Jets Takeaways from 34-26 loss to Chargers, including Justin Herbert's impact as rookie QB

Ralph Vacchiano
·6 min read
Justin Herbert Jets Chargers
Justin Herbert Jets Chargers

Justin Herbert gave the Jets a taste of a what a terrific, young quarterback can do when he's surrounded by offensive talent. And he pushed the Jets a little closer to getting a new, young quarterback of their own.

Hebert ripped the Jets for 366 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday in a 34-28 win by the Los Angeles Chargers. It came as no surprise, since the Jets limped in with a depleted and rookie-laden secondary.

And while the Jets did make a late charge to close what at one point was an 18-point gap and give themselves a chance to tie the game with three minutes to go, it still wasn't nearly enough. The loss dropped the Jets to 0-10, continuing their worst start in franchise history, and allowing them to keep control of the No. 1 pick in next year's draft, where Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the prize.

There's a long way to go before they solidify that spot, of course, and Sam Darnold could be back in the coming weeks and might have something to say about the Jets' future at that position. But watching Herbert in action sure made going with a new, strong-armed quarterback seem like a tantalizing choice.

More on that in the coming weeks. For now, here's a look at some of the takeaways from the Jets’ 10th straight loss.

- After a miserable first half in which they had just 82 total yards, the Jets definitely had a second-half surge, scoring 20 points and picking up 210 yards. The difference? It sure looked like Adam Gase took over the play calling from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. It's hard to tell from TV, especially with coaches wearing masks, but Gase appeared way more involved in that half than he's been since he first made the change.

- Herbert (37 for 49) is really good, but this was a mismatch from the start against Jets secondary that started three rookies -- corners Bryce Hall and Lamar Jackson and safety Ashtyn Davis. Herbert took turns picking on all of them, plus veteran corner Arthur Maulet. They were just no match for Keenan Allen (16 catches, 145 yards, 1 TD), Mike Williams (4-72-1) and tight end Hunter Henry (4-48-1), especially when the defense couldn’t pressure Herbert at all.

- The Jets' love affair with 37-year-old Frank Gore continues to make absolutely no sense. He is not the future of this team, which means he is in the way of rookie La'Mical Perine. Now, Perine hasn't done a lot to distinguish himself yet, but maybe if he got a chance he could. On Sunday, Gore got seven of the first nine carries and finished 15 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown. Perine (8-33-1) ended up leaving the game late in the third quarter with an ankle injury.

- The Jets have said all season that the reason for their offensive struggles has been the absence of their "Three Dudes" -- receivers Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman who have had one game on the field together before Sunday. Well, against the Chargers, QB Joe Flacco barely looked their direction in the first half. By the time he did, he started getting results -- catches, or sometimes pass interference penalties to keep the offense moving. Yes, a quarterback has to go through his reads and sometimes dictates where throws go. Sometimes you’ve just got to force it, though, and let your playmakers make plays.

- Mims, in particular, made some terrific catches and is starting to show signs of why the Jets think he could be either their No. 1 receiver or a very dangerous No. 2. He finished with with three catches for 71 yards, out-pacing the other two "Dudes," Perriman (2-54-1) and Crowder (1-16). Mims was targeted eight times, though, including on Flacco's last pass of the game -- a desperate fourth-down shot at the end zone where he might have been interfered with (but there was no call).

- The Jets really should bring tight end Chris Herndon back next season, even though that wouldn't be a popular move. Yes, he's been their biggest disappointment, as he showed when he dropped a second quarter pass right in his hands on Sunday. But he also has talent, as he showed when he made a leaping, 26-yard catch later in the quarter and another leaping touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. He'll be in the final year of his rookie contract so he won't cost much, and he clearly has some ability. Maybe a new coaching staff can find a way to get it out of him. Sure, it looks like none of the hype about him was justified. But it's not that expensive to take another look at him, even if it's just in camp.

- Sam Ficken returned from his groin injury and promptly missed two extra points. Not a good look considering his replacement, Sergio Castillo, was 6 for 7 on field goals and made all four of his extra points while he was out. Ficken was 9 of 10 on field goals and perfect on extra points before he was hurt, so his job may not be in immediate danger. But the Jets didn't cut Castillo when Ficken returned, so they might have a decision to make.

- Flacco (15 of 30, 205 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception) did not look comfortable at all this game, starting from the very beginning when he threw a quick pick-six to Chargers CB Tevaughn Campbell when he was backed up at his own 2 and trying to throw a quick out to Crowder. He started to get some results in the second half when Loggains started to let him throw deep, which is Flacco's strength. The Jets probably should've opened the offense up sooner.

- The Jets have had far more than their share of roughing-the-passer penalties this season, but it'll be hard to find a dumber one than the one committed by DT Nathan Shepherd in the first half. Herbert slid, got up, and was already looking to his sideline when Shepherd rushed in and shoved him to the ground. Just inexcusable and it continues to show the startling lack of discipline for this Jets defense.

- Stunning and disappointing decision by Gase to punt on a 4th and 10 from the Chargers 39 in the second quarter. They are 0-10. Would it really kill them to be a little aggressive? What could they possibly have to lose at this point? It didn't seem like it would matter at the time, but one more scoring drive could've been big in the end.