Projections for Mets starting pitchers confirm concerns

Mets starting pitcher Jacob DeGrom
Photo Credit: Brad Penner/Reuters

With winter comes the freezing of roads, lakes, and every so often, the Major League Baseball offseason. The ongoing lockout produced a flurry of moves at the crux of free agency. It also provided us with an exhausting pause, long enough to examine what is left to accomplish before games begin. For the New York Mets, that means taking a look at the current cast of starting pitchers, their projections, and the work that needs to be done.

As it currently stands, New York is set to trot out Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, and Tylor Megill. David Peterson and Trevor Williams are their first reinforcements, and it’s possible both see time in the bullpen.

Sending out the best pitcher in baseball and his potential runner-up for 40% of your starts is a wonderful place to start making championship aspirations. However, both are a hop, skip, and a jump away from their age-30 seasons, and deGrom’s health is… on the decline. Expecting them to eclipse 200 innings is setting oneself up for disappointment.

That realization only increases the importance of the back half of the rotation. Unfortunately for the Mets, each option has its own set of question marks attached.

Taijuan Walker was the worst pitcher in baseball after his appearance in the All-Star game. Carlos Carrasco only pitched in 12 games, but his 11.42 FIP — or Fielding-Independent Pitching — in the first inning certainly wasn’t fun to watch. Heading into his age-35 season, he isn’t the guy Mets fans thought of at the time of his acquisition.

The younger rotation options have some pedigree to them. Megill offers an intriguing pitch mix and has already displayed his potential — he allowed a mere three runs in the 26 July innings he pitched.

Peterson’s 2021 was as short-lived as it was bad, but he’s a former first-round selection that showed off a nice arm-side fastball, glove-side slider approach during his rookie campaign.

Both have command issues that perturb them, with Megill missing inside the zone too often and Peterson failing to finish a season with a walk rate below 10%.

Projections for the 2022 New York Mets Starting Pitchers

My attempt at cultivating projections for the Mets starting pitchers started with Tom Tango’s Marcels system, based on a 5-3-1 weighted average for the last three years of a player’s career, and then regressing to the mean.

My model also starts with a weighted average, though the weights differ from Tango’s and more weights were added for one’s career average and the league average. Throw in regression towards both (with an age adjustment) and your projections are essentially complete. 

Anyway, enough with the nerdy stuff. How did they project?

Note: projected innings are from FanGraphs’ Depth Charts projections. xERA and fWAR projections are estimates that do not mirror the exact formulas. 

As we can see, there are no real surprises at the top. deGrom should continue to dominate, even if it’s to a lesser extent than we’ve grown used to. Scherzer’s gray hairs dampen his projection, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better pair of aces.

These projections confirm the idea of the Mets back-end starting pitchers being a cause for concern. Walker and Carrasco both have bright spots in their profile and look to have fairly decent years. Still, if New York is competing in October, it’ll be necessary for somebody else to be starting the NLDS’ third game.

That somebody could very well be Megill. He’s got the highest ceiling of his depth-dwelling teammates. Of course, guaranteeing him a rotation spot runs a familiar risk: running out of pitching depth. Giving Megill every chance to prove himself is fine. Relying on him to deliver (and stay healthy) could result in yet another midsummer crash.

Thus, integration into the bullpen makes a lot of sense for New York. Carrasco has experience there; Williams is best suited for long relief. One can argue Megill’s stuff is a better fit for the bullpen, and Peterson can offer something the current bullpen cannot: left-handedness. Three of those four should either be in the bullpen or AAA by Opening Day.

Projecting Potential Free Agent Acquisitions

Say the Mets plan for Carrasco to start in the rotation, Megill to develop in the ‘pen, Williams to continue as the long-relief option, and Peterson to marinate in Syracuse. Who fills the cavity within the starting rotation?

Of the remaining free agents, these are the six I’d imagine have the most mutual interest. There aren’t many big fish left to catch in this lake, but it doesn’t mean some of them can’t contribute to a contender. The following contract projections are from Jon Becker’s (@jonbecker_) Free Agent Matrix.

