CINCINNATI — Shame on the Jets.
No one associated with the Jets should be immune to harsh criticism over the most ignominious result of the season, an insulting 22-6 loss Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium to a hapless Bengals team that started the day with an 0-11 record and ended it with their rookie head coach Zac Taylor getting a Gatorade bath.
This was, without argument, the most inexcusable loss of the season for this Jets team, which has lost eight of its 12 games.
What frauds the Jets turned out to be after they teased us with last week’s inspiring 34-3 rout of the Raiders at home.
As it turned out, the thought of the Jets winning their fourth consecutive game Sunday and then a fifth in a row against the Dolphins at home to get to 6-7 after the ghastly 1-7 start was pure folly.
Shame on every one of us (myself included) who bought in.
For all the good the Jets did in their past three games, they took four steps back Sunday. This was one of the most humiliating losses in a Jets history that’s littered with a lot of them.
This marked the second time this season the Jets served as an opponent’s first win. They lost to the 0-7 Dolphins on the first Sunday of November. Now they’ve lost to the 0-11 Bengals.
On a day when the Jets needed Adam Gase to be at his best, their head coach called the worst offensive game since he was hired, inexplicably refusing to run the ball against a Cincinnati defense that entered the game ranked last in the league defending the run, yielding an NFL-high 166.4 rushing yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry.
In the first half, Gase called 27 pass plays and only nine runs, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. In the second quarter, the Jets ran 20 plays and only three were running plays.
This was nothing more and nothing less than poor coaching.
Gase looks hopelessly seduced by passing the ball and he coaches as if he has little use for running back Le’Veon Bell despite Bell’s history of terrific production and the $52.5 million contract they gave him in the offseason.
Simply put: In a game in which the score was never truly out of hand, Bell should not have finished with 14 touches (10 rushes for 32 yards and four catches for 35 yards).
Gase was not in favor of signing Bell in the offseason because he doesn’t value running backs highly, and he’s using Bell as if he’s trying to prove his point — to the detriment of the rest of the team.
The Jets ran 69 offensive plays in the game and only three times did Gase call for two consecutive running plays on a series. He called for a third consecutive running play in the third quarter, but it was more of a give-up draw play to Bell on third-and-14 — on which Bell gained 23 yards, but the play was called back because of a holding penalty.
Tap-dancing after the game, Gase explained, “That’s just how the game was going’’ when asked why he was so pass-heavy in his calls.
The game was “going’’ that way because that’s the way Gase was calling the game.
Bell was more clipped with his responses than he’s been in any postgame interview session. As he spoke, it felt as if Bell was going to draw blood from his lip from biting it so hard.
Asked if he was “surprised’’ there were not more running plays called in the first half, Bell said, “No, I’m not surprised.’’
If there was one of those cartoon thought bubbles hovering over Bell’s head, the rest of that quote would have read: “I’m not surprised because Gase never calls enough running plays.’’
When the Jets needed their offensive line, which had seemingly stabilized with a few solid performances, to dominate a vulnerable Bengals team, the line responded by committing seven penalties and allowing four sacks of Darnold.
In Saturday’s Post, I wrote a column praising the play and the toughness of left tackle Kelvin Beachum.
Beachum responded by committing two egregious, game-turning penalties. His first was for blocking in the back that nullified a 25-yard run by Bilal Powell in the second quarter and a holding penalty in the end zone in the third quarter that resulted in a Bengals safety and a 19-6 lead at the time.
In Sunday’s Post, I praised the Jets defense, touting defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as doing perhaps the best job of any assistant coach in the NFL. The Jets defense went on to spend much of the day allowing the Bengals offense to make plays at every key moment in the game, particularly on third downs.
Shame on me.
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