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.

New York Jets Week 4 Observations

Credit: (Jets Wire)

The last month has been grueling, but finally, in Week 4, the New York Jets earned their first victory of the 2021 season. It may have taken an extra “quarter” against an underperforming team missing two star wide receivers, but none of that matters. From Wilson’s flashes of excellence to a dominant pass rush performance and the coaching staff’s best game to date, it truly was a team victory. Heading into an early-morning slugfest with the Atlanta Falcons, we can relish in some positive observations. 

Zach Wilson

Zach Wilson had the best game of his career on Sunday, without a doubt. The out-of-structure flashes were as captivating as they were important for the offense. For the first time, he looked calm and comfortable behind his offensive line. He totaled 297 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception (where his receiver fell) on the day. Yes, Tennessee’s defense has struggled, but his 3rd & 2 deep ball in overtime was a play few have the guts to try, much less complete. His performance was impressive, fun, gutsy, and everything Jets fans wanted to see from the rookie.

Still, it should be noted that his day wasn’t perfect. Wilson missed way too many layups against the Titans, and on most days, that’ll come back to bite him. In fact, it could have lost them the game when he missed Ryan Griffin on a drag route in the red zone during overtime. They were forced to settle for a field goal and gave the ball to the Tennessee offense. The layups were befuddling, but overall it’s impossible to not be excited after his Week 4 performance.

The Running Backs

Possibly the worst position group on the day was the running backs. This was a bit unexpected, considering how well the offensive line played, but it’s become clear that they were better in pass protection. Tevin Coleman was used sparingly but was leaned on in clutch situations. Michael Carter saw a 51% snap share, compared to Ty Johnson’s 33%. I’m glad they are prioritizing him, even if the early returns haven’t been favorable. 

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

The Corey Davis revenge game didn’t get off to a roaring start, as he was the target on Wilson’s lone interception, but he managed to make up for it, earning a game ball. Davis scored a long touchdown and racked up four catches and 111 yards.

Keelan Cole had a nice day (3 receptions on 4 targets, 92 yards), especially late. Jamison Crowder’s season debut was fruitful, too. He led the team in targets and receptions (9 and 7, respectively) while also catching a touchdown. Despite the production, it’s clear he and Wilson are yet to fully gel. However, if Wilson can trust Crowder like he does Davis, his development can accelerate. 

I’ve been very harsh on New York’s tight ends thus far, but I think Griffin had his best game of the short season. He only had one catch, but his blocking and route running looked better than I anticipated. On the other hand, it was disappointing to see Mims fail to get any looks, though ten snaps is better than zero.

The Offensive Line

It’s no surprise Wilson’s best day and the performance of his offensive line were connected. They played exceedingly well in pass protection and saw season-best performances essentially across the board. Alijah Vera-Tucker had easily his best game as a professional. As a whole, they struggled to open rush lanes, but Wilson and company will take that trade-off every time.

Unfortunately, certain aspects of the line’s play are yet to meet expectations. Even on Sunday, they struggled with stunts, especially involving Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten. It was just a blip on the radar, but against better defenses, it may have significant consequences.

The Defensive Line and Edge Rushers

Hands down, the Jets defensive front played their best game of the year (noticing a trend?). New York relied heavily on four-man fronts to get home consistently, and it worked to perfection. Of there seven sacks, 4.5 came from Quinnen Williams (2), Bryce Huff (1.5), and John Franklin-Myers (1). They were effective with their stunts and allowed Jeff Ulbrich to drop seven into coverage, stifling Ryan Tannehill. 

They also played well against the run. Derrick Henry did Derrick Henry things and racked up 157 yards on 33 rushes, but the defensive line did its job. Henry found much of his success outside the tackles and after contact. Overall, their pass rush finding paydirt so consistently had a ripple effect throughout the defense.

The Linebackers

After an injury-plagued 2019 and opt-out in 2020, C.J. Mosley seemed more like a cut candidate than a star of a defense. To many’s surprise, he’s returned and played some of his best football now that he’s seeing consistent snaps for the first time in green and white. Mosley has been all over the field and taken on his Mike responsibilities wonderfully. As Saleh noted, he even made an (unprecedented) audible pre-snap that led to a sack. 

Quincy Williams was the only other linebacker to see more than 25 snaps on Sunday. He too impressed, picking up a sack, pass defended, and two TFLs. Williams may never catch an interception, but he’s got legitimate click-and-close speed and is not afraid to make his presence felt when tackling. New York needed a strong game from him, and they got one.

The Cornerbacks

More than anything else, this position group’s performance should be taken with a grain of salt. With that said, Jets cornerbacks balled out in Week 4. Bryce Hall continued his stellar sophomore campaign with a handful of massive pass breakups and some brutally necessary tackles of Henry. He’s handled every challenge Saleh and Ulbrich have thrown at him gracefully.

