Although what parts of the Jets did on Sunday can’t technically be called football, there were plenty of good things to take from what they did do on the field. The things people are getting most worked up about are things that either don’t really matter, are too early to worry about, or are temporary. Here I’ll attempt to provide some reasons for optimism, as well as put some of the low points into perspective.
Despair is easy. It requires nothing of us other than to give up, throw our hands in the air and say “who are we drafting next year?” That was likely the state of most group chats, message boards and Twitter spaces during and after the Jets’ dire performance against the Baltimore Ravens in week one of the 2022 NFL season. But is is far too early for such things at this point in the season. It was week one; the Jets were starting the reanimated corpse of Joe Flacco at QB; and the O-Line has had a matter of days to come together.
If this were any other fanbase there would be some level of perspective on that rather than the full-scale meltdown we’ve seen, and will see more of as this week goes on. I’m fully expecting to hear nothing but calls for firings of GMs, coaches, and dementing ramblings about starting 3rd/4th string QBs in week two. Once the film has come out and some sensible review has gone on that should dissipate, and until then all you have are my calming words, intended not as challenge, but as a different perspective on what we all just witnessed.
Quick Hit Optimism
Max Mitchell – coming in as a rookie 4th round pick at right tackle this weekend was a daunting prospect that Mitchell potentially made harder after goading Calais Campbell earlier in the week. But Mitchell bucked the trend for rookie tackles and had himself a quiet game, which is the best thing you could hope for.
We have a Secondary – Spoilt for choice on who to heap praise on: Kwon Alexander, Jordan Whitehead, Sauce Gardner, DJ Reed; take your pick. We can finally cover TEs, defend a screen pass, and tackle in the open field.
Run Stop – The Raven’s run game was none existent all night on Sunday. Lamar did damage through the air but was held in check in terms of escaping the pocket on all but a few occasions.
Michael Carter Is Good – We’re all guilty of forgetting about Michael Carter this off-season with all the excitement around Breece Hall, but Carter reminded us all exactly who is he and what he does for this team from the very first play.
Pass Rush – go back and watch this one again. The front four for the Jets were a problem for the Ravens all night. Any other QB than Lamar Jackson is on his ass six or seven times in this game. After a lot of expectation coming into this year it’s good to see this unit perform and very excited to see them go after Jacoby Brissett next week.
Michael Carter was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary Sunday night – Image Courtesy of USA Today
You’re Not Crazy
Some of the criticism that’s being levelled at the staff is completely fair; whatever the circumstances around the game at Metlife this Sunday there is no excuses for being as ineffective as the Jets were on offence. Whatever you think of individual player’s performances, the game plan simply didn’t make sense.
The team established the run well from the first play with Michael Carter breaking off a 19 yard run against the first play, and we then proceeded to watch Joe Flacco throw the balls 59 times, and that was the trend well before the game got out of hand. Booth LaFleur won our hearts last year as a creative play-caller who was able to game plan effectively whilst the defence was struggling so we know he’s capable of it. With the Browns defence coming up next week he’s going to have the opportunity to show what he can do.
Offensive O-Line Play
Mere weeks ago Jets fans were going into 2022 with the expectation that George Fant would be left tackle, and Mekhi Becton would be playing on the right. A few weeks, a veteran signing, and a few injuries later and George Fant is still playing at left tackle. Why this was suddenly such a problem for fans – and for Fant apparently – is anyone’s guess, but he shouldn’t be the biggest focus here. It’ll be interesting when the game film is up to watch how the interior lineman played, but on first viewing it seemed like Fant was the biggest problem.
The good news: Max Mitchell played well in his first NFL game as a rookie. At least, he didn’t mess it up too badly, which makes him an outlier in the NFL and something we should all be thrilled about. Fant was really good at left tackle last year, so we know he can do the job. Another week of practice and Fant should have no excuses not to at least put up an average performance against the Browns.
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Okay, I’m a year older than Joe Flacco, but by NFL standards he’s on the older side at 37. This is another area where the game film will be interested to see in terms of how the receivers were doing getting open after the snap. Flacco held the ball for what seemed like hours on every snap, and with Fant struggling in protection he hardly had time for 3 steps let alone the 12 he was taking.
Flacco looked lost against the Ravens and hesitant to throw the ball – Image Courtesy of USA Today
Flacco though is the best option we currently have until Wilson is fit enough to play. He didn’t look confident in his reads and hitched on every down for the first three quarters. Those clamouring for Mike White to start next week though only remember one game of White’s career; White is dreadful. There is a reason the Jets went out in 2021 and traded for Joe Flacco as soon as Wilson got hurt, and why as soon as he was ready to go White got benched.
No other NFL team would trade a conditional 7th for White at this point. How he made the roster over Streveler is one of the great questions of our time, and if he is named the starter for any reason other than Flacco being in hospital the Jets front office has already decided to punt the season.
Woof! Joe Douglas needs to put an advert out in the NY Daily News tomorrow morning: “Person With Working Foot Required For Immediate Start”. Hard to tell which was worse; Braden Mann’s shanked punt that put the Ravens back in scoring position; or Greg Zuerlein’s missed extra point which kept the Jets in single digit scoring in garbage time.
No-one wants to talk about kickers; I don’t want to write about it, and you don’t want to read it. The Jets kicking situation has been dire since they let Nick Folk walk out of the door, and the stubborn refusal to do anything serious about it is going to continue to harm this team in the positional battle and on the score board.
Ways to Make it Better
There are solutions to all of these problems. Most of which sit with the individual players and coaches. Every negative we saw came from people who we know can do better, and we’ve seen it with our own eyes. None of it is wishful thinking or ‘Green-tinted-glasses’, and the positives we did see were everything we were hoping for all off-season.
So for any Jets fan about to burn their jersey, or start reading scouting reports on Will Anderson or Jalen Carter, remember this if nothing else: it was week one. Every sane NFL fan is saying the same thing right now. Rams fans are saying it. Packers fans are saying it. Cardinals fans are saying it. Let this week go, watch some film if you can bear to, and get ready for week two.