The Dream

Carlos Rodón, 29, Projected Contract: 3 years, $48 mil, $16 mil AAV

A move I was bullish on heading into the offseason remains a possibility deep into the winter. Carlos Rodón was pitching at an elite level in 2021 before injuries capped him at 132.2 innings. He accumulated a 4.9 fWAR, a 12.55 K/9, and a 2.37 ERA, due in large part to a rise in fastball velocity from 93 to 95.4 mph.

This raises some important questions. Can he retain the velocity boost as he approaches 30? Will he ever stay healthy? To both of those, I lean “probably not.”

The adjustments Rodón has made clearly had the desired effect, and they didn’t add any injury risk. Hurt players stay hurt, and it has likely driven his price down. Regarding his heater, I think that the 95 mph mark is a reasonable starting point. Sadly, at 29 years old, it is only a matter of time before it falters. 

Moreover, Steve Cohen made it clear that when he goes over the luxury tax, he goes over the luxury tax. Thus, I’m not too concerned about a deal less significant than a qualifying offer scaring the Mets owner. The injury history increases the likelihood of a deal remaining short-term, too. 

There aren’t many ~3.6 ERA, 3 WAR pitchers on the open market, especially with this kind of upside. It’s a risk worth taking if New York wants a legitimate #3 without the burden of losing prospects via trade. 

Definitely Worth a Look

Danny Duffy, 33, Projected Contract: 1 year, $8.5 mil

Perhaps the best pure fit of any candidate is Danny Duffy. The ex-Royal beat the Mets in the 2015 World Series but hasn’t gotten back to the playoffs. Duffy can be the lefty New York needs and has rotation/bullpen versatility.

Duffy was weirdly good last year, and while he outperformed his peripherals, his 3.40 FIP was its first time sub-4.00 since 2017. The model didn’t totally buy in. Yet, a handful of teams would pay for an innings-eating Southpaw with an acceptable ERA. He’d make Buck Showalter’s life easier and won’t break the bank.

Zack Greinke, 38, Projected Contract: 1 year, $10.5 mil

Giving one of baseball’s beloved pitchers a retirement tour and a final chance to pitch in the playoffs would make for some memories, regardless of the result. If old age or the universal DH sends him into retirement, so be it, but for the time being, he should be on the Mets’ radar.

Greinke has managed to remain consistent and healthy with age. One could point to a 6.32 K/9 as a red flag that Father Time is looming, but the projections seem to have faith. Greinke’s projections of a 4.09 FIP and 4.04 xERA would rank third and fifth among Mets starting pitchers, respectively. 

He’s no longer an ace, but New York may find themselves in the market for more mid-level arms. You can never have too much depth, and Greinke’s playoff experience could prove fruitful. 

Michael Pineda, 33, Projected Contract: 2 years, $20 mil, $10 mil AAV

Honestly, this one was surprising. It wasn’t pretty, but Pineda fought his way to 1.4 fWAR in just over 100 innings. He also managed to retain some of the success he saw in his spectacular 2020. Pineda has been better than advertised since leaving the bright lights of the Big Apple. If he’s willing to pitch under the brightest lights once again, the Mets should consider it.

Mirroring Megill in frame and repertoire, Pineda offers a glimpse into what the sophomore may look like on the wrong side of 30: less dynamic, but equally consistent. I doubt he takes on bullpen responsibilities, but if the Mets feel Megill’s long-term development as a starter can be unlocked without a spot in the rotation, Pineda offers similar production. Like Greinke, if they aren’t making a move for a stud, they still need to add depth. Pineda fits the bill.

Thanks, But No Thanks

Tyler Anderson, 32, Projected Contract: 2 Years, $14 mil, $7 mil AAV

As much as the Mets should pursue left-handers this offseason, Anderson shouldn’t be one of them. A former first-round selection who sports incredible walk and chase rates, Anderson certainly has his fans across the league. The model, on the other hand, disagrees. 

