CHICAGO – Did you expect Sam Darnold to channel his inner David Blaine or pull a David Copperfield and do the unimaginable with this supporting cast?
Let’s be realistic, people.
The Jets rookie quarterback might one day perform weekly miracles regardless of who’s around him, but it was asking a bit much to think that the kid would be a magician with this collection of skill position players. Darnold was without his top two receivers, starting running back and center in the Jets’ 24-10 loss to the Bears on Sunday.
Sprinkle in one irritating pre-snap penalty after another and 18 mph winds and Darnold never stood a chance even without having to face all-world terror Khalil Mack.
“It’s about staying in manageable down and distances,” said Darnold, who went 14 for 29 for 153 yards, 1 TD and a 53.9 passer rating. “First and second down, getting off the ball, running the football and completing the football. So, that’s all it really is. If we can do that, we’ll be a good football team.”
That’s obviously easier said than done for an offense that committed an unfathomable five false start penalties.
Although Darnold maintained that the winds “didn’t affect me at all,” the Jets had a clear plan not to force the issue in the less-than-ideal conditions. Darnold chucked it out of bounds plenty of times when nobody was open.
“I thought he played tough,” Bowles said. “It was one of those type of games with the wind blowing that when it’s not there, you throw it away. He didn’t turn it over. That was the main thing. He was giving us a chance.”
Jermaine Kearse, the lone experienced pass catcher with a rapport with Darnold, finished with three catches for 30 yards on 10 targets. Darnold’s college teammate, Deontay Burnett, had a team-high four receptions for 61 yards, including a terrific leaping 29-yarder that helped set up Darnold’s third touchdown to rookie tight end Chris Herndon in as many weeks.
“Chris and I have developed a great chemistry,” Darnold said. “We just got to keep going and develop that chemistry with the other guys as well.”
It’s unclear when Quincy Enunwa (high ankle sprain) and Robby Anderson (ankle sprain) will return, but there’s no pass-catching elixir out there. But the Jets might still want to add a receiver in the coming days.
“We’ll discuss it this week and see what some of the guy’s injuries are,” Bowles said.
Gang Green held the Bears to a 33 percent third-down conversion rate (4 of 12), but were gouged on the ground for 179 yards on 34 carries (5.3). Mitchell Trubisky killed the Jets with timely runs (6 rushes for 51 yards).
The Jets have lost 10 of 12 road games dating back to the start of last season, including three of four away from MetLife Stadium this year.
DL Steve McLendon will undergo further tests after suffering an ankle injury in the fourth quarter… TE Neal Sterling, who had missed three games due to a concussion, was knocked out of the game after suffering another concussion from getting drilled by Kyle Fuller after a catch in the second quarter.
‘D’ T EUGH
Outside linebackers Brandon Copeland and Frankie Luvu each recorded a sack, tackle for loss and quarterback hit…. The Jets managed only one pass breakup (from Darryl Roberts)…
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Center Jonotthan Harrison started for the banged-up Spencer Long, who is dealing with knee and finger issues. Long was active and served as an emergency backup option. He had been struggling with shot-gun snaps in recent weeks due to his middle finger injury. It was Harrison’s second start in 16 games with the Jets.
WR Robby Anderson, who’s dealing with an ankle sprain, headlined the list of Jets inactives. CB Trumaine Johnson (quad), WR Quincy Enunwa (ankle), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (foot), OL Dakota Dozier, DL Folorunso Fatukasi and CB Derrick Jones also didn’t dress.