The Jets lost 24-17 to the Dolphins on Sunday to fall to 2-8 on the season. Here are some thoughts and observations on the game:
1. When the Jets traded Jamal Adams to the Seahawks, one story was that Seattle didn’t like the draft picks because they knew they would be down in the first round. It showed some arrogance on Seattle’s part that they expected to be this good and didn’t need the picks. Now, it looks like the Jets could end up with a pretty good Seattle pick in 2022.
As of Monday morning, the Jets would have the No. 2 pick and the No. 5 pick (from Seattle) in the draft. Nobody expects the Seahawks pick to end up in the top 5, but it’s not crazy to think he could be in the top 10 and he’s almost certain to be in the top 15.
It will be a huge boost for Jets general manager Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh as they try to accelerate their roster rebuild. The Jets also have two second-round picks — their own and Carolina trade Sam Darnold. Douglas has a chance to land four impact starters for Saleh.
I can hear cynical Jets fans say, “Great, they’re going to blow those picks.” I understand. You’re beaten down by years of bad writing, but now is not the time to see it that way. The 2021 draft class is the only bright spot on this team right now. Elijah Moore had a monster game Sunday with eight catches for 141 yards and a touchdown for 62 yards. Michael Carter was averaging 7 yards per carry before his ankle injury. Alijah Vera-Tucker threw a key block on Carter’s 39-yard run and played well after some early struggles. Cornerback Michael Carter II has shown he’s a capable starter and they’ve gotten contributions from linebacker Jamien Sherwood and cornerback Brandin Echols this year.
The key to the entire draft class is Zach Wilson, of course, but right now Douglas has the benefit of the doubt. Looks like he’s drafted multiple guards this year and he’s armed with the draft picks to land more guards in 2022. If the Jets are ever going to get out of this hole, stacking the draft classes is the way they’ll do it. .
2. Wilson is expected to return from his knee injury this week and start against the Texans. The storyline is going to be that the season is now all about Wilson’s development – and rightfully so. But here’s a fascinating side story that I’m going to watch. Moore and Carter really emerged with Wilson on the bench. They had their best games playing with Mike White and Joe Flacco. Is it just a coincidence and they just needed about half the season to shake off the rookie growing pains? Or is it because White and Flacco have done a better job of managing the attack and providing them with opportunities – especially Moore?
If Moore’s production plummets with Wilson at quarterback, it will be a big story. Yes, Wilson’s development is paramount, but the Jets also need their other rookies to continue to grow and not be slowed down if Wilson struggles. It will be an interesting side story to watch.
3. Give Saleh credit. He didn’t just keep deploying the same players expecting a different result in defense. Saleh made a few moves: starting Elijah Riley at safety on Jarrod Wilson, Quincy Williams on Jarrad Davis at linebacker and going with Isaiah Dunn at cornerback to replace an injured Echols instead of Javelin Guidry.
The moves didn’t all work. Riley and Dunn were involved in the coverage error on Miami’s 65-yard touchdown. But that’s not the point. Saleh has at least decided to shake things up. There aren’t many answers on Saleh’s list. The Jets don’t have the kind of depth where he can keep rolling through players, but he’s trying.
I give him the most credit for the move to linebacker. The Jets signed Davis to a one-year, $5.5 million contract in free agency to play alongside CJ Mosley. Davis suffered an ankle injury in training camp and did not return until October 31 against the Bengals. He didn’t play well, and Saleh said Sunday the Jets don’t think he’s 100% recovered from the injury. Williams had played well in place of Davis, then was benched upon his return. It was a good decision to come back to him on Sunday. Williams brings energy and is a physical player who can inspire his teammates. He makes his share of mistakes but they come from an aggressive mentality and the Jets can live with that.
4. If the Jets lose another game (who thinks they’re running the table?), it’ll lock in another losing season. It will be six consecutive losing seasons, dating back to 2016. It’s an incredible run of bad football. The Jets have never had five straight losing seasons before this streak, and the history of the Jets is marked by a long series of trivia. But now is clearly the worst part of football in franchise history. The Jets still feel years out of the fight and it’s clear the Patriots, Bills and Dolphins are all ahead of them in varying degrees. I feel for the Jets fans. It might take a while to turn around and you’ve already waited long enough.
John Franklin-Myers manhandled the passer’s penalty Sunday was the sixth such penalty this season for the Jets, the highest in the NFL. It’s the second year in a row they’ve led the league in passing passer penalties. They had 14 in 2020.
Surprising number of shots
Jarrad Davis has only played nine snaps after starting the last three games. Saleh decided to cast Quincy Williams, but he also cut Davis’ snaps completely.
Moore gave Jets fans some hope in a loss. His eight catches for 141 yards and the long touchdown showed he can be a great receiver. After a slow start, Moore got going and gave hope for the future.