For someone who pitches to contact as much as Anderson (7.22 K/9 last year), his ability to limit hard contact isn’t sustainable enough. A projected WHIP of 1.35 would be higher than all but five qualified starters from 2021. With Anderson’s profile, he needs to be exceptional at limiting base runners and extra-base hits. There’s a good chance that isn’t in the cards this season.

His projections aren’t inspiring and it’s doubtful he outperforms any of the Mets starting pitchers. It’d be a move simply for depth. With Anderson’s lack of upside, they are better off searching for analytics darlings at a discount. 

Yusei Kikuchi, 31, Projected Contract: 3 Years, $27 mil, $9 mil AAV

Another personal surprise, Kikuchi’s projections fell short of all but Trevor Williams. He’s long been a breakout candidate, perennially close to turning the corner. In his age-32 season, that ship may have sailed.

He’s gone through encouraging jumps in fastball velocity and pitched well in the shortened 2020 season. Yet he’s struggled to maintain success. He’s another contract that is affordable and not an overbearing commitment (three years might be a little rich, too). 

Unfortunately, in his price range there are just better options. Thankfully, there’s no cataclysmic move New York can make with this group of starters, and that includes Kikuchi. Unless the analytics department is sold on the Kikuchi breakout coming in 2022, anything more than a one-year “prove it” deal would be ill-advised.

Jahan Dotson Scouting Report

Penn State, WR, Jahan Dotson (Photo via USA Today)
Penn State, WR, Jahan Dotson (Photo via USA Today)

Penn State’s Jahan Dotson presents an intriguing blend of traits, but with his Senior Bowl status in doubt, his collegiate film has become a slightly bigger piece of his scouting report.

Dotson is one of several Nittany Lions to be projected as a top-100 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. In fact, his exceptional athleticism may render him the earliest selection of the bunch. Expect a pass-happy league to value his services with a top-50 selection.

The Penn State product’s game is headlined by truly impressive body control. That ability could see him thrive over the middle of the field, where he draws his most favorable comparisons.

Additionally, Dotson’s athleticism can lend itself to manufactured touches at or behind the line of scrimmage, paving the way for early production.

Jahan Dotson Scouting Report

Explaining the Grade

An 8/10 on the Around The Block scale represents a prospect who could start from the jump if necessary. They should not be relied upon heavily, though.

Given his ability to separate and make plays at the catch point, it is likely Dotson starts fairly early on. If he manages to play bigger than his size, it could be smooth sailing from there.

However, his size and lack of elite production may be signs of a difficult transition. Cleaning up the occasional body catch will be vital. Retaining his ability to block could be key in earning reps. The nuance is already there for Dotson. He just needs to stay afloat long enough to see it come to fruition.

Moreover, it seems my Jahan Dotson scouting report will fall below the consensus. The limitations in his profile garner a third-round grade on my personal board. Yet, the path to becoming an effective starter persists.

Elsewhere, though, he’s seen his stock balloon into the draft’s first night. With a strong pre-draft circuit, that shouldn’t be ruled out.

New York Jets Week 17 Observations

new york jets week 17
Credit: Last Word on Sports

We thought Tom Brady leaving New England for Tampa Bay would end the winter heartbreaks and soul-crushing fourth-quarter drives. It merely delayed the inevitable. In Week 17, the New York Jets fell to the NFC South-leading Buccaneers, 28-24. From promising rookies to glimpses at the deepest parts of the depth chart, let’s take a look at what went down.

Zach Wilson

Zach Wilson’s best day as a pro was overshadowed by the 4th down blunder late in the game, but it shouldn’t take away from his performance. Wilson, against a talented Tampa Bay defense, totaled 234 yards through the air and didn’t turn the ball over. He repeatedly threw receivers open, dazzled in tight windows, and showcased the twitchiness that got him to New York.

For the second week in a row, Wilson will be tasked with building on a strong performance. Using this final stretch as a springboard for 2022 will be paramount in his, and the team’s, development.

Running Backs

Michael Carter looked good in his few snaps, grabbing nine receiving yards and a 55-yard rush. He’d leave with a concussion soon after. If his rookie campaign is indeed over, he can sit tight knowing he’s locked up a significant role in the future of this offense. 

