If Adam Gase is fired before this miserable season mercifully reaches its conclusion — and you have to wonder how much longer the Jets’ coach has after Thursday night’s 37-28 home loss to the lowly Broncos — defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has not exactly distinguished himself as a very inspiring interim replacement.
Because Williams’ defense is at least as culpable for the Jets’ 0-4 record as Gase’s unimaginative offense.
Williams’ defense allowed 37 points to a Broncos offense that was led by a second-year quarterback making his first career NFL start.
Williams’ defense made Brett Rypien look like his uncle, accomplished former Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien.
Williams’ defenses used to feast on young quarterbacks making their first NFL starts. Thursday night, Rypien looked like a veteran against the Jets defense, completing 19 of 31 for 242 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Broncos were successful on 6 of 11 third-down conversions.
Williams’ defense committed six penalties in the first half alone. Four of those were personal fouls and two of those were for roughing the passer.
As a cherry atop of the mound of steaming horse manure, the Jets defense added a crushing fifth personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter on the Broncos’ go-ahead drive when defensive tackle Quinnen Williams was called for a face mask on what would have been a sack of Rypien on third down moments after the Jets had taken a 28-27 lead.
Williams also had a roughing the passer penalty in the first half.
Pierre Desir, one of the Jets’ supposed top cornerbacks, had the weirdest of nights, getting burned all over the yard — twice for Rypien TD passes — but also picking off two passes, one of which he returned 35 yards for a score.
At the end of this latest Jets debacle, it was the defense that let the team down more than Gase’s offense.
Shame on the Jets defense — an undisciplined hot mess.
What is it about the Jets?
Someday — a long, long time from now — there will be a study, like one of those archaeological digs, examining the Jets and their perpetual propensity to tease and torture.
Thursday night’s loss at MetLife Stadium, which was eerily cavernous and empty because of COVID-19 restrictions, represented a microcosm of their calamity-checkered history.
There were some good things from the Jets, who had been noncompetitive in each of their three previous losses. At least they were competitive in this game. Give them a gold star.
On the Jets’ first possession, quarterback Sam Darnold delivered one of the most unexpected and electric plays he has produced in his three seasons with the team — a whirling-dervish 46-yard sort of scramble for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
It wasn’t Steve Young against the Vikings in 1988. It was more of an excuse-me scramble that initially looked as if Darnold were running for his life from a Broncos’ blitz after a missed block by running back Kalen Ballage, then looking to slide and secure a first down on the third-and-7 play.
But suddenly Darnold, in the open field, noticed no one was anywhere near him, so he kept running. On the play, Denver linebacker Alexander Johnson blitzed and whiffed.
Darnold spun out of a matador-like tackle attempt by Broncos safety Justin Simmons and was off to the races. At one point, it looked like he had spotted a safe place to slide with the first down secure, but no one was near him, so he kept going.
Broncos defensive end DeShawn Williams made a shoestring-tackle dive attempt, but Darnold left him face down on the new turf that the 49ers hate so much. Denver strong safety Kareem Jackson looked like he might have a chance at Darnold, but he appeared disinterested.
By the time the play was over, the 46 yards over which Darnold had rambled for the 7-0 lead represented the longest running play by an NFL quarterback this season. Not bad in a league in which Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and Cam Newton roam.
Considering Darnold entered the game with 233 career rushing yards and a 2.7-yard average, there was considerable shock value to the play —enough that it should have served as a spark for the rest of the team.
Except it didn’t.
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