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'Elite' defense and coaching fail Zach Wilson, not the other way around
The Jets are blown out 30-10 to the Cowboys on Sunday. Plus, how the defense and coaching staff failed the team in the loss.
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What’s Up with the Jets? 🛩️
The Jets were blown out by the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon by a 30-10 score in Dallas (box)
QB Zach Wilson was pressured on 53.3% of his drop backs in the loss and was 12 of 27 (44.4%) on passes with 170 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions
Wilson also led the Jets in rushing, running for 36 yards on five carries
RB Breece Hall only had four touches on offense for a total of nine yards, and appeared to complain about his workload to reporters after the game
RB Dalvin Cook also only had four carries on the day, and lost a fumble in the game
CB Sauce Gardner dropped what would have been a go-ahead pick-six in the 2nd quarter – that drive eventually ended with a touchdown and two-point conversion for the Cowboys
New York’s defense allowed Dallas to go 9-for-18 (50%) on third down conversions, gave up 382 yards and 30 points while forcing zero turnovers
The Jets are averaging just 13 points per game on offense through two games this season
Sauce Gardner deleted his Twitter account after getting into it with fans following the game, while Breece Hall deleted a tweet cryptically referencing his four touches on offense
Injury Updates 🏥
WR Garrett Wilson left the game after having the wind knocked out of him in the 4th quarter
CB Michael Carter II exited the game with an elbow injury but could have returned if needed, per Robert Saleh
S Tony Adams came out of the game after a hamstring injury and did not return
LB Quincy Williams left the 4th quarter of the game with an apparent knee injury
Game Balls 🏈
🏈 Garrett Wilson: While he only had two catches on the afternoon, Wilson was far and away the most dynamic player for the Jets offense on Sunday. The biggest positive play of this game came on a slant route to Wilson, who caught it and ran for 68 yards for his second touchdown of the year.
🏈 No one: Every now and then, you get a week where no one plays well on one side of the ball. This was one of those weeks. The Jets defense couldn’t get a stop from the jump, falling behind 7-0 before the offense even touched the ball, allowed the Cowboys to convert 50% of their third downs, forced zero turnovers and only three punts.
Next Week’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Jets (1-1) vs. Patriots (0-2)
Where: MetLife Stadium – East Rutherford, NJ
When: 1:00 PM EDT
Where to Watch: CBS
With all eyes on the quarterback, defense and coaching doom the Jets in Dallas ✍️
All week long, everything had been about the quarterback. What are the Jets going to do without Aaron Rodgers? How can they compete with Zach Wilson under center? All anyone was focused on was the quarterback, how he could potentially hold the team back and what he needed to do in order for the team to be competitive.
Yet Zach Wilson was not the reason that the Jets lost in blowout fashion on Sunday. He may not have even been in the top-three reasons why.
Instead, the Jets’ vaunted defense – which was supposed to be the backbone of this team without Rodgers – completely no-showed on Sunday, with the performance of the coaching staff not far behind them.
After a dominant defensive performance in Week 1 where the team made Josh Allen look human, forcing four turnovers and holding the Bills to just 16 points, New York’s defense was a disaster from the jump on Sunday as they allowed a 12-play, 75-yard drive on the opening possession for a touchdown, setting the tone for what would be an incredibly long day for the Jets.
All-in-all, the Jets defense allowed 30 points, 382 yards of offense, had just one sack, forced zero turnovers and let the Cowboys go 9-of-18 (50%) on third down attempts. The Cowboys offense ran double the amount of plays as the Jets and possessed the ball for 42:15 compared to the Jets at just 17:45. For those who would argue that the Jets defense couldn’t possibly have performed well because they were on the field for so long, the Jets defense’s inability to get a stop on third down was a big reason for that. The offense was far from great, but this defense did it to themselves.
You want to be the ‘85 Bears or the 2000 Ravens or even the 2009-10 Jets? You want to be considered an elite defense? Well elite defenses don’t no-show games and aren’t completely shredded by opposing offenses. If the Jets want to be elite on that side of the ball, they’d better get consistent.
“I gotta make the plays,” Sauce Gardner said about dropping a pick-six that could have changed the fortunes of this game in the second quarter.
Now to the coaching. For all the hullabaloo about how this staff and team trusted Zach Wilson over the last week, they sure didn’t act like it. Nathaniel Hackett called one of the most vanilla bullshit games you’ll ever see on offense, almost never letting Wilson throw the ball past the sticks, running the ball in predictable situations before abandoning it entirely and not drawing up a single option, RPO, gadget or trick play to try and keep the Cowboys off-balance.
