There are many things that have become trademarks of the Todd Bowles era. One big one is that the Jets simply never learned how to finish games.
And that’s exactly what happened to them in Tennessee on Sunday afternoon.
They fought hard and played a gritty game all day, building a 16-point first-half lead and still leading by nine points heading into the fourth quarter. Then they melted down on both sides of the ball and lost their sixth straight game, 26-22 to the Titans.
The fourth quarter was simply a mess. They were out-gained 198-52 in the fourth. The Jets offense went three-and-out on three of their five drives. They picked up one first down and their final, desperation drive ended with an interception on the second play.
The Titans, meanwhile, scored 13 points in the fourth quarter. And they scored a touchdown on a drive that included two killer Jets penalties — an illegal use of hands penalty on Jordan Jenkins that negated a sack and a face mask penalty on Trumaine Johnson that helped push the Titans to the edge of field goal range at the Jets 39.
That’s another staple of the Bowles era: poorly timed penalties. The Jets had 11 penalties in this game for 96 yards.
All in all, it was another advertisement for why the Jets have no choice but to make a coaching change at the end of the season. Games like this have been all too common during Bowles’ reign. And the offense has just turned into something atrocious — 280 yards and no offensive touchdowns.
It’s all ugly, and it’s getting to the point where it has to end.
Here are some other takeaways from the loss that left the Jets at 3-9:
- There was some good in this mess. The Jets special teams had an absolutely tremendous day, one of their best days in a long time. They got a blocked punt from LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, a blocked extra point from DE Henry Anderson and a 61-yard kickoff return by Andre Roberts. On top of that, they got five field goals by Jason Myers, including a 54-yarder. Myers at times has been the best thing about the Jets this year.
- Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates had another really bizarre — and bad — day calling plays. Granted, he doesn’t have much to work with, but there’s no creativity or consistency in his game plans. His two plays worst were essentially give-up plays where he was obviously settling for a field goal. At the end of the first half, the Jets had a third-and-18 and he called a draw. And in the third quarter, the Jets got to the red zone and then had a third-and-14 from the Titans 21 and he called a receiver screen (that was dropped). Why not be a little aggressive and at least take a shot at the end zone or a first down?
- Give Bates credit for this: He stuck with a Jets running game that wasn’t working very well at the beginning, and it ended up doing pretty well. Isaiah Crowell finished with 21 carries for 98 yards and the Jets ran for a total of 156. That’s the smart play for a team starting its backup quarterback and with very few weapons in the passing game. Their attack ended up pretty balanced — 33 runs, 32 passes.
- On consecutive drives in the fourth quarter, the Jets got beat deep on passes from Marcus Mariota to Taywan Taylor, but they were still able to hold the Titans to field goals each time. Those were huge, obviously, but a sign that the Jets’ defense was beginning to wear down, which was evident on the game-winning touchdown drive.
- The Jets had three sacks, which feels like a small miracle considering their pass rush was awful, as usual. They just can’t sustain any rush on opposing quarterbacks at all.
- Veteran Josh McCown had another ugly game, completing just 17 of 30 passes for 128 yards and an interception. He couldn’t get Quincy Enunwa involved (six targets, two catches) and oddly didn’t even attempt a pass to Jermaine Kearse. There really is no point at all in rolling the 39-year-old McCown out there. Rookie Sam Darnold is expected to be ready for the trip to Buffalo next Sunday, but if he’s not then at this point they might as well get a look at third-stringer Davis Webb.