EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Call them the Same New Jets.
The New York Jets have a new coach, a new general manager and pretty much a new everything, but their collapse Sunday was straight out of 2018, when they blew four fourth-quarter leads. Despite a plus-three turnover margin, they lost a game that was almost impossible to lose, falling to the Buffalo Bills, 17-16, after leading 16-0 in the third quarter. They fell apart in all phases. Couldn’t get a stop on defense. Couldn’t make a kick. Couldn’t throw downfield. It was a brutal way to open the season.
Describe the game in two words: Choke job. They lacked a killer instinct, especially on offense. There was no aggressiveness and no imagination.
Buy on a breakout performance: Le’Veon Bell scored a touchdown, a 2-point conversion and produced 92 total yards from scrimmage in his Jets debut, his first game in 20 months. Bell played the entire game, which is pretty impressive. He showed little rust, and was particularly effective in the passing game. He scored on a 9-yard catch and made a terrific grab on a 2-point conversion.
Troubling trend: The Jets have a kicking crisis. Kaare Vedvik, their third kicker since the start of training camp, missed an extra point and a 45-yard field goal, basically costing the Jets the game. Blame the front offices (past and present) for this debacle. It has been a kicking carousel since the start of training camp, and they settled for the slumping Vedvik on waivers last week. Former GM Mike Maccagnan should’ve re-signed Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers in March, but the Jets low-balled him and he signed with the Seattle Seahawks. Think they’d be willing to take a mulligan on that decision? You bet.
Biggest hole in the game plan: The Jets failed to adjust without star middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, who went out in the third quarter with a groin injury. Without him, the defense was out of sync and allowed 17 unanswered points. Mosley was huge in his Jets’ debut, scoring on an interception return and recovering a fumble. The defense was fantastic in the first half, creating four takeaways. They crumbled without their defensive signal caller.
Bold prediction for next week: The Jets will have a new kicker. They can’t continue with Vedvik, whose confidence has to be shot.
QB Breakdown: It was a disappointing debut for Sam Darnold, who was under pressure a lot and couldn’t establish a downfield passing attack. He missed a wide-open Robby Anderson in the fourth quarter for what would’ve been a go-ahead touchdown. He struggled to get the ball to Anderson and Quincy Enunwa. It was all Bell and Jamison Crowder.