OK, now what?
It was bad enough when the Jets learned quarterback Sam Darnold was out indefinitely with mono, but now they've lost backup quarterback Trevor Siemian, too. He suffered what looked like a nasty ankle injury in the first half of the Jets' 23-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Monday night. That forced the Jets to turn to Luke Falk, who had been promoted from the practice squad earlier in the day.
It wasn't immediately clear how bad Siemian was hurt or how long he might be out, but at this point Jets fans have to be bracing for the worst. And if the worst happens, it's not like there is a black market of available quarterbacks for them to acquire.
They might have no choice but to ride the 24-year-old Falk, a former sixth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans (2018), who last played when he was setting a slew of Pac 12 passing records at Washington State. And with the Patriots, Eagles, Cowboys and then the Patriots again up next, it's hard to imagine the 0-2 Jets can find a way to survive.
For what it's worth, Falk wasn't terrible. He completed 20 of 25 passes for 198 yards in his NFL debut. Jets head coach Adam Gase didn't ask him to do much, but he played the role of game manager relatively well and avoided any major mistakes. He also was under pressure from a very strong Browns front, and Gase smartly went to a very run-heavy attack when Falk went in.
Falk is not the long-term solution, but with Darnold out indefinitely -- possibly for nearly half the season -- Falk could be the only short-term answer the Jets have.
Here are more takeaways from the loss that dropped the Jets to 0-2 …
- The Jets offensive line struggled mightily in this game, but no one had more trouble than Jets left tackle Kelvin Beachum. He was abused at times by Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who finished with three sacks. Beachum had a couple of penalties, too. It was a really tough assignment, but not a good night for Beachum at all.
- It's a shame the Jets were down to their third-string quarterback because Gregg Williams' defense did a masterful job for most of this game and really gave the Jets a shot to win. He had Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (19 of 35, 325 yards, one touchdown, one interception) guessing on every play and he found a way to bring constant pressure. The only big play they gave up was an 89-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham late in the third quarter -- and even that was a short pass where Beckham just split the defense and out-ran everyone to the end zone (you know, the way a "dynamic player" does).
- Le'Veon Bell was outstanding under very difficult circumstances. He was the clear focal point of the Jets offense, especially after they lost Siemian. He finished with 21 carries for 68 yards, plus 10 catches for 61 yards. That's a monster workload for someone playing just his second game in the last 20 months. The Jets really had no choice, of course. But why, oh why, was he still in the game late in the fourth quarter? The game was over. Why not protect your most important asset?
- There haven't been many highlights in the Jets passing game through two games, but wide receiver Robby Anderson made their Catch of the Year so far, when he held up to grab an underthrown pass from Falk, 36 yards down field. Anderson barely kept his toes in bounds as he made the catch and fell to the sidelines.
- Strange decision by Gase when the Jets had a third-and-2, and then a fourth-and-2, from the Cleveland 12 late in the third quarter. He dialed up two pass plays, including one that resulted in a screen far behind the line of scrimmage to Bell. But why not run Bell in at least one of those spots? Isn't that why he's here?
- Yes, Beckham put on quite a show in his return to the Meadowlands. His 89-yard touchdown was the kind of thing he did regularly in his early days with the Giants, taking a simple, short pass and then turning on the jets and leaving the defense in the dust. He also made a spectacular, one-handed catch on the sidelines near the end zone -- in almost the exact spot where he made his most famous one-handed catch way back in his rookie year. All in all, he sure did put Gregg Williams in his place, catching six passes for 161 yards and that long TD.
- A year ago the Jets signed cornerback Trumaine Johnson to a five-year, $72.5 million contract with $34 million guaranteed. On Monday night he didn't play until his replacement, cornerback Nate Hairston, got hurt with about four minutes left in the game. Johnson was healthy. Or at least the Jets didn't report an injury. It appeared to be a coach's decision. Given the state of the Jets' secondary, the explanation for that is going to be very interesting.
- With Johnson out, the secondary played pretty well for most of the game. Cornerbacks Brian Poole and Hairston were good in coverage, and safety Jamal Adams was phenomenal, delivering some brutal hits. Daryl Roberts even came up with a great play in the fourth quarter, deflecting a pass away from Beckham and picking it off.
- Rough night for defensive end Leonard Williams, who missed tackles and was blocked out of too many run plays. Also, once again, he wasn't able to generate much pressure on the quarterback. Gregg Williams was supposed to be able to get the best out of Leonard Williams. That obviously hasn't happened yet.
- Good news: New kicker Sam Ficken didn't miss. He converted the only attempt he had -- a 46-yard field goal. The fans at the Meadowlands celebrated like the Jets won a playoff game.