As for the rest of the backs, it was nice to see Austin Walter get a couple dozen snaps in. The production wasn’t impressive (14 carries, 49 yards) but the workload in relief was promising. Ty Johnson saw the rest of the carries and a decent amount of third-down work (three catches on four targets). Frankly, Johnson has disappointed since an intriguing start to the year. He has struggled to produce with any sort of consistency and could be deemed expendable this offseason.

Moreover, it’s time Nick Bawden sees some recognition. New York’s first real fullback since Tommy Bohanon, Bawden has excelled as a versatile blocker in his short stint.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Without Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, and Jamison Crowder, expectations were tempered for the receiving room heading into Sunday; and rightfully so.

Keelan Cole only caught two of five targets, despite Wilson’s impressive efforts. It was a step back from the better performances he’s showcased in 2021. Jeff Smith hauled in a singular 13-yard catch. Denzel Mims did not play in the loss.

Where the conversation turns, however, is with Braxton Berrios. An upcoming free agent, Berrios has emerged as a “must re-sign” candidate. His ability to contribute on special teams, on the ground, and through the air has made him the leading candidate for New York’s fourth wide receiver. A slow offseason could see Berrios start in the slot come 2022.

 In Week 17, Berrios was the only New York Jets receiver to make any sizeable impact. Between two carries and eight catches, he racked up 77 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson’s fourth-down sneak would rob him of a chance at a hat trick.

At tight end, Kenny Yeboah and Daniel Brown held down the fort. Wilson was successful in targeting the duo, posting a 100% completion percentage and 65 yards on a quartet of passes. Yeboah may have flashed enough to earn a depth spot next season, but it was a fairly uneventful day for the position group.

Offensive Line

The New York Jets offensive line had been dismantled by injuries well before Week 17. Surprisingly, they managed to put together a strong game against a very good Buccaneer front.

On the interior, Dan Feeney and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif outperformed expectations. Alijah Vera-Tucker continued his awesome rookie year, too. The three combined to play a major role in New York’s rushing attack. Tampa Bay’s interior defensive line had a uniquely quiet Sunday.

At tackle, George Fant exited early with a knee injury. His season is over, but like Carter, he’s played himself into 2022 plans for the Jets. His ability to play both tackle spots may become necessary when Mekhi Becton returns. Chuma Edoga would replace him on Sunday. Morgan Moses played well in the loss, though the tackles were outshined by their interior counterparts.

Defensive Line and Edge Rushers

It was a quiet day for New York’s defensive line, an unsurprising development given the talent the Buccaneers possess. Still, a few flash plays slipped through the cracks. Foley Fatukasi racked up two tackles for loss in what was one of the best games of his season. Nathan Shepherd and Sheldon Rankins had some disruptions, too, though they failed to find the stat sheet.

As a whole, the Jets held Tampa Bay to three yards per carry. Given the challenge in the trenches and their propensity to fold against any rushing attack, the defense’s performance against the run was very encouraging. 

Much like Week 15’s game against the Miami Dolphins, New York edge rushers were never going to have an impact on this game. And that’s okay! Brady getting the ball out quick is clockwork, so don’t be disappointed in the edge group’s lack of success. 

Ronald Blair III would replace Huff, another member of the Injured Reserve (IR) club. Playing 77% of the snaps, I felt he jumped off the screen a couple of times. For a guy whose first snaps of the season came in Week 10, he’s adjusted well.


C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams share many similarities. Being better against the run than the pass is one of them, and it sure looked like it against the Buccaneer’s talented crop of targets. Brady and company did a good job of attacking the middle of the field and putting the two in a bind on more than one occasion.

The other side of the coin, of course, was found in their run defense. Both consistently held down their assignments and played fast, downhill football to complement the front four.


Perhaps the most interesting position group from Sunday’s defeat was the cornerbacks. In Week 17, the New York Jets, for the first time all year, saw Bryce Hall play worse than Brandin Echols and Michael Carter II. That isn’t to say he was bad, but Mike Evans and Antonio Brown both had their fair share of wins against him.

