard mad dash for the touchdown. But the offensive line and running backs didn’t do a good job of protecting Darnold. He was sacked six times by a defense that had just four sacks in the first three games.
Gase wouldn’t say whether he thought Johnson’s hit on Darnold was a penalty. But he indicated he would check with the NFL about the play. The Jets’ defense was called for six personal fouls – three of them were roughing the passer infractions.
"It’s hard for me to say on the hit that Sam got hurt on," Gase said. "I don’t know how the officials saw that. I’m going to ask once this weekend’s over."
Gase defended the decision to let rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton play with a compromised shoulder. Becton didn’t start because of the injury he suffered in Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis. But he entered the game when Chuma Edoga got hurt. Gase said Becton just said, ‘I’m going in." He lasted just 17 snaps, as it was clear he was in excruciating pain.
"His injury is a pain tolerance, it’s not really a structural issue," Gase said. "If he was in risk of hurting himself even further then he wouldn’t have been able to go in.
"He went through pregame. He didn’t feel like he was as strong as he normally was. That was a decision he made. We got out of the game, he’s in the same place as he was before the game."