Sam Darnold may not have been seeing ghosts this time, but he had plenty of reasons to be scared.
The Jets' offensive line was atrocious, again, in the Jets' 29-15 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Darnold was constantly on the run, was sacked eight times, and they weren't much better in the running game where Le'Veon Bell barely had any room to run.
The result was another offensive disaster. The Jets scored on a 93-yard drive on their opening possession - their first opening-drive touchdown in 31 tries. The rest of the game they only had 120 more yards for a pathetic total of 213.
It's a mess.
There's plenty of blame to go around, too. The line deserves plenty of criticism, even if you factor in that they were missing left tackle Kelvin Beachum and now ex-Jet left guard Kelechi Osemele. Rookie left tackle Chuma Edoga had a terrible time protecting Darnold's blindside. He was responsible for at least four of the sacks.
But Darnold can share some of the blame too, because many of the blitzes that got him seemed obvious - with multiple players stacked on one side. He could've checked out of those plays before they were busted, or even called a time out to discuss it. He also needs to do a much better job of finding his hot receiver, especially when he knows there's about to be a defender in his face.
Maybe the most blame, though, should be placed on head coach Adam Gase, who for the second straight week couldn't seem to find a way to keep his quarterback out of the crosshairs. Why not keep more help in to protect him? Or design a play that allows a tight end to go in motion to help block? Or to move the pocket by having his mobile quarterback run a bootleg and perhaps create a play from outside?
It all factors in to a Jets offense that is a disaster at the moment. Darnold was 21 of 30 for 218 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, and the best that could be said about that was that he was better than he was against the Patriots (mostly because he couldn't be worse). But the whole operation isn't working at the moment, which is something that Gase - hired in large part because of his supposed offensive brilliance - has to fix. Fast.
Here are a few more takeaways from the Jets' latest loss ...
Keeping in mind that the offensive line was a mess and the supporting cast in general wasn't a help, this was a bad game for Darnold. No, it wasn't as bad as the New England game, but even his final numbers were deceptive. He was 7 of 7 for 88 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive and then 14 of 23 for 130 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions after that. His two- week totals show an alarming regression from where everyone thought he was after the Cowboys game.
Looking for a positive? That 12-play, 93-yard opening drive that ended with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Darnold to TE Ryan Griffin was impressive. If only the game had ended there ...
The Jets really need to use Griffin more in the passing game. He had four catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns and he's proven reliable when he's used. He scored on a 24-yard touchdown that was a short route on which he put a move on the linebacker and then took off up the middle. He also made a terrific, leaping, 16-yard catch on the next drive. And in the fourth quarter he caught a three-yard touchdown pass and the two-point conversion. Using Chris Herndon was supposed to be a big part of the Jets' plan. While he's out, they shouldn't shy away from Griffin as much as they do.
The absence of LBs C.J. Mosley and Neville Hewitt was huge in this game. The Jets were forced to start rookie Blake Cashman and fresh-off-the-practice-squad James Burgess inside, and the result was predictable. It started on a 66-yard Leonard Fournette run on the second play of the game, where the linebackers were essentially nonexistent. There was plenty of room over the middle for Minshew to throw. And Burgess was, not surprisingly, a weak spot. He dropped his coverage on what turned into a 70-yard touchdown pass from Minshew to Chris Conley and appeared to be the man at fault on the Jags' first touchdown, too, when he stepped up too far towards the line.
The Jets cornerbacks play too far off the receivers. Give them that much of a cushion and add in no semblance of a pass rush and you get ... well, you get Minshew completing 22 of 34 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns.
There were a bunch of early runs where it looked like Le'Veon Bell was about to finally bust a big run. But that seems to be the story of this season for Bell. He looks like he's ready to pop, but it just doesn't happen. This was another blah game for him: 9 rushes for 23 yards and 3 receptions for 12 yards. The line isn't helping, but Gase has to find a way to get Bell involved. He's their most dangerous weapon and it's not even close.
WR Robby Anderson had only three catches for 32 yards and continues to be little more than a deep threat for the Jets. He had a chance for one big play deep, but he drew a defensive holding penalty again. There remains interest in him from several teams around the league and he could be an ex-Jet by Tuesday. Gase had insisted this summer that Anderson had value as an all-around receiver, but that just doesn't seem to be working out as planned.
DL Leonard Williams' final audition for the rest of the NFL before the trading deadline: Four tackles, no sacks, no impact at all.