Sauce Gardner, Breece Hall, Joe Douglas
Sauce Gardner, Breece Hall, Joe Douglas, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

A 40-17 blowout win over the Dolphins allows the Jets to crash the legitimate NFL party

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—Yes, it required patience—that much is surely certain. And yes, it required vision that lept beyond your weekly, monthly or even yearly digital planner.

Anybody who refuses to acknowledge the long-term vibe anchoring the vision at 1 Jets Drive over the last few seasons is simply living in a fictional world starring Charlie Tweeder, Willie Beamen and Al Bundy. (I’d like to take this time to remind everybody that Al Bundy did, indeed, score four touchdowns in a single game for Polk High, once upon a glorious time in the storied shoe salesman’s high school football career.)

So, yeah, patience was (and still remains) necessary, because this program has still yet to reach its max potential.

Yet, after Sunday’s 40-17 beat down of the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins, it’s also appropriate to claim that the New York Jets have officially crashed the NFL party.

New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, 2022, Week 5 Final, Sauce Gardner, Breece Hall
New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, 2022, Week 5 Final, Sauce Gardner, Breece Hall, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

(Perhaps that’s what MetLife Stadium’s oddly-utilized Amber alert signaled: Lost since 2015, the Jets organization has finally been found.)

Don’t confuse the 2022 Jets with a Super Bowl contender. Don’t you dare expect a guaranteed postseason berth, either. But the way in which Robert Saleh‘s team took care of business in Week 5 paints a burgeoning portrait tough for even the most pessimistic fan to ignorantly wave away.

New York knocked off an extremely well-coached and talented Dolphins team by 23 points. Of course, Mike McDaniel’s club was without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and stud cornerback Xavien Howard, but the Jets were without a few key guys as well (Mekhi Becton, George Fant, Max Mitchell, Quincy Williams).

Impressively, Saleh’s squad won this game with its quarterback playing the role of game manager.

Zach Wilson threw for a quiet 210 yards on 14 of 21 passing. He threw no touchdowns but ran one in to put his team up 19-7 late in the second quarter.

Wilson appeared to be in safe mode all day. Not once did he make a play into danger, yet he also opted to stay away from the high-reward shots he usually loves (and this league usually rewards).

While plenty of negatives accompany this game-manager-type idea at the quarterback position, sometimes days like these are necessary en route to growth.

Beyond the quarterback, names like Sauce Gardner and Breece Hall played the lead roles on this day.

Gardner, 22, set the tone with a CAT blitz off the edge that resulted in the Jets’ first points of the day—a safety that put them up 2-0.

After the game, Saleh subtly mentioned just how great they felt about that designed call against a specific Mike McDaniel offensive tendency.

Gardner also tallied his first big-boy (NFL) interception to go along with five tackles, a QB hit and a pass defended.

Then there’s Breece Hall, the early-second-round draft pick that was widely criticized by the analytic nerds who rarely factor in any real-world football experience.

Hall, 21, went for 97 yards on 18 carries (5.4 yards per carry), to go along with 100 yards through the air on two receptions. One of those receptions resulted in a 79-yard chunk on a smart Mike LaFleur concept, which resulted in a 1-yard Michael Carter II TD plunge a play later.

Although some strategy questions still remain—from an overall team perspective—anybody questioning Mike LaFleur is simply lost.

Miami’s defense relentlessly showcased its aggressive hand early, which meant LaFleur had to execute through the air on first down. And that’s exactly what he did, evidenced by this huge play-action wheel shot to Hall, ultimately leading to the Jets’ first touchdown of the game.

When the defense’s second level is firmly on its toes, it must be manipulated in some fashion, and there’s no better way to do so than to get the backs involved in the passing game. Once the defense is forced to adjust, then (and only then) can the rushing game commence, and that’s exactly what happened in the second half.

Defensively, Jeff Ulbrich’s unit has seemingly discovered its true identity. After a horrific game plan against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals—that featured aggressive blitzing at every turn—the unit has played situational coverage on the backend while allowing its four-man-conventional rush to hit home.

In many spots against the Fins, the four-man rush didn’t hit home. Then again, in other spots, it did—some that were courtesy of tremendous downfield coverage.

In addition to the early Sauce safety (that put the New York Mets up 2-0 over the Miami Marlins), Carl Lawson collected a sack and Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Myers combined for one. The big plays against were mainly a result of three huge defensive pass interference calls, two of which that were shaky (at best) while featuring underthrown balls.

At times, the Jets’ defensive line also found itself blown off the ball, as McDaniel leaned on his rushing attack when he found himself in trouble. Understanding the Jets’ lighter interior look, he generated 137 yards on 26 carries (5.3 yards per pop). In fact, when Miami rushed the ball well in this one, the Jets were clinging to an uncomfortable 19-17 lead with 10 minutes to go in the final frame.

In the end, however, the Jets prevailed in a league where no victory can be taken for granted.

Granted, the breaks were aplenty.

Tagovailoa and Howard missed the contest, only for left tackle Terron Armstead and backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to leave the game early. McDaniel found himself up against the odds with little-known Skylar Thompson taking snaps as a seventh-rough rookie, but hey, this is the NFL.

A win is a win.

And only a burgeoning culture snags victories certain teams should snatch (not to mention two come-from-behind road victories).

