Monday evening’s game started with fireworks, a massive American flag and a salute to the first responders who look after the New York Jets faithful, but it ended with a stadium all but empty before the fourth quarter finished as many of the home fans couldn’t stomach any more of what they had witnessed.
This was supposed to be the triumphant home opener for a Jets team bursting with early-season promise. Yet, already 0-2, the campaign looks a bust before it has really begun.
Le’Veon Bell was given a huge reception, introduced to the home crowd as the teams came out. He has an impressive night against the Cleveland Browns – finishing with 129 yards from 21 carries and 10 catches – but he had to.
Earlier in the week, second-year quarterback Sam Darnold was ruled out with glandular fever, potentially keeping him out until week six after their bye when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
All signs point to them welcoming back their franchise QB with an 0-4 record.
Trevor Siemian, the former Denver Broncos and Minnesota Viking, started under centre, but only managed to complete three of his six pass attempts before he was carted off with a leg injury after a late hit by Myles Garrett.
The crowd’s anticipation of a good night had already vanished into the Jersey night sky.
Adam Gase had failed to get the offence going. Managing to advance just nine yards in two drives in the first quarter. The second didn’t look much better until Garrett was flagged for roughing the passer.
The 15-yard penalty gave the Jets their opening first down of the evening.
Siemian couldn’t return and his injury meant the introduction of Luke Falk. The Washington State QB was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the sixth round in 2018. Waived after preseason, then picked up by Gase and the Dolphins before being waived again.
Now, here he was taking his first NFL snaps on Monday Night Football only days after being added to the main roster.
The three English spectators sat behind me were struggling to keep up with what was going on with the quarterbacks and even more so when what sounded like booing emerged from the home crowd.
“Luuuuuke” was the chant and a somewhat sarcastic optimism filled the stands. Maybe Falk would be their accidental hero.
*Narrators voice* He wasn’t.
Playing it safe, the Jets ran the ball with Bell until they could safely finish the first half only 16-3 down – three field goals and a Nick Chubb run the difference at the break.
With time to talk to his QB and try and set up some plays, the second half was better if not spectacular. A 35-yard catch from Robbie Anderson gained the crowd’s interested. Falk showing with time he could make difficult passes.
That hope was killed when on fourth down, his pass to Bell failed to pick up the first down and with the very next play Baker Mayfield hit Odell Beckham Jr on a slant route for a 89-yard touchdown.
Jets fans can’t help but feel a little cursed. At least they didn’t trade away OBJ, but he was back in his old stadium pulling off the longest touchdown of his career.
In week one they were beaten by the Buffalo Bills, a divisional rival, after being 14-0 up.
To then lose your star quarterback to a kissing disease, it’s a script Hollywood itself would be proud of.
This was meant to be the year the Jets pushed for a playoff place. They traded four draft picks to the Indianapolis Colts last year in order to move up for Sam Darnold. Now, they’ve already been beaten by the ever-improving Josh Allen and watched on as Lamar Jackson becomes the talk of the NFL.
Success for NYC sport teams is as rare as a Premier League trophy at Anfield, but the Jets must feel like a curse has been put on them. Eli and the Giants were expected to be bad. It was not meant to be like this for the green side.
To make matters worse, just hours after the game, star safety Jamal Adams unfollowed the Jets on social media and removed them from his bio, sparking rumours he wants out. When you look around MetLife Stadium, Adams is one of the poster boys and his jersey is as popular as Darnold and Bell. The Jets don’t need any more ‘outside noise‘
Falk’s finishing numbers weren’t bad. 20 completions from 25 attempts for 198 yards, but the majority came in garbage time and at no point did he look like threatening the Browns end zone.
Week three doesn’t get any easier as they travel to Foxborough to take on the 2-0 Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Not to mention a New England defence who scored two touchdowns and managed seven sacks against the Dolphins.
Barring a miracle, the Jets will be 0-3 before Darnold returns. The playoffs look further away than ever before.
Monday night against the Browns was a repeat of the first ever Monday Night Football game and despite being one of the biggest losing teams in the NFL over the past few years, you could feel the swagger emanating from the Dawg Pound as they traveled on the train from NYC to the Meadowlands.
They have a swagger which the Jets can only dream of right now. Adam Gase and his team are nowhere near taking flight.
Until they can fix the offensive line – giving up four sacks and a lot of pressure on Monday – and get key additions like C.J Mosley and Darnold back, the Jets will be grounded for the foreseeable future.