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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.