The rookies had themselves some fun as well. Michael Carter II continued to look formidable in the slot. Brandin Echols looked good prior to entering the concussion protocol. Summer scouting draft crush of mine Isaiah Dunn came up large when his name was called. Saleh asked for a group of young, athletic corners from Joe Douglas. To see his fingerprints having tangible impacts this early is incredibly inspiring. 

The Safeties

One of the few position groups to struggle on Sunday were the safeties. This doesn’t come as a surprise, given Maye’s absence, something the Jets may have to get used to, but still, the lack of depth is concerning.

It was nice to see Ashtyn Davis back in action, even if he only saw 38 snaps. He looked aggressive and will likely be used all over the place, especially if Maye is not on the field. Look for him to match up with Kyle Pitts, much like he did against Darren Waller last year. He was their best man defender against athletic tight ends a year ago, and he has the skillset to carry that into his sophomore season. 

Two names that stood out here were Sharrod Neasman and Jarrod Wilson. Frankly, I felt Wilson struggled on Sunday, and he’s yet to show out in either phase of the defensive game. On the other hand, Neasman showed some encouraging signs. Per PFF, Neasman generated a 68 coverage grade and played on 74% of New York’s defensive snaps. There’s a good chance he gets more playing time moving forward.

The Special Teams Units

I don’t have much to say here, just that I am grateful everyone did what they had to do. Any miss from Matt Ammendola or disaster-laden punt could have cost the Jets the game. Instead, Tennessee’s special teams fell short, and New York came out on top. 

The Outlook

Week 4 was the first true sign that we’ve entered a new era of New York Jets football. That doesn’t mean Wilson is going to pan out or Saleh is headed for Canton, but there are distinct differences between this administration and Gase’s circus. I can guarantee a Gase-led team would have laid down and died in the wake of nearly three dozen Henry rushes and some critical late-game situations. This team didn’t, and that means something, no matter how many games they win the rest of the way.

Seemingly everyone played well on Sunday, so building on these successes will be vital. For Wilson, an Atlanta defense is just what the doctor ordered. He’ll need the offensive line to repeat their performance, and perhaps Mike LaFleur can make life easier for him. Another strong performance can leave the Jets at 2-3 heading into the bye, which is more than they could’ve asked for after their dreadful start.

New York Jets Week 3 Observations

For the New York Jets, Week 3 was a performance emblematic of the last decade of football. It was bad, it was boring, and it reinforced the feeling that things are never going to get better. Thankfully for Jets fans, there were still some positives among the mundane nothingness that was Sunday afternoon.

Zach Wilson

It’s been more than two weeks since New York has scored a touchdown. At some point, that comes back to the quarterback. Zach Wilson looked like a rookie quarterback coming off his first career butt-kicking. He was skittish and cursed by his bad habits. While it’s true that his teammates let him down frequently, it sure seemed like a two-way street.

Wilson missed a handful of throws that stunted drives. He took five sacks, speaking to Greg Van Roten’s eventual comments. I’ll write about it later this week, but Wilson’s struggles to process information within structure can cripple the offense. As incredible as his sack-dodging pocket movements are, and as much as the off-platform deep balls bring people to their feet, an inability to run the offense with any proficiency can render those skills meaningless.

However, Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas deserve some credit for starting Wilson from the jump, and not wasting assets on a veteran bridge quarterback. If the kid has the mental makeup to get through severe adversity, he’ll weather the storm and come out better for it. Wilson’s weaknesses need real-game reps to improve. Sitting behind a future C-List ESPN guest isn’t going to help Wilson when he gets punched in the mouth.

The Running Backs

New York’s offensive line played poorly, Denver’s front-seven played well. Subsequently, it wasn’t a pretty day for Jets running backs. In Tevin Coleman’s absence, Ty Johnson and Michael Carter split snaps to a tune of 57% and 43%, respectively. Neither played particularly well.

The bigger discussion at hand is production on passing downs from those two. Johnson’s big-play ability is nice, but there is no reason for him to be on the field in these situations. On Sunday, he totaled five targets, a catch, and six yards. To add (subtract?), he offered no value in pass protection.

Despite Carter’s ugly drop, he needs to be on the field. He’s tough and elusive in the open field and should block better, too. Neither back was productive on Sunday, which could give Coleman some more snaps upon his return, but Carter should be the committee’s priority going forward.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

New York’s wide receivers struggled mightily on Sunday, though that wasn’t much of a surprise. Denver’s secondary is arguably the best in the league, and it showed. However, they still failed to meet the low expectations set for them. Corey Davis is, and should, be the target Wilson trusts the most in tight windows. He struggled to separate and had a massive drop on a deep third-down throw.

