At this point in the season, almost all wins mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. All they do is anger the fanbase come April when the draft position isn’t as good as it could have been. Sunday was different, however. On Sunday, the Jets saw their franchise QB lead two touchdown drives to win the game. A win that meant more in the grand scheme of things than really any December win can for a 3-9 football team.
It took a little while (and even a locker room trip for a foot injury) but down the stretch Sam Darnold looked every bit like the franchise quarterback you want him to be. There was the chaotic touchdown to Robby Anderson where Darnolds improvisation skills shined through and there was the big boy throw to Anderson that set up the game winning touchdown.
Watching Darnold lead the Jets comeback on the road in December against a division opponent after missing a month is more than one could ask for a 21 year old rookie. He missed some open throws but overall for a first game back, very impressive.
Running Back: B
Elijah McGuire took every advantage of his opportunity on Sunday. Isaiah Crowell left with an injury and McGuire tallied 60 yards on 17 carries and three receptions for 23 yards. He had a long 34 yard run where stiff armed Pro Bowl safety Micah Hyde into the ground that set up the touchdown to Anderson. McGuires game winning touchdown also showed a great deal of patience for a second year running back.
Wide Receivers: B
The stats aren’t eye opening from the receiving group. Robby Anderson led the group with four receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown but guys were getting open. As Michael Nania pointed out, you can see Enunwa open up the seam on the slot corner but Darnold doesn’t throw it.
Anderson also gets open in the back of the end zone but Darnold doesn’t see him until it’s too late.
It was a good showing from the Jets receivers against the number one ranked pass defense. They were open in the middle of the field but Darnold seemed to lock in outside the numbers. An encouraging game from this group moving forward.
Tight Ends: C
It was a quiet day from this tight end group. Chris Herndon has been tremendous this season but had just one catch (albeit an important catch) for 14 yards. Jordan Leggett also had one catch for 13 yards. Eric Tomlinson had zero catches on zero targets which is encouraging. I thought the blocking was good from this group, which included Herndon sealing the edge for this Cannon TD.
Offensive Line: A+
When you don’t allow a single QB hit or a sack against a very good defense, you’re getting an A+ from me. Sam Darnold had a relatively clean pocket for the entire day. Kelvin Beachum killed Kyle Williams on the TD to Anderson:
The Jets ran the ball up the middle a majority of the time and the offensive line did its job, including this run by McGuire:
It was a great day against a tough Bills defense. Hopefully they can build on this against a tougher front seven on Saturday against the Texans.
Defensive Line: C+
It’s almost a broken record at this point but the best player on this line is Henry Anderson. He tallied half a sack and was one of only two Jets defensive lineman to have a QB hit, the other being Leonard Williams with two. Outside of Josh Allen running the ball, they did a relatively good job at bottling up the trenches in the run game.
Neville Hewitt was tied for the team lead in tackles with eight in filling in for Darron Lee. He tallied half a sack and Brandon Copeland also recorded a sack. Kevin Pierre-Louis got in on the fun with a sack of his own. The Jets had two sacks from their ILB on Sunday, Darron Lee had zero all season. They got some good pressure on Allen although he did rush for over 100 yards. They forced both of Allens picks with pressure. Copeland has come on as an average pass rusher but compared to a guy like Dante Fowler, Jr., he has pretty similar stats.
Trumaine Johnson had two interceptions, including one to seal the game, and Jamal Adams had a fumble recovery. Outside of that, I thought it was a relatively average game for them. Robert Foster had seven catches for 104 yards and Isaiah McKenzie had four receptions for 47 yards, two guys who wouldn’t be starting on other NFL rosters. There was also huge holes at the second and third levels for Allen to run. All in all, they buckled down in the second half and forced three turnovers. When they needed to get a stop, they got one.
Special Teams: A+
Jason Meyers made all of his extra points and was 2/2 on field goals. Andre Roberts had five kick returns for 176 yards including an 86 (!) yard return which somehow didn’t go for a touchdown. He did also fumble which would’ve brought this grade down if it weren’t for a Henry Anderson blocked kick for the second week in a row. A great two week showing from the Jets special teams.
For as much hell as we’ve given Jeremy Bates, I thought he called a relatively good game. He could have easily shortened the playbook with Darnold coming back from injury with the built in excuse of “we didn’t want to put too much on his plate in his first game back” however there were more downfield routes and good combinations than we’ve seen in weeks prior.
I don’t have anything to say about Todd Bowles in this one. There weren’t many opportunities to screw up which is kind of where we’re at in his tenure.
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) December 11, 2018