Last week, I wrote a post called “3 things that could go wrong against the Jets.” Maybe instead I should have referenced the German television show Dark and titled it “5 Tage bis zur Apokalypse.”
5 days before the apocalypse.
I was curious if I’d get accused of “clickbait” for even suggesting that the Rams could fall at home to the Jets. I knew that virtually nobody in the world had picked New York to get their first win of the season on Sunday. To even give the Jets a bit of credit for being an NFL team seemed worthy of being accused of a new term: drivelbait. To drivel on about something that couldn’t possibly happen.
Now that same drivelbaiter may be accused of witchcraft.
The New York Jets entered SoFi Stadium at 0-13 with football fans saying that “they,” an imaginary single organism known as “the Jets” rather than dozens of individuals who all have more to gain with a win than any of them do with a loss, were even trying to lose on purpose each week for the highest of all draft picks in 2021. They left as a team that must not have tried hard enough.
Or they are just the NFL’s worst team, which makes them above all else, an NFL team.
Because of that, the Jets had every right to win on Sunday and then it happened, 23-20. There were a number of things I had concerns with headed into the game and I want to re-visit all three of those now that the unbelievable actually happened.
I mentioned on Tuesday that the LA Rams are one of only two teams to have turned the ball over in every game this season. Jared Goff’s second quarter interception to Bryce Hall continued that unwanted tradition. On the other side of the field, the New York Jets finished with zero turnovers, with Sam Darnold fumbling once but recovering.
The Rams are now 2-4 when they lose the turnover battle. They are 4-0 when they win the turnover battle but what’s more worrisome is that that’s only happened four times in 14 games.
The Rams and Broncos have both turned the ball over in all 14 games. No other team has done it more than 12 times.
My opinion on Goff’s interception: He was on a designed rollout to his right and there were no defenders near him. To throw it within reach of Hall, even if he made an impressive grab, displayed a poor decision and bad execution by Goff. He seemed to be exactly where Sean McVay would’ve wanted him: in space, nobody near him. But he didn’t get it in a spot where Robert Woods even had a chance. To excuse Goff for the pick would not track for me, but maybe someone has a different point of view on it.
2. Can’t run the football
I think we saw how important the running game continues to be in the NFL with Sunday’s upset. Frank Gore only finished with 59 yards on 23 attempts but he converted second-and-7 on the Jets final drive and then caught a six-yard pass on third-and-6 to seal the win. Gore converted a key third down on New York’s opening touchdown drive and then backup Ty Johnson caught said score.
Conversely, the Rams carried the ball 19 times for 114 yards, but 40 of those came on a single play by Woods; his only carry of the afternoon.
Cam Akers played well but it’s just as fair to say that the Rams “struggled” to run the football effectively when you account for the offensive line holding to break off some of those runs that were called back because of a penalty. LA ran the ball okay but during those key moments that might have won them the ballgame, the Jets defense didn’t prove easy to block.
3. Special teams errors
Johnny Hekker had a punt blocked for only the third time in his career and it led directly to three points. Same as Goff’s interception.
Then there was Nsimba Webster’s punt return. The 34-yard return seems like a good play on the surface, but ultimately I have to question why Webster chose to go right instead of left after he had run past 10 Jets and only had the punter left to beat. It seemed as though if Webster goes left, he scores. He went right, where there were actually two Jets, and was immediately brought down by punter Braden Mann.
The Rams turned the ball over on downs shortly later.
Any one of these plays could have helped LA avoid a loss, even if they wouldn’t have avoided the questions of how they could be evenly matched against the NFL’s worst team.