EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets’ defense did its job — again.
Zach Wilson and the offense? Well, they keep struggling to be something more than a stumbling, bumbling bunch.
“I think we all just kept taking turns,” Wilson said after the Jets’ 27-6 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night. “Too many self-inflicted wounds. Just not good enough. I don’t know what to say. Not good enough.”
The Jets (4-4) came in with a three-game winning streak and found themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt at the midway point of the season.
But if New York intends to remain there, it needs vast improvement by the offense. And immediately.
“Our defense is playing lights out, man,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to get something going. We’ve got to find a way.”
The Jets held Justin Herbert to 136 yards on 16-of-30 passing and the Chargers gained just 191 total yards. But Los Angeles didn’t need to do much on offense — not when its defense and special teams were making game-changing plays all night.
The Chargers had three takeaways and sacked Wilson eight times. Joey Bosa had 2 1/2 sacks and Khalil Mack and Tuli Tuipulotu each had two as Los Angeles took advantage of the Jets’ banged-up offensive line and caused havoc up front for Wilson. New York also had eight penalties after having nine in each of its last two games.
“It felt like any time we got the momentum going, we just shot ourselves in the foot with penalties, turnovers,” coach Robert Saleh said. “It just wasn’t good enough.”
The Jets have been the NFL’s worst team on third down and in the red zone — and those problems continued against the Chargers. They went 3 for 17 on third down and went 0 for 2 inside Los Angeles’ 20.
“It’s hurts, but it’s true,” running back Breece Hall said of the offense’s struggles hurting the team. “That’s all you can say — it’s true. We’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to continue to get better, take pride in doing our job … and not being the reason that we lose.”
Wilson was 33 of 49 for 263 yards — all season highs — but there were way too many mistakes and missed opportunities to consider the performance anything more than disappointing.
Saleh refused to pin the blame on anyone in particular, saying the problems are “all-encompassing” and added that it’s “just a little bit of everything.”
That calls into question the job being done by offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who has not been able to get his unit to play a solid, effective game in his first season with the Jets. Some struggles were expected when Aaron Rodgers went down four snaps into his debut with New York. But the inability to get the ball into the end zone with any regularity has been befuddling.
Wide receiver Garrett Wilson, who had seven catches for 80 yards, paused for a second when he was asked if the Jets are being outschemed on offense on game days.
“I don’t know, man,” Wilson said. “I really don’t know. I like to think that isn’t the case and it’s truly things that we can all just watch film tomorrow and say all right we have to do this better and it’s a touchdown.”
Saleh was asked if he would consider making a change in play caller on offense.
“No,” the coach said flatly.
The frustration, though, is beginning to build.
“I wish I knew how to answer the questions about why we’re struggling and not being able to score and not being able to get third downs,” tight end Tyler Conklin said.
“We’ve all just got to grow up,” Hall said, “and do our jobs.”
Saleh has frequently said he believes the offense is “close” to being a productive unit. But there were no signs of that Monday night.
“Today was not good, obviously,” Saleh said. “We just never gave ourselves a chance.”
The Jets will travel to Las Vegas to play the new-look Raiders (4-5) next Sunday night. It’ll be another opportunity to try to right the offense — and restore some of the confidence and optimism that seemed to slip away a bit Monday night.
“We’ve got a championship defense, I know we do,” Saleh said. “And we’ve got a young offense, a lot of moving parts. I get the frustration. Trust me, I do. But we’ve got to keep trying find ways to get better.”
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