It wasn't being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and it wasn't the horrible playcalling, which sparked speculation that coach Adam Gase had reclaimed the playcalling duties from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains at halftime. He didn't, but maybe he should.
No, the worst thing was having to watch Chargers rookie Justin Herbert and wonder what might have been with Sam Darnold. That had to pain the Jets, seeing the gifted Herbert thrive with so many playmakers around him. That should be the Jets, especially three years into the Darnold era. But, no. Instead of growing with a young franchise quarterback, the Jets found themselves in the worst possible place for a Week 11 game:
In a meaningless situation with a 35-year-old Joe Flacco leading a stripped-down roster filled with rookies and NFL wannabes -- a past quarterback on a future team. Is there anything more depressing than that?
Darnold (shoulder) missed his fourth game in a six-game span, another lost opportunity to reverse his struggles. He has a "good shot" of playing next Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, according to Gase, which sets up a six-game audition/showcase that could increase his value for a potential trade in the offseason. It's sad that we're talking about the end of Darnold, but this is what happens when an organization squanders talent.
As for Herbert, he was absolutely brilliant, passing for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Bad haircut, great arm.
The Jets (0-10) should be green -- greener? -- with envy.
Biggest hole in the game plan: Loggains called plays as if the Chargers (3-7) had Deion Sanders and Night Train Lane at cornerback. The Jets' top three wide receivers, which showed promise in the last game, finished with just seven receptions. In fact, they didn't complete a ball to a wideout until the 12-minute mark of the third quarter. How is that possible in the modern NFL? Loggains knows Flacco's best attribute is his big arm, and yet he managed to tie that arm behind his quarterback's back for 30 minutes.
The CBS cameras caught Gase sending in plays to the quarterback in the second half, but he said Loggains remainder the play caller. Said Gase: "He tells me what play to call and I sent it in." Very weird.
QB Breakdown: Flacco was terrible in the first half, which included a pick-6 on his first pass, but he rallied and actually gave the Jets a chance in the fourth quarter. It was Bad Joe to Good Joe. He threw a couple of touchdown passes (49 yards to Breshad Perriman and six yards to Chris Herndon), as he finally started to test the Los Angeles cornerbacks with long passes. In the end, he couldn't deliver in crunch time, throwing three straight incompletions with a chance to tie the game.
Flacco (15-for-30, 205 yards) fell to 0-4 as the starter. The Jets have lost 15 straight, dating to 2016, when they start a backup quarterback. It's time for Darnold, assuming his right shoulder is healthy.
Troubling trend: The Jets' pass defense was shredded by Herbert and wide receiver Keenan Allen (16 catches for 145 yards), but what did you expect? They lost their top three corners in a week -- Pierre Desir (cut), Blessuan Austin (injured reserve) and Brian Poole (IR). That would stagger any team, let alone a team with no proven depth. The Jets started three rookies in the secondary, including corners Bryce Hall and Lamar Jackson. It wasn't a fair flight. For the Chargers, it was like pitch-and-catch in the park.
Silver lining: For those on the "Tank for Trevor" bandwagon, the Jets remained the frontrunner for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft, holding serve against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9).