EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Los Angeles Chargers improved to .500 on Monday night, topping the New York Jets 27-6 at MetLife Stadium. The Jets had their three-game winning streak snapped, as they were held without a touchdown.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers beat up on a bad Chicago Bears team 30-13 last week in their biggest win of the season. On Monday night, the Chargers faced a Jets squad boasting one of the best defenses in the league and wins over Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts.
The Chargers won their second straight game thanks to an explosive first quarter, during which they went up by 14 points and exhibited dominant defensive line play that never let the Jets get close.
Eye-popping NextGen stat: Running back Austin Ekeler had three drops on Monday night, tied for the most in his career. Outside of the drops, Ekeler played a good game, scoring two touchdowns and finishing with 47 yards from scrimmage. But Ekeler led the team in receptions last season, and his catches often spark big plays, so the Chargers (4-4) will need Monday’s drops to be an anomaly.
Promising trend: Joey Bosa has 3.5 sacks over the past two outings. Bosa fractured his left big toe in the Chargers’ Week 3 win at the Minnesota Vikings, causing him to miss the following game against the Las Vegas Raiders. He hadn’t looked like the same player until the Chargers’ Week 8 victory over the Bears, against whom he had one sack. Bosa appeared better than ever on Monday, securing 2.5 sacks, the second most in his career.
Troubling trend: Quarterback Justin Herbert has been sacked 10 times over the past three games. Herbert had less than 2.5 seconds to throw on 40% of his dropbacks, as the Jets’ defensive line easily pushed back the Chargers’ front throughout the contest. — Kris Rhim
Next game: vs. Detroit Lions (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Zach Wilson gets sacked for the 6th time
Tuli Tuipulotu gets through to Zach Wilson for a massive loss and the Chargers’ sixth sack of the game.
New York Jets
Two hours before the game, Aaron Rodgers was launching 50-yard passes in warmups — a remarkable feat, considering he’s only two months removed from Achilles tendon surgery. That was the offensive highlight for the Jets on Monday night.
Things change fast in the NFL. During a three-game winning streak, the Jets were perceived as feisty overachievers, living a good life in their post-Rodgers world. Suddenly, they look like a faux contender with a struggling Zach Wilson at quarterback.
The Jets (4-4) lost three fumbles, allowed eight sacks and continued their bad form on third down (3-of-17). They wasted another sterling performance by the defense, which recorded five sacks.
This has been the Jets’ story for the past two seasons. The offense has scored only eight touchdowns in eight games. Four of those TDs were on one-play drives, including one in which the Philadelphia Eagles appeared to let them score in an end-game situation.
The offense-defense disparity, which undermined the previous campaign, could blow up another year. Rodgers, hoping to return late this season if the Jets remain in contention, might have to shift his sights to 2024.
QB Breakdown: Wilson went without an interception for the fifth time in the past six games. That was the good news. The bad news was that the former No. 2 overall draft pick missed open receivers and did a poor job of sensing pressure in the pocket, showing no feel whatsoever for Los Angeles’ defense — a defense that began the week 31st against the pass. For Wilson, this was a performance straight out of last season. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett tried to go up-tempo on occasion while attempting to spark his comatose unit, but nothing worked. Could coach Robert Saleh change quarterbacks? The backup is unproven journeyman Tim Boyle. The Jets have former starter/journeyman Trevor Siemian on the practice squad. Neither is an appealing option, so look for them to ride it out with Wilson.
Troubling trend: The reshuffled offensive line was a mess, but that was no excuse. Rookie center Joe Tippmann started his first game, Max Mitchell made his first start at right guard and Billy Turner was a fill-in at right tackle. Turner allowed at least three sacks. Don’t be surprised if the Jets shuffle the line again next week now that tackle Duane Brown is eligible to come off injured reserve.
Biggest hole in the game plan: Hackett was too reliant on the pass in the first half, underutilizing running back Breece Hall. Hackett employed too many five-man protections. Priority No. 1 should’ve been pass protection.
Pivotal play: The Jets honored Thomas Morstead, the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, by including him in the pregame player introductions, which is unusual for a punter. A few minutes later, he outkicked his coverage on a 59-yard punt, resulting in an 87-yard touchdown by Derius Davis. It put the Jets in a 7-0 hole, and they never recovered. — Rich Cimini
Next game: at Raiders (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)