This was supposed to be a great reunion for the Jets offense. Not even a reunion — make that an introduction, between the starting quarterback and his three starting wide receivers. The four had never played together in a Jets game this season until today at MetLife Stadium against Miami.
There were flashes and sparks from the gathering but nothing sustainable. Darnold struggled to find continuity and orchestrate scoring drives and the Jets offense for the second time this season didn't score a touchdown against the Dolphins in their 20-3 loss.
"I feel like there were different times when they were doubling different guys on the field," Darnold said of the Miami defense. "I felt like when those three guys had the chance to create separation, they did that. I missed a couple of throws out there and made two bad decisions which led to those two picks."
"The flow of the game felt one way in the first half," Head Coach Adam Gase said of the offense's struggles. "We had an opportunity on one drive, then we had a drop and we sputtered after that. There were a couple of plays here and there but nothing where we sustained drives."
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Gase felt that Darnold was "throwing the ball well, but it's a tough secondary to go against. Those corners are tough. They do a good job of mixing up their fronts. We just didn't take advantage of any opportunities. There was a very small window of error."
The good thing is that the big-play dimension was still there. Perriman got started early with a 37-yard grab to convert a third down to the Miami 18. Late in the opening period, Mims made a 19-yard play, then added a 30-yard catch-and-run late in the second quarter. Perriman came back with a 27-yard play in the third frame to the 'Fins 34.
Jamison Crowder, after being the focus of the Patriots and Chargers game plans, came back a little bit toward his hot start with three catches for 31 yards. In all, the threesome totaled 11 catches for 177 yards at 16.1 yards/catch.
But Darnold admitted he probably tried to force the ball to Crowder in a place he shouldn't have that resulted in Miami CB Nik Needham's interception on third down at the Miami 22.
"I thought he was going to break in. We talked about it on the sideline," the QB said, adding of trying to make something happen with the throw, "If I just put it to the sideline, we're not talking about it now, we're good."
Then as Gase noted, the Dolphins secondary is difficult to crack. Case in point: Xavien Howard had the second Sam pick and three pass defenses in all, with one coming on a Mims longball at the goal line. Mims had been making fairly spectacular catches on balls in the air the past three games and he now has five 20-yards-plus catches in his five games. But he couldn't get his hands on that pass as Howard deflected it to the end zone turf.
"We've got to watch the tape. We've got to get better," Darnold said, who will get another full week of practice followed by his second game with his three starting wideouts next week against the Raiders. "After that, we'll take a look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what can we do better individually and what can we do better as a team."