Even at 1 and 3, There are Reasons for Optimism
The NY Jets fell to 1-3 Sunday night, but there are reasons for optimism. Zach Wilson had the best game of his career. Wilson’s performance saved him, and us, from enduring a painful game of musical chairs at quarterback. If Wilson fell flat again, there is no way Robert Saleh could have held off on giving the other quarterbacks on the roster a chance. That would have meant that this season would look a lot like last season with uneven play, a lack of chemistry, and little production. Zach wasn’t perfect by any means, but he played well overall, and he played very well at times. For the most part, Wilson was decisive and put the ball where it needed to go. He was exactly what he had failed to be in every single start before Sunday. Wilson fumbled at a critical point in the game, but he did not throw an interception. He played well enough that the Jets were in the game to the bitter, poorly officiated end against the world champs.
This league is not about moral victories though, so what needs to improve? The Jets didn’t score in the first period or the last period. It’s a symptom of a quarterback and an offense that is too tight to open the game and too short on confidence at the end of it. The success Zach Wilson had against the Chiefs should help to remedy some of that. It has to. Playing from behind and asking Wilson to make multiple plays in the hurry-up offense is not a winning strategy. The Jets are built to play with the lead. They have a defense that loves to play downhill and takes the ball away with regularity. What they don’t have, at least not yet, is a confident playmaker under center that will bring the team back from behind or deliver big plays in the clutch.
The Jets were outrushed Sunday night by almost 2-1. 48 of Kansas City’s over 200 yards rushing came on a touchdown run in the first quarter. That should not happen. This team needs to dominate the ground game on both sides of the ball. The Jets barely gained 100 yards on the ground. 150 yards needs to be a disappointing rushing week for the Jets.
There is, again, a lot to be optimistic about. Kansas City scored just 6 points over the last three quarters of the game. After the first quarter, Kansas City looked confused on offense and very little worked as designed. Their biggest plays after the first fifteen minutes were runs by Mahomes after the play broke down. The Jets intercepted the Chiefs twice and held Jason Kelce to six catches and just 60 yards, both of which are pedestrian for him.
This week the Jets are not playing against the Super Bowl champions. It is quite the opposite. The Jets travel to play the 1-3 Denver Broncos. Denver needed to come back last week from 21 points behind against the winless Chicago Bears to get their first win of the season. The Broncos are last in the league in total defense allowing a staggering 37.5 points per game. There is literally no better team in the league for the Jets and Zach Wilson to be playing this Sunday as they try to build on the positive offensive play from the Kansas City game. Denver allows 176 yards per game on the ground. The Jets should be able to control the ball and pound away at Denver’s defense, setting Zach Wilson up for some easy throws. The Jets should end their first-quarter scoring drought and be able to finish this game ahead in time of possession. The Broncos are an opponent that is tailor-made for the Jets to score their second win of the season. There are no excuses for this game. The Jets have better personnel at nearly every position. A loss on Sunday and a poor outing from Wilson puts the Jets back where they were after the New England game. Nobody wants to be there.