The way the Jets lost to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday was absolutely painful, but it's made even worse by their opening schedule. Perhaps you've heard: It's brutal. And it gets worse as it goes along. That's why it was imperative that the Jets get off to a fast start.
They almost did. And then they didn't.
So how much trouble are the Jets in now, following their 23-22 loss to the Bengals as they head to Buffalo on Thursday night to face the only non-2015-playoff team they'll face before Oct. 23? Keep reading, because that's all part of my 10 takeaways from Sunday's Jets game:
1.) Ryan Fitzpatrick (and everyone else) downplayed all the offseason time he missed during his contract stalemate, but he sure looked off on Sunday. There were way too many throws behind receivers and he never looked like he was on the same page with them. Not that this is an excuse for Brandon Marshall, but maybe that contributed to his big fourth-quarter drop. After such a huge offensive year, and against the Bengals' depleted defense, he had to do better than 19-for-35 and 189 yards while only connecting with Marshall and Eric Decker five times on 15 targets.
2.) Matt Forte is going to be a huge weapon for this team -- if he stays healthy. Don't downplay that last part either just because he survived Week 1. He was terrific in Week 1, with 27 touches for 155 yards. But he's still a 30-year-old running back who battled hamstring issues this summer, so keep your fingers crossed.
3.) I really underrated Quincy Enunwa. I talked all summer about the Jets' 1-2 punch at receiver and downplayed everyone else, including Enunwa, who had just 22 catches in 12 games last year. But he was fantastic against the Bengals (7 catches, 54 yards, one touchdown) and could be sneaky huge as defenses try to take away Marshall and Decker. The Jets must think so too because they used him all over the field.
4.) I still can't believe the Jets had seven sacks and that they're going to be even more dangerous when Sheldon Richardson gets back. They got pressure from everywhere on the line and rarely needed help from the linebackers or secondary. Leonard Williams (2 ½ sacks) played like a man possessed, and as much as I like Damon "Snacks" Harrison, Steve McLendon (2 sacks) looks like he's more than capable of filling his large shoes.
5.) The secondary was terrible. Just terrible. Honestly, they left so many open receivers that the damage should've been much worse. And the miscommunication that all the DBs talked about after the game was evident both with obvious blown coverages and the animated conversations and long stare-downs they often had with each other after bad plays.
6.) Yes, Darrelle Revis was torched by A.J. Green, but that's not unusual. It's not good for a guy in Year 2 of a five-year, $70 million contract who just turned 31 years old, but he's not alone. The bigger question to me is this: Why did defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers leave Revis alone on Green all game? It obviously wasn't working. So where were the double teams and the safety help that he obviously needed? I know some of it was probably called and there were "miscommunications." But there were way too many times where Revis was obviously alone, one-on-one, with a guy he just couldn't cover.
7.) I still can't believe the Jets rotated right tackles -- and that it basically worked. They gave Ben Ijalana the start and 55 percent of the snaps (39) and Brent Qvale got the other 45 percent (32). I guess you go with what works, but I still lean toward letting one guy stay in so the line can develop some chemistry.
8.) You've got to love rookie receiver Jalin Marshall's 65-yard kickoff return where he basically ran through half the Bengals' coverage team. He seems to love running into traffic, bouncing off tacklers and trying to stay on his feet to make something out of nothing. That's great when it works, but it bears watching because hits lead to fumbles and sometimes it's better to go down than to risk losing the ball for the sake of an extra couple of yards.
9.) I learned a long time ago that there's no such thing as a must-win game this early in the season, but … the Jets' game in Buffalo on Thursday could be close. Never mind that they don't want to start 0-2 because the road from 0-2 to the playoffs is extremely difficult. It might be a must win because the road from 0-2 to 1-5 -- or worse -- is much easier. Remember, the Bills game is the soft spot in the Jets' schedule the first six weeks. After that they play at Kansas City, home against the Seahawks, at Pittsburgh and at Arizona. If they can't beat the Bills, which of those four teams do you think the Jets can beat? And if you think there's one, do you really think there's two? If they lose Thursday they are in danger of becoming a snowball hurdling off a cliff.
10.) You should know by now that nothing can kill the Patriots. Cockroaches and Bill Belichick will be the only things that survive the Apocalypse and I guarantee you he'll find 53 cockroaches to guide to a 10-win season. This is why I pick the Patriots to win the Super Bowl every year. If I'm wrong, I'm never wrong by much.