Echols had another strong performance, intercepting Brady on a fade route to Evans. He had his best game since returning from injury in Week 14 and he rose to the occasion against possibly the best team on their schedule. 

On the inside Carter showcased an important part of his skillset, blitzing for New York’s only sack. He too had a pretty good day at the office. Of course, the entire defense got shredded in the game’s final minute, but Brady in the clutch is football’s version of divine intervention… maybe we should grant them a pass.


The star of the show in the safety room this week was Jason Pinnock. The rookie corner started at safety and had his best game to date. He was quiet but effective. Most importantly, he epitomized Robert Saleh’s vision of an athletic, versatile defense. There’s a reason Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood were handpicked by the rookie head coach. Versatility will be a key for the future of this defense, and Saleh may have picked up his first true win in that regard.

Ashtyn Davis was out-snapped by Pinnock but wasn’t a detriment to the defense. Elsewhere, Elijah Riley played with a ton of energy, and though he was a step slow on the game-winning touchdown pass, he was quick physically and mentally throughout the contest.

Special Teams Units

It was smooth sailing for the New York Jets special teamers in Week 17. This might as well be another segment on Berrios. He’s been a sparkplug time and time again and averaged 27.5 yards per return. When teams intentionally kick around you, chances are you’re doing something right.

No major miscues elsewhere is a moral victory New York will gladly take. No missed extra points, no penalties-turned-to-missed field goals. There weren’t any poorly executed fakes, either! 


Sunday may have played host to the most irrelevant soul-crushing loss in recent memory. To play so well only to fall apart at the end in such disastrous fashion was such a “same old Jets” moment. Ultimately, it was the most painful route to the best-case scenario. Wilson played well, as did many other young players, and they kept their pick safe within the top five, at least for now.

As for next week, they’ll head to Buffalo as heavy underdogs. It won’t mean much for their place in the standings, but a promising week could answer a lot of questions as they cross the finish line. For Saleh and his young coaching staff, these next four quarters could be monumental.

New York Jets Week 15 Observations

New York Jets Week 15
Photo Credit:

The holiday season is upon us, but there isn’t much cheer to be found across the New York football landscape. The New York Jets fell to the Miami Dolphins by a score of 31-24 in Week 15, piling on another loss in the franchise’s 11th consecutive lost season. The offense hasn’t put up more than ten points in the second half of a game since Week 10. The defense may be the worst in team history. Simply put, things can be better. Here’s how it went down on Sunday.

Zach Wilson

Zach Wilson has been the worst starting quarterback in football this season. His tendency to make the simple look complicated has stunted the offense time and time again. Thankfully, Week 15 saw the New York Jets rookie take some steps forward in this regard. He wasn’t outstanding by any means (13/23, 170 yards, 0 Passing TD, 0 INT), but the signs of progress were encouraging.

The impact of Mike White’s performance manifested itself in Wilson hitting the checkdown and short, first read much more frequently. He showcased the same instinctiveness we saw in college to avoid some sacks. Perhaps most importantly, he kept the ball out of harm’s way, outside of a lone lost fumble. The next step for Wilson is to successfully run the offense outside of scripted drives early in games. 

The Running Backs

Tevin Coleman’s experience in a Mike LaFleur-like offense showed up early in the season and continued in Miami. He did get more favorable blocking than Michael Carter, but made the most of his carries. His proper vision and footwork were on display and helped him accumulate 50 yards on the ground. 

Moving on, I’ve been a huge supporter of Carter during his rookie campaign. With that said, he did not play particularly well on Sunday. He found himself working horizontally for too long, failing to climb vertically before a defender brought him to the ground. He weirdly struggled to gain traction in the passing game, too.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Injuries to Corey Davis and Elijah Moore were always going to cripple this offense. Unfortunately, nobody truly stepped up to the plate at wide receiver. Jamison Crowder became the go-to option, garnering five catches on eight targets. Given the state of the depth chart and offense, he’d be the only pass-catcher to see more than three targets. 

