NASHVILLE — The Jets begin December here, playing out the string on another lost season, desperate to end a five-game losing streak.
At 3-8, they are not going to the playoffs. They are playing for pride … again. A third straight losing season seems like a certainty, but they face the 5-6 Titans hoping to come away with their first win since mid-October.
“We want to get the win,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “Losing sucks, especially losing consistently like we have. We all hate it. No one likes losing. I don’t care what I’m doing. I don’t like to lose. It irks me when we lose and it irks a lot of guys when we lose. We want the win. It’s just a pride thing. We just want a win. We’re tired of losing.”
This five-game skid has been extremely ugly for the Jets. They have not rushed for 100 yards in any of the five games. They have not forced a turnover in the five games. They have scored just five touchdowns in that span. They have not scored more than 17 points in any of those contests.
The losing and the way the Jets have been losing seems to have sealed coach Todd Bowles’ fate. It appears he will be fired at the end of his fourth season. Even in such desperate times, Bowles would not admit that he has a desperate team.
“We need to win all the time,” Bowles said. “Every week is a desperately-win week, it’s not just this week it just seemed to be the week that we haven’t won yet. So we’re trying to get a win under our belt. Winning cures a lot of things and solves a lot of things. It doesn’t make everything right, but it’s a step in the right direction in cleaning up some small things so we can get better.”
The only intriguing thing about this game is who the quarterback will be. Sam Darnold has missed the past two games with a sprained right foot. Josh McCown has filled in for the rookie. This week, Darnold returned to practice in a limited fashion. Bowles would not say who his quarterback will be against Tennessee, but McCown seemed to have an edge because he practiced fully Friday.
Even without his usual practice time, Darnold said he could still play.
“For me, I don’t think it would be that much more difficult. For me, it’s just about going out there and executing,” he said. “I think just continuing when Josh or Davis [Webb] is in there, during practice, continuing to get the mental reps that I need.”
Titans WR Corey Davis vs. Jets CB Trumaine Johnson
Davis has emerged in his second season in the NFL. The No. 5-overall pick from the 2017 draft has 49 catches for 702 yards and three touchdowns this season. He had four catches for 96 yards and a 48-yard touchdown catch in last week’s loss to the Texans.
“This guy has big-play ability, physical receiver and especially on third down the quarterback really trusts him,” Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said. “This guy is really making plays when the ball is thrown to him.”
The Jets likely will put Johnson on Davis. The first-year Jet has been a disappointment so far, after signing a $72.5 million contract this offseason. He has been beaten by receivers repeatedly and has struggled to stay on the field. Last week against the Patriots, he gave up a big third-down pass to Josh Gordon. Secondary coach Dennard Wilson questioned this week whether Johnson is in shape after missing five games due to a groin injury in the middle of this year.
Marcus Mariota: Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was nearly perfect throwing the ball in last week’s loss to the Texans. He completed 22 of the 23 passes he attempted for the second-highest completion percentage in NFL history at 95.65. But Mariota cannot just kill teams with his arm. He is an elusive runner, rushing for 283 yards and two touchdowns this season, something the Jets have harped on this week.
“It’s a big challenge because he can really run the football,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “When you concentrate on that, he can really throw the football. So, the mobility as far as blitzing him and not blitzing him and covering the wideouts they have and trying to deal with the running backs and the tight ends with a huge offensive line is tough. I think they have a good system and he is working it to perfection right now.”
Out of balance: The Jets ditched the running game in last week’s loss to the Patriots. They had just 12 running plays to 50 passing plays. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates admitted this week things got out of whack, but he said he was going with what was working.
The Titans have allowed 116.5 yards per game on the ground this year and gave up 281 yards rushing last week to Houston — including 162 by Lamar Miller. You would think the Jets would get back to establishing the run Sunday. They have gone five straight games without gaining 100 yards rushing, their longest streak since 2005.
Road weary: The Jets are 1-4 this season away from home and have lost nine of their past 10 road games. Their only win came in Week 1 at Detroit. The Jets have two road games after this one to try to salvage some respectability as a road team.
Bowles said he does not see any particular issue with the team on the road.
“I really don’t. It’s been hard at home and hard on the road,” Bowles said. “We’ve just got to find a way to finish ball games. We have been in them on the road, we just haven’t closed them out.”
Playing takeaway: The Jets are in the midst of a remarkable streak. They have not forced a turnover in five straight games — the longest streak in team history and is tied for the longest streak in NFL history. It almost seems impossible to go that long without a takeaway. You’d think there would be a tipped ball, a fumbled snap, something that would go the Jets way.
The Titans have turned it over 13 times this season, which is tied for 12th most in the NFL. Where the Jets may have some success is getting to Mariota to create a turnover. The Titans have allowed 39 sacks this season, the most in the NFL.
The Jets have given no one any reason to think they are capable of winning games right now. Tennessee has lost its last two games and needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. It gets one.
Titans 30, Jets 14