Additionally, Braxton Berrios had his worst game to date. The Jets missed Jamison Crowder badly in their Week 3 contest. On no play was this more apparent than Berrios’ drop-turned-interception.

Elijah Moore is yet to look comfortable in the offense and left with a concussion. Perhaps Denzel Mims could find his way into some NFL action against a porous Tennessee Titans defense as a result.

It’s redundant by now, but it’s clear the Mike LaFleur offense will not reach its ceiling without an addition at tight end. The blocking has been bad and somehow the receiving has been worse. To LaFleur’s credit, they are no longer seeing double-digit targets per game.

The Offensive Line

It wasn’t a great day for New York’s offensive linemen, but the blame should not be shared equally. The tackles played well, outside of a few ugly reps. The interior, however, was exceptionally bad. Van Roten is not a replacement-level player. Alijah Vera-Tucker continued to look out of place. As a whole, they still cannot protect against various stunts, and left Wilson pressured frequently.

The Jets will hold out hope for Vera-Tucker, just like they will with Wilson. That doesn’t mean either is playing good football right now. The entire line had their hands full on runs, and the ugly reps in pass protection likely won’t end soon. For a unit about to face Harold Landry and Jeffery Simmons, communicating better is a must.

The Defensive Line and Edge Rushers

Coming into Week 3, we knew the New York Jets’ biggest advantage would be their interior defensive line against Denver’s questionable interior offensive line. As pass rushers, they exceeded expectations. Quinnen Williams, Foley Fatukasi, and Sheldon Rankins all played a role in consistently pushing the pocket. Williams in particular had his best game of the season.

From a volume standpoint, the Jets defense struggled against the run, allowing 121 yards and two scores. They certainly had their woes, but considering the Broncos ran the ball 37 times, it could have been worse.

As for the edge rushers, things stayed pretty consistent. Bryce Huff had his flashes, but otherwise the group was unsatisfactory.

The Linebackers

It’s fair to say C.J. Mosley’s Week 3 performance was his best one in a New York Jets uniform. He looked quicker than he has, played a role in limiting Noah Fant, and was the Jets’ best run-defending linebacker. The Alabama product was rewarded with ten total tackles on the day.

Quincy Williams again had his moments, racking up six solo tackles, two of which were behind the line of scrimmage. However, the positives end there for New York’s linebackers. They played a big role in allowing Denver’s biggest runs, were manipulated in the pass game, and (especially the rookies) looked conservative amidst their struggles.

The Cornerbacks

This was supposed to be New York’s biggest test yet for their corners. Unfortunately, injuries to K.J. Hamler and, in Week 1, Jerry Jeudy, made the contest less entertaining. We saw Brandin Echols struggle against Courtland Sutton, in which poor technique resulted not only in catches, but a penalty flag, too. It’s nothing he can’t recover from, but it certainly wasn’t a great day for the rookie.

Furthermore, I felt Michael Carter II continued to handle himself well. His strong rookie campaign has been matched by Bryce Hall’s sophomore improvements. Hall’s limitations flashed on some reps against Tim Patrick, but ultimately had a decent outing.

The Safeties

Marcus Maye did his typical Marcus Maye things on Sunday, showing up all over the place and showcasing his skills as the secondary’s best player. Still, he was not immune from the nuance of Teddy Bridgewater. One thing Bridgewater does well is manipulate defenders with his eyes and hitches to open up throwing lanes. Maye fell victim, like much of the Jets defense.

Injuries have definitely played their part, but New York has struggled to find any kind of production from their second safety spot. Adrian Colbert and Jarrod Wilson both struggled in the loss. Until Ashtyn Davis returns, I don’t see this getting any better.

The Special Teams Units

The only instance of note here was the malpractice that was Thomas Morstead’s delay of game penalty. It took three points off the board and seemed revelatory of what would be to come.

The Outlook

New York did not play well on Sunday. The defense couldn’t force a stop and the offense couldn’t score. It was a non-competitive contest that epitomized the bad, boring brand of Jets football fans have become numb too. Thankfully, the defense is closer every day to returning to full health and reaching its potential. We’ve seen the flashes from Williams and others on the defensive line. Mosley looks good and the young corners have exceeded expectations. They’ll have to be at their best to slow down Julio Jones in Week 4.

As for the offense, everyone deserves a portion of the blame. LaFleur has frankly not executed as a play caller. Hopefully, with time, the offensive line and wide receiver corps can play up to the expectations set for them. Until then, Wilson will likely to continue to struggle.

If there’s anything going for them, Tennessee’s defense has allowed 84 points in three games. They’ll likely fall to 0-4, but a solid day against a poor secondary could be what Wilson needs to fix his rookie season.