Man oh man, how about that season opener? If not all of us, then most of us went into Monday night thinking the Jets would most likely compete and possibly win the game but boy were we wrong in the greatest of ways. After a dominant 48-17 win over the Lions, the team must put the game behind them and look forward to their next game against Miami. As for us, we’re going to take a look back and grade the coaches in all three facets of the game.
Head Coach, Todd Bowles
Todd Bowles is going into the season no longer being the play caller on defense, giving up those duties to defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers. Because of that, the only worries he had in game were in-game adjustments, time management, challenges, etc. However, before they even stepped onto the field, he had to get this team ready for a road game, something Bowles has had a tough time doing in his Jets tenure. This time around it all worked out, the team came out hot and energetic, particularly on defense. The film study the team did on Detroit obviously paid off dominating after the pick six.
If there was one complaint I have about his performance was the fact that they used all three of their timeouts before their last drive in the first half with about 3:30 left on the clock. I know at least the last one was because of some device difficulties in Darnold’s helmet but if the other two were not, you can’t just throw away timeouts like they’re nothing. That will have to change for the future but besides that, great game by Bowles completely out coaching the Belichick disciple Matt Patricia.
Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach, Jeremy Bates
This was the first real game in nearly a decade where Jeremy Bates was calling plays for the offense. Not only that but he was doing it with a team that had a rookie quarterback, an offensive line that did not play a snap together in the preseason and one of the key weapons out. In this game, Bates had a pretty good debut with the Jets. He found ways to get Darnold comfortable in the pocket and on the move, got receivers open (specifically Enunwa) and had a balanced offensive attack. He put many receivers in motion helping Darnold find out if he was facing a man or zone defense. Putting Darnold in situations to succeed was the biggest key after that first pass and it showed with Darnold going 16/20 with 198 yards and 2 TDs after the pick six.
As good as the debut was, there were a couple decisions that stood out to me. First and foremost was the 3rd and 1 pitch to Robby Anderson. The offense is easily in FG range and he decides to put Anderson in motion about 5 yards behind Darnold just to pitch it to him as he’s running horizontally. This play resulted in a 9 yard loss and forced them to punt. The running game was looking great, there was no need to make a crazy call like that and take points off the board. The other gripe I have was the 3 TE sets in an empty set. We have three solid receivers and Powell is another good pass catcher in his own right. Bates may have wanted the bigger bodies on the field but there were better options to choose from to give Darnold the best chance to succeed.
Defensive Coordinator, Kacy Rodgers
As mentioned, Rodgers is now the play caller on defense and he did a tremendous job getting his defense ready for this season opener. The defense led by “New Jack City” was able to force 5 interceptions, 1 each by Mo Claiborne, Trumaine Johnson and Jamal Adams, and 2 by Darron Lee, one of which was the first defensive touchdown since 2013. Players put themselves in great positions to make plays and you have to credit that to watching film as well as the coaching staff getting them prepared. On the broadcast we were able to hear them calling out a play or two even before the ball was even snapped. It was a tremendous game plan by Rodgers and company.
If I’m nitpicking anything it is the touchdown given up to Golden Tate. In an empty set with one of the best receivers after the catch in the slot, Tate goes uncovered with the ILBs blitzing rather than taking up any of the middle of the field and just needed to make Doug Middleton miss for an easy TD. Poor play call but the rest of the game was top notch. Next week will need to have some creative ways to get some consistent pressure on the QB as the defensive line struggled to do so by themselves.
Special Teams, Bryant Boyer
Really don’t know what unit I was watching but it wasn’t the same on from the preseason, that’s for sure. The unit was phenomenal from every aspect. The coverage team got down the field, pinned punts and on the other end had terrific blocking to create lanes for the returner. Lachlan Edwards pinned two of his three punts inside the 10, one within the 6. Myers nailed all 8 attempts and didn’t allow any returns on kickoffs. And of course Andre Roberts had two 30+ yard punt returns, one going for a TD. You could not have asked for a better game from this unit.