In Sunday’s home opener, the Jets’ offensive line couldn’t stand up against a Miami pass rush that hadn’t mustered a single sack the previous week. The unit couldn’t keep the pocket intact or quarterback Sam Darnold upright in Gang Green’s 20-12 loss to the Dolphins.
“We got to him early, got him rattled and didn’t let up,” Miami defensive end Robert Quinn said. “It wasn’t just me, it was a collective effort. We may not have always hit him or sacked him, but we collapsed the pocket and made him uncomfortable. We tried to do our job and got it done.”
The Jets’ offensive line couldn’t say the same. Once the Dolphins stopped the run and turned Gang Green one-dimensional, the Jets couldn’t protect the passer well enough to get that part of the offense going either.
“When those guys are able to tee off, it makes it difficult,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said.
“They’re good players, good pass-rushers. They’ve done good and they’re effective, so I’d known that coming into the game and that’s something we kept an eye on,” guard Brian Winters said. “[There was] nothing that really surprised us. Like I said, we have to put this in the past and move forward to Cleveland.”
Darnold was sacked three times, but the rookie first-round pick also got hit five more times and hurried and harassed numerous times, forced to slide around in the collapsing pocket and scramble to avoid Dolphins pass-rushers.
“We have to find a way to make things work. We just didn’t get the job done. … It’s all about execution,” said left tackle Kelvin Beachum, who had trouble dealing with Quinn. “They’ve got players, we’ve got players. It’s all about executing and we didn’t get the job done.”
The Jets actually kept Cameron Wake without a sack or a quarterback hit, but Quinn, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and backup end William Hayes combined for three sacks and four shots on Darnold.
For his part, Darnold shouldered the blame and said he needed to get rid of the ball quicker.
But Beachum admitted, “We know what type of player [Darnold] is. We know what he’s capable of and we know when he can do when he’s clean. We just have to do our job up-front to make it easy on him.”
They didn’t get that done Sunday.