First of, WOW. 48 points in Week One on the road in primetime and the Jets dismantled the Detroit Lions. There was a lot to love about a Week One win like this one.
You cannot start out a career worse than Darnold did on Monday night. The thing that separates him from other QBs is his ability to bounce back and not let one mistake turn into more. Darnold played composed, moved around the pocket well and moved the ball almost at will against the Lions defense. When he needed to make the deep throw, he showed he could. A very solid first start.
After the interception, he looked a little flustered immediately after it but quickly got back on track. Jeremy Bates called a good game for him, getting out of the pocket and throwing on the run. There’s a lot to be excited about with Darnold.
Running Back: A
The Jets did a complete 180 in the running game from what we saw in the preseason. Isaiah Crowell had 102 yards on 10 carries (1o.2 ypc) and Bilal Powell had 60 yards on 12 carries (5.0 ypc). Crowell had two touchdowns including a 62 yarder that put the final dagger into the Lions. Both guys ran very well and it looks like the Jets have have a good duo who complement each other nicely.
Wide Receiver: A
So much for not having weapons right? Quincy Enunwa caught six passes for 63 yards and dragged half the Lions into the end one for a touchdown. Robby Anderson caught his only target for a 41 yard touchdown at the end of the first half. Terrelle Pryor caught all of his targets.
Enunwa led the team with 10 targets and looks like he’ll be Darnolds pacifier when he things break down. The Jets seemed to stay away from Anderson with the thoughts that the Lions might try to target him with their defensive scheme. The group as a whole seemed to be open all night.
Tight End: C+
Neal Sterling is listed as a tight end but he’s more of a receiver, which is the only reason this group gets the plus. Rookie Chris Herndon had zero targets but did make a key block on the Enunwa touchdown. Eric Tomlinson had one catch for seven yards but blocked fairly well, which is what his primary role will be.
Offensive Line: B
They only gave up two sacks early on but after that they settled in. The group got a good push up front and won the battle in the trenches, which is something we couldn’t say at all in the preseason. Spencer Long proved what we all thought he would be in a massive upgrade over Wesley Johnson. The line also paved the way for 169 yards of rushing.
Defensive Line: C
They didn’t sack Matthew Stafford at all but did produce some good pressure, with Henry Anderson being the standout of the night. Anderson got a good pressure on the Darron Lee pick six. The only defensive lineman to record a tackle was Steve McLendon. Ideally you want to see more pressure from this unit, as the type of game the rest of the defense had won’t happen every game.
Was this Darron Lee’s coming out party? Two interceptions, the pick six and after the interception he played with a lot more confidence than we’ve seen from him. Frankie Luvu had a competent game with three tackles and a tackle for loss. Avery Williamson was good against and played okay against the pass. The unit helped hold the Lions to only 39 yards rushing. Hopefully this is a stepping stone for Lee to look more like the first round pick he was.
Three interceptions, including the first for Jamal Adams, was a phenomenal sight for a secondary that did a lot of talking in the offseason. They were flying all over the field and were playing fast. An encouraging sign of backing up the “New Jack City” talk. They did however get gashed at the end of the first half in the two minute offense and gave up the easiest touchdown imaginable to Golden Tate to start the second half.
This unit looked vastly improved from what it was last season, even without Marcus Maye. Doug Middleton seemed to be the only one that struggled in coverage. Parry Nickerson was utilized well with nickel blitzes and Buster Skrine started off the season on a high note.
Special Teams: A
When is the Andre Roberts Ring of Honor induction? Roberts had five total returns and 182 total return yards on the night, including the 78 yard punt return for a touchdown. Roberts showed he is probably the answer at returner for this Jets team and it’s a sigh of relief to not see fair catches every drive or drives starting at the 20 on kickoffs.
Todd Bowles had this team ready to go for a prime time game and they executed. He coached circles around Matt Patricia. Jeremy Bates called a great game for Darnold (yes, even the first play was a good play call). They put Darnold in the best position to succeed and it was rewarded with a 31 point win.
The next step with this coaching staff is to not have a letdown next week against Miami. Bowles has been notorious for not having his guys ready after big wins like Monday nights.