The New York Jets offense is on fire
Under the leadership of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the New York Jets offense was struggling. The Jets averaged only 13.3 points, 272.3 total yards, and 16.0 total first downs in Wilson’s six starts.
But since Wilson went down with a PCL injury, the offense has exploded.
Over the past two weeks, the Jets have averaged 32.0 points, 498.5 total yards, and 31.0 total first downs.
Mike White and Josh Johnson have been executing Mike LaFleur‘s offense with a level of fluidity that Wilson has yet to master, providing the young rookie with a close-up glimpse of exactly what he must improve upon to fully maximize the offense’s potential.
To boot, LaFleur has been noticeably better at orchestrating the offense since moving from the sidelines to the press box.
The Jets’ recent offensive production is not just groundbreaking for this iteration of the team – this is some of the best offensive football that Jets fans have ever seen over a two-game span.
First downs galore
New York picked up 32 first downs against the Bengals in Week 8, tying for the third-best single-game total in the history of the franchise.
One week later, the Jets collected 30 first downs against the Colts, tying for 10th-best in team history.
This is the first time the Jets have ever posted at least 30 first downs in back-to-back games.
Johnson and White have showcased how efficient LaFleur’s offense can be when the quarterback gets the ball out quickly and is willing to take his check-downs. Thanks to their fast decision-making, the Jets are moving the chains at an incredible consistency.
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Yards upon yards
The Jets racked up 511 total yards of offense against Cincinnati, which ranks as the 14th-best output in franchise history. They backed it up with a 486-yard performance against Indianapolis, which is tied for 24th-best in team history.
This is only the second time in Jets history that the offense posted over 480 yards in back-to-back games. The only other instance occurred in 1985, when Ken O’Brien led an eventual 11-5 squad over the 480-yard mark against the Dolphins and Buccaneers in Weeks 10 and 11.
The majority of New York’s offensive success has come through the air. The Jets had 97 rushing yards against the Bengals and 88 against the Colts.
Through the air, the Jets amassed 414 yards against Cincinnati and 398 against Indianapolis. Those totals rank as the eighth and 13th-best single-game outputs in franchise history, respectively.
New York has posted over 390 passing yards in back-to-back games only once before – that was in 1967, when Joe Namath led the Jets over the plateau in Weeks 2 and 3.
The Jets passed for 23 first downs against the Colts and 25 against the Bengals. Those are their two best marks since 1999 (the earliest I can find single-game totals for passing first downs). The previous record over that span was 21, shared by a 2000 overtime victory over the Dolphins and a 2015 overtime victory over the Giants.
Two sides of the ball going in two different directions
While Jeff Ulbrich’s defense continues to look like an increasingly strong candidate to become the worst unit in franchise history, LaFleur’s offense is achieving things that Jets fans have either never seen or have not seen in decades.
Not to mention, he is doing it without Zach Wilson, Corey Davis, or Mekhi Becton on the field.
The foundation has been set – it’s clear that this Jets offense has the potential to be very good with the pieces they have in place.
It’s time for Wilson to step in and show that he can replicate what White and Johnson did in his shoes.
It’s been an interesting natural experiment to be able to watch the LaFleur offense operated by QBs other than Wilson. It’s a strong vindication for LaFleur and I just hope it continues when Wilson returns and that he modifies his own approach based on what he’s seen the last two games.