Has there ever been a more mundane 300-yard passing game? The Jets offense — led by backup Joe Flacco — looked rudderless as they fell 24-9 to the Ravens in week 1. A Greg Zuerlein field goal in the second quarter followed by a meaningless Tyler Conklin touchdown in the waning moments were the only scores for gang green on a drizzly East Rutherford afternoon.
Heading into the season, fans had reason for cautious optimism, the team’s upgrade in talent warranted it. However, the anticipation soon turned to despondency after injuries to quarterback Zach Wilson, left tackle Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown (Becton’s replacement). Jets teams of recent years have been riddled with lackluster skill position play, yet as the supplementary pieces around the offense get more talented, the Jets still struggle to find continuity and consistency from the two most important positions on the offense.
Jets Week 1 Takeaways
Chants for third-string quarterback Mike White began to fill parts of Metlife stadium by the 3rd quarter, as Flacco struggled to bring life to the offense. In his defense, the left side of the o-line was expectedly shaky, injuries have forced George Fant to flip flop between left and right tackle, while $40 million free agent signing Laken Tomlinson suffered through a horrendous day of pass protection at left guard. All in all, the team gave up 20 pressures to the Ravens as a 37-year-old Flacco moved at the pace of a Gargoyle.
Flacco’s statuesque pocket presence aside, the offense moved the ball fairly well on the ground. Michael Carter finished the game with 100 yards from scrimmage including 60 yards rushing on 10 attempts. He also added 7 receptions for 40 yards on the day. Meanwhile, Garett Wilson, Elijah Moore and Corey Davis all looked good when put in positions to make plays. Likewise, the defense played well — minus a couple of explosive passing plays — holding the Ravens to 63 rushing yards on 3 yards per carry.
Nevertheless, the team’s downfall came from their inability to capitalize during their short spurts of momentum. A Joe Flacco interception, an Elijah Moore drop that ended a promising drive followed by a missed field goal, a Bryce Hall fumble, a Michael Carter dropped touchdown pass on 4th down, an Elijah Moore touchdown called back for pass interference, are all plays that reflect the Jets down-on-their-luck mentality.
Time for Saleh and his Coaching Staff to Step Up
New York is not an easy place to head a struggling franchise thus, head Coach Robert Saleh has maintained his customary positive self-talk.
We’re all taking receipts on all the people who continually mock and say that we’re not going to do anything. I’m taking receipts and I’m going to be more than happy to share them with all of you when all is said and done.
– Robert Saleh during Monday’s press conference
After a culture building first season, the defensive guru entered this season with expectations. He’s been handed a talented roster, but unfortunate injuries have greatly stunted the team’s growth, his combative comments may be a reflection of his circumstances. Injuries aside — because every team suffers from them — Saleh can’t deny the team’s record and the eye test. The Jets didn’t just lose in week 1 because the line couldn’t provide their immobile quarterback with a clean pocket, as their repeated self-combustion showed. Compounding the issue were the lack of adjustments from offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. There were no rollouts, no moving pockets, no gadget plays to kick-start things in a sign of compliance to the offensive line issues. The inevatibility of another non-competitive loss felt all too familiar.
Everybody in this organization acknowledges and respects the past, but this group is responsible for the future. And while we do feel the past sins of the organization, we know that it’s our job to heal those wounds also.
– Robert Saleh on Wednesday
Saleh’s rally cries aside, the Jets don’t particularly play for one another. Take the Pittsburgh Steelers for instance. Is Joe Flacco any better now than Ben Roethlisbeger was last year? Granted they possess some of the best defensive talent in the NFL, but their resiliency can be traced back to their head coach. If Saleh wishes to establish a culture built on toughness and resilience, his team can’t shoot themselves in the foot when already undermanned.
Week 2 : Jets vs Browns
When he had a clean pocket, he was very, very efficient. Part of a clean pocket is the offensive line’s responsibility to give it to him and for him, to just deliver the ball where it needs to and just get off of certain reads.
– Robert Saleh on Joe Flacco’s week 1 performance
The Jets worst fears came true in week 1, and week 2 might bring more of the same if they don’t acclimate to their deficiencies. After seeing the damage Michael Pierce, Justin Madubuike and Calais Campbell did to the Jets, the Browns must be salivating at the thought of teeing off against Fant, Tomlinson and rookie right tackle Max Mitchell. This is where LaFleur must earn his keep, having Flacco drop back all game is no longer a viable option. The former 49ers passing game coordinator and receivers coach must get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. Under his tutelage, Deebo Samuel became an offensive weapon unlike any other, thriving as a receiver and running back. LaFleur must bring some of that ingenuity to Jersey in order for the Jets offense to stand a chance.
What to Expect From the Jets
Conversely, gang green boasts their own potent defense. The unit had a solid day against the Ravens with Quinnen Williams and D.J. Reed delivering standout performances. They should fare just as well against the pass, as Jacoby Brissett looks well past his serviceable starter days. However, look for the Browns rushing attack to keep them in the game, The Browns have been overly reliant on the tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, hence the acquisition of Deshaun Watson. And until Watson returns from suspension, the Browns passing game will be limited.
With both quarterbacks on the rocks, week 2 will come down to execution and ball security. The Browns advantage remains their defined identity as a team, while the Jets are still searching for who they are. Furthermore, a team’s personality derives from their head coach. Saleh can spew all the motivational spiel he wants, but his imprint on the team will be on the field and not in front of a microphone. Week 1’s ugly loss quickly turned the heat up on Saleh, who isn’t expected to win a whole lot, but show that he isn’t just delivering empty words.
For More Great Football Content
Follow us on Twitter at @GridironHeroics for more great content. We appreciate you taking time to read our articles. To interact more with our community and keep up to date on the latest in Football news, JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP by CLICKING HERE