EAST RUTHERFORD — The more things change, the more things stay the same. For the New York Jets, that could easily be their mantra for the 2023 season.
In a game that the team needed to have to stay alive, the Jets were forced to turn to their fourth quarterback of the season but weren’t able to salvage a 13-8 loss to the NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons.
“We’re searching,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said. “I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities and chances for explosives. We have to find a way to take advantage when we have those opportunities.”
It was New York that got the scoring started early on a rainy Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. After a 44-yard punt from Thomas Morstead put the Falcons at their one-yard line, Quinnen Williams and Ashtyn Davis got the home crowd on their feet with a safety early in the first quarter.
Dalvin Cook fumbled near midfield gave the Falcons a short field that they would convert when Desmond Ridder connected with third-tight end MyCole Pruitt for a 20-yard score and a 7-2 lead. Cook’s fumble ended what had been a good stretch of football from the former Viking who had 33 yards on his first four touches.
“We gotta find ourselves,” Cook later said. “I’ve been on some teams where we weren’t as good but we knew how to go out there and score points. That’s what it comes down to: Just finding the formula. We’re still searching for it.”
From there, the Jets offense led by Tim Boyle struggled to find ways to get in the end zone – a clear consistent problem that the quarterback change has not been able to solve.
Boyle finished the game 14-25 passing but struggled to find his top target Garrett Wilson for most of the contest. The Jets reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year had only one catch in the first half where Gang Green trailed 10-5. He was benched to start the fourth quarter after an interception to Jessie Bates.
Despite trading field goals in the third quarter, the Jets found themselves down in the fourth when they turned to veteran signal-caller Trevor Siemian.
Siemian’s emergence into Sunday’s game brought the crowd, frustrated for hours by the lack of offense, back into the contest.
His presence did little to change the Jets’ fortune though.
New York’s fourth quarterback of the 2023 season fumbled with under three minutes to play after the offense had crossed midfield and the ensuing turnover on downs late in his territory sent the Jets to their fifth straight loss.
Saleh did not confirm if Siemian would be the starting quarterback next week, but added that formerly benched starter Zach Wilson “is always part of the conversation.”
With the loss, the Jets fell to 4-8 on the season and within striking distance for a top-five overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Atlanta, on the other hand, moved to 6-6 on the season and jumped into a full-game lead over the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South.
New York will play the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium next week.
- New York saw both tackle Mekhi Becton and Wes Schweitzer return to action along the offensive line after both missed some games due to respective injuries. Duane Brown, the team’s veteran tackle, also returned for the first time in over two months but was a reserve lineman with fourth-round rookie Carter Warren playing on the right side.
- Siemian finished 5-14 passing for 66 yards. He picked up two first downs on his first drive, but could not make more happen following his late fumble. The quarterback finished the day with three fumbles forced and two not recovered.
- This was the sixth game where the Jets’ defense did not give over 20 points in the contest. They moved to 3-3 in such games with the loss on Sunday. It was also the sixth straight game where the offense failed to score over 14 points.
- One player who seemingly was open throughout the game was wide receiver Garrett Wilson. The second-year wideout was targeted seven times but caught just three passes for 50 yards. Wilson said after the game that he “could communicate” better on the field to let the offense know he was more open.