New York Jets’ bye week report card
After losing to the Atlanta Falcons in London, the New York Jets are 1-4 entering the bye week.
A team’s win-loss record is usually a good indicator of overall success or failure, but to fully evaluate a team, each position group must be analyzed separately.
With the bye week at hand, it’s time to go over the Jets’ roster and grade each position individually. Which units are responsible for the Jets’ early struggles? Which ones provide reasons for optimism?
Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson has shown flashes of brilliance and flashes of disaster. Wilson is averaging 223 yards per game, has thrown four touchdowns, and leads the league with nine interceptions.
Wilson is at his best out of structure, where he can buy time with his legs before launching passes downfield, but he has struggled with the process of playing quarterback. He frequently gets stuck on his first read, leaving yards on the field when his second read is open.
The BYU product has also struggled in the quick game, missing easy throws due to overthinking. Wilson’s issues have been a recurring problem, but they are fixable with time, practice, and experience. So far, his issues have been nothing more than normal rookie quarterback hiccups.
Running back: B
Rookie Michael Carter has been as advertised, showcasing his trademark elusiveness and tackle-breaking ability. Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman have also been solid as the second and third backs in the rotation and in the return game.
Unfortunately, the group hasn’t had much room to work with. As a team, the Jets are averaging only 3.6 yards per carry. However, all three have done a good job of gaining chunk plays when the blocking is there.
The trio hasn’t had much impact in the passing game, an area that should be emphasized over the bye. Considering the offensive line’s problems with run blocking, the Jets’ backs have done about as much as they could.
Wide receiver: C+
The receiving corps has been up and down overall.
Corey Davis has had some back-breaking drops but has also been the most productive wideout by far.
Elijah Moore has yet to make a major impact, but he’s doing a good job of getting open despite Wilson not getting him the ball.
Keelan Cole has been mostly quiet outside of the Titans game, where he had three catches for 92 yards.
Jamison Crowder dealt with an injury for the first three games, but he’s looked like his usual self after returning.
The polarizing Denzel Mims has barely seen the field, even though he is averaging 24 yards per catch over three grabs.
It’s hard to appropriately grade the group since so much of their success is determined by Wilson, but they all have room for improvement.
Tight end: D-
This grade could very easily be an F, but similar to the receivers, outside factors are at play.
Ryan Griffin and Tyler Kroft have a measly 95 yards combined. That number could be higher, but Wilson has frequently looked past the group in favor of passes downfield, especially on boot plays.
Both players have been subpar in the run game, letting the defensive end crash inside far too often.
In a supposedly tight-end-friendly offense, the pair has struggled mightily. Through the first five weeks, the tight ends have been the worst position group on the team.
Offensive line: C+
George Fant and Morgan Moses have been good to great in pass protection, giving Wilson time and room to escape to the edge.
Alijah Vera-Tucker had a rough first few games, not surprising given he missed the entire preseason. However, “AVT” has bounced back well and played his best game as a pro against Atlanta.
Connor McGovern has improved his individual blocking but has still had issues with communication.
Greg Van Roten has been the unit’s Achilles heel, sputtering in both phases.
The entire group has been a let-down in the run game, where Mekhi Becton’s absence is even more evident. The Jets’ brass lauded continuity as a reason to expect improvement upfront, but that clearly hasn’t happened. Rather, the issue is a lack of talent, especially at right guard.
Defensive line: B+
This would probably be an A if Carl Lawson was healthy. The pass rush has been excellent, spearheaded by Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Meyers, and Bryce Huff.
Huff specifically has had a great sophomore season, rivaling players like T.J. Watt and Joey Bosa in pass rush win rate.
Franklin-Myers’s breakout in 2020 has continued into the next year, culminating in a new four-year extension from the Jets.
Foley Fatukasi and Sheldon Rankins have both made splash plays when in the game and are valuable cogs in the rotation.
Shaq Lawson hasn’t made much impact as a pass rusher but has been great as an edge setter in the run game.
Outside of the loss to Atlanta, the group as a whole has been suffocating against the run. Considering how many snaps they played over the first four games, and the added travel, the drop-off against the Falcons was understandable.
