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Jets Nearly Capture First Win of Season, Can't Catch Up to Justin Herbert's Chargers

Different week, same story for the New York Jets.

New York showed glimpses of greatness on both sides of the ball in Los Angeles on Sunday, but couldn't hang with the Chargers and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. 

Despite making it interesting down the stretch in the second half, the Jets extended their franchise-worst record to start a season, falling 34-28 to the Chargers.

Herbert had his best game of the season, toying with New York's inexperienced secondary. The Offensive Rookie of the Year front runner threw for 366 yards with three touchdowns.

Jets quarterback Joe Flacco settled in nicely after an awful start—throwing a pick six on his first pass attempt of the game from his own six yard line—but it was too little too late. Replacing an injured Sam Darnold for the fourth time this year, Flacco had 205 yards going 15-for-30 through the air.

Here are three takeaways on New York's performance Sunday evening as the Jets drop to 0-10 and take another step closer to the first pick in next spring's draft.

Offense runs through the Jets' starting wide receivers

At halftime, the Jets were losing 24-6 and Flacco had yet to complete a pass to a wide receiver.

In fact, it took until the three-minute mark in the third quarter for the trio of Jamison Crowder, rookie Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman to each have at least one catch. 

When those three were involved on Sunday—as was the case in New York's previous game against the Patriots when they combined for close to 200 yards—this offense showed it has potential to be explosive. Flacco aired it out consistently in the second half, going from two targets to that trio through halftime to a total of 15 at the final whistle.

For the second game in a row, Flacco connected with Perriman over the top on a deep ball for a touchdown pass, finding the veteran on a 49-yard bomb at the start of the third.

Mims wound up leading the team with three catches, eight targets and 72 yards. Each of his three grabs were balls lobbed down the sideline where Mims had to use his length, size and hands to come up with the football. 

The trio ended up with a total of 141 receiving yards on the day. 

Even Jets tight end Chris Herndon had a solid game on Sunday, making two pretty catches, including a touchdown grab late in the fourth quarter. 

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It's hard not to wonder what this offense could be capable of with Trevor Lawrence at quarterback. Rookie La'Mical Perine still has some room to grow (the running back exited the game with an ankle injury and had just 33 rushing yards while Frank Gore had almost double his carries), but this core of receivers is good enough to build around. Use draft capital to add playmakers and reliable assets on the offensive line, maybe seek to add another veteran receiver with a surplus of cap space this offseason and the Jets could be up to something. 

No answers in the secondary for Justin Herbert

Considering the Jets put up 28 points, including a safety in garbage time as the Chargers ran out the clock, you'd like to think that's enough to secure a win, right? After all, 28 points ties New York's best offensive performance this season...

Not quite. The Jets simply had no answer for Justin Herbert all game long. 

The first-rounder set a new career-high with 366 yards through the air. He completed 37 of his 49 passes, spreading the football around to eight different Chargers. He was launching deep balls down the field and firing lasers through tight windows. 

For Herbert, 277 of those yards came in the first half. Keenan Allen couldn't be stopped either as the wideout had 16 catches for 145 yards.

Remember, this was the first game for New York without recently-waived corner Pierre Desir as well as injured cornerbacks Bless Austin and Brian Poole. Sunday gave rookies like Bryce Hall and Ashtyn Davis in the secondary invaluable experience and irreplaceable in-game reps. But Herbert, in just his ninth game in the NFL, was able to do whatever he wanted through the air.

The Jets now have six games left to continue giving their young corners and safeties chances to face talented quarterbacks and get snaps under their belts. At the very least, it's a chance for Adam Gase and this organization's coaching staff to evaluate which of their rookies have what it takes to potentially start in the secondary next year and beyond.

Defensive line continues to show potential

While the Chargers were able to throw it at will, the Jets defensive line still had a solid game. 

New York combined to sack Herbert three times and had six tackles for loss. Los Angeles' running backs combined for just 29 yards on the ground on 26 carries.

Defensive end Henry Anderson, even after missing practice this week, was tremendous. He blocked a punt in the first quarter—which led to New York's first score of the game—and added half a sack as well. Same goes for second-year defensive lineman Quinnen Williams who recovered the blocked punt and worked his way into the backfield on several different occasions. 

The lone turnover that the Jets forced in this one came in the first quarter shortly after the blocked punt. Safety Marcus Maye poked the ball loose from Allen close to the goal line and Davis pounced on it. 

Indicative of the Jets' entire season, however, the next play was Flacco's pick six. The Jets are starting to have more and more impact plays over the last few weeks, but can't quite transfer them into the momentum necessary to win a game. At least not yet.

Next up for the Jets? The division rival Miami Dolphins take a visit to MetLife Stadium next weekend. 

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