There is only one place to start following a huge 24-22 win for the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, and that is with Sam Darnold. The 22-year-old quarterback returned to the field for the Jets after missing over a month with mononucleosis, and he didn’t miss a beat. From the first snap, Darnold was locked in. He led the Jets to four scores and a win with a stat line of 23/32, 2 TD’s, 1 interception and 338 yards, hitting 7 different receivers along the way. Darnold’s return to the lineup seemed to patch up almost every glaring hole the Jets showed through the first four games, as he re-ignited the team and fanbase as the Jets got a much-needed win to improve to 1-4.
1. Darnold’s return was clearly welcomed by Adam Gase. After a four-game skid to start the year and stuck with Luke Falk for three straight weeks, Darnold allowed Gase the flexibility to do what he does best, and it showed. Gase started aggressive and stayed that way, allowing Darnold to sling the ball all over the field. At certain critical points, it appeared they could have run the ball more but the attacking style and passes beyond the sticks were a welcomed change of pace for this offense. Admittedly, I was critical of Gase’s game plans in the first four weeks of the season, and I will give credit where credit is due: Gase called a great game on Sunday.
2. Jamal Adams had his best game of his NFL career on Sunday. He was everywhere on the field, and made his impact felt in run support, pass breakups, and blitzes.
3. It was great to finally see some tight end involvement yesterday. Ryan Griffin had his best game as a Jet adding 3 catches for 28 yards and a score. This should make every Jets fan (and Adam Gase) very excited for the return of Chris Herndon.
4. The Jets played a relatively clean first half yesterday in terms of penalties. However, they quickly returned to form. This team still lacks discipline, particularly in big spots. While I don’t agree with all of the calls, smart teams recognize situational football and play accordingly. The Jets are not there yet. Early in the second half, the Jets had two first down conversions (Darnold scramble, Crowder catch) negated by penalty. On the Cowboys’ final drive, the Jets simply bailed the Cowboys out every chance they could. This is, and has been, and Achilles heel for this team. It needs to be a focal point moving forward.
5. The defensive line and pass rush impressed me, particularly Kyle Phillips, Foley Fatukasi and Quinnen Williams. Only one sack of Prescott but they were in his face and hitting him all day. Now, they need to start getting home and recording sacks.
6. Maybe Trumaine Johnson likes to watch receivers catch first downs in front of him?
7. As mentioned earlier, I thought Gase called a great game. If I have one criticism, it was letting Le’Veon Bell rest for the first series of the fourth quarter. The Jets were up 21-9 following a missed field goal attempt by the Cowboys. At that point, a drive for a touchdown would seal the game. I am all for spelling Bell here and there, especially after his workload in the first four weeks, but I felt like Gase should have had his best player on the field for that drive.
8. The blitz on Dallas’ two-point conversion attempt was an excellent call by Gregg Williams, and even better execution by Jamal Adams. It was great to see the leader of this team make the impact play to seal the win.
9. In his post-game press conference, Adam Gase said that it was good for this team to win the way they did, especially knowing what happened week one and numerous times in 2018 when the Jets squandered 4th quarter leads. While I don’t disagree, I believe it would be even more important for this team to secure wins by putting games like this out of reach when they have the chance.
10. I’ll finish where I started… with Sam Darnold. He made the offensive line block, receivers get open, and the ball cross the goal line. He looked every bit the part that we knew we saw at the end of 2018, and put this team on his back and carried them to a win. With improved coaching and better playmakers, Darnold will build upon that 2018 finish.
It’s one game. It’s one win. But all signs point to the New York Jets having a Franchise Quarterback for years to come, ladies and gentlemen. Now go beat the Patriots on Monday Night and remove what little doubt is left…