The Jets defense didn't play a perfect game against Miami at MetLife Stadium today, but it was pretty good.
After putting some hits on rookie Justin Herbert at the Chargers a week ago, they continued with a season-high four sacks and nine hits on "old man" Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins. They held the 'Fins' to 149 second-half yards. They forced four fumbles for the first time since the 2015 opener against Cleveland. They recovered fumbles on back-to-back opponent possessions for the first time since 2017 at New Orleans.
It seemed like it was for naught in the Jets' 20-3 loss. But two defensive stalwarts said they would keep the faith in the Green & White that couldn't capitalize on its best starting field position of the season.
"The way we play with Gregg [Williams, Jets defensive coordinator], the way he's got us coached up, we just go out there and play," LB Jordan Jenkins said. "It's just one factor Gregg likes to eliminate from the game. Don't worry about what's outside of your control. Just go out there and play."
"It's not really frustrating," DL Quinnen Williams said. "You've just got to go out there and do your job. Honestly, man, we don't play offense. We can't do the things those guys do. ... I can't really say anything about the offensive side, but the best thing I can do to put this team into a win is to execute my job, do my job."
Williams executed his job quite noticeably and well, as he's been doing lately. He split a zero-yard sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick with Jenkins in the second quarter, then got credit for a whole sack of Fitzpatrick in the third frame. He swatted down two passes behind the line.
Later in the third quarter, "Q" crunched RB Matt Breida, who coughed up the first of the aforementioned fumbles, with LB Harvey Langi recovering at the Dolphins 45. The offense went 3-and-out after that takeaway.
So the defense did it again the very next possession, with Jenkins separating RB Patrick Laird from the ball and LB Neville Hewitt scooping the ball up at the 'Fins 43 and weaving his way to the 26. This time the offense went 4-and-out, with the final play a Miami defensive rejection of Frank Gore on a fourth-and1 carry for a yard loss.
Loss No. 11 was on more than just the offense's shoulders, of course. The defense yielded 88- and 80-yard drives to a pair of Fitzpatrick touchdown passes. Sergio Castillo, kicking again for Sam Ficken, placed on IR during the week, missed a 29-yard field goal to end the first half. But a few offensive players offered some pigskin apologies for the failure to put more than a field goal on the board.
"I feel bad for our defense, personally," C Connor McGovern said. "We let them down as an offense today."
"You know, I've got to be better," QB Sam Darnold said after his first start in four weeks, including the bye. "We didn't play well enough to win a ballgame today."
The D said in effect, no problem, we weren't perfect either, and you'll pick us up next time.
"Honestly, we've just got to go look at some of the 50/50 balls we didn't get," Jenkins said. "Then look at some of the gap hits where we did well and some of the gap hits where we didn't do well. And we have to try to get it fixed and go out on a bright note."
A bright note is getting to be a dimmer and dimmer prospect with the Jets' final five games coming against the Raiders (now 6-5), followed by a game at the Seahawks (7-3), then back to SoFi Stadium for the Rams (7-3), their final home game against the Browns (8-3), and the season finale at the Patriots (5-6). How will they find that gleam late this season?
"Just learning from your mistakes, things you did wrong. Take what you did today and move forward," Williams said. "I feel like for me and the rest of the defense, we're going to take what we did good and capitalize on that, and take what we did bad and make it better."