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Last season, the Jets didn't lose their third game until Week Six, but they've already dug themselves a hole this season, as the Jacksonville Jaguars handed them their third consecutive loss on Sunday. Once again, the Jets had a listless start and were unable to get back into the game as Jacksonville held on for a 31-12 win that arguably wasn't as close as the final score makes it sound.
On a hot and humid afternoon in Florida, it wasn't an ideal scenario for the Jaguars to march down the field on their two first possessions, chewing up over several minutes on each drive. However, the drive stalled in the red zone each time and Jacksonville settled for a pair of field goals and a 6-0 lead.
The Jets, by contrast, got off to a slow start offensively, as they once again seemed reluctant to throw downfield and punted after each of their first three possessions.
On their third possession, the Jaguars drove downfield again and scored their first touchdown on a busted coverage that allowed a wide-open T.J. Yeldon to jog in for an embarrassingly easy 31-yard touchdown. Blake Bortles completed 15 of his first 16 passes as the Jaguars dominated time of possession and ended up the game with a career-high 388 passing yards.
On third-and-1 near midfield right before halftime, the Jets finally got aggressive as they opted to throw downfield twice but Sam Darnold was unable to connect with Bilal Powell and Quincy Enunwa and the Jets turned the ball over on downs. The Jaguars again drove downfield in the closing moments and kicked a long field goal to make it 16-0 at the half.
Jamal Adams made a couple of plays to force a Jacksonville punt on its first possession of the second half but any hopes that things would be different were soon dashed when the punt was downed near the goal line and Isaiah Crowell got stuffed in the end zone for a safety on the Jets' first second-half snap.
The Jets finally got on the board with under five minutes left in the third quarter after a Darryl Roberts interception set up a Jason Myers field goal, but it was disappointing to have to settle for three having got down inside the 10-yard line. The game essentially became a blowout on the next drive when Donte Moncrief burned the $72.5 million man Trumaine Johnson for a 67-yard touchdown.
The rest of the game was basically a formality, although the Jets pulled within 25-12 on a two-yard touchdown pass from Darnold to Jordan Leggett after Avery Williamson forced a Yeldon fumble and Johnson returned it down inside the 10.
This wasn't a game many people expected the Jets to win, but the nature of the defeat, with so many elementary mistakes, will undoubtedly make Todd Bowles' seat a little warmer as the Jets head into October at 1-3.
Here are some more notes and observations from the Jets' disappointing loss …
- The Jets' zone defense continued to be a complete mess in the first half and wasn't much better after halftime. Receivers were constantly being left open, including on some key third downs and the Yeldon touchdown. The communication in the defensive backfield has to be better than this.
- Darnold got lucky on a badly overthrown interception late in the first half that was called back due to a penalty, but also had some bad luck when a juggling catch by rookie tight end Chris Herndon was also negated by a flag on a rare downfield completion. Ironically, on his longest throw of the first half, again to Herndon, it looked like Darnold was actually trying to throw the ball away.
- The Jets' efforts to establish some chemistry between Darnold and anyone other than Enunwa are still not working. Powell was the only player other than Enunwa to catch more than one pass in the first half and ended up second on the team with just 26 receiving yards.
- If there was one positive from the Jets, it was probably the play of their defensive line. The Jaguars didn't have much success running the ball and the defensive linemen recorded two sacks and batted down a few passes.
- The dominant unit on the field was the Jaguars' defensive line, though. The Jets had no success whatsoever in establishing a running game and Darnold was under pressure regularly.
- Enunwa was a rare bright spot, as has been the case for the season as a whole. Enunwa's four receptions included a spectacular 42-yard catch and run on which he broke several tackles and he had a similar play called back due to a holding penalty.
- Speaking of penalties, the Jets only had six in this game, but they seemed to come at key moments. Jacksonville had more penalties, but the Jets were unable to exploit these as effectively.
- It's not often you'll see a team lose so heavily despite winning the turnover battle 3-0. However, the fact the Jaguars outgained the Jets by 503 yards to 177 underlines how dominant they were, especially since much of the Jets' yardage came after they were already down by multiple scores.
- Josh Martin being knocked out of the game with another head injury is extremely concerning, especially since he only just returned from a concussion suffered last month.