After each game, we're going to highlight three defensive and three offensive players and look in detail at their performance. We'll wrap up today with the offense:
This game was supposed to showcase how the offense would run so much smoother with a veteran who knows what he's doing, as opposed to the rookie Sam Darnold, who has taken the blame for many of the offensive shortcomings this year.
However, while rust was probably a contributing factor, Josh McCown's disappointing display suggests that perhaps Darnold wasn't the problem. McCown was completely unable to get the ball down the field. In fact, his average depth of target for his 17 completions was less than 1.5 yards past the line of scrimmage.
Maybe that's all scheme related. Or maybe it was due to the pass catchers who - with Robby Anderson out - couldn't seem to get any separation and also dropped three passes. Or perhaps you could blame the offensive line, which not only allowed three sacks - although two were probably due to McCown holding the ball for too long - but also did nothing to prevent defensive players from batting down five of McCown's passes. Moreover, maybe these same excuses, which have been made on behalf of Darnold over the course of the season, carry more weight now.
What was disappointing was that McCown was unable to overcome these issues, ending up with just four yards per attempt and a completion percentage of 50 percent. He missed several throws you'd expect him to make and didn't read the situation well on either of his interceptions, especially the second one:
Darnold's status for the next game against New England remains in doubt, but if he plays that might be the last we see of McCown in a Jets uniform. After this week, though, the Jets might not be keen to put Darnold in a position to potentially suffer a blowout loss of his own.
Beast of Winters
In another disappointing performance from the offensive line, Brian Winters once again had another disappointing first half. He got beaten for a pressure and allowed three runs to be blown up, including one where he was stood up on third and short.
However, he came out of the locker room seemingly determined to play hard and made some good run blocks in the third quarter. On the Jets touchdown drive alone, Winters had three excellent run blocks and then added this nice one in the fourth quarter:
However, he otherwise didn't sustain his noticeable improvement in his level of play. He also allowed two double teams to be split, one leading to a sack, and was driven back for a pressure in the second half.
While it's encouraging that Winters was playing hard in the second half while others weren't - and it's nice to see some of the run blocking abilities he is capable of - this almost makes his performance this year more frustrating because the Jets are relying on him to elevate the line now he's healthy and he seems incapable of sustaining the level of play of which he's now revealed himself to be capable.
We'll be watching Winters closely over the remainder of the season to see if he will lead by example or just go through the motions, but he was the best of a bad bunch on Sunday.
Don't put the Carp before the horse
At the other end of the scale, James Carpenter had his roughest game of the year although you have to wonder if that's because he was having to keep half an eye on replacement center Jonotthan Harrison. The two games Harrison has started have been Carpenter's lowest graded games of the year per PFF.
Harrison was typically employed as the spare man in pass protection schemes, while Carpenter had issues picking up a few stunts, including one that led to a sack.
Other than a good block on Elijah McGuire's 13-yard fourth down conversion, Carpenter didn't contribute much in the running game either. He had a a few plays where he missed his block and this one saw his man shed his block and basically use Carpenter's own body to plug the running lane:
Carpenter has been inconsistent this year, but has had some pretty good games, so it may be premature to write him off as completely finished. He actually has been much better than he was last year and the year before in pass protection. Let's see if he can fare any better in the running game down the stretch though. If not, it might be time to look at some younger options.
PREVIOUSLY: 3-on-D: Johnson, Skrine, Pennel