BALTIMORE - Gregg Williams' defense never had a chance.
Facing the powerful Ravens and the dangerous Lamar Jackson without a bunch of their best players went exactly as expected for the Jets on Sunday night. The Ravens' MVP candidate threw for five touchdowns and ran for 86 yards as the Jets were blown out by the Ravens, 42-21
And what else would anyone expect with the Jets playing with no Jamal Adams, no Quinnen Williams, no Brian Poole, and the usual patchwork cast at linebacker and cornerback. They played hard and were actually much better in the second half, but all that was just way too much to overcome. Jackson, taken 29 spots after the Jets took Sam Darnold in the 2018 draft, was everything he was advertised to be. He completed 15 of 23 passes for 212 yards and averaged nearly 11 yards per rush. When he took off with the ball, either to run or throw, the Jets had no one that could keep up.
That's not really surprising considering that Adams, Poole and Williams are three of the best athletes on the Jets' defense. Had they had a full complement of players, Gregg Williams could have used Adams as a spy. That at least might have slowed Jackson down a little bit and minimized the damage, if nothing else.
Instead, the Jets' defense was a shell of itself. They entered the game with the NFL's No. 2 rushing defense, entered the game giving up only 78.8 yards per game on the ground. Just 13 minutes into the game they had given up 99. By halftime the total was 133 - four more than they had given up in any game this season.
In all they gave up 218 yards on the ground, including 76 on 13 carries by running back Mark Ingram.
It simply wasn't a fair fight. And if it wasn't for the fact that the Jets' offense played well in the first half and held on to the ball, this game could have been a lot worse. Once the Jets' offense stalled in the second half, Williams' defense was doomed.
Here are some more takeaways from the Jets' ninth loss of the season …
- Sam Darnold wasn't terrible against one of the NFL's best defenses. He made some mistakes, but he had the offense moving consistently - especially in the first half. He finished 18 of 32 for 218 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
- Any evaluation of Darnold has to keep in mind what he was working with in this game. The last series of the first half was a great example. On first down he had a receiver streaking down the sideline wide open, but it was rookie Jeff Smith who seemed to inexplicably slow down and he couldn't catch up to Darnold's pass. Four plays later, Darnold was looking for tight end Daniel Brown, but Brown turned upfield when he should have turned the other way, which led to a Darnold interception. A tough series, but these are just not his regular guys.
- Le'Veon Bell, fresh off the flu and his night at Boonton Bowling, was running as well as he's run as a Jet so far. He had 12 carries for 56 yards in the first half - an average of 4.7 yards per carry. His production slowed down in the second half as the Jets tried to dig out of a huge hole, but he still finished with 87 yards -- his highest total as a Jet (which is really a remarkable thing to say).
- Adam Gase made a gutsy and correct call to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Ravens' seven-yard line with two minutes left in the first half, trailing 21-7. Why not? He knew field goals weren't going to win this game. The play call wasn't bad either - a bootleg to the right for Sam Darnold. But the Ravens got a pass rusher through, breaking up the play. Darnold still got the ball off to Robby Anderson in the end zone, but the receiver couldn't hang on. Good aggressive decision, though.
- Strong game for Jamison Crowder, who finished with six catches (albeit on 11 targets) for 90 yards and two touchdowns. He had a terrible drop in the end zone in the second quarter when he got wide open and Darnold hit him right in the hands. But the Jets went right back to him on the next play and he made a great catch where he kept his toes in as he was falling out of bounds. Instant redemption.
- As shorthanded as the Jets defense may be, there was really no excuse for this: LB Neville Hewitt running deep down the middle of the field covering Ravens receiver Marquise Brown one-on-one. No surprise that Hewitt interfered with Brown as the ball dropped towards him in the end zone. He really had no choice. And the Ravens scored a few plays later.
- One underrated part of the Jets' game that kept them in it - sort of - in the first half was their stellar return game. Ty Montgomery averaged 34 yards on three kickoff returns, Vyncint Smith had a 37-yarder and Braxton Berrios had a 21-yard punt return. That tilted the field and gave the Jets a positional advantage that they should have been able to capitalize on. … Add in the blocked punt by Tarell Basham that the Jets returned for a touchdown and it really was a good night for the Jets' special teams. … Mostly …
- It's getting to the point where the Jets might add a kicker to the list of things they'll need to search for in the offseason. Sam Ficken missed a 49-yarder in the first quarter when it was partially blocked. Granted, it was no easy kick, but Ficken is now just 14 for 20 on the season (70 percent) and he also missed his third extra point. They need to find someone more reliable.