The personnel decisions was another ridiculous folly of Hackett and the rest of the coaching staff in this one. Breece Hall, one of the most explosive weapons on this team and quite possibly the most talented running back in the entire league had four touches on offense. Even coming back from an ACL injury, that is absurd, especially considering that Hall had 11 touches on offense the week prior. There is little-to-no reason that Hall’s pitch count would decrease and that he was so underutilized in an offensive game plan that desperately could have used the juice he so often provides.
“I only got four touches,” Hall said in the postgame. “That’s why we struggled.”
In addition to Hall, the Jets barely used Mecole Hardman – one of the fastest players in the entire league – for the second straight game, didn’t use Dalvin Cook in situations that he thrives best in and only had Jeremy Ruckert – far and away the team’s best blocking tight end – play five total snaps. For an offensive line that couldn’t even block an angry Jets fan on Twitter, you would have thought that incorporating Ruckert into the pass and run-blocking game would have been a layup for this coaching staff.
It’s also worth noting that on the team’s first turnover of the game, Hackett called a pitch play well behind a struggling offensive line and had Cook run to the left side behind C.J. Uzomah, the worst blocking tight end on the team. The play resulted in Cook getting hit well behind the line of scrimmage, where he fumbled and turned the ball over which effectively ended the game then and there.
“The Jets have a bad habit of getting players like Dalvin Cook and Mecole Hardman that come with instructions and we ignore them,” Willie Colon said on Jets Postgame Live.
The personnel questions weren’t just on the offensive side of the ball, either, as the team made the decision to healthy scratch first round pick Will McDonald – who looked like an absolute beast throughout training camp and preseason – in favor of Carl Lawson. Just because Lawson is an older player doesn’t make him a better one, though, as the defensive end had no sacks or quarterback hits on Sunday, with just two total tackles. This Jets regime has made it a habit of not trusting their young players early on – Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall didn’t even get much run right away last season – and it’s about time they start re-evaluating that strategy.
The team also appeared to make zero defensive adjustments at halftime after having their extremely soft zone coverage picked apart by Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb in the first half. That slicing-and-dicing continued throughout the game for the Cowboys offense and the Jets never appeared to have an answer. While this coaching staff does not necessarily “believe” in having cornerbacks shadow specific receivers, it really would have been worth considering having Sauce Gardner follow Lamb for the remainder of that game. The only time Lamb didn’t seem to have success was when Gardner was lined up against him.
Overall, the Jets just didn’t look confident or competent in executing their game plan in Dallas, and their staff was completely out-coached by Mike McCarthy and company in the process.
Lazy writers and NFL analysts will look at Zach Wilson’s stat line in the box score without having watched the game and say, “what can you expect from the team when this is your quarterback?” But the reality is the rest of the Jets let Zach Wilson down for once, rather than it being the other way around.
Through three quarters, the stats weren’t amazing, but Wilson had been incredibly solid. He’d made virtually no mistakes and made some really good-looking throws despite being pressured on over 70% of his dropbacks to that point. It’s important to note that the Jets were down by three scores (27-10) before Wilson had committed a single turnover. By that time, the Jets quarterback really had no other choice than to try and force something down the field into traffic. Wilson did finish with three interceptions in the game, but they all came in the final 12 minutes with a big deficit. He is not the reason they lost no matter who tries to tell you otherwise.
No, at the end of the day this was the Jets defense, coaching and offensive line that ultimately doomed them to a blowout defeat on Sunday afternoon. I’m not sure what the Jets game plan was or what the coaching staff was doing all week, but it’s safe to say that they can throw that all out the window heading into their Week 3 preparations.
The Jets have to have a top-tier defense and quality coaching in order to be competitive in a post-Rodgers world this season. There is absolutely no way around that, as they got three quality game manager-type quarters from Wilson on Sunday and were still getting their doors blown off at that point.
If the Jets defense performs anything remotely close to the way it just did, the Jets will have absolutely no chance in 2023.
Around the NFL 🏁
The Giants overcame a 28-7 second-half deficit vs the Cardinals and pulled out a 31-28 victory thanks to a Graham Gano field goal in the final minute of regulation
Bengals QB Joe Burrow re-aggravated his calf injury in the team’s 27-24 loss to the Ravens
The Commanders came back from an 18-point deficit in Denver and survived a last second Hail Mary touchdown after the Broncos failed to convert on the two-point conversion to force overtime
Despite allowing a last-second game-tying field goal, the Seahawks held off the Lions and won in overtime thanks to a Geno Smith touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett
The Dolphins held-off a 4th quarter rally from the Patriots to defeat them 24-17 and improve to 2-0 on the season
The Titans came back from an early 11-0 deficit to the Chargers and won on a walk-off field goal in overtime, 27-24
Colts QB Anthony Richardson exited the game on Sunday with a concussion in the team’s 31-20 victory over the Texans