Jets takeaways from 26-0 loss to Broncos, including Zach Wilson's struggles and lack of help

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Zach Wilson runs for his life 9/26 cropped
Zach Wilson runs for his life 9/26 cropped

The Jets, as promised, were “boring.”

They were also pretty bad.

Zach Wilson did not have the four-interception game that plagued him a week ago, but he and the Jets weren’t able to generate any offense Sunday in a 26-0 loss at Denver. They had just 55 yards of offense in the first half, and 162 total. It was their worst offensive output since early in the 2019 season.

In fact, they looked as bad on offense as they did at any point in the Adam Gase era. And that’s alarming.

It’s hard to completely blame Wilson for this one, since Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur clearly pulled back the reins in the hopes of settling him down and having him play “boring.” He attempted just 19 of 35 passes for 160 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. The numbers actually would’ve been better if his offensive line had offered him even a little bit of protection and if his No. 1 receiver, Corey Davis, could hang on to the ball.

Wilson, in just his third NFL game and playing against a tough, Vic Fangio-coached defense, isn’t good enough yet to carry a team making so many mistakes around him. And the Jets weren’t going to let him try after what happened a week ago against New England.

The result of that was a whole lot of nothing. The Jets’ defense actually wasn’t terrible against the dink-and-dunk Broncos attack. With just a little bit of offense, the Jets might have had a chance.

But a little bit of offense was too much to ask. Wilson settled down, but the Jets haven’t yet figured out how to move the ball consistently with him. That’s why they now have a total of 20 points in their three games, and they’re averaging just 241 yards per game. They have two touchdowns on the season. None since Week 1.

The future is still bright, but the present is pretty putrid.

Here are six more takeaways …

1. The offensive line was really just brutal, especially in the first half. Wilson was constantly under pressure and ended up getting sacked five times, and that’s not counting the many times he managed to get out of trouble. That’s 14 sacks in three games this season. They’re not giving their rookie quarterback a chance.

2. Wilson had a terrific play on a third-and-13 in the second quarter, where he somehow escaped a sure sack, ran to his left, turned and fired a 30-yard strike downfield to Davis. But Davis, with a defender draped on his back, dropped it. It would’ve been a tough catch, but much like the one that went through his hands and turned into an interception a week ago, he’s got to catch that if he wants to be a No. 1 receiver. It was right on his hands. Davis (five receptions for 41 yards on 10 targets) dropped another one in the second half, too. He can’t do that. His quarterback needs help.

3. You want a bright side? Well, DT Quinnen Williams has had a quiet start to this season, but he was pretty active in this game and came away with his first sack of the season. The Jets also had a nice goal-line stand in the fourth quarter where the Broncos had a first-and-goal from the six and had to settle for a field goal. And on the next drive, after the Broncos got to the goal line, linebacker Quincy Williams forced a fumble.

Sep 26, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Jonathon Cooper (53) hurries New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) in the fourth quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Jonathon Cooper (53) hurries New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) in the fourth quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

4. My goodness, the penalties. The Jets had eight for 89 yards. Obviously they’re just not nearly good enough to overcome that. Matt Ammendola nailed a 56-yard field goal in the second quarter ... but not before flags flew signaling a delay of game penalty on the Jets, who didn’t get the snap off in time. That pushed the Jets back five yards and forced Robert Saleh to change his mind and call for a punt.

5. WR Denzel Mims was again inactive, even though Jamison Crowder was out, too. This probably isn’t the best game to judge, but the two receivers who beat Mims out for a spot on the active roster didn’t really do much. Braxton Berrios caught two passes for 26 yards and had Wilson’s last pass of the game bounce off his hands and into the arms of a Broncos defender, and Keelan Cole had two catches for 30 yards.

6. One week after earning the coach’s praise for rushing 11 times for 59 yards, rookie Michael Carter couldn’t get anything going. He finished with just nine carries for 24 yards. The Jets, behind a bad performance by their line, just couldn’t sustain a rushing attack at all.