Jets drag losing streak cross country to face Chargers
The New York Jets will try to end the second-longest losing streak in team history when they visit the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif.
The Jets (0-9) have lost nine straight games in the same season for the first time in club history. They are three losses from matching their longest losing streak ever, a 12-game skid that bridged the 1995-96 seasons.
Quarterback Joe Flacco will start his second consecutive game for New York in place of injured Sam Darnold, who hasn’t taken a snap since aggravating a right shoulder ailment against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 1.
After combining for 29 points in four games from Oct. 11-Nov. 1, the Jets nearly matched that total in their most recent performance, but they lost 30-27 to the visiting New England Patriots on Nov. 9, thanks to a last-second field goal.
“Defensively, we’ve just got to continue to get better at getting people off the field,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. “We’ve got to get teams into third-and-longer and then get off the field.”
The Chargers (2-7) are familiar with gut-wrenching defeats. All seven of their losses this season have been by eight points or fewer, and four times they blew leads of 16 points or more.
Los Angeles most recently lost 29-21 to the Miami Dolphins last week.
The Chargers are expected to have two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa back after he missed the past two games due to a concussion. He practiced fully on Wednesday.
One of the bright spots for the Chargers continues to be rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who has thrown for 2,333 yards in eight games this season, tossing 19 touchdown passes and six interceptions.
His 102.8 passer rating ranks 10th in the league, ahead of veterans Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (99.0), Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons (99.0) and Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions (96.2).
Herbert has thrown at least two TD passes in each of the past six games, becoming the first NFL rookie to accomplish that feat.
The Chargers’ offense has also been aided by the emergence of third-year running back Kalen Ballage, a fourth-round pick out of Arizona State who was signed to the team’s practice squad on Oct. 9 after he was released by the Jets a week earlier.
Ballage rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown in his team debut on Nov. 8, a 31-26 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, and he accounted for 102 total yards in the loss to the Dolphins.
“I just want to go win a football game,” Ballage said after the Miami contest.
Los Angeles wide receiver Keenan Allen, who last week moved into second place behind Antonio Gates on the team’s all-time reception list, was straightforward when asked how the Chargers can start winning the close games.
“Make plays,” he said. “That’s it.”
Heading into this week, there was optimism that Darnold finally would start an NFL game in Southern California, where he attended San Clemente High School and USC, but the Jets announced on Tuesday that Darnold would remain sidelined.
The Jets moved up three spots in the 2018 NFL Draft to select Darnold third overall but now appear on track to finish with the worst record in the league, putting them in position to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick.
New York is expected to have rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton back after he departed the New England game due to chest congestion.
–Field Level Media