No matter how hard we try to predict a better season and that a new head coach and a top draft pick QB will come and save the Jets, reality sits in again.
The NFL season is a grind, marathon race, and not a sprint, and let’s be real-nobody expects the Jets to be in the Super Bowl this year.
That being said, a 19-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers means that the game could have gone the other way around, but “could” can be a deceiving word in the football lexicon. The word could is there to torture fans and befuddle coaches and players trying to rationalize a loss, and there isn’t any rationalization for yesterday’s Opening Day loss.
The New York Jets could not make up for their first-half point deficit and simply lost the game, fair and square. To add a bit of irony (and probably not revenge) is the fact that the Panthers were led by none other than Sam Darnold. Darnold, to his credit, seemed to take the game in stride and chalked it up as a win regardless of who the Panthers played.
Well, how did Zach Wilson do?
In all reality, it’s amazing he’s alive and able to breathe on his own. Six sacks, 10 hits, 14 pressures in 43 dropbacks meant that Wilson was little more than a human Pinata waiting to be slammed by the Panthers’ defensive front. Sadly, left tackle Mekhi Becton went down with an MCL sprain, and the Jets are waiting for the results of MRI testing to see how long he will be out, and Becton will be missed.
In the first half, Wilson seemed like a typical NFL rookie QB but came to life in the second and chalked up 20 for 37 passes for 258 yards, two TDs, and one interception. Wilson finished up his first regular-season game with respectable numbers and two scoring drives, but as they say, too little, too late. Look at it this way, Wilson had a much better day than Aaron Rodgers.
Another loose screw that needs to be tightened up immediately is the Jets run game.
Under OC Mike LaFleur, everyone understands the running back-by-committee approach. Still, that approach appeared to die a painful death yesterday with top runner Tevin Coleman carrying the ball nine times for 24 yards with Ty Johnson going four for 15 and rookie Michael Carter rushing the ball four times for six yards for a total of 45 yards rushing.
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey carried the ball 21 times for 98 yards and had nine catches for another 89 yards receiving. Numbers like that will help win games. The losing team will usually put up numbers like 45 total rushing yards (unless the QB puts up huge passing numbers with an equal amount of TD’s.)
The Jets’ defense also had a tale of two halves yesterday, with the first half being one to forget by giving up 272 yards and 12 first downs, including three scoring drives to the Panthers.
These numbers equate to the Jets defense giving up 8.5 yards per play – not per series but per play. Adjustments seemed to have worked at halftime, with the Jets holding the Panthers to just 109 total yards in the second half and giving up 3.5 yards per play with only six Panthers’ first downs and one FG. The problem with this approach is that the Jets will also be a day late and a dollar short each game and having to play catch-up to every opponent. I’m sure that Robert Saleh’s defensive mindset will come into play this week’s in-game preparations.
What do the Jets have to look forward to this coming week? Well, the rebuilding New England Patriots are next up, and they’re coming off of a similar loss to Miami yesterday with a close 17-16 final score.
Next week will be the battle of the QB rookies with Mac Jones squaring off against Zach Wilson. Both teams are looking to develop their identity with a new QB (especially after the Brady era and Cam Newton’s departure).
Stay tuned for another possible close game that honestly could go either way.
What is certain is that next Sunday’s game will give an NFL rookie his first win.
Featured Image: NJ.com