The New York Jets played – and lost – their first game of the season yesterday and it went pretty much like most expected it would. The Jets offense failed to show anything that would get fans excited or scare future opponents, the defense played well at times but not nearly well enough to give anyone any reason to think they will be able to carry this offense to victory for more than a few games here and there.
When looking at the box score the most “surprising” thing that happened yesterday was the Jets defense giving up 190 rushing yards on 42 carries, for 4.5 yards a carry. Last season the Jets allowed on 3.7 yards per carry on the season, stopping the run was the one thing this team was supposed to be able to consistently well. But this doesn’t mean we should expect to see similar numbers going forward, after all running the ball is the one thing the Buffalo Bills do consistently well. The Bills have a strong offensive line, one of the best running backs (LeSean McCoy had 110 yards on 22 carries) in the league and a quarterback who can beat you with his legs and the deep ball. It’s not easy to slow down the Bills running game, but nothing will come easy to the Jets this year.
While that rushing total might have exceeded most expectations the defense still played in a way you should expect them to play all year. There’s definitely a good amount of talent on this defense, but it’s young and developing talent and they’re going to have their ups-and-downs, there’s also some very real flaws that opposing teams will look the exploit every week.
Rookie safety Jamal Adams made a few impressive plays in coverage (but struggled some against the run) but those plays weren’t enough to make up for the lack of coverage ability from the Jets linebackers as they gave up a couple of big plays to Bills tight end Charles Clay. Both Demario Davis and Darron Lee seemed to have improved in coverage during training camp but that certainly didn’t seem to be the case yesterday.
Juston Burris got his first interception of the season, grabbing a Tyrod Taylor pass in the end zone – after Adams knocked the ball into the air – saving a touchdown. Leonard Williams wasn’t perfect or as excellent as he’s capable of being, but he was still the Jets best player and definitely caused the Bills problems whether they were trying to run or pass. One of the newest Jets Kony Ealy told reporters on Friday that he saw his role with the Jets as being a “disruptor” and he got off to a good start as he was able to pressure Taylor and swat a pass away.
The real bad news on defense is Muhammad Wilkerson was nowhere to be found. After a down season last year as he was still noticeably recovering from his broken leg many expected Wilkerson would be back to his old form this year. Obviously this is only one game, so he still has plenty of time to turn it back around but there weren’t many signs of him regaining his old form in training camp or preseason either.
On offense the Jets were exactly as inept as we expected. The only managed to game a paltry 225 total yards (187 through the air and a pathetic 38 on the ground), but if you really expected more out of a Josh McCown led offense well, that’s on you. McCown finished the game 26-39 for 187 yards, two interceptions and one sack. McCown had a 4.79 yards per attempt average and a QBR of 29.4, it was not pretty but it was about what you should expect from McCown.
The most baffling aspect of the Jets offensive game plan yesterday was that somehow Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator John Morton don’t see what literally everyone else sees and for some reason they are still stubbornly trotting out Matt Forte as the starting running back. The Forte signing was a mistake, but as always the far bigger mistake is stubbornly clinging to said mistake. Bilal Powell finished the game with one more carry (seven carries for 22 yards) than Forte (six carries for 16 yards) and neither of them were able to get anything going on the ground, but Forte should only see the field if Powell gets hurt or needs a breather and even then it would probably be wise to see what the rookie Elijah McGuire can do instead of simply waiving the white flag that is Forte.
The best news of the day on offense still had to leave you scratching your head wondering why there was such a “competition” for the right tackle spot. Brandon Shell played really well at the end of last season and most assumed he earned the starting job at that point, but the rotation and “competition” dragged for some silly reason. Yesterday Shell showed why he still deserves that spot as he did an excellent job protecting McCown.
The Jets didn’t play like a good football team yesterday, but that’s because they are not a good football team. With so many young, developing players this season will be about evaluating said young, developing players but if you’re a fan solely focused on the outcome of the games then prepare yourself for a similar result as what we saw yesterday, because that performance is pretty much what you should’ve expected as well as what you should expect going forward with a couple of better performances sandwiched between a couple of worse performances.
Chris Nimbley is the editor-in-chief of JetsInsider.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)