ORCHARD PARK — Well, that was something
And, yes: maybe the first Monday of football season is the home office for overreaction, and maybe teams that look like Super Bowl shoo-ins in Week 1 aren’t always as good as they seem, and maybe teams that look like tomato cans in Week 1 don’t always follow the pathway to Palookaville.
But the Jets sure look like one awful football team. You can qualify that anyway you like — no preseason games, road opener against a division favorite, lots of moving parts all trying to work themselves onto the same page. And that’s fine. And maybe that makes you feel a little bit better in the wake of this 27-17 loss to the Bills.
(Feel-good mantra: IT COULDA BEEN WORSE!)
“We just really did not play well,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. “It’s disappointing. Watching the guys work all week, the excitement all week …”
His voice trailed off. He shook his head.
“We’ve got a lot to work on,” he said. “We’ve got a lot that’s got to get fixed.”
A lot to get fixed? The Jets, right now, are a football jalopy: a calamity on offense, a catastrophe on defense. The foundational hope, quarterback Sam Darnold, regressed so much it was like he was playing this game in reverse. The defense, though feisty, is severely undermanned and profoundly overmatched.
Are we missing anything?
“No excuses,” Darnold said. “I have to be better.”
He does, there’s no question about that, or this season that already seemed destined for 5-11 or 6-10 is bound for something more closely resembling 2-14. But it would actually be better if the Jets could just write this off to the growing pains of a stagnating quarterback. This wasn’t that. This was far worse than that.
Think about it: the Jets lost by double digits — you lose by double digits in the NFL, that’s usually a pretty bad day at the office — and the immediate, instinctual response was: it sure felt worse than that. And there’s a reason for that: it was worse than that. It was way worse than that.
Consider: Josh Allen, who otherwise had his way with the Jets defense (302 yards passing, 57 rushing, three touchdowns total) gifted them a couple of fumbles deep in Jets territory. Tyler Bass missed two short field goal attempts. It doesn’t take an awful lot of imagination for 27-17 to become 47-17.
Which would have been a far more representative score for how dreadful the Jets played, with rare exception, on both sides of the ball, for the full 60 minutes.
(Feel-good mantra: IT’S JUST ONE GAME!)
“There’s just so much for us to clean up,” Gase said. “It was a rough game. We didn’t play well enough. We have to get stuff fixed in a short period of time.”
Lucky for the Jets, they get to play at home next Sunday. Less lucky is the opponent: the San Francisco 49ers, who played in the Super Bowl last February and looked, for about 50 of the 60 minutes of that game, like they were going to go home with the Lombardi Trophy. The easy way to describe the 49ers is this way: they’re like the Bills, only probably about 30 percent better. Both sides. All ways.
“Losing sucks,” Darnold says. “No matter who it is.”
But there is losing and then there is losing. Sixteen teams will lose this week and will feel like the sky is falling because that’s what Week 1 overreacting is all about. We can assume there isn’t a lot of Zen going on in Philadelphia on Monday morning, or in Minneapolis, or in Cleveland. Atlanta could probably feel better about itself, and so could Carolina …
(… although old friend Robby Anderson probably feels pretty good about his 75-yard touchdown catch against the Vegas Raiders …)
But most of those cities really are overreacting. Our city — or at least the green half of it? What you’re feeling isn’t an overreaction. If you’re feeling anything other than numb, actually, it probably is an accurate fear that as abysmal as you might have already thought this season would be …
Well, to quote Micheal Ray Richardson, when he was asked just how low things could get for the Knicks one year: “The sky’s the limit.”