TOJ’s 1st & 10: An Ugly Win is Still a Win

Stephen Russo walks fans through how they should feel about yesterday’s Jets win.

1st…

Was this the game we all wanted to see? Absolutely not. We had all hoped for Zach Wilson to come back from more than a month away and look like Aaron Rodgers in a high-powered offense and throw for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns because booth Mike LaFleur is clearly the second coming of Mike Martz and can get any QB to look like a Hall of Famer. But that’s not what we got. What we did get was a gritty performance by a young team and a young quarterback who got better as the game went on.

Let’s take this for what it’s worth: the Jets, who are the youngest team in the league, won a game on the road with their rookie quarterback playing his first game since October 24th.  They won without their top receiver, starting left tackle, starting running back, starting tight end, edge rusher and safety. They won a game against a bad team (and don’t forget, they’re a bad team themselves) in which they didn’t play their best. And, they came back from 14-3 to shut down the Texans for the final 40 minutes and scored 18 unanswered points to win… that, my friends, is progress. Be happy!

& 10…

1. Give credit to Mike LaFleur. He settled a young quarterback down, called a good game for the final 3 quarters and allowed the rest of his team to lift the quarterback up. That’s exactly what you want from an offensive coordinator: the ability to recognize what’s happening and make in-game adjustments.

2. Elijah Moore continues to impress at every step in his growth process. It’s amazing the Jets got him in the 2nd round. It was a great call for LaFleur to go to him on the reverse on a 4th and 1 late in the game.

3. What a welcome back game for John Franklin-Myers! 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, and an interception! He should be considered for AFC Defensive Player of the Week. What a great bounce back game for him following an ill-timed penalty last week against Miami.

4. Bryce Hall struggled a bit today but came up big in a big spot. Hall was beat for  2 third down conversions – one to Rex Burkhead and the other a touchdown to Brandin Cooks – but ended up making a big pass break-up when it counted to seal the game. I can’t kill him for getting beat by Cooks, a lot of people do. It was good coverage and an excellent throw. But he is looking every bit the part of a starting cornerback in the NFL – and the saving grace of that Joe Douglas 2020 draft class.

5. I loved how the rushing attack looked today. They were committed and dominant. The only downfall was that we would have loved to see what Michael Carter could have done…

6. The defensive line rotation continues to be perplexing. On the first drive of the game, the Jets get a third down stop and the Texans are facing a 4th & 1 and decide to go for it… but JFM, Quinnen, and Shaq Lawson all come off the field. That doesn’t make sense.

7. A lot of credit should go to Mike LaFleur, as I mentioned above. However, there are two things I will criticize him for. One, on 3rd and 8 with 5 minutes to go (before the 4th & 1 call to go for it), Elijah Moore isn’t on the field. In big spots, your best players need to be on the field. There is no excuse here. The other is that I feel that he needs to be more aggressive on 2nd or 3rd and short, particularly in opponent’s territory. Too often he is reliant on the run game to get the first down, when he could take a shot for a big play in that spot, while still having the confidence that they could pick up the first with the run game on the next play. Remember, you’re playing with house money.

8. I am happy to admit I was dead wrong on Quincy Williams. He brings an energy to the defense and can absolutely lay the hammer.

9. I think the Jets should bring back both Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole in 2022.

10. This win was important. Being able to win on the road, when you’re not at your best, is not easy to do in the NFL. It was needed, no matter how they got it. I also think it showed progress from a young coaching staff. Saleh’s aggressiveness (2pt conversion, 4th down attempts) and clock management are all improving and it shows that he is getting a better feel for the game and his team. I feel confident in his ability to lead this young team moving forward. Let’s just hope they can continue to build on this in weeks to come.