Jets struggle on offense in 24-10 loss to Bears
CHICAGO (AP) — Sam Darnold and the New York Jets did a good job of protecting the ball.
They just didn’t do very much when they had it.
Playing without two of its top receivers, New York managed just 207 yards in a 24-10 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Darnold passed for a career-low 153 yards in his eighth NFL start, and Isaiah Crowell was the Jets’ top rusher with a measly 25 yards on 13 carries.
Just a quiet, ho-hum sort of day for everyone in green-and-white.
“We just couldn’t really get anything going,” Crowell said. “I’ve got to watch the film, but I mean it was frustrating at the same time.”
It was New York’s first game since running back Bilal Powell sustained a season-ending neck injury during last weekend’s 37-17 loss to Minnesota. Leading receivers Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa were inactive due to injuries, and tight end Neal Sterling departed in the first half with a concussion.
Rishard Matthews made his Jets debut after signing with the team on Tuesday, but the veteran receiver was shut out. Asked if New York (3-5) might need to add another offensive option, coach Todd Bowles said they would discuss the possibility this week.
“We had a lot of new people out there,” Bowles said. “I mean they fought hard, they played hard. We’re not going to use injuries as an excuse. Just got to make more plays.”
A week after Darnold threw three interceptions and lost a fumble against the Vikings, the Jets played turnover-free ball against the opportunistic Bears. But they hurt themselves with five false start penalties. The flags contributed to a 3-for-14 performance on third down and just 12 first downs overall, compared to 22 for the Bears.
“I think the biggest thing for us offensively is just staying in manageable down distances, not getting false starts, not getting penalties,” Darnold said.
New York’s longest play of the day was nearly intercepted by Kyle Fuller, but it went off his hands and Deontay Burnett took the ball to the Chicago 18 for a 29-yard reception with about 12 minutes left. Darnold then finished the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to rookie Chris Herndon , making it 17-10 with 11:10 remaining.
But the Bears responded with an eight-play, 79-yard drive, culminating in Jordan Howard’s 2-yard touchdown run, and the Jets never threatened again.
“Very proud of the way they fought and stayed together,” Bowles said. “This is one of the first games the entire year that we stayed together as a team and fought collectively. Execution was not great, obviously, and we got to make more plays and we know that.”
The lack of execution was particularly glaring before New York rallied in the final period. The Jets had just four first downs and 98 yards heading into the fourth quarter.
Before Herndon caught a TD pass for the third straight week, the Jets’ only scoring drive ended with a 42-yard field goal by Jason Myers in the second quarter.
“It’s frustrating for everyone,” said Darnold, who was 14 of 29 and was sacked once. “I mean, we just got to play better. We got to, like I said before, it’s about staying in manageable down distances. First and second down, getting off the ball, running the football, and completing the football. So that’s really all it is. If we can do that we’ll be a good football team.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap