The New York Jets returned from their bye in Week 7, only to get trounced by the New England Patriots, 54-13. It was just as bad as the score may suggest. Obviously, seven games is not sufficient evidence to start looking for new head coaches, but the feeling remains—at least for now, these are the same Jets of old. Before turning the page, let’s take one more solemn look in the rear-view mirror.
For the first time in this series, the aforementioned heading was not covered solely by “Zach Wilson.” The rookie left the game with a PCL sprain after taking a handful of late, and arguably dirty, hits. Before the injury, Wilson was pretty encouraging. Despite an ugly, drive-ending sack, Wilson showed flashes of twitchiness and later threw a good ball that resulted in a 46-yard Defensive Pass Interference. He’ll look to return in 2-4 weeks.
Until then, it’s the Mike White (and Joe Flacco) show. The backup was unsurprisingly ineffective, though he connected with Corey Davis for a touchdown to finish Wilson’s departing drive. It wasn’t a catastrophic performance, but the offense was rather stagnant. He’ll likely be relieved of his duties as soon as Flacco is ready.
The Running Backs
The Jets’ ground game wasn’t overly productive on Sunday, but the takeaway here should remain positive. Michael Carter saw the vast majority (72%) of snaps in Tevin Coleman’s absence. His grip on the starting spot is starting to solidify. He continues to showcase the contact balance and third-down abilities that got him drafted. To continue on his pass-game prowess, he earned 9 targets on his way to an 8-catch, 67-yard performance. I’d prefer if New York running backs never total 16 targets in a game again, but it was nice to see him handle his share of the responsibilities.
We’ll likely see some more of Ty Johnson in the passing game, too. He had 7 targets to complement the red zone carries he was granted. Johnson’s short-area burst makes him a decent fit at the goalline.
The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Mike White’s quarterbacking isn’t exactly conducive to wide receiver takes, but like the running backs, I was fairly encouraged by what went down. It took until Week 7, but New York Jets rookie Elijah Moore scored his first touchdown on a 19-yard reverse. His only other touch of the day was a screen pass, in which he evaded a tackle and gained 13 yards. Seeing manufactured touches for Moore was encouraging, even if legitimate receiving production has lagged behind.
Other than that, Davis and Jamison Crowder were both fine. Keelan Cole and Denzel Mims both saw a couple of targets, a single catch, and six yards. Mims’ snap count (20) was its highest of the season, though the game script certainly played a role in that. Moving forward, I’d like to see Mims get manufactured looks much like Moore did, especially if his snap count rises in this lost season.
Ryan Griffin remains below-replacement level, and it’s detrimental to the offense. It wouldn’t be overly surprising if they bought low on a tight end’s expiring contract, hoping to give him a look before the free agent circuit.
The Offensive Line
There’s plenty of blame to spread around regarding New York’s offensive line play. Wilson (and White) don’t offer much help setting protections, their communication is outright poor, and the coaching staff has failed to successfully address their struggles. Mishandling basic stunts and blitz pick-ups at this point in the season has been an embarrassing underscore to a unit that has had some flashes.
Alijah Vera-Tucker remains the biggest bright spot on the Jets’ offensive line. He allowed two pressures in what was a pretty strong performance in both pass protection and rushing assignments. Him, George Fant, and Morgan Moses have all been strong since their struggles of early September.
On the other hand, Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten have stunted the entire unit’s growth. McGovern’s inability to quarterback the line has resulted in easy pressures and allows for coordinators to drop more into coverage, making Wilson’s life more difficult. To his right is Van Roten, whose struggles have left Jets fans green around the gills. Priority number one this offseason will be finding his replacement.
The Defensive Line and Edge Rushers
Week 7 saw some pretty inconsistent run defense from the New York Jets, but I’d hesitate to pin that solely on the front four. The entire front-seven looked outmatched as the defense took a surprising step back. Quinnen Williams is still that dude and Nathan Shepherd made some of the best plays of his season, but the interior wasn’t great on Sunday.
Long-term, I don’t have any concerns regarding the group, but the entire defense looked flat, and they weren’t immune.
New York didn’t generate much pressure without dialing up heavier blitzes. Tim Ward headlined the Jets edge group in England but came back to earth. John Franklin-Myers, Shaq Lawson, and Bryce Huff were similarly stifled by New England’s offensive line.
The Jets missed C.J. Mosley in a big way on Sunday. Blake Cashman frankly didn’t seem rosterable in his 33 snaps. Given the athletic potential he offered, it was incredibly disappointing.
Two bright spots here were Del’Shawn Phillips, who played fairly well, and Quincy Williams. The former had the team’s lone sack. Williams looked decent in coverage and made a nice break on a pass before dropping an interception. To Saleh’s credit, some of his young linebackers have looked good in his scheme.
The entire defense struggled to tackle, and while this may also be tied to circumstance, it wasn’t their first offense.
On what would foreshadow the grim day ahead, Bryce Hall was beat on a trick play from the Patriots’ opening script. Thankfully for Hall, that was his worst play of the day. He played pretty well from there on out and continues to be the best corner on the roster.
Furthermore, Carter II continued his strong rookie season. Take my lack of elaboration as a good thing when it comes to play in the secondary. His presence in the slot has been vital to this defense. Overall, this young position group has easily been Saleh’s biggest win.
Echols continued this trend in what was one of his best games from a man coverage standpoint. Jakobi Meyers is no slouch, and got the best of Echols at times, but it was ultimately a strong performance against quality competition. Nobody wants to be the guy to surrender Meyer’s first touchdown, and thanks to Echols it will almost certainly not be a Jet.
Another victory here is the play from Javelin Guidry. I was hard on him early in the year but he’s been solid in his limited playing time.
From a performance perspective, it likely wasn’t New York’s best game from this position group, but it’s certainly left me the most excited. Marcus Maye and Ashtyn Davis, the two most talented safeties on the roster, finally shared the field for 100% of the team’s snaps for the first time since Week 12 of last season.
Additionally, one thing that stood out was Maye’s play in man coverage. He was sticky and technically-sound, showing off his versatility against some legitimately good players. Even if it’s just an audition for the rest of the league, it was nice to see him play well.
Davis wasn’t as productive, but I’d wager he’ll continue seeing the vast majority of snaps next to Maye. His physical tools were on display as he regularly displayed the range and hit power that Douglas drafted him for. He’s still a little raw, but I’m genuinely optimistic about his game.
The Special Teams Units
It’s important to preface this with the notion that the New York Jets special teams were not put in a position to win in Week 7. Conservative play calling and a poor showing on both sides of the ball certainly don’t help, but the units had a subpar outing.
Matt Ammendola missed another field goal, in what has been a disappointing turn of events. Cole and Braxton Berrios failed to do any damage and were outgained on a per-kick basis by Gunner Olszewski. The lone positive on this end has been Thomas Morstead’s fueling of a punter controversy.
Week 7 wasn’t kind to the New York Jets. Without Wilson, and with a matchup against the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals, Week 8 may not be very nice either. New York had two weeks to prepare for a rival they had already seen, and yet they still got pantsed.
In what is easily the lowest point of the Saleh administration, making the necessary adjustments to field a competitive team will be vital in not losing the fanbase, and potentially the locker room. Despite their struggles, this coaching staff has done a lot of good, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Ensuring the team doesn’t spiral out of control in what will likely be a brutal stretch is paramount in continuing to develop the young talents on the roster.