Without quarterback Mike White, who injured his right forearm on a fluke play, the Jets suffered an energy crisis and imploded on defense in an embarrassing 45-30 loss Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
They played most of the game with third-string quarterback Josh Johnson and a defensive unit that looked like it was filled with third stringers. Yeah, it was that bad. At one point, they trailed by 32. The Colts scored on seven of 11 possessions and racked up 532 total yards, including 26o on the ground — 211 before contact.
“We were just as shocked as everybody else who was watching,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said.
The Jets (2-6) can’t have nice things.
The team and its fan base were electrified by White’s historic performance last week, thinking they had discovered a Cinderella QB. So what happens? The NFL’s feel-good story lasted only 11 throws before banging his arm into a defensive lineman as he released a pass. And, of course, the 11th pass was a touchdown to rookie Elijah Moore, making it 7-7 — a little taste of good, followed by a pie in the face.
It was so…Jets.
Quarterback controversy? The Jets have 10 days before they face the first-place Buffalo Bills, and they don’t have a clear-cut answer. White’s injury isn’t serious, said coach Robert Saleh, adding that White could practice next week. Starter Zach Wilson (knee) is expected to practice next week, but his status for Week 10 is up in the air. Johnson showed a lot of heart, throwing three touchdowns under dire circumstances, but he’s not an option. Joe Flacco? Inactive for two games since arriving in a trade, he’s considered a long shot.
So who starts?
“We’ll see,” Saleh said. “It’s day to day.”
Describe the game in two words: Expansion. Team. Yep, that’s what the Jets looked like.
Troubling trend: Coach Robert Saleh’s defense, his baby, looked utterly lost. Couldn’t stop the run. Couldn’t stop the pass. Couldn’t cover a tackle-eligible in the end zone (see: Danny Pinter‘s 2-yard scoring catch).
The defense, on a short week, looked gassed or disinterested. Maybe both. The Colts had gaping holes, averaging 6.1 yards before contact in the first half. Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulrbich, who calls the plays, was thoroughly outcoached by Frank Reich.
The most troubling part was this wasn’t an aberration. The defense has stunk in four of the past five games, yielding an average of 491 in those four. No team, not even a team as young as the Jets, should be that bad. There’s a decent amount of talent on the defensive line, but it has been neutralized.
This was every bit as ugly as the 54-13 loss to the New England Patriots. Coaches and players vowed to never have another game like that. They vowed wrong. They might have to regroup without safety Marcus Maye, who left in the third quarter. The team fears he tore his Achilles, which would end his season.
Silver lining: Moore continued his recent emergence, recording the first two scoring receptions of his career. He was slippery and hard to cover, finishing with seven catches for 84 yards. After a slow start, the former Ole Miss star has become a key player on offense.