1st & 10: The Football Gods Giveth and Taketh Away

Stephen Russo gives his 10 takeaways from the Jets-Colts game.

1st…

We’ve had four days to let this loss marinate and while I thought it would get easier… it didn’t. Jets fans have been through enough, particularly in the quarterback department. For far too long, we’ve experienced inept quarterback play before we’ve even gotten to the backup.  From Luke Falk to Bryce Petty to Greg McElroy to Brooks Bollinger (shall I keep going?), it’s been death by a thousand cuts. I feel like we’d have to go all the way back to Ray Lucas to talk about a backup quarterback that had any sort of success with the Jets. But not this year! Mike F’n White comes out of nowhere to throw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Bengals to lead this team to victory and give us all a glimmer of hope for some exciting football on Thursday night. Then, the kid actually follows it up by delivering a game-tying touchdown pass to our beloved Elijah Moore in the first quarter before realizing that he has no feeling in the fingers on his throwing hand and will miss the rest of the game…

Is this a sick joke?

Do the Football Gods really hate the Jets this much? Did Joe Namath really sell his soul to the Devil? How can this actually happen? The entire country, even outside of New York, was tuning in to see Magic Mike in action… and we barely get him for a quarter before a fluke injury takes him out for the remainder of the game. What a shame.

As we quickly realized, though, we’re not so sure even Magic Mike White could have saved us against the Colts as the Jets defensive line chose to stay in Florham Park . The Colts offense had their way with the overmatched Jets defense all game long to the tune of 532 yards, 260 of which came on the ground.

This would not be so shocking if it came on the backs of the young and inexperienced secondary. However, the blame rests solely on the defensive line – which is supposedly the strength of the defense, and possibly the team. This performance was an utter embarrassment by this group.

The defense played well above expectation in the first quarter of the season, and has been nothing short of a disappointment since. It seems as though opposing teams have figured out the Jets.  It’s on Jeff Ulbrich and Robert Saleh to counter-punch. The Jets won’t win another game if they continue to perform like that.

& 10…

1. Mike LaFleur was public enemy #1 for the first 6 games of this season, but he has bounced back nicely over the last two weeks. Almost 1000 yards of total offense with a backup and third string quarterback deserves some praise. The move to the booth was welcome and clearly helps. LaFleur continues to impress and is emptying out the bag of tricks along the way. It’s a rare feeling for Jets fans to have their offense outpacing the defense.

2. Elijah Moore will be a very good football player. I love seeing him get more and more involved in the offense.

3. Josh Johnson played extremely well filling in for Mike White. You have to commend a guy for throwing for 300 yards in 2.5 quarters. And personally, I loved seeing the raw emotion from him after the tipped ball interception to end the game. It was a valiant effort by Johnson.

4. The Jets defense needs to learn how to recover a fumble.

5. I think Marcus Maye played his last snap as a Jet on Thursday night. I feel bad for him. I feel even worse for the Jets secondary now as they are ultra-thin there and I am not a believer in Ashtyn Davis just yet.  Can you name any other Jets’ safeties?

6. It seems as though the Jets offense has finally learned how to run a proper screen… now if they could only defend one.

7. I continue to be more and more impressed by the Michael Carter/Ty Johnson 1-2 punch.

8. Early in the 2nd quarter on Josh Johnson’s first drive, the Jets faced a 3rd and 15. The Jets of old, and many other teams with their 3rd string quarterback, would have run a draw play and been happy to punt. Mike LaFleur ran a double pass to Crowder then back to Michael Carter for a first down. That is the aggressiveness Jets fans have been clamoring for.

9. There is a lot of talk about the quarterbacks following the last two weeks and particularly what the success of White and Johnson means about Zach Wilson. I am encouraged by the offense overall and I think that this is encouraging for Wilson as well. These last two games show that this offense works. And, if a young quarterback can be taught to take the easy throws when they are there, it will work. I happen to believe it will be easier to teach Wilson how to hit a checkdown than it would be to teach him how to push the ball downfield… the hard part is done already.  I think this time off will benefit Wilson and we will see him quickly turn into the player we all think he can be.

10. This game wasn’t fun and it was over in the 2nd quarter. However, this game was about finding the silver linings… and there were a few of them. The offense is working, and it is fueled by the play of the young core that are foundational building blocks. The offensive line is getting better, which is leading to increased success as a whole. This team fought hard and didn’t give up, despite losing their quarterback and how bad the game looked. They will fight for Saleh, and that’s encouraging. Lastly, despite how bad the defense looked, I have confidence in Saleh and Ulbrich to right the ship, and if we can couple that with continued offensive success, then Jets fans will get what they wished for the rest of the way – competent, exciting, and competitive football.