White struggles, Jets defense can’t stop Bills in ugly loss
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The points keep piling up against the New York Jets. The losses, too.
And now even the feel-good story of the season — Mike White’s unexpected emergence — is taking a bad turn.
These are tough times for the Jets, who fell to 2-7 with an embarrassing 45-17 beatdown by the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
“There’s a lot of passionate and frustrated guys in the locker room right now,” White said. “We have some very good wins and then we have some games that what we put on tape is not who we are as a football team.”
Well, add this one to the scary films collection.
White, in his third straight start in place of the injured Zach Wilson, threw four interceptions and came nowhere close to the efficient game manager he was in his first start two weeks ago when New York stunned Cincinnati.
Instead, Buffalo’s top-ranked defense smothered White and the offense, preventing them from beating them long — and snuffing out short plays.
“We kind of had to become one-dimensional,” White said. “That falls on me.”
He took some shots downfield to try to spark the offense after Josh Allen and the Bills started marching up and down the field. But it turned ugly quickly as Buffalo forced White into mistakes — and capitalized.
White finished 24 of 44 for 251 yards and the four INTs before getting banged up late and being replaced by Joe Flacco.
“They’re the No. 1 defense in football,” coach Robert Saleh said of the Bills. “They are a championship-caliber football team. Give them credit. It starts there, really.”
White said he was OK after the game and was cleared to return, but Flacco stayed in and threw a TD pass to Elijah Moore. With Wilson close to returning from a sprained knee ligament, it’s uncertain if this might have been it for White.
“He’s still dealing with stuff,” Saleh said of Wilson. “I know we worked him out pretty hard this morning, so we’ll see how that went. He’s getting better every day, so we’ll see where he’s at from an injury standpoint before we make any decisions.”
Whether it’s White, Wilson — or even Flacco, for that matter — it won’t matter much next week against Miami or any other team if the defense can’t stop anybody.
The Jets have allowed 175 points in their past four games. That includes a 54-13 loss to New England on Oct. 24, a 34-31 win over Cincinnati, a 45-30 defeat at Indianapolis and then Sunday’s blowout. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that’s the second-most points allowed in a four-game span by any team since the 1970 merger. Only Tennessee in 2004 with 177 points allowed more.
“Every man should be embarrassed,” defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said. “Every man should be angry.”
The Jets are also the first team to give up at least 45 points three times in a four-game span since the Giants in 1966, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
“I can’t put a finger on it because if it was that simple, we would’ve had it fixed already,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said.
With a rookie QB in Wilson, the offense was expected to struggle this season. But with Saleh and his defensive background, the guys on the other side of the ball were being counted on to keep New York in games.
Instead, the Jets have wilted on defense as a combination of youth and injuries in the secondary have combined with missed tackles and assignments all over the field to allow teams to slice right through them.
Since New York’s first win of the season when it allowed Tennessee 430 total yards in a 27-24 overtime victory in Week 4, the Jets have allowed 2,340 yards to opponents — an average of 468 yards per game. That includes the 489 Buffalo put up against them Sunday. The 1,890 yards given up in the last four games are also the most in a four-game span in team history, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
“Clearly, it’s not good enough,” Saleh said. “Ever since that Tennessee game, it just hasn’t been good enough. Atlanta, we played all right, but ever since that bye week (in Week 6), it’s just not nearly as good as we want it to be. And it’s something where we’ve got eight games left and from coaches to players, we’ve got to find a way to get better every day.
“Otherwise, you’re selling yourself short.”
Perhaps the only shred of optimism for the Jets is their upcoming schedule, with two opponents — Miami (3-7) and Houston (1-8) — a combined 4-15 this season.
“There’s a sense of urgency to get better because we have put some good things on tape and we’ve shown that we can be a good football team,” White said. “We have to consistently do that.”
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