And only the correct tried and tested formula (or process) leads to a football program building from the ground up.

And only the most patient front offices allow for an NFL organization to do things the right way.

Yes, the Jets should have won this one—considering the circumstances. But that’s exactly the point: The 2020 or 2021 Jets would have choked this one away, and that cannot be lost in the shuffle.

Your 2022 New York Jets, now at 3-2 and in second place of the AFC East, courtesy of a head-to-head tiebreaker over these very same Miami Dolphins, have officially crashed the NFL party.

This means they are now officially a relevant team not to be taken lightly. It also means they are loaded with young talent that was fully on display for the Week 5 NFL world to witness.

Joe Douglas arrived in Northern New Jersey a few years ago with a herculean task on his hands. He understood the situation fully—which is most likely why he demanded a six-year deal. He realized the gravity of the challenge and the depth of the hole the previous regimes placed this franchise.

The former big-heavy (O-lineman for the layman) also knew that patience was the first and only official initial step in the rebuilding process.

He preached culture, much to the chagrin of Jets fans who had heard it all before. He preached communication, much to the dismay of fans who simply wanted to win. He preached patience, much to the impatience of the diehards who simply and understandably just wanted to see results.

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He moved disgruntled players for a king’s ransom—goodbye, Jamal Adams, en route to paving the way for Alijah Vera-Tucker, the modern offensive version of Joe Klecko. He executed tough decisions such as going all-in on Zach Wilson over a guy many thought could be saved, Sam Darnold. He even traded up in the NFL draft, twice, to grab legit football dudes (AVT and Breece), while apologizing to nobody.

Perhaps most importantly, he refused to take the often witnessed free-agency shortcut that so many previously-failed Jets general managers took.

The results were slow to creep in. Until now.

On this day, after a 40-17 victory in what should be described as the most exciting Jets atmosphere since 2015, your New York Jets have officially joined the relevant NFL party.

They may not yet be Super Bowl-relevant or even tournament ready, but the giant leap that is moving a budding football program from doormat on to the plus-.500 brink has officially happened before your very eyes.

The extremely young and talented New York Jets, at 3-2 and in second place in the AFC East, are here because of the patience and long-term stubbornness of Joe Douglas.

And as painful as the last few years have been, doing things the right way, the patient way, is always best in this league—in a world that features a hard and unforgiving hard salary cap. It’s simply the only way to grab a hold of actual sustainability.

Joe Douglas knew that, and the first signs of his plan actually paying off have arrived—with the youngest kids taking center stage.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, developer and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor | Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (sold in 2020). SEO: XLM Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com
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mlesko73
mlesko73
7 months ago

Robby, thank you for an excellent piece, in tenor and execution.
I have been preaching patience on all Jet forums.
If we want the long-term, year-after-year success that we’ve seen in places like Baltimore, Pittsburgh and yes, NE, we need to let the process of building play out. I love where we are, and are going.
On the individual game front, you nailed it. When they closed to 19-17 I saw disaster coming. Given the state of their team, we should have had our foot firmly on their neck w/ no mercy, but we didn’t. I agree that the D gave up too much ground to a very poorly rated O-Line (even before the Armstead injury). I hope LaFleur has learned the lesson of early down passing to loosen the box and allow later rush yds.
A win is a win and “the kids are alright”. Go Jets

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Rich
Rich
7 months ago

I’m really happy with how much better Zach looks. This is what we need from Zach year-2. Don’t kill us with turnovers, make the right throw. Excellent job and growth by the kid

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
7 months ago

Last year, post draft I was pretty sure the Jets had finally found thier man to lead this organization.
After this prior offseason both draft and free agency, I’m sure of it.
The returns he was able to get on guys with one foot and an arm out the door were amazing.
Two 1s and a 3 for an unhappy cb who is being paid elsewhere to under-perform.
. A 2nd and 5th for Sam I am who most people had given up on.
He played the draft like a maestro. I was wondering why we drafted a rb in early round 2 when Carter looked so good when healthy last year.
I wonder no more. Sometimes Hall looks like he’s shot out of a rocket. I still love Carter but it’s become obvious in a short time, Breece has another gear and is a big play guy.
The first 3 games I was getting very frustrated with Saleh and some really stupid penalties..
Slowly but surely this team is eliminating more and more of the bad and adding more good.
One pet peeve that I’m expecting will go away sooner rather than later with more familiarity is the opponent turning 3rd downs into firsts..
I’m a Jets fan and I’m so excited for tge future.
PS: Zack showed today he can reign it in when he needs to and avoid the worst plays. A sack or a throw away is much better than a pick.
A game manager that puts up 40 can play for me any day.
All about everyone checking thier ego at the door.

Jimjets
Jimjets
7 months ago

Very happy w the win. We seem to hit a lull early second half each week. Hopefully something they can correct. Down the road Belichecks going to run it up the gut against us all day until we stop it. We can beat them and the broncos.

DFargas
DFargas
7 months ago
Reply to  Jimjets

Agree, the Dolphins were able to gain 3-5 yards on the ground, up the middle, all day long and now that’s on film for other teams to see. You add an efficient, veteran passing game to that and the Jets are in trouble But if they fix it, they can win some games, maybe go 9-8.