The New York Jets lost their shiningly armored targets to injury in the first quarter. After that, the Indianapolis Colts stole their pride.
Without quarterback Mike White, who injured his right forearm on a serendipitous play, the Jets suffered a power crisis and imploded defense in an embarrassing 45-30 loss Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
They played most of the game with quarterback Josh Johnson and a defensive unit that appeared to be full of third parties. Yes, it was that bad. At one point, they were behind 32. The Colts scored on seven of 11 possessions and amassed 532 total yards, including 26th on the ground, 211 before contact.
“We were just as shocked as everyone who was watching,” linebacker CJ Mosley said.
The Jets (2-6) can’t have good things.
The team and their fan base were electrified by White’s historic performance last week, thinking they had discovered a QB from Cinderella. So what happens? The NFL’s wellness story lasted just 11 pitches before arm-hitting a defensive lineman while throwing a pass. And of course the 11th pass was a touchdown for rookie Elijah Moore, so it was 7-7, a little taste of good, followed by pie to the face.
It was so … Jets.
Quarterback controversy? The Jets have 10 days before they face the Buffalo Bills, who are in first place, and they don’t have a clear answer. White’s injury is not serious, coach Robert Saleh said, 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 in dire circumstances, but it’s not an option. Joe Flacco? Inactive for two games since hitting a trade, he’s considered a long shot.
So who starts?
“We’ll see,” Saleh said. “It is the day to day.”
Describe the game in two words: Expansion. Team. Yeah, that’s what the Jets looked like.
Worrying trend: The defense of coach Robert Saleh, their baby, seemed completely lost. The race could not be stopped. The pass could not be stopped. He failed to cover an eligible tackle in the end zone (see: Danny Pinter’s 2-yard touchdown catch).
The defense, in a short week, looked gassed or disinterested. Maybe both. The Colts had huge holes, averaging 6.1 yards. before contact in the first half. Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulrbich, who is ordering the plays, was completely outscored by Frank Reich.
The most disturbing part was that this was not an aberration. The defense has sucked in four of the last five games, averaging 491 in those four. No team, not even a team as young as the Jets, should be that bad. There is a decent amount of talent on the defensive line, but it has been neutralized.
This was as ugly as the 54-13 loss to the New England Patriots. The coaches and players promised never to have another game like that again. They swore wrong. They may have to regroup without safety Marcus Maye, who left in the third quarter. The team fears that the Achilles tendon will rupture, ending their season.
Silver lining: Moore continued his recent appearance, recording the first two touchdown receptions of his career. He was slippery and difficult 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.