JACKSONVILLE – Jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser each week during the 2019 regular season will speak with a writer or media member covering the Jaguars' opponent.
Up this week:
Jets senior reporter and team insider Eric Allen on the Jets as they enter Sunday's game against the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Question: The Jets are 1-5 and lost to the New England Patriots, 33-0, on Monday Night Football this past week. Assess the Jets as they prepare for the Jaguars.
Answer: The best way to answer is there is a lot of new within the organization. You've hired a new head coach in Adam Gase, then in June you followed that by getting a new general manager in Joe Douglas. You're installing new systems, and you have a new defensive coordinator in Gregg Williams. I think the Jets have faced more adversity through seven weeks than any team in the NFL. This is a team that played four different quarterbacks in the first quarter of the season. When we saw the Jets as a whole piece in Week 1 against the Bills, they had a 16-0 lead in the third quarter. Your star inside linebacker – C.J. Mosley – went down late in that game with a groin injury, then it was found out two days later that starting quarterback Sam Darnold wasn't feeling well during that game and he was diagnosed with mono. It was a complete period of adjustment. Darnold and Gase seemed to work very well together throughout the spring and summer, then you go to a backup quarterback Trevor Siemian that you lost [to season-ending ankle injury] in Week 2, so you played most of your reps at quarterback throughout the first quarter of the season with Luke Falk – who's not on the roster and who started the regular season as your practice-squad quarterback. You were unable to get a fair gauge of what this team was because offensively they had nothing to hang your hat on; teams were just loading the box and taking away Le'Veon Bell and daring them to beat them down the field.
Q: Take me through the last couple of weeks, since Darnold's return …
A: You got a shot in the arm with Darnold's return against the [Dallas] Cowboys (a 24-22 Jets victory on October 13), and the team felt very good about itself. They beat a talented Cowboys team and the offense got moving for the first time this season. Then, Monday night came and you got Mosley back. A lot of people thought, 'OK, the Jets are finally starting to be whole on both sides of the ball,' but they were completely dominated in every phase of the game against the Patriots.
Q:Does Monday's loss make the Jaguars game important for the Jets? How big of a test is it to bounce back from Monday?
A:It's a monster test. You just played in front of a nationally-televised audience and the Patriots are always the barometer. Now, you're facing a Jacksonville team that plays very good defensive football. Darnold just had his toughest outing as a pro with a career-high five turnovers. In one respect it's great that it's a short week – and it's also good for this team to be not playing at MetLife Stadium because right now it's a frustrated fan base.
Q:Darnold struggled against the Patriots, throwing four interceptions. Setting that game aside, where is the second-year veteran in terms of development?
A: He's a tremendous athlete and has a great demeanor. He's calm on the exterior, but very fiery in terms of how he competes. He can make plays in and outside the pocket, and when chaos develops around him, we've seen him buy time and keep his eyes down the field and unleash balls at different arm angles. What you saw from Darnold against the Patriots will be the challenge for Adam Gase and the coaching staff moving forward because he's such a great athlete – and what we saw against the Patriots was a guy who was not set all the time and throwing off his back foot and not seeing the field very well. I don't think we can make declarative statements about what Darnold is based on what he did against the Patriots just like we can't make declarative statements based on how great he looked against the Cowboys. I would anticipate he'll get his mind right after this game and the Jets will move on. But as Gase said after the game, people are going to study this tape and they are going to attack much the same way as the Patriots did until they fix it.
Q:What will be the Jets' formula for winning? How does this team get right?
A: That's an awesome question, because I really don't think we know the answer. The Jets have one win. In that game, Darnold threw for 338 yards. I would make the argument that the two best Jets players this season have been Bell and [safety] Jamal Adams. If you look at Bell's numbers, he's just having a pedestrian season. Teams just loaded the box through the first quarter of the season. He has no room to run. It's going to be interesting to see how this offense continues to develop. In a perfect world, you would have balance because what you want is to have success in the passing game so that box could lighten up for Bell.
A:This team stops the run well. They have a deep defensive line rotation and two very good safeties. They had some success turning people over early in the season. That did not happen against the Patriots. The strength of this team defensively is the line rotation, and then coordinator Gregg Williams is going to try to get after the quarterback.
Q:What do the Jets have to do in the final 10 games to make this season a success?
A: What you want to see is progress from the young franchise quarterback. It would be nice to say, 'OK, you're going to get yourself into contention down the stretch,' but at 1-5 odds are against a miraculous run. You want to win some ball games. You want to start seeing chemistry on the field and Adam Gase getting a good feel for his personnel offensively and the Jets establishing more of rhythm. Offensive rhythm has not been here for most of this season. Defensively, can you get to the quarterback a little more? You can't look at this season in terms of wins and losses. You have to see progress on the field. This team doesn't have an identity right now because of who was out of the lineup. You want to see that develop, who you are and what you can do to. You have to look at it in terms of progress.