Overall, the defensive line has been great.
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C.J. Mosley is playing at an All-Pro level as the leader of the defense. Run or pass, the slimmer Mosley is flying around the field and making plays, often reading the play in front of him before the ball is even snapped.
The rookies, Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood have had some trouble in their conversion from safety. Nasirildeen was getting pushed around in the run game before landing on IR. Sherwood, however, has started three of his four games and is improving every week, with his best game coming in London.
The biggest surprise has been Quincy Williams, who has exploded onto the scene with three forced fumbles and a sack over four games. Williams should only continue to improve under the Jets’ coaches and could end up a mainstay on defense.
A suspect unit before the year seems to be solid and could get better with time.
The Jets’ cornerbacks have been the best unit on the team over the first five weeks. That sentence would’ve sounded insane in June, but the rather unknown corner group is quickly making a name for itself.
Bryce Hall looks like a future superstar, going 209 coverage snaps without allowing a touchdown, and not allowing a single catch in the red zone. Hall has yet to grab an interception, but that’s mostly due to the fact that quarterbacks are starting to ignore his side entirely.
Rookie Michael Carter II has been fantastic in the slot, breaking up passes downfield and making plays in the run game.
Fellow rookie Brandin Echols has also played well on the outside, showcasing sticky man-to-man skills.
Javelin Guidry has embraced his versatility, seamlessly moving between the slot and outside.
Shockingly, the team’s biggest question mark before the season may end up being their biggest strength.
The safeties have been decimated by injuries and it has severely hurt the group. Both starters – Lamarcus Joyner and Marcus Maye – have been hurt, with Joyner set to miss the entire season after a Week 1 elbow injury and Maye missing 3-to-4 weeks with an ankle injury.
Second-year player Ashtyn Davis missed the start of the season while recovering from a foot injury and has been used in a limited capacity since returning, only playing 38% of the snaps in his return against Tennessee and 47% of the snaps against Atlanta.
Backup Sharrod Neasman has been thrust into a starting role and leads the group in snaps.
Jarrod Wilson was signed to the practice squad in early September, but was elevated after all the injuries and now is second to Neasman in playing time.
It’s hard to appropriately judge the safeties considering the injuries, but the group has been average overall. However, without the strong play from the corners, the Jets’ safeties might look a lot worse.
Matt Ammendola won the job in camp and has been solid, making six of his seven field goal attempts and three of his four extra points. He’s been good on kickoffs, averaging 57.8 yards per kick and netting 11 touchbacks on 18 kicks.
Ammendola also filled in as the Jets’ emergency punter against Carolina and launched a 65-yard punt to pin the Panthers at their own 15-yard line. He appears to have the kicking job locked up, and should be extended if his quality year continues.
Former Saint Thomas Morstead was signed in September after Braden Mann’s injury and has filled in admirably. Six of Morstead’s 17 punts have landed inside the 20-yard line, with zero touchbacks. Eight of the 17 punts have led to fair catches.
With the offense struggling early in games, Morstead has had plenty of action and has done a good job of setting the defense up for success.
Kick/punt return: B
The Jets have done well in the return game, averaging 26.3 yards per kickoff return with no fumbles. Tevin Coleman has the longest return of the group, 65 yards on a kickoff against the Falcons.
Braxton Berrios has been the sole punt returner, averaging 13.3 yards per return with a long of 18 yards.
The Jets have yet to score on a return, but they are frequently gaining yards when they take the ball out.
Kick/punt coverage: B+
New York has done a great job in kickoff coverage, limiting returns to an average of 21 yards with a long of 22 yards.
The Jets aren’t doing as well in punt coverage, allowing 10.8 yards per return, which ranks seventh-worst. However, their longest allowed punt return was only 22 yards and they have not allowed a score on any return, be it punt or kickoff.
The reason this grade is a B+, and not higher, is penalties. Gunner Justin Hardee has had two 15-yard penalties, one for taunting and one for fair catch interference. Hardee has played well despite those penalties, but both fouls resulted in opponents starting past their own 20-yard line. Without the penalties, this would be an A.
Next Article: Film Breakdown of Zach Wilson's mechanical issues
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