The NFL is a war of attrition, but the problem for the Jets (3-4) is that they have very few players they can rely on every week.
Quincy Enunwa looked to be Sam Darnold's favorite target, but then he suffered a high ankle sprain and missed Sunday's 37-17 loss to the Vikings that snapped New York's two-game winning streak. He could be out until after the Jets' Week 11 bye.
Isaiah Crowell had a franchise record 219 rushing yards against the Broncos, but tweaked his foot late in the game. While he's played the last two weeks, he has only 69 yards on 24 carries and three catches for 34 yards. Now, Bilal Powell may also be out with an injured neck.
Darnold himself has been mostly healthy. He showed up on the injury report last week with an elbow injury (it was either hit when he threw an interception against the Colts, or when he tackled said interceptor, Malik Hooker -- or both). But rookies can't be counted on for consistency. While not all of the 21-year-old's 11 turnovers were his fault, he's still giving the ball away at an alarming rate.
"It's not just Sam," said head coach Todd Bowles about the team's issues on his Monday conference call with reporters. "It's the offense, defense and special teams. Our team has to do better, it's not about just Sam. It's about us coaching better. It's about us playing better in all three phrases."
Shockingly, the offensive line -- LT Kelvin Beachum, LG James Carpenter, C Spencer Long, RG Brian Winters, RT Brandon Shell -- has been the same for all seven games this season, but it's overall consistency just isn't there. The Jets are a middling rushing offense, and the same in pass protection. And Long has been dealing with a finger issue, causing him to have trouble with shotgun snaps.
Defensively, it's much of the same. Safety Jamal Adams is a fringe Pro Bowl candidate, linebacker Darron Lee has three interceptions, but not much else, and Avery Williamson has been a solid free-agent signing.
But as much as everyone likes to say how Leonard Williams disrupts an offense by regularly taking on double-teams, the defensive end's production still isn't that of a dominant pass rusher.
The secondary has been a revolving door. The Jets signed cornerback Trumaine Johnson to a five-year, $72.5 million deal, but he's played only four games. Nickel corner Buster Skrine's career could be in jeopardy after fourth concussion in as many seasons. Free safety Marcus Maye has missed four games, and now his replacement, Doug Middleton, is reportedly out for the season.
"We got 53 guys on the team and that's why those guys made the team," Bowles said regarding the injury situation. "Somebody goes down, the next guy has to step up."
Nobody is going to cry over the Jets' injuries, but they had 17 players listed on their injury report last week -- that's nearly a third of their 53-man roster. And there's only so much they can do when their only mainstay on offense is a turnover-prone rookie, and their defense is only successful when (or more like if) they're getting turnovers.
The Jets have played only two games against teams that currently have a winning record (Miami and Minnesota) and they lost to each at home by more than a touchdown. They were installed as six-point favorites for their game in Chicago this week against the Bears (3-3), but the line moved quickly up to seven, meaning those betting the game expect New York to fall to 3-5 (and that's with two games against the Patriots, another in Miami and one against the Packers still to come).
Bowles probably said it best regarding the competition.
"We consider them all tough, so it's not like it's an easy week and then a hard week," he said. "We just have to execute, it's really that simple. You got to execute every week in this league and you got to win games differently. They are not going to be blowouts or anything like that. They're going to be close games and their a few plays in a game that's going to turn the tide and we got to make those plays. We didn't make them yesterday."
Moral of the story: The Jets have too many problems internally right now to worry about what their opponents are doing.