Braxton Berrios looked good in his limited touches as he fights for a 2022 roster spot. On the other hand, Denzel Mims had another gloomy day. Wilson could not connect with Mims on any of his three targets. His weaknesses as a route runner continued to get exposed. That hurdle in the path to larger responsibilities may be the one that ultimately ends his Jets tenure. 

For what seems like the first time this season, I was impressed by the tight end group. Wilson completed each of his five targets to Ryan Griffin, Tyler Kroft, and Trevon Wesco. There were seized opportunities after the catch and no painstaking blunders reminiscent of past weeks. The run blocking wasn’t great, but the Jets will certainly accept that trade off the rest of the way.

The Offensive Line

It was a rough day at the office for New York Jets offensive linemen in Week 15. Conor McDermott was predictably bad in his first start of 2021. The rest of the unit wasn’t much better. Alijah Vera-Tucker and Connor McGovern both had high-variance play. The right side of the line consistently struggled in both phases of the offense.

Getting your young quarterback battered and failing to open up rush lanes are not exactly the keys to winning. Against a solid Dolphins defense, it was never going to be acceptable. It’s an area that will likely be addressed heavily once again this offseason. For now, New York is just hoping bad play up front doesn’t lead to bad habits for their young players in the backfield. 

The Defensive Line and Edge Rushers

We knew the New York pass rush was going to do little against Miami’s short passing game. One sack and four quarterback hits was probably all they were ever going to get. It was nice to see Bryce Huff back in action, even if it was in uneventful fashion. 

Once again, their front four looked woefully outmatched. The Jets have been trampled on the ground this season, from Cordarrelle Patterson to Damien Harris and now, Duke Johnson Jr. It is certainly more than just a defensive line issue, but everyone on the interior needs to step up. 

Sheldon Rankins was far and away the best lineman for the Jets on Sunday. On a line with as much talent as New York’s, it shouldn’t be necessary to highlight his performance, but here we are. It will be an interesting challenge for Douglas to improve the unit without spending significant assets. 

The Linebackers

The linebacking group coming into the year was questionable at best, and the rookies brought in to rejuvenate the unit had failed to make an impact. However, the emergence of Quincy Williams has been huge for this defense. Williams above all else is consistent, even with his faults. His motor showed up constantly across his 66 snaps. As he improves in coverage, the unit should become incredibly formidable. 

Furthermore, C.J. Mosley looked decent for the New York Jets in Week 15. I thought he had a solid day in coverage, especially given the weapons Miami has over the middle of the field. Unsurprisingly, he led the team in tackles, though he played a role in the Jets’ unrelenting struggles against the run.

The Cornerbacks

It is widely acknowledged that this unit has been the most pleasant surprise for New York. That was no different on Sunday, as they played like the team’s best position group. Brandin Echols headlined the unit, posting his best week in a couple of months. Headlined by a pick-six, the rookie was strong all day.

Bryce Hall was not perfect, but held his own. His strong day was likely helped by the absence of phenom Jaylen Waddle, though that shouldn’t take away from his prowess in coverage. Both he and Echols totalled three passes defended in the loss.

Michael Carter II played well on the inside, too. Of course, getting flattened by Tua Tagovailoa isn’t ideal, but the rookie had a strong day. If two of Echols, Hall, and Carter emerge as legitimate long-term starters, New York should be in a good spot. So far, that seems like a realistic possibility.

The Safeties

Much like the linebackers mentioned earlier, this was ultimately a mediocre day. Ashtyn Davis showed up early, catching one interception and almost hauling in another. His athleticism and playmaking skills are exciting, but his struggles with both processing and tackling are as surprising as they are bad for his future as a starter.

Elsewhere, Elijah Riley played well before his scary concussion. I don’t expect to see him back in action for 2021, but he’s more than secured his spot on the practice squad at the very least. Another depth option, Sharrod Neasman, filled in for Riley aptly. The unit was not exempt from the tackling woes that hurt the defense, but they did a fairly good job of holding up the back end.

