New York Jets offensive line steps it up in Week 2
Most of MetLife Stadium’s parking lot staples have realized by now that when the New England Patriots come to town, the best-case scenario is that you’re going to get six hours out of the house.
Though their dynasty has ended, New England has maintained a monopoly over the New York Jets, winning the last 11 meetings between the two teams. That includes Sunday’s 25-6 triumph in the East Rutherford, the first MetLife-based regular season game that welcomed Jets fans through its gates since December 2019.
Jets fans have learned to glean whatever positives they can find out of the annual matchups with the Patriots. Despite Sunday’s one-sided nature (though the Jets’ defense managed to keep things respectable considering the awkward situations Zach Wilson’s interceptions placed them in), it didn’t take too much sleuthing to see where the team improved from their Week 1 debacle in Carolina.
Michael Carter breaking all the tackles. #TakeFlight
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2021
The metropolitan run game recovered from a brutal beginning, more than tripling their output from the kickoff weekend loss to the Panthers. They put up 152 yards on the ground as compared to 45 last week.
Michael Carter led the way with 59 yards on 11 carries, part of a day that saw him tally 88 yards from scrimmage.
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Though the success in the run game could easily be erased by the fact the Jets dropped yet another regular season contest to the Patriots in listless fashion, Sunday’s accomplishments had another layer of success: the Jets bested their rushing totals from all but one game of last season without the blocking services of Mekhi Becton, who is out for at least the next four weeks due to knee surgery.
Head coach Robert Saleh appreciated what the offensive line did in defeat, but was unable to look past the Jets’ costly turnovers.
“I thought our O-line did a really nice job, established the line of scrimmage,” Saleh said in the aftermath, per Robby Sabo. “We were moving the ball in the first half. But you’ve got to take care of the ball.”
New lineup insertion Morgan Moses noticed the progress the rushers made and also noted that the Jets avoided third-and-long situations. Of the 13 times the Jets faced a third down, only four of those occasions saw them face a barrier longer than five yards. All of those occasions came in the fourth quarter.
The veteran Moses, formerly of the Washington Football Team, takes over Becton’s spot in the starting lineup, working at right tackle while his veteran compatriot George Fant shifted to left. He believed that the line’s communication improved on Sunday, allowing them for some offensive traction, even with Wilson’s turnovers dominating the headlines.
“Looking over the Carolina film, when we looked as a team, we weren’t communicating the way we needed to. We were one person off, half a man off. We emphasized that this week,” Moses said. “I think we ran the ball effectively. I think we pass protected well as well. For the most part, we kept ourselves out of those third-and-longs … We’ve just got to find a way to capitalize.”
When it came to the rushers, the emergence of the rookie Carter was particularly intriguing. His 88-yard tally from scrimmage is best in a single game amongst Jets rookie running backs since Elijah McGuire in October 2017 (131).
Many observers expect Carter, the Jets’ fourth-round pick last spring, to break away from the Jets’ current rushing-by-committee setup and take on the lion’s share of carries. Sunday showcased that Carter could be closer to assuming those duties than anticipated.
Through his dual-threat endeavors, Carter was responsible for a third of the Jets’ 18 first downs on Sunday, moving the chains four times on the ground and twice through the air.
The North Carolina alum opted to focus on the positive developments from Sunday’s defeat, namely the traction on the offensive line and the heightened communication previously noted by Moses.
“First of all, our offensive line blocked it up,” Carter said. “We came in with the right mindset today and I feel like our mindset our a team is right. I feel like we’re developing into a championship mindset every day. In a fight, you’re going to get hit, but as long as you hit back, that’s a sign of growth. I feel like even though we lost today, we grew as a team.”
The Jets (0-2) return to action on the next Sunday in Denver (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags