PHILADELPHIA — Sam Darnold’s spleen saved the rest of his body.
Despite facing an Eagles pass rush which had recorded a league-low three sacks through its first four games, the Jets surrendered 10 sacks in their 31-6 blowout loss Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
With Darnold still out with mononucleosis, starter Luke Falk was sacked nine times. Backup David Fales was taken down on the team’s final possession after Falk was evaluated in the medical tent.
“You can’t blame just the offensive line,” coach Adam Gase said. “We were taking our turns, and it just avalanches when you let a defensive line like that start feeling like they can get through. … They did a good job as far as bringing the house. They were blitzing on us and we just didn’t go a good job of getting the ball out a couple of those times.”
Over the first three games, the Jets ranked 28th in the NFL in sacks allowed per game (4.3). Two changes to the offensive line only increased the carnage.
Injured left guard Kelechi Osemele (shoulder) was replaced by Alex Lewis, while right tackle Brandon Shell was benched in favor of third-round pick Chuma Edoga, who made his first start.
“We were trying to mix it up and put five guys out there that would work well together,” Gase said.
They worked about as well as five people randomly plucked out of Penn Station.
The Jets’ first drive ended with the first of Brandon Graham’s three sacks, capping the first of multiple three-and-outs. After the Eagles took a 21-0 halftime lead — while matching their season’s sack total — the Jets’ predictable offensive script made Falk an even bigger target.
Excluding the one-play possession which produced the Jets’ first offensive touchdown in three games, the team allowed at least one sack on each of its five second-half drives.
“You have to be able to protect the quarterback in this league, and that’s just the bottom line,” center Ryan Kalil said. “For us, it’s about going to work and fixing the things we have to fix. A lot of it is technique, and that’s what we have to do.”
At least one was Falk’s own fault.
At midfield midway through the fourth quarter, Falk held onto the ball for a near-eternity, allowing Orlando Scandrick to hit him from the blind side and rip the ball away, before running 44 yards for the Eagles’ second defensive touchdown.
“I can’t afford to get sacked in that situation with the line giving me that much time,” Falk said. “We just have to be on the same page with what we’re doing.”