The Special Teams Units

Outside of a bad punt by Braden Mann, the New York Jets special teams units looked pretty good in Week 15. Eddy Pineiro hit his chip shot field goal and each extra point. On the coverage side of things, the only punt return they surrendered went for five yards. Berrios continued his solid season as a return man. Nothing spectacular, but it was a very necessary step up from most of 2021.

The Outlook

The Jets get the privilege of taking part in a heavyweight matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16. It’ll be an opportunity for a get-right game, and a chance for Wilson to have the same late-season streak that Sam Darnold went on in his rookie season. Of course, that will be made more difficult by the coronavirus outbreak in the locker room. 

If Wilson can continue to limit the turnovers and the special teams units play a clean game, there’s no reason why they cannot leave MetLife victorious on Sunday. Expect the run game to get back on track and the defense to take advantage of a bad Jaguars offense. Hopefully, New York can bring some cheer before hosting Tom Brady in Week 17.

New York Jets Week 10 Observations

new york jets week 10
Credit: The Jets Wire

They’ll never be able to take away the Mike White game from us. The relief appearance-turned-quarterback controversy finally closed its curtains, as the New York Jets were dismantled by the Buffalo Bills, 45-17, in Week 10. Calls for an encore will be non-existent as Zach Wilson returns to the stage hoping to bring life to a comatose roster. Here’s a quick look at how his supporting cast performed on Sunday.

Mike White

White’s luck ran dry about as quickly as it had magically appeared just two weeks ago. Against a stifling Buffalo defense, there were few mistakes to capitalize on. The easy checkdowns were muddied and White found himself consistently behind the sticks with his first read covered and pressure mounting. 

He struggled to retain any semblance of competence, throwing four ugly interceptions. New York struggled to move the ball and quickly played themselves out a more manageable deficit. Wilson’s return marks the end of White’s run, and while I can’t promise better quarterback play, it’s possible the rookie’s return will kick the Jets into gear.

The Running Backs

The offensive line (spoiler alert) was downright bad on Sunday. Thus, the rushing production from the group was not impressive. Still, I remain impressed with Michael Carter. He flashed the contact balance and agility that earned him his reps and looked good as a receiver, totaling four catches and 43 yards on six targets. Carter was rewarded with a late touchdown run.

As for the other backs, Tevin Coleman saw limited action, but was strong. Coleman ripped off a 15-yard run and was promising in his limited action as a returner and receiver. Ty Johnson, saw eight targets during his 25 offensive snaps. Johnson had some unfortunate drops, but it’s clear they see him as a legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Hindered by White’s limitations, the receiving corps for the New York Jets in Week 10 had a poor outing. Corey Davis returned to his lead role and led the group with seven targets, five catches, and 93 yards. However, he still underperformed. Early season drops were written off, but the issue has followed him into the holiday season. Throw in a crippling fumble and it’s easier to see why more heads are turning to Elijah Moore as the answer.

Moore was not spectacular by any means on Sunday. Yet, his ability to run routes and make plays after the catch keeps him viable as the offense trudges along. His six targets are an inspiring number, reflecting Mike LaFleur’s relatively newfound urge to get him touches.

Moreover, Keelan Cole, Jamison Crowder, and Braxton Berrios failed to make any substantial contributions. At tight end, Ryan Griffin hauled in a 21-yard catch, but struggled to leave a mark on this beatdown.

The Offensive Line

Like last week’s primetime affair, the New York Jets were consistently outplayed in Week 10. That certainly does not stop with the trenches. On several occasions, Carter was pummeled in the backfield. Their collective inability to create rush lanes kept White in adversarial positions.

Their pass protection wasn’t much better. White was pressured on seemingly everything that wasn’t an immediate checkdown and was laid out on occasion. Even stud rookie Alijah Vera-Tucker wasn’t as incredible as he’s been in recent weeks. 

