The New York Jets got their first win of the 2019 season today against the Dallas Cowboys, 24-22. Sam Darnold’s return to action was nearly flawless, as he racked up 338 yards passing with a pair of touchdowns and a YPA of 10.6. The Cowboys late comeback charge fell short when a Jamal Adams blitz forced an incompletion on the game tying two point conversion. It was a desperately needed victory for a team who was clearly reenergized by the return of their starting quarterback.
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) October 13, 2019
A 92 yard touchdown? Yes, it happened from Darnold to Robby Anderson, who had his first 100 yard game of the season (5 catches, 125 yards). Jamison Crowder was also back to being a major factor, particularly on third downs. He racked up 6 catches f0r 98 yards. Demaryius Thomas rounded out the passing game well with 4 catches for 62 yards. Darnold consistently attacked down the field and showed excellent poise in the pocket, regularly shuffling out of the way of the pass rush, stepping up and converting plays down the field. He looked like the player we saw last year against Houston and Green Bay.
Adam Gase did a good job designing this week’s game plan, regularly throwing on first down and mixing in play action more on early downs. Ty Montgomery and Bilal Powell were removed from the moth balls and the Jets did not get conservative in the second half when they had a lead. They didn’t convert the same way they did in the first half but it wasn’t because their play calling was overly simplistic or predictable. On a day where the running game wasn’t really humming (Le’Veon Bell had 50 yards on 14 carries), it was the right move to let Darnold keep throwing in the fourth quarter, even as Dallas was mounting their comeback.
Despite allowing a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, the Jets defense ultimately did just enough to pull out the win. Dak Prescott was only sacked once but the Jets racked up 8 quarterback hits, taking advantage of a compromised Cowboys offensive line. Without Amari Cooper, Gregg Williams did not hesitate to dial up the blitzing and it paid off, most glaringly on the biggest play of the game. This was easily Jamal Adams best game of the season as he was all over the field, pacing the Jets with 9 tackles, a TFL and a pass defensed. It was also a particularly impressive game upfront for role players like Foley Fatukasi and Kyle Phillips. Jordan Jenkins grabbed a big sack late in the fourth quarter in his return to action.
The anxiety was flowing late in this one but it is good to have real football back to watch and discuss. The Jets are not a flawless team but they found a way to win a close game today against a team who is likely to contend for a playoff spot. The task will get harder next week with the Patriots coming town (currently ten point favorites, led by the NFL’s best defense) but the Jets will be able to hang with them if Darnold plays like he did today.
If Darnold is #good, mostly everything else will fall into place. If Gase calls plays like he did today, the Jets are going to make a run towards .500 once their schedule begins softening up. Today was a fun one – finally – let’s hope there is more on the way.