The Jets had a rocky time of it in the Mountain West on Sunday, dropping a 26-0 decision to the Broncos in Denver. The Green & White exit September without a win at 0-3 while the Broncos moved to 3-0 and kept pace with the Raiders atop the AFC West.
Another Early Hole
For the third consecutive week, the Jets found themselves in a double-digit hole in the first half. The deficit was 17-0 after 30 minutes and the total yardage discrepancy was 198 to 55.
Rookie RB Javonte Williams had a 1-yard TD in the first quarter and K Brandon McManus added a 45-yard early in the second, putting the Broncos up, 10-0. The Jets defense, which entered the game ranked No. 3 on third down, were beaten on a blitz before Williams' score as QB Teddy Bridgewater connected to K.J. Hamler for a 28-yard gain on a third-and-9 from midfield. But the Jets forced the McManus kick when Bridgewater threw incomplete over a well-covered TE Noah Fant.
"Everything in this league that you go through is a lesson," CB Bryce Hall said. "In our minds, we can't feel sorry for ourselves. It's hard to come out here, put all the work in and come up short. But we're going to learn from this, grow from this and by no means are we discouraged and throw in the towel. I know the group of guys that we have and we're going to keep battling back and do whatever it takes to come out and continue to grow and be better."
As they've done throughout the first three games, the defense kept the Jets in the game while the offense stayed in neutral. The Jets held the Broncos to just 1 of- 4 (25%) on third down in the first half and veterans C.J. Mosley (6) and Marcus Maye (4) combined for 10 tackles in the first two quarters. Mosley continues to impress, registering a team-high 10 tackles.
"We all have to look in the mirror and find a way to play better on Sunday because during the week, the execution is very high," head coach Robert Saleh said. "We have to find a way to bring it to Sunday and execute at a high level that we're practicing at. Otherwise, these games are going to happen."
Sequences Symbolic of Young Team
Rookie QB Zach Wilson, coming off a 4 INT effort against the Patriots, protected the ball in the first half. Completing short passes, Wilson went 8 of 13 for 42 yards while being sacked 3 times. He somehow held onto the ball when Von Miller got a step by RT Morgan Moses and racked up his fourth sack of the year.
The Jets, who have been outscored by 46-3 in the first half, were trailing by 10-0 and had a second-and-8 from the Denver 33. The Broncos swallowed up Michael Carter for a 5-yard loss and then Wilson escaped pressured on third down and nearly connected with Corey Davis for a long gain down the field. Rookie Patrick Surtain harassed Davis and was credited with a pass deflection. The Jets appeared to cut it to a one-possession game when K Matt Ammendola nailed a 56-yarder. But they didn't get the play off in time and Saleh elected to punt on the ensuing snap instead of attempting a 61-yard field goal.
"It's tough, man," Wilson said. "We know there's going to be ups and downs. It's a tough situation for us right now, but you have to remain confident and you have to go in each week and think how can I get better. You have to understand that we're close. It's the little things and we have to have each other's back, ignore what everyone is saying and just keep our room tight. Just keep that confidence high."
Saleh added: "I don't want to sugar coat anything, but Zach had his best week of practice. He really did. He's just got to stick to it and trust the process. At the same time everyone has to pitch in. It's a collective effort."
Later in the half, rookie CB Brandin Echols was flagged for pass interference as he got too handsy with wideout Courtland Sutton. That came on third-and-10 and set the Broncos up from the 1 and RB Melvin Gordon cashed in from there.
"We all know what we need to do," said DT Folorunso Fatukasi, one of five team captains. "Look, we lost. Credit to Denver for coming out here and competing hard. We have to buckle down on our details and the things that we need to fix and come out here and start executing our plan. It's really as simple as that. We all know it's Sunday. We're all competing and it's hard to win. Once we buckle down on the details and the things we need to get done, we could find ourselves in a better position."
Quinnen Williams on the Board
After racking up 7 sacks last season in 13 games, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams had offseason foot surgery and missed all of the spring workouts and most of training camp. Williams, who lost 16 pounds of body fat and replaced it with muscle, recorded 1.5 sacks of Bridgewater on Sunday. He had a solo sack in the first half and then ended up splitting a sack with Bryce Huff in the third quarter. That takedown forced McManus' 47-yard kick, which made the score 20-0.
"Really the fight of this team, that goes to show you the guys that we have," Williams said. "The things that we do good, you see what happens, the things we do bad, you also see what happens. The strength of this defense is execution. If all 11 of us execute on the same exact page to the best of our ability, I feel like we're one of the best defenses in the country. But if we have nine people doing the right thing and two people making mistakes, you're an average defense in the country. We definitely have to go back and look at the film and correct different stuff. Not just correct it, but make sure it never happens again."
Linebacker Quincy Williams, Quinnen's older brother, prevented points with a pop on Williams late in the fourth. The loose change was scooped up by Del'Shawn Phillips, turning the Broncos away in the fourth after Bridgewater's 31-yard pass to Tim Patrick had given Denver a 1st-and-goal from the 1.
"Playing hard with great effort is not going to cut it," Saleh said. "It's effort, technique and violent play. Offense, defense, special teams, everyone is operating at a high level, a precise level. But we're missing parts right now and have to get it fixed, and quick."
See Best Images from the Week 3 Matchup in Denver
Rookie QB Zach Wilson finished 19 of 35 for 160 yards with 2 INT. Wilson had 22- and 23-yard completions to Braxton Berrios and Keelan Cole in the second half, but Wilson threw late to Corey Davis and S Justin Simmons stepped in front of his 28th pass. The Simmons pick was Wilson's sixth INT through three games. He was under consistent pressure and sacked 5 times. Berrioswasn't able to hang onto his final throw and RCaden Sterns cemented the shutout with Denver's second INT. … Teddy Bridgewater was outstanding for the Broncos, hitting on 76% of his passes for 235 yards. … The Jets were without veteran WR Jamison Crowder (groin) for the third straight week. WR Denzel Mims, RB La'Mical Perine, DT Johnathan Marshall and RB Tevin Coleman (non-COVID illness) rounded out the inactives. … RB Josh Adams and rookie CB Jason Pinnock were both active for the first time in 2021. … Rookie LB Jamien Sherwood (foot) returned to the lineup but LB Quincy Williams got the start. … Brandin Echols started on the outside at CB but rotated with Javelin Guidry. … The Jets were flagged for three penalties on special teams and had eight penalties marked off against them for 89 yards. …TE Tyler Kroft (chest) left the game in the third quarter and did not return. … LB Del'Shawn Phillips partially blocked a punt that resulted in 26 yards.