Passing Attack Comes Alive Late
The Jets passing attack came to life in the second half in the team's 34-28 loss to the Chargers after totaling 21 yards in the first half. QB Joe Flacco led the offense on three consecutive scoring drives that started with a WR Breshad Perriman 49-yard touchdown to open the second half. On the Green & White's next possession, Denzel Mims led the charge with a 27-yard reception on the sideline, with CB Casey Hayward in coverage, and drew two penalties – illegal contact and pass interference. Frank Gore capped the 10-play, 75-yard drive with his first TD of the season.
"We were trying to [attack deep] in the first half," Head Coach Adam Gase said. "I think we called a couple plays, but the ball just didn't go down the field. They played a little softer on a couple things and we talked about it. We said how can we get these guys the ball and let them go make some plays."
Mims was again the primary receiver on the third Jets scoring drive and was responsible for 44 of the team's 75 yards. He led the team with 71 yards on 3 catches. Chris Herndon's first TD reception of the season cut the Chargers' lead, 34-26, to a one-score game.
"Any time that you have a guy who can go up and get it and have speed at the same time, you can tell those guys were trying to make sure he didn't get over the top," Gase said of Mims, who made his fourth NFL start Sunday. "He got behind them a couple times and there were a couple times where he had to box them out and go get it. Hopefully we can just keep developing that and find ways to get him the ball down the field."
Herndon added about his TD: "We kind of just called and once I saw the safety one-high, I figured I'd get a free release from the D-end, widen and try to do my best to stay away from the safety. Joe trusted me with the ball and threw it, and I did my best to come down with it."
Flacco, who threw for 30 yards in the first half, finished the game with 205 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT, and completed 50% of his pass attempts (15 of 30). The Jets converted 66% of their third-down conversions in the second half (4 of 6) after converting 20% in the first half (1 of 5).
"We thought we could run the ball early and kind of take some 'gimme' completions to move the chains and we just weren't able to do that," Flacco said. "We were shooting ourselves in the foot and not giving ourselves good chances. We just never got to the point like we did in the second half where we were able to get to some of our stuff to stretch the field a little bit and put some pressure on their secondary."
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Defense Struggles to Contain Herbert
The Jets secondary, which started a pair of rookies on the outside in Bryce Hall (fifth round) and Lamar Jackson (undrafted), and Arthur Maulet in the slot for Brian Poole (shoulder), had a difficult time containing the NFL's No. 4 offense.
Rookie QB Justin Herbert, who was selected No. 6 overall, threw for 366 yards and 3 TDs while completing 37-of-49 passes for a 116.5 rating. Herbert led LA to a 24-6 lead at the end of the first half and threw for 277 yards and 2 TDs. Keenan Allen, who entered Sunday's game fourth in the NFL with 65 receptions, was his go-to target and had 10 catches for 108 yards at the half. He finished with 16 receptions for 145 yards and 1 TD.
"We just have to get better," S Marcus Maye said. "I know we're young, but for the most part they did pretty good. Just continue to work on technique, polish up technique, get better at the top of the route, eliminate some of the penalties and they'll be all right."
Maye added: "I see some things that are promising. Bryce Hall had some plays where he looked very good and same as Lamar. Once those guys get some games under their belt, they'll be fine in this league."
Fast Start Cools Off
The Jets came out of the gate hot as DL Henry Anderson blocked a punt after the Chargers' opening drive, which was recovered by DL Quinnen Williams on LA's 29-yard line. Four plays later, RB La'Mical Perine, who exited the game with an ankle injury in the second half, put the Green & White ahead with a 5-yard TD.
"That was a good little play that our coordinator [Brant] Boyer drew up," Anderson said. "I just tried to get a good get-off there and take it upfield a few steps and swim back underneath. The guy who was trying to block me was quite a bit smaller than I am, so he kind of had to brace when I tried to run him over. When he braced, I just swam back inside and came free. That was something that Boyer saw on film and he did a good job putting that play in."
Herbert then drove the Chargers to the Jets' 15-yard line before Maye forced a fumble by Allen near the goal line. Allen and Maye collided midair on the 1-yard line as Allen was trying to score and fellow S Ashtyn Davis recovered at the 4. The Chargers, however, scored on the next play when CB Tevaughn Campbell intercepted a Flacco pass on the 6-yard line, and returned for a TD.
"It was a simple drag-slant and I kind of threw it flat-footed and way behind [Jamison] Crowder," Flacco said. "[Campbell] wasn't 10 yards deep dropping in the flat, he was kind of running with him. He had his eyes on the ball way before Crowder did. It was a really bad physical throw."
The Jets struggled to get their offense going after that and had 82 yards in the first half and went 1 of 5 on third down. Flacco threw for 30 yards and the team's wide receivers were held without a catch.