The New York Jets earned their first AFC East victory of the 2019 season today with a 22-21 win over the Miami Dolphins. Sam Ficken hit a 44 yard field goal as time expired in a win that was far from pretty but was a needed win for their young quarterback, Sam Darnold. They moved their 2019 record to 5-8 and will now face off with arguably the best team in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens, on the road this Thursday night…
Today was not Sam Darnold’s best effort as he finished 20/36, 270 yards (7.5 YPA) with 2 touchdowns and an interception, with most of the production coming in the first half against the NFL’s 32nd ranked DVOA defense. Despite an ugly third and most of fourth quarter, Darnold rallied late and did enough on the Jets final drive to get them into field goal range for the win. This game should serve as a learning experience for him as he got away with a forcing a few passes into coverage and taking a sack on the game’s final drive with no timeouts left. It is always better to learn in a win and there was enough flashes of his talent to see why many remain so high on his long term potential here.
Robby Anderson was the best player on the field today finishing with 116 yards on 7 receptions and a touchdown, including multiple contested grabs. Similar to last season, Anderson is coming on strong down the stretch and is increasing his value on the free agent market. Vyncint Smith had a huge play on the game’s final drive, taking a short check down for 37 yards and teeing up Ficken’s game winning kick.
The Jets running wasn’t great today but it was better than usual. The ageless Bilal Powell had 74 yards on 19 carries and Ty Montgomery chipped in 31 yards on 9 carries (he also had 30 yards receiving on 3 catches). Hopefully they can stay integrated in the offense if/when Le’Veon Bell returns.
Defensively, the Jets had an impressive effort without Jamal Adams and Brian Poole. They held Miami to seven (!) field goals and out of the end zone all game. Ryan Fitzpatrick did many Ryan Fitzpatrick things, including throwing an interception and running for 65 yards (not a good sign with Lamar Jackson on deck) but the Jets successfully executed a bend but don’t break strategy all afternoon. Jordan Jenkins also grabbed 2 more sacks on the season (give him a new contract!).
The competition now spikes back up for the Jets to close the season with Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Buffalo who each have top ten defenses. This will be a great opportunity for Sam Darnold to show progress, starting off with a primetime game. Most of us broke down the Jets schedule into three chunks before the year started: the difficult opening (where they went 1-5), the soft middle (where they went 4-3) and the difficult closing. Can they finish hovering around .500 or will their record resemble the 2016-2018 seasons?