The New York Jets have back-to-back losses for the first time this season after losing to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Quarterback Mike White took brutal hits, Zonovan Knight got his first NFL touchdown, and Garrett Wilson broke the Jets rookie receiving record. Let’s dive deep into the stats from this game.
Whether a team plays man or zone coverage could depend on the strength of the opposing offense, or the strength of the defense itself. The Buffalo Bills have run an average of 30% man coverage this season, which is slightly above the league average of 28%. However, back when they played the Jets in Week 9, they ran man coverage 65% of the time, which is by far their highest man coverage rate of the season (and the highest rate the Jets faced all season). That was mostly a testament to the fact that the Jets offense under Zach Wilson and Joe Flacco was the worst offense against man coverage in terms of EPA gained. Under those two quarterbacks, the Jets faced the 5th most man coverage per game, averaging around 35%. However, once Mike White came in, this drastically changed the Jets’ offensive ability against man, as White can make the tight window throws that Wilson and Flacco were unable to do, and he destroyed the Bears’ man coverage back in Week 12.
Looking at the Jets defense, they’ve been great at containing Josh Allen’s passing attack this season. In both games facing the Jets, Allen’s averaged 100 less passing yards, a completion percentage that is 10% lower, and a quarterback rating that is 40 points lower than when he’s played any other team this season. The Jets do need to get better at preventing Josh Allen’s rushing ability, as he ran for 47 yards and a couple of first downs on Sunday, but it’s a great sign going forward that they figured out how to stop Allen’s passing.
Rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson added 78 more receiving yards against the Bills, and has now tallied 868 receiving yards this season, which breaks the Jets rookie receiving record previously held by Keyshawn Johnson. He’s only 21 yards back of his former Ohio State teammate Chris Olave for the most receiving yards by a rookie this season, and it will be a great battle between the two for the honor. Wilson’s been stellar this season and is now the favorite in Vegas to win Rookie of the Year.
Quinnen Williams sacked Josh Allen twice on Sunday, and is now up to 11 total sacks on the year. He’s the first Jet since Muhammad Wilkerson in 2015 to tally 10+ sacks in a season, and there’s still four more games to play where Quinnen can add to his already impressive total. His calf injury may hold him back slightly, but it looks like he avoided a disaster after the scare of a non-contact injury.
Decisions to Make
Who will be the Jets’ RB1 moving forward? All signs look to point to Zonovan “Bam” Knight even if Michael Carter is healthy. Knight added 71 rushing yards against the Bills, averaging 4.2 yards per carry, and also recorded his first career touchdown. The former undrafted rookie out of NC State has been stellar since being elevated to the active roster three weeks ago, forcing 10 missed tackles in the Bills game alone. He’s been an angry runner playing like he’s got something to prove each week. Looking at Carter’s performance against the Bills, he only had 5 rushing yards on 5 carries, and also had 1 costly fumble. One questionable decision Mike LaFleur made was to put Carter on the field over Knight on that 3rd and 1 play where Carter fumbled the ball. Carter had lost yards on the two previous plays he had been in on, so it’s puzzling why LaFleur gave him the ball on a crucial 3rd and 1 over Knight, who was gaining yards every time he touched the ball.
Mike White has established himself as QB1 for the foreseeable future this season, and potentially even next season depending on how it all pans out. Against the Bills, he threw for 268 yards and completed 61% of his passes. Through his 3 games, he’s totaled 952 passing yards, while Zach Wilson totaled just 1,279 yards through 7 games. At this rate, White is on pace for well over 5,000 passing yards if he played the entire season, which would be 1,000 yards more than the Jets single season passing record currently held by Joe Namath. He may even be the toughest quarterback in the NFL, taking brutal hit after brutal hit on Sunday, and even came back from the dead after getting demolished by Matt Milano, which made him head to the locker room. On both of White’s first throws back after exiting the game briefly, he delivered 12-yard dimes to Garrett Wilson.
What about QB2? Joe Flacco came in briefly for Mike White against the Bills and went 1/3 for 1 yard and 1 fumble lost. Flacco’s performance in White’s short absences was the absolute worst-case scenario for the Jets, and he may have lost his backup role. Now, the question is will Flacco remain the backup? Will Zach be elevated to QB2? Or will the Jets take a chance on current practice squad quarterback Chris Streveler?
Detroit Lions Preview
The Detroit Lions have a bad defense, there’s no sugar coating it. They are the third worst team at creating perfectly covered plays, only generating them about 25% of the time. The Lions’ coverage unit is one of the worst in the NFL, and they even run the third highest man coverage rate in the NFL at 44%. They don’t waver much from that rate, so the Jets should expect to see a great deal of man coverage this upcoming week. However, look for the Jets receivers to have a field day against the weak Lions coverage unit, as Justin Jefferson just totaled over 200 yards against the Lions after the Jets held him to just over 40 yards.
As far as the Lions offense, they face the third highest man coverage rate in the NFL, but that may lower with their addition of receiver Jameson Williams. Sauce Gardner locked down Williams in college, so it’s good he has prior experience covering him. The Jets defense creates perfectly covered plays 40% of the time, which is 4th best in the NFL, so this will not be a walk in the park type of game for the Lions. In fact, this matchup is looking pretty good for the Jets after diving deep into the Lions’ stats.