That assessment might as well have been appended with an “or else.” The Jets do not have the roster quality or depth to compete with A.F.C. behemoths Kansas City or Baltimore or division rivals Buffalo or New England, even with the conference’s playoff field expanding to seven teams. The general manager, Joe Douglas, has been afforded a modicum of time to transform the roster to his specifications, and the team’s chief executive, Christopher Johnson, told reporters last week how much confidence he has in Douglas’s ability to do so.
While calling Gase “a brilliant offensive mind,” Johnson also expressed a desire to see progress this season. Such progress might not be measured in wins and losses but the over all direction of the team, of the offense, of quarterback Sam Darnold, who has presided over a unit that, yet to score a first-half touchdown, has trailed by 21-3 at halftime in consecutive weeks. Everyone has a threshold for humiliation and despair, and it’s unclear whether a similar first-half fiasco to last season — the Jets started 1-7 before finishing 7-9 — could imperil Gase’s job security.
Unlike last week, when the Jets forced and recovered a fumble on Buffalo’s opening series, there wasn’t even a brief flirtation with competence. In fairness, they did win something Sunday: the coin toss. Deferring possession to the second half, the Jets kicked off to San Francisco, which, thanking them for their generosity, scored on its first offensive play, when Raheem Mostert — who later left with a knee injury — took a pitch from Garoppolo and darted down the right sideline for an 80-yard touchdown.
Seven-point deficits with 59:43 remaining are hardly insurmountable, but consider the state of the Jets’ offense Sunday: They played without running back Le’Veon Bell and two receivers Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder — a third, Breshad Perriman sustained an ankle injury — which is sort of like trying to start a car without a key.