October 11, 2020 | 7:37pm
Three plays on Sunday provided perfect metaphors for the Jets 2020 season.
- The most egregious (and insulting) of the three came in the third quarter of the Jets’ 30-10 loss to the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium.
They’d just cut the Arizona lead to 17-10 and the Cardinals faced a fourth-and-1 from their own 39-yard line … and they went for it.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, sucking the Jets defense in with a play-action fake, floated a pass to tight end Darrell Daniels for a 31-yard gain. Six plays later, the Cardinals took a 24-10 lead and might as well have flipped Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams the bird along the way.
“I was shocked that they went for it,’’ Jets linebacker Avery Williamson said. “I figured they might hard-count it and not snap it. But … that definitely was a tough one. I thought we were going to get off the field right there.’’
The Cardinals going on a fourth down from their own territory moments after the Jets had just gotten to within a touchdown of the lead can be read no other way than this: They had zero respect for or fear of the Jets.
No one does.
- The second of the three demoralizingly symbolic plays came in the second quarter when the Jets offense, in the throes of one of its best drives of the season, failed to convert on fourth-and-1 from the Arizona 13-yard line.
Jets running back Le’Veon Bell, in the lineup after missing three games with a hamstring injury, was stoned for no gain one play after head coach Adam Gase opted to hand the ball off to tight end Trevon Wesco — who had one career rush for 2 yards on his résumé entering the game — on third-and-1.
The failed fourth down wasted an impressive drive that had gone 14 plays and 79 yards and instilled some hope that their struggling offense might have found a rhythm.
When asked how much blame should be placed on the offensive line on that debilitating red-zone stall, Jets right tackle George Fant sounded like he had peanut butter caught in his throat, finally answering after a long pause: “Um … I’m not sure, man. We just have to keep doing better.’’
The right answer: “That’s on us.’’
That answer never came.
“I’m sure it was a pretty big turning point,’’ Fant said.
Except there aren’t a lot of turning points in games when one team has little or no chance to win, which is the case with the Jets, who’ve lost six of the 21 games coached by Gase by 20 or more points and 11 of them by double digits.
For the Jets offense, the red zone is a dead zone. They entered the game having scored just two touchdowns in nine red-zone trips this season, the worst percentage in the NFL (22.2), and went 1-for-3 on Sunday. They’ve have scored six offensive touchdowns in five games this season.
“We’ve played five weeks now and we haven’t won a game, so you can guess what the level of frustration is in the locker room,’’ quarterback Joe Flacco, who was playing for the injured Sam Darnold, said.
“We’re not playing complementary football on offense,’’ Gase said. “It’s just too much for us to overcome.’’
- Perhaps the most metaphoric play of the game came on the last play of the first half and it had nothing to do with the final outcome.
Jets receiver Jamison Crowder fielded a kickoff at the goal line, took a few tentative steps forward and laid down on the turf without being tackled, waiting to be officially touched down by the oncoming Cardinals coverage team to end the first half.
This is, in no way, meant to be a knock on Crowder, who’s been one of the few consistent producers on a Jets team bereft of them and was the best player on the field for them Sunday with six receptions for 116 yards and their only touchdown.
The kickoff came on the final play of a first half the Jets were trailing 17-3 and Crowder had as much a chance of taking it to the house as Rich Kotite has of replacing Gase once he’s eventually fired after the season.
When you have no hope, you surrender.
Such is the sad state of the 2020 Jets: Their ineptitude is approaching Kotite-ian calamity.
The last time the Jets started a season 0-5 happened to be 1996, Kotite’s second of two seasons coaching the Jets, when they finished 1-15.
An 0-16 finish looks to be firmly on the table right now. If you disagree, then you must ask yourself this: What team can the Jets defeat right now?