In a game of inches, quarterback Sam Darnold believes the Jets’ 17-16 loss to the Bills came down to minor details.
“I think there's definitely a lot of small things that we can correct and they're very fixable, which is a good thing,” Darnold said. “It's good to have that in Week 1. We let that one get away from us and we were real about that today in the locker room and in the team meeting. But again, it's just about staying where our feet are and right now.
“We're 0-1 and we're attacking Week 2.”
After watching the film Monday, the second-year signal-caller’s biggest takeaway was missed shots downfield.
“I think, for me and for our whole team, it's about hitting the big plays when they're there,” said Darnold, who threw for 175 yards and one touchdown while completing 68% of his passes. “We were dinking and dunking it a lot in the game, which is fine, we just have to hit the big plays. So, when those big plays are there to be made, we've got to make those plays and I've got to make the throws.”
The offense never seemed to find its rhythm as the group totaled 223 yards. Its longest play was on a 19-yard catch-and-run from Darnold to Jamison Crowder, who led the Jets with 14 receptions for 99 yards.
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The 22-year-old dialed up his vertical threat, Robby Anderson, on three different occasions, but the duo failed to connect. In the second quarter with the Jets up 6-0, Darnold fired a ball into the end zone intended for Anderson, but Bills CB Taron Johnson made a nice last-second play to knock the ball out of Anderson’s hands. In the fourth quarter down 17-16, Darnold underthrew Anderson, who was streaking down the left sideline, which gave CB Levi Wallace enough time to recover and break up the pass. Two plays later, the USC product went to No. 11 a third time, but the ball fell just past Anderson’s hands.
“I think, for me, just inaccurate balls,” Darnold said. “I've got to be better and I will be. There's just no excuse for it. I've just got to be better and more accurate.”
Head coach Adam Gase added, “Just missed opportunity. Missed opportunity on the down-the-field throws, the details of a lot of the route stuff, some of the stuff that we were reading, we made some mistakes and they were fatal for us. We couldn't take advantage of the opportunities we had and if we would’ve, we would’ve had a different outcome. But that's every game.”
Even though both Darnold and Gase are perfectionists and lamented what could have been, they’re also in unison that the 6’3”, 225-pounder played better than they initially thought.
“There were a few things we have to correct in the back of the third quarter, early fourth quarter, but for the most part he did a lot of really good things,” Gase said. “We just have to clean a few things up which is to be expected, especially the first time out against that defense, but I was encouraged after watching the film. It felt different during the game, and after going back and watching it, I feel a lot better how he performed.”