PHILADELPHIA — The Jets may need to find a witch doctor, a shaman and a voodoo priest to try to heal Sam Darnold this week.
Right now, the 22-year-old quarterback feels like this team’s only hope.
The Darnold-less Jets looked completely overmatched again on Sunday and fell to the Eagles 31-6 at Lincoln Financial Field. The loss drops the Jets to 0-4 for the first time since 2003 and has left Jets fans shaking their heads at a season that feels lost before the leaves even fall off the trees.
The Jets are now 0-11 all time against the Eagles.
This one was another inept performance from their offense, which was outscored by the Eagles defense 14-6. Poor Luke Falk, the team’s third-string quarterback, froze under the pressure of the Philadelphia defense and was sacked nine times. He was knocked out of the game late in the fourth quarter and replaced by David Fales, who was sacked once himself.
The Eagles had just three sacks in their first four games and then managed 10 against the Jets combination of backup quarterbacks and an offensive line searching for answers. Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham had three sacks himself.
“We’re not doing anything right, right now,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. “We’re playing bad.”
The Gase era has gotten off to a rough start. Playing without Darnold, the offense looks lost. Gase tried two new starters on the offensive line — Chuma Edoga at right tackle and Alex Lewis at left guard — but it did nothing.
The Jets had hope that Darnold would return this week after missing the last two games with mononucleosis but doctors ruled him out late Thursday. The move sucked the air out of the Jets and opened Gase up to criticism because Darnold took all the first-team practice reps on Wednesday and Thursday. That left Falk running the scout team and then practicing with the first team on Friday.
The way Falk looked, it would not have mattered if he practiced with the starters for eight days last week.
“I don’t think that was the reason we had an issue,” Gase said.
The Jets fell behind the Eagles, who improved to 3-2, quickly. Philadelphia drove down the field on its first possession, moving 53 yards in nine plays, capped with a 1-yard touchdown run by Jordan Howard. The Eagles made it 14-0 on the Jets’ next possession when Falk botched a fourth-and-1 pass to Le’Veon Bell and Eagles linebacker Nathan Gerry picked it off and went 51 yards for the touchdown and 14-0 lead.
That continued a constant theme this season where the Jets have played from behind, which has helped defenses tee off on them. The Jets have not had a lead since the fourth quarter of the Week 1 loss to the Bills.
The Jets defense had another strong effort. Philadelphia had 265 total yards and only 181 passing in the game. The unit allowed 17 points, but saw its own offense allow 14.
“I think everybody’s pressing because we understand the urgency that’s needed right now,” left tackle Kelvin Beachum said. “I think guys are doing everything that’s in their power to be successful. It takes 11 guys and we just have to find a way on offense. Our defense and special teams are playing outstanding. We’ve got to find a way on offense to execute better.”
The offense went 19 straight third downs without converting after opening 0-for-7 in Sunday’s game (0-for-12 against the Patriots two weeks ago).
The Jets fell behind 24-0 after a Carson Wentz touchdown pass to Zach Ertz at the end of the first half and a Jak Elliott field goal in the third quarter.
The Jets broke through after a special teams mistake by the Eagles. Corey Clement muffed a punt and Trenton Cannon recovered for the Jets at the 19-yard line. Gase dialed up an end around to wide receiver Vyncint Smith, who put the Jets on the scoreboard with a touchdown. It was the Jets first score in 32 offensive possessions and their first touchdown in 40. The Jets failed on the two-point try.
Falk gave the Eagles one more score in the fourth quarter when he held onto the ball too long and Eagles cornerback Orlando Scandrick stripped it and ran 44 yards for the touchdown and the 31-6 lead.
The Jets have now lost seven games in a row, dating to last year and 13 of their last 14. The schedule does not get easier. They face the Cowboys next week at MetLife Stadium and then the Patriots the following week. The Jets have not been 0-5 since 1996 when they went 1-15 after an 0-8 start.
Gase knows he has to get this turned around quickly and it starts with his offense. He was asked what his message to the team was.
“That we’re four games in,” Gase said. “That we have a lot of good football going on on defense and special teams. We have to clean things up on offense.”
Getting Darnold back would be a start.