The New York Jets now have lost four games in a row after losing to the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars the past two weeks. Zach Wilson had to step up after Mike White was unable to play both games with a rib injury, but was benched towards the end of the Jaguars game for former CFL and Jets practice squad quarterback Chris Streveler. However, Garrett Wilson now leads NFL rookies in receiving yards, and Sauce Gardner wasn’t targeted once in the entire Lions game. Mike White was cleared to play this Sunday at the Seattle Seahawks, but it’s going to be an uphill battle to get to the playoffs as the Jets need to win out and need some help from the Patriots losing, so let’s dive deep into the stats from their past 2 games.
More Quarterback Changes
With Mike White unable to be cleared by doctors, Zach Wilson had to step back in earlier than expected after being benched a couple of weeks ago. The Lions game was going to be a good test for him, as the Lions have one of the worst coverage defenses in the league. Zach went 18/35 for 317 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. That’s good for a well below average completion percentage of 51.4%, and his adjusted completion percentage is only 3% higher. Jets receivers weren’t dropping passes; Zach was just yet again inaccurate despite making a couple great throws. In fact, the Jets offense only faced perfectly covered plays by the Lions defense 26.9% of the time, which is well below the league average of about 35%. So, on nearly 75% of plays, at least one Jets receiver was open, but Zach couldn’t get the ball to him, whether that being missing the throw or just not seeing the open receiver.
Zach Wilson may have seen the last of his career as a New York Jet in the game against the Jaguars, where he went 9/18 for 92 yards and 1 interception. The constant overthrowing of receivers drew boos from the crowd, and he was ultimately benched for Streveler. Streveler brought some life to the Jets offense, as some short completions and strong quarterback rushes moved the sticks, but his lack of arm talent showed when a wide open CJ Uzomah downfield was underthrown on what could have been an easy touchdown. With Wilson, Flacco, and Streveler clearly not the answers, the Jets are lucky Mike White can return this week to keep the playoff hopes alive.
The Jets practically had zero run game the past two weeks, as Zonovan Knight, Michael Carter, and Ty Johnson each couldn’t get anything going. In the Lions game, Knight rushed the ball 13 times for only 23 yards, and Carter rushed 4 times for 15 yards. To make matters worse, those two running backs averaged zero yards before contact, so those combined 38 yards were ALL after contact. Chris Streveler was the leading rusher in the Jaguars game with 54 yards, which is 47 yards more than the next highest rusher Ty Johnson, who only had 7 yards. Granted, the Jets had such a poor offensive showing so they didn’t run many plays, but all three running backs combined for only 11 yards on 10 combined rushes. The offensive line created zero holes and the opposing defenses did what they needed to do – force Zach to throw the ball, and it’s guaranteed that he’ll make mistakes.
The receivers had a nice day against the Lions, as Garrett Wilson tallied 98 more yards to his already impressive total, and he passed Chris Olave for the most receiving yards by a rookie this season. CJ Uzomah had his first touchdown as a Jet, and even totaled two in the game on his two catches. Out of nowhere Jeff Smith had a career day, as he had 4 receptions for 77 yards in this game after only having 4 catches for 57 yards all season. He was Zach’s favorite target on one drive, targeting him on 3 straight plays. Against the Jaguars was far different, as the leading receiver was running back Michael Carter, who had 5 catches for 44 yards. Garrett Wilson tallied only 30 yards on 4 catches, but he worked with what he could with such poor quarterback play.
Against a surging Detroit Lions offense, the Jets defense held them to just 13 points, as 7 of the Lions 20 points came on another special teams disaster of a punt return for touchdown. Quinnen Williams’ absence was felt though, as the defense wasn’t able to sack Goff, however they did get an impressive goal line stand. The coverage unit also had a great game, limiting Amon-Ra St. Brown and not allowing Jameson Williams to get a catch. The dynamic cornerback duo of DJ Reed and Sauce Gardner had Reed with an impressive pass breakup in the endzone and Gardner without a pass thrown his way. However, one blown coverage could mean all the distance, as the Lions were able to score a 50-yard touchdown on a 4th and 1 play to get them back in the lead with only about 2 minutes left to go in the game.
The Jaguars were another surging offense led by a quickly developing Trevor Lawrence in his second season. However, the Jets defense was able to contain the passing attack, holding Lawrence to just 229 passing yards. In fact, the Jets defense hasn’t allowed a 300 yard passing performance since last season. They’ve consistently kept the Jets in every game, but the offense couldn’t capitalize the past 2 weeks.
The Seattle Seahawks team is looking like an interesting matchup for the Jets, and the Jets may be catching them at the perfect time. In the first half of the season, Geno Smith was playing at an MVP caliber level (ultimately earning him a spot in the Pro Bowl this year) and the Seahawks offense was at one point the best performing offense against man coverage in terms of EPA. However, Geno has regressed in recent weeks as the Seahawks have dropped 5 of their last 6 games, and they may be missing star receiver Tyler Lockett this Sunday.
The Seahawks defense has been the second worst at creating perfectly covered plays, generating them only 25% of the time. With Mike White back, the Jets receivers should be able to rack up a ton of yards against this subpar Seahawks coverage unit since White has proven he can hit the open receiver. The Seahawks also have run the third most zone coverage this season, running it on about 85% of plays, so expect the Jets offense to face a primarily zone scheme on Sunday.