Jets Get Off to Familiar Troublesome Start in Loss to Bills

Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets hands the ball off to Frank Gore #21
Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Jets coach Adam Gase was reminded during the week about how — his word — “atrocious” New York’s offense was a year ago in leading up to their season opener at the Buffalo Bills.

On Sunday, all the troubles Gase expected to be corrected were again vividly evident in a 27-17 loss that didn’t reflect how lopsided the game actuallywas.

Sam Darnold completed four of his first 10 attempts for 22 yards. The Jets combined for one first down and 27 net yards offense on their first five possessions, and trailed 21-0 before the game was 25 minutes old.

If not for the defense forcing Bills quarterback Josh Allen to lose two fumbles — both inside Jets territory — in the first half, the outcome could have been worse.

“It was about as bad of a start offensively as we could’ve had,” Gase said.

“We didn’t do anything after the defense got us a turnover. Complementary football was non-existent throughout most of the game,” he added. "We just really did not play well.”

New York resembled the team that opened 1-7 last season — a stretch that began with the Jets squandering a 16-0 lead at home in a 17-16 loss to the Bills — as opposed to the one that closed 6-2, including a season-ending 13-6 win at Buffalo in a game the playoff-bound Bills rested most of their starters.

The Jets’ new-look offensive line, featuring new starters at each position from Week 1 of last year, didn’t hold up in giving up three sacks. It didn’t help that rookie receiver Denzel Mims couldn’t play due to a hamstring injury. And New York’s running attack continued to be stuck in neutral, managing 52 yards rushing and finishing the game without Le’Veon Bell, who hurt his hamstring in the first half.

The focus of concern remains on Gase, who opened the season on the hot seat, and Darnold, the 2017 first-round draft pick who showed few signs of development in finishing 21 of 35 for 215 yards with a touchdown and ill-advised interception. Pinned deep in his own end, Darnold ran to his left, and lobbed the ball across his body, back into the middle of the field in being easily picked off by leaping linebacker Matt Milano.

“It’s a bad play. It’s inexcusable,” said Darnold, who is coming off a season in which he opened throwing six touchdowns and nine interceptions in his first five outings, compared to 13 TDs and four INTs in his last eight.

Darnold was struggling well before that, with many of his initial throws sailing wide or off receivers’ fingers.

“I just flat-out missed guys, and that’s on me,” he added. “I’ve got to be better.”

The lone bright spot on offense was Jamison Crowder, who had seven catches for 115 yards. He scored on a 69-yard catch and run up the right side sideline off a screen pass that briefly cut Buffalo’s lead to 21-10 with 5:10 left in the third quarter.

The Jets' troubles weren’t just limited to their offense, with the Gregg Williams-coached defensive secondary getting picked apart. Josh Allen went 33 of 46 for 312 yards in becoming the Bills first player to top 300 yards passing since Tyrod Taylor had 329 in an overtime loss to Miami on Dec. 24, 2016.

Rather than test New York’s stout run defense, Allen came out throwing against a defensive secondary that lost star safety Jamal Adams, who forced his trade to Seattle this summer.

“We’ve just got to contain him,” said safety Marcus Maye, whose missed tackle in the backfield led to Allen’s 15-yard run to set up Buffalo’s second touchdown. “We’ve got to just get him down when we get to him.”

Allen finished with a team-best 57 yards rushing, and scored on a 2-yard bootleg, as the Jets gave up 81 yards rushing.

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