Adam Gase handed off the offensive play-calling duties to OC Dowell Loggains on Sunday, and the change was apparent…at least in the first half it was.
The Jets were up 10-0 on the Buffalo Bills midway through the second quarter. They were moving the ball well, keeping the Bills on their toes and Sam Darnold was dotting the ball to his receivers. When rookie La’Mical Perine crossed the goal line for his first career touchdown, you just had to take a step back and say, ‘Is this what the team needed?’
But it was too good to be true.
Four yards. Just four yards were tallied by the Jets’ offense in the second half, as Bills head coach Sean McDermott made the necessary adjustments and didn’t give Darnold any room to breathe in the pocket.
Because of that, Gase couldn’t blame his quarterback for not getting the offense in a rhythm in the second half. He didn’t have time to do so, and that gets the finger pointed at the offensive line – even if Gase didn’t say it outright.
“It was collapsing quick on him,” Gase told reporters on Monday. “He was trying to get the ball out, he didn’t have much opportunity. The few times that he did, it was a tight window. Throws there, we got to finish some of these couple plays. It was just really tough, I mean, there was a lot of bodies coming at him. There were some free guys, there was some leakage. Things just weren’t that clean.
“Second half, it was just full bombardment.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Darnold was pressured 25 total times, which included seven sacks for the Buffalo defense. Josh Andrews, who was filling in at left guard for the injured Alex Lewis, allowed the most with nine total pressures (two sacks, one hit, and six hurries). Even Mekhi Becton, who has been the only consistent player for the Jets on the line, allowed two sacks and four total pressures. He was, however, returning from his shoulder injury for the first time.
Darnold’s play in Year 3 has been shaky, but a large part of that revolves around him not having the time – or the weapons because of injury – to do anything with. Just look at the final drive where the Jets had a chance to go down the field and tie the game with just under two minutes to go. Darnold was sacked at the 17 on the first play for an eight-yard loss, was sacked again a few plays later and then the pressure from the Bills’ rush for the third time led to Jerry Hughes intercepting the ball to end it.
“When we get in games, we just got to figure out a way to protect him, let him get in a rhythm,” Gase said. “I saw some really good stuff first half and then it started to get really muddy in there where guys were creating pocket push and the windows were closing quick and he was trying to make his decisions quickly and we just didn’t have any success doing that.”
Gase added the “moving parts” on the line with guys falling to injury hasn’t helped the gelling process either. Darnold, though, isn’t making any excuses about how the Jets performed in the second half.
“Buffalo made some obvious adjustments and as players we just gotta react to that and execute better,” Darnold added.
Execution must work everywhere, not just in Darnold’s case. When he has some time in the pocket, you see results like in the first half when he was dropping dimes to Braxton Berrios between zone coverage and hooking up with rookie WR Denzel Mims for the first time.
But Darnold isn’t going to let that pressure, physically and mentally, stop him from going back to work this week with a very tough Kansas City Chiefs team on the schedule for Week 8.
“Obviously, we’re not where we want to be right now we’re 0-7. It’s just not ideal,” he said. “For me, especially, it’s about coming in here and going back to work. Learning from mistakes and not making them again.”