The stumble in performance can at least in part be pinned on Greg Van Roten. He was credited with three pressures and was bad in the run game too. Simply put, other options have to be explored. That starts with replacing him with newly-acquired Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

The Defensive Line and Edge Rushers

Perhaps the largest issue I have with the Robert Saleh administration is the binary of the team’s wins and losses. Against Tennessee and Cincinnati, New York came out energized and played 60 minutes of good football. Almost every single minute outside of those two games has been disastrous. 

One of the position groups that best exemplifies this is the defensive line. At times, Quinnen Williams is leading a talented unit to create consistent pressure. On the other hand, they’ve been gashed repeatedly by the run week in and week out. When their front four comes out flat, everything else seems to fall apart.

Amending this starts with playing your best players more, and your worst players less. The basis for Saleh’s defensive line rotations is logical, but Williams playing at such a high level only to see 60% of their snaps in a given week is quite the opposite. 

Anyhow, Williams looked good for his New York Jets in Week 10. John Franklin-Myers had his flashes, but virtually everyone else looked flat. Subsequently, Allen had all day to throw and Bills running backs combined for an effortless 98 yards and three scores.

The Linebackers

Earlier this year, I sang praise for C.J. Mosley as a key for this defense, similar to Dont’a Hightower in New England. That wasn’t the case on Sunday. He quarterbacked a defense that for all intents and purposes laid down and died. He struggled with the speed of Buffalo’s playmakers and was just as troubled in zone coverage as everyone else.

With that said, Jarrad Davis may have been worse. He had a handful of awful plays in coverage and did not redeem himself in run support. Quincy Williams and Del’Shawn Phillips looked good in their limited reps prior to this game, but failed to stand out. 

The Cornerbacks

Another questionable coaching decision was showcased at corner: the choice not to follow star receivers. Bryce Hall is the best cornerback on the roster. Buffalo simply deployed Diggs on the opposite side of the field, and he rightfully went off. Eight catches, 162 yards, and one touchdown later, it’s worth asking whether it was the best strategy.

Hall was beaten a few times in his own right by Gabriel Davis and Emmanuel Sanders in what was the group’s worst week in a while. Brandin Echols and Javelin Guidry were repeatedly torched by Diggs. This isn’t inherently awful; being isolated with a stud like Diggs is incredibly difficult. Still, getting dominated by high-level players may be emblematic of their future as depth pieces instead of starters.

Michael Carter II might have been the best corner to see the field for the New York Jets in Week 10. He defended a pass and recovered a fumble in the loss. Also, Isaiah Dunn (again) played well in his limited snaps.

The Safeties

Marcus Maye’s absence was most definitely notable. However, it has opened the door for one of the few bright spots of the blowout. Sharrod Neasman played on just 29% of the team’s defensive snaps, but certainly made an impact. He made a diving interception en route to racking up two tackles and a pass defended.

With relatively pedestrian play from the Jets’ safeties, and no long-term role for Jarrod Wilson, it would serve New York well to grant Neasman more playing time. It seems every time he steps on the field, he makes a positive impact. If anything, finding a long-term third safety could be a nice player to discover in a rebuilding season.

The Special Teams Units

Matt Ammendola was effective on Sunday, nailing a 48-yarder and two extra points. Braden Mann was similarly proficient in his punting duties.

The return game was intriguing, as Tevin Coleman looked awesome, but penalties marred an otherwise productive day. I doubt he pushes Berrios for punt return work, but I’d like to see the veteran retain his kick return duties.

Small sample size aside, the Jets’ punt coverage has to be better. For a team that is innately conducive to adversarial starting field positions, giving away free yards is a death sentence. 

The Outlook

You didn’t need to read this piece to know the New York Jets were beaten badly in Week 10. Of course, part of the story is that they are simply out-classed at virtually every spot. Still, the coaching concerns continue to arise in ways that stray from the standings.

The last team to hit an average scoring margin of -15, like New York currently has, was the 2009 (at the time St. Louis) Rams. Naturally, the regression to the mean is coming, and they likely won’t get boat raced by Houston or Miami, but losing this badly at such a rate is a concern for any rebuilding team.

The Jets get another crack at a divisional opponent next week when they face the Dolphins. For our sake, let’s hope it’s actually watchable.