3 key takeaways from the Jets loss to Bengals: Flacco falters and sloppy play reigns

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Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson (55) intercepts a pass to New York Jets' Braxton Berrios (10) during the first half.
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson (55) intercepts a pass to New York Jets’ Braxton Berrios (10) during the first half.
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

The Jets returned back to earth on Sunday after beating the Browns in Week 2, when they fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-12. 

Sunday’s matchup was another exposé in the Jets’ mediocrity, as they failed to muster much offense, the defense faltered, and the team put up a generally sloppy performance filled with penalties, mistakes and miscues. 

So, what should Jets fans take away from the loss? Here’s three major developments: 

Joe Flacco, good riddance

Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco was under center for the third time in three weeks, as starter Zach Wilson continues his rehab from a torn meniscus and bone bruise that he suffered in preseason. 

Wilson is obviously the Jets quarterback of the future, as the team invested the second-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft in the young signal caller from BYU, and he showed decent improvement over the course of his rookie season last year. That made his injury a tough pill to swallow earlier this season, and led the team to turn to Flacco. 

In Week 2, however, fans had a notable bit of excitement after the game, as Flacco tossed 307 yards and four touchdowns, while leading a miraculous comeback for the team’s first win of the year. 

Even after Flacco’s solid performance that game, though, he was never seriously a threat to take away the starting role from Wilson — though fans were excited that he could possibly continue that success into Week 3. 

It was not to be. 

Flacco completed just 28 of his whopping 52 passes on Sunday, while tossing two interceptions and fumbling the football three times. He also failed to lead the Jets into the endzone at any point, as their only points came from four field goals. 

Now, Wilson is on track to return to action next Sunday against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, and his return couldn’t come quick enough. At 37-years-old, Flacco’s performance proved yet again that Gang Green could never be anything special with the veteran under center. 

Jets’ run game running nowhere

The Jets invested a second-round pick in running back Breece Hall in 2022, and retained Michael Carter, who they drafted in 2021. Fans had some high hopes for the duo heading into the season, and hoped that they could alleviate some of the pressure on the Jets quarterbacks in the passing game. 

Yet, the running game once again disappointed on Sunday, recording just 76 yards on the ground — with both Hall and Carter recording 39 yards each. 

The team, though three weeks, has never totaled over 100 yards in a single contest. They are currently ranked 25th in the NFL with a total of 252 rushing yards on the season. 

Some of that lackluster statistical play can be attributed to the team often trailing, and needing to pass more in an effort to preserve time on the clock, as well as a decimated offensive line, but it’s clear that the explosiveness simply isn’t there in the Gang Green running game. At just 4.4 yards-per-carry on the season, they won’t be able to rely on running the football to stay in games. 

Hall has a lot of work to do if he wants to become the feature back that he was projected to be coming out of college, and Carter is likely never going to develop into a stud. That is going to put pressure on Wilson when he returns. 

Saleh’s team is sloppy

Overall, the team made several crucial mistakes on Sunday. 

On one play Bengal quarterback Joe Burrow found Tyler Boyd on a short pass, which should have led to a quick tackle by Jets safety Jordan Whitehead, but that wasn’t to be. Boyd bounced off Whitehead, and ended up running for a 56-yard touchdown. 

It was just one major incident of a larger trend in the game, which also saw silly (and costly) pentilites help the Bengals extend drives, and enter into scoring range when they shouldn’t have. The Jets lost 55 crucial yards on flags, with many coming on late hits and unnecessary infractions away from the ball.

At other times, the defense looked confused about which man was guarding which offensive player, and the offensive line looked inept at blocking against hidden blitz plays. 

“It’s frustrating,” head coach Robert Saleh said of the disorganization. “It’s part of everything that I keep telling you guys about. It is frustrating as hell.”

The situation boiled over when Quinnen Williams, who is ostensibly the leader of the team’s defense, exploded on the sidelines, got directly into the face of defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton over a dispute about schemes and matchups. 

If the Jets want to stay in these games, they need to clean up their play. 

“It’s gotta get fixed,” said Saleh.

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