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Jets live up to negative expectations

(TSX / STATS) -- FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Experts and Vegas bookmakers believed the New York Jets were headed into a season that would find them in the running for the top pick in next year's draft, and the team played to expectations in its 21-12 season-opening loss in Buffalo on Sunday.

The offense sputtered, the defense -- especially against the run -- was porous, the coaching decisions were puzzling and the team's best play of the game -- Juston Burris's interception in the end zone -- ended with him getting tackled by his own teammate after a 48-yard return ... and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Darron Lee.

But, hey, at least they kept it close going into the fourth quarter.

"I know from ya'lls perspective, when you look outside in, there's a narrative that you feel about this team," said Josh McCown, the Jets' 38-year-old starting quarterback who threw two interceptions on Sunday. "But when you're in it, and you're competing, you don't feel that. That's not how we approach it."

Changing that narrative will be a difficult task with a trip to Oakland next on the schedule, as the 1-0 Raiders looked dynamic in their win over the Titans in Nashville on Sunday.

For the Jets, stopping the run will have to be a point of emphasis at practice this week, as they allowed LeSean McCoy to gash them for 110 yards on 22 carries. Beefy fullback Mike Tolbert added 42 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor had 38 rushing yards on eight attempts.

The 190 rushing yards were the most allowed in the league through Sunday's games, five more than New England gave up in its loss to Kansas City. And despite McCown's quarterback sneak being the Jets' lone touchdown on Sunday, they ran for only 38 yards on 15 carries.

"If we can't run the ball and we can't stop the run, we're going to have a problem," said head coach Todd Bowles after the game.

Not two weeks ago the Jets traded former Pro Bowl run-stuffer Sheldon Richardson to the Seahawks in exchange for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a second-round draft pick. Kearse led the Jets with seven catches for 59 yards on Sunday, but didn't have a huge impact on the game.

Kearse and the Jets' offense stalled at their own 44-yard line down by nine with 4:00 to play and Bowles opted to punt instead of go for it on fourth-and-8. The Jets ran only one offensive play the rest of the game, McCown's second interception, to seal the win for Buffalo.

"We thought we'd get field position, and we had three timeouts," Bowles said of the decision. "We thought we could stop them and get the ball back. Simple as that."

--"0-1 doesn't define us," head coach Todd Bowles said about his message to the team after Sunday's game.

Actually, it's exactly what defines you, coach. As Bill Parcells used to say, "You are what your record says you are," and right now the Jets are tied for last place in the AFC East with the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. Bowles is now 15-18 as head coach of the Jets, while McCown is 1-17 in his last 18 starts.

Despite a 5-11 record last season, the Jets actually swept the Bills for their only two division wins, so this was a bit of payback for Buffalo, which got first-year head coach Sean McDermott his first career win.

The schedule gets no easier for the Jets, as they play in Oakland this week (the Raiders won at Tennessee on Sunday), then play host to Miami (the Dolphins' opener was postponed due to Hurricane Irma) and Jacksonville (the Jags won in Houston on Sunday).

--"We had one week to get six new guys in our offense caught up, and I'm not using that as an excuse, but I do see positives out of that as we get going," Kearse said about the team's offensive struggles.

Fair point. Gone are the days of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker making plays on the outside for the Jets.

And the turnover in personnel probably led to the coaching staff's conservative game plan. With only a few days to integrate the new guys, the Jets stuck to a mostly dink-and-dunk passing game. Kearse was one of the beneficiaries, with seven catches, as was former Giants tight end Will Tye (acquired off waivers just last week), who had three catches for 34 yards. Fellow tight end Eric Tomlinson had two catches for 25 yards before he left with an injury in the second quarter. Tomlinson suffered a sprained elbow, Bowles said on Monday, and his availability for Sunday's game against the Raiders is unknown.

On defense, two safeties made their Jets debuts. First-round pick Jamal Adams had five tackles, including one for a loss, and a pass deflection, and second-rounder Marcus Maye had seven tackles.

Third-rounder ArDarius Stewart had two catches for 10 yards from his wide receiver spot. His second catch was initially ruled a touchdown, but after a review, it was ruled he stepped out of bounds at the 1-yard line.

NOTES: WR Jeremy Kerley spent five seasons with the Jets, amassing 2,225 receiving yards, before playing for the 49ers last year. The Jets reacquired Kerley last week after San Francisco cut him, but he was inactive on Sunday because head coach Todd Bowles said he simply didn't have enough plays with the offense at practice. ... QB Christian Hackenberg is the new backup quarterback. The team announced it before Sunday's game in somewhat of a surprising move. Bryce Petty, in his third season with the Jets, had a stronger preseason statistically, but he was listed on the injury report (knee) despite practicing all last week. ... TE Jordan Leggett, the Jets' fifth-round pick out of Clemson earlier this year, was out Sunday with a knee injury. He hadn't practiced all week. Another tight end, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, was out because he was serving the first game of a two-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, as he was cited for DUI last year. ... LB Bruce Carter has a sprained ankle and his availability for Sunday's game in Oakland is unknown.

Updated September 11, 2017

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