Even after a frustrating week one loss in Carolina at the hands of this franchise’s last savior, Sam Darnold, optimism was high as fans returned to Met Life Stadium for the first regular-season game in two years. The stadium was loud, as Jets fans were eager to get their first glimpse of a baby-faced kid from Draper, Utah, the new hope of a franchise desperate for success, Zach Wilson. Wilson had played a nearly flawless preseason, so the high expectations that come with being the number two overall pick became even higher, maybe unrealistically so. Once the game started nothing went according to Hoyle and the game was over before it began.
By now you already know Wilson was awful on Sunday, throwing interceptions on his first two passing attempts, finishing the day with four, and New York losing for the 11th straight time to the New England Patriots, 25-6. This may sound weird after the performance turned in by Wilson, there are a lot of positives that can be taken from this game. Here is the Jets report card for week two.
Hard to give Wilson any other grade, he was terrible, finishing the day 19 of 33 for 210 yards, zero touchdowns, and four interceptions. The shocking part of Wilson’s performance is that he looked lost out there. Often throwing from an uneven platform, off his back foot, and just not taking what the defense was giving him. He seemed to be pressing right from the start, trying to play hero ball and having too much trust in his arm talent. As head coach Robert Saleh said after the game “It’s ok to play a boring game of football.”
With all the pain this fanbase has endured we forget he’s a 22-year-old rookie playing in his second regular-season game. Wilson is going to have highs and lows and ups and downs yet in the end you hope he learns from every mistake.
Offensive Line: C+
Overall the unit was much improved from their season-opening performance in Carolina. It was night and day in terms of run blocking. In week one the unit received a 55.8 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF). Against New England, they recorded a 76.5 run-blocking grade. Center Connor McGovern was PFF’s highest overall graded center. Rookie left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker was dominating in the running game.
Now the bad news, they still struggled in the passing game. Left tackle George Fant, filling in the injured Mekhi Becton, was steller allowing just one pressure in 43 pass-block snaps. In his 43 pass-block snaps, McGovern also allowed just one pressure. Starting right guard Greg Van Roten was downright awful allowing seven pressures, including five hurries and two sacks. AVT also struggled in pass protection, allowing three pressures but last week he allowed six, so maybe he becoming a little more comfortable after his second NFL game. The Jets have given up the most sacks (10) after two weeks and are the 31st pass-blocking unit according to Football Outsiders. While the line looked slightly better in pass protection, the Patriots blitzed on less than 30% of snaps, this may account for the perceived improvement.
Running Backs: B
Running backs, Michael Carter, Ty Johnson, and Tevin Coleman combined for 133 yards on 28 carries, a 4.75 yards per carry average. New England routinely dropped 7-8 men in coverage in an effort to confuse the young quarterback, thus conceding the run. Never the less New York and its trio of backs played well. Carter was the only back to be targeted in the passing game. The former Tar Heels hauled in two catches on three targets for 29 yards, 27 of which came after contact. The Jets need to get the running backs more involved in the passing game, giving Wilson some easy, confidence-building throws.
Wide Receivers: C
The wide receivers were lead by Braxton Berrios and his seven receptions for 71 yards. Rookie Elijah Moore had four catches for 47 yards. New England did a good job of shutting down top receiver Corey Davis. Davis was held to just two receptions of eight yards. He was targeted five times including on Wilson’s first two interceptions.
The big story for the Jets wideout group was second-year pass-catcher Denzel Mims being a healthy scratch. Coach Saleh explained it away post-game as the former Baylor Bear still does not have a full handle on the entire playbook.
Defensive Line: B
Once again the Jets’ defensive line was very good. According to ESPN, they posted the third-best team pass rush win rate at 60% (last week they were first). They were lead by Quinnen Williams who posted a 22% pass rush win rate, fifth-best among defensive tackles. John Franklin-Myers and Williams led the team with two pressures each, Franklin-Myers adding a sack. Four players from this unit recorded an overall grade above 70, led by Folorunso Fatukasi‘s 78.5 according to PFF.
C.J. Mosley was outstanding and seemed to be flying all over the field. Mosley received a 79.1 grade from PFF. He had nine tackles, no missed tackles, and four stops. Stops are defined by PFF as tackles that constitute a “failure” for the offense. His four stops were tied for the team led. Outside of Mosley no other linebacker was great. Quincy Williams had a highlight tackle but he was credited with four missed tackles. In coverage, Williams was pretty poor. He allowed five receptions on five targets for 48 and a passer rating against of 106.7.
The Jets secondary had three players record PFF coverage grades of over over 65, lead by Marcus Maye‘s 78.3 grade. Maye turned in a great performance in week two. In 34 coverage snaps, the former Florida Gator was targeted just two times, allowing one catch for -1 yards. Maye added a sack and three tackles. Rookies Brandin Echols and Michael Carter II combined to allow eight catches for just 32 yards. Carter added four stops.
Two things bring the grade down here for me. I guess I can buy into the idea that Mims doesn’t have a full grasp of the playbook and can not get into the game. But once they realized Crowder was not going to play how do you not make Mims active? Fourth-quarter garbage time would have been an ideal time to get the kid some reps. This staff has preached development since walking through the door, how is sitting on the sidelines in street clothes good for his development?
The second issue is they need to reign Wilson in and instill in him to take what the defense gives him. He does not need to become a check down Charlie but he needs to have some easy throws early in the game plan. The Jets have two guys in Carter and Moore that can be electric in the open field. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur needs to feed these guys on short passes and let their athleticism do the rest.
On the positive side defensive coordinator, Jeff Ulbrich has this defense playing way better than anyone expected. They are the 9th ranked unit in terms of total yards allowed (641). Ulbrich’s crew in 12th in points allowed (44) and 10th in yards per play (5.3). Not the type of results expected without Carl Lawson and the no-named secondary.