New York Jets fans! We hope you’re enjoying your first victory Monday of September since Week 1 of the 2018 season.
Joining in on some of the good vibes are our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller with our weekly NYJ mailbag column. Today will tackle Week 2 game reactions, the fallout of head coach Robert Saleh’s “receipts” comment, Zach Wilson’s recovery, and a look ahead at the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3.
Most recent mailbags:
- Week 56: Falcons joint practices, predicting the second round of cuts.
- Week 57: Preseason reactions, waiver claim candidates, final cuts.
- Week 58: Reactions to cuts & claims, 2022 breakout picks, Week 1 predictions.
- Week 59: Duane Brown reactions, Week 1 QB/kicker debacle, Week 2 predictions.
Giving Jets Credit Where It’s Due
1. Some younger Gang Green fans are calling this the greatest regular-season Jets game they’ve ever seen. Do you agree with that statement?
That’s a bit bold and obviously — prisoner of the moment — however, the circumstances are pretty historic. To be down 13 points with 1:55 remaining in the game and zero timeouts, and then to go and win is both improbable and miraculous.
While I could choose to age myself and point out countless other regular season games that could have meant more throughout the course of history, I’ll let the young people bask in this moment. It was a truly great time in history and hopefully, fans can let it marinate and enjoy it because you never know when the next one is going to come.
It was a great comeback win but no, it was not the greatest regular-season game of my lifetime. In all honesty, this was a bit of an ugly game for the defense and it was frustrating to watch at times.
The final two minutes were magical, yes — especially considering the contributions from some of the rookies and second-year players throughout the game — but a 37-year-old quarterback beating Jacoby Brissett and the Cleveland Browns does not push me to make some sort of outlandish statement.
I’m sorry, I don’t mean to rain on any parades. It was a positive step for the Jets but fans need to see efforts like this with Zach Wilson on the field. I’d actually argue the Tennessee Titans’ win last year (and many others before the Joe Douglas regime) were better regular-season victories.
2. Do you feel this result can act as a turning point for Saleh’s Jets, with his “receipts” quote as the rallying cry?
1000 percent, I can see it, and quite frankly I’m ready to believe it comes to fruition.
Some will call this luck, others will say the Browns blew it versus the Jets seizing it, but it all counts the same in the record books. The pure emotion in the locker room was inspiring and now this team believes.
It was a Joe Flacco presser comment last week where he said the team thinks it’s good, but until they fully embrace they’re good it’ll be a work in progress (I’m paraphrasing). There is a palpable buzz within the organization after this win and we’ll see what they do with it.
I wrote about it on Saturday; Bart Scott called this locker room out after the “receipts” comment explaining that Saleh’s words “should galvanize the troops.” I followed up on those remarks by calling Week 2 a pivotal moment in his coaching tenure.
“He hit his roster with a somewhat extreme call-to-action this week,” I wrote, “and Scott’s right, if the players don’t answer the bell, it shows that they don’t believe in Saleh or the future that he envisions… it’s a potential turning point that can either plummet this franchise further south or inspire an unlikely rise.”
It goes without saying that this pregame prediction explains how I feel. This IS the rallying cry, like Aaron Rodgers’ famed “run the table” quote or any positive turnaround that comes to mind in recent history but the Jets have to keep fighting. That hunger for more must continue to inspire them and a credit to Saleh for pushing the right button.
3. There were so many bounce-back efforts in Week 2 from players the fanbase has turned on and forgotten. Name your favorite “comeback within the comeback.”
You’re right — there are a million players we could choose to highlight here and I’ll pick a player that I believed in when no one else did!
That was safety Ashtyn Davis who sealed the game with a Brissett interception. When he made the roster in general, a lot of fans and media analysts threw their hands up. That was even more true when they saw which players Gang Green dumped in favor of him.
Remember, Davis is a raw piece of clay coming out of California, he hasn’t played that much football since transitioning over from track. The traits have always been there but the rest has been a work in progress. Coach Saleh said it after the game, he is still getting his feet wet and if everything can click for him I truly believe he can be a special player at this level.
I could go with one of the special teamers like Braden Mann or Greg Zuerlein but honestly, I’m not so sure I fully believe in either one of them after one decent outing. The same goes for Ashtyn Davis, who has always shown an ability to ball hawk — it’s the other areas of the safety position he struggles with.
I could go with Flacco or Corey Davis but neither really excites me. Side note on Corey Davis — that’s one guy I never truly wrote off, to me he is what he is and can help this team as a secondary piece.
I give props to all these guys but my answer will be none of the above. I’m going to go with a more obscure moment in the game from a potential long-term piece and say cornerback Brandin Echols, who was trade bait to some this offseason.
I’ve always argued Bryce Hall was the better backup of the two CBs but Echols showed me something when he was called on to sub in for the injured Sauce Gardner. After two key coverage stops in the end zone on back-to-back plays — that held Cleveland to a field goal at the time — the second-round corner came up big with an underrated comeback moment in my eyes.
Recency Bias or Reality Check in Week 3?
4. Zach Wilson did participate in practices last week and appears to be ahead of schedule heading into Week 3. Do you think there’s any chance he returns a game early? Or is he locked into the Pittsburgh outing no matter how he progresses?
Oh, nothing is ever locked in. I think there is a legitimate chance that the Jets chose to be overly precautious with their timeline so they wouldn’t catch any flak if it actually pushed through Pittsburgh.
If they were smart, they left the door open based on his progress for a potential early return which could lead to quite the raucous atmosphere at MetLife Stadium for a 1-1 Jets squad with a healthy Wilson. Throw in the fact that Nick Mangold is set to join the Ring of Honor at halftime and you have the making of something pretty cool.
I feel optimistic with him getting some light work in last week — and potentially a full week of reps ahead of Cincinnati — that he could show back up in Week 3 and light the world on fire.
As nice as it was to see Flacco turn back the clocks a bit, I’d love to see Wilson out there in Week 3 if he’s healthy. To be clear, I don’t want to rush him back if there are any concerns but I do think he’s the man for the job at full strength.
The Jets rarely do what I want though. It’s more likely they wait until Wilson is 110%, which would surely occur by Week 4 based on his progress.
Joe Burrow faced Mike White at MetLife last year. Either way, he won’t get the rematch he desires in 2022.
5. As always, predict the next Jets’ outcome and score in Week 3 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals (our writer’s 2022 records are even at 1-1 on the season).
Not only was that a Jets comeback but a Boy Green one too as I bring my record back to a respectable .500 — which is almost as important. I’m kidding, sort of.
I got into a few arguments on social media about this next opponent. Some fans argued that this 0-2 Bengals team is coming into this game “angry and desperate,” so oh no Jets, watch out. To me, this is the NFL — that ancillary crap doesn’t affect a team to that level.
I’m not worried about the Bengals’ emotional state, they were just in the freaking Super Bowl. We know how impressive this team is but obviously, they aren’t invincible. I believe this game will be decided in the trenches and outside of a Carl Lawson-Quinnen Williams tandem sack, the defensive line was invisible against the Browns.
If the Jets want to win this game they have to take a blueprint from the Bengals’ first two opponents and wreak havoc on Burrow. If not, it could be a long day at the office. Having said that, I have the Jets winning this one 34-31 (same score as last year).
I have picked against the Jets both weeks and it’s not because I’m a Jets hater. I’m trying to make these selections without any emotion attached and barring a few Browns errors, the Jets probably do lose in Week 2. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll take the “W” happily but I still need to see a more complete effort from this team.
When the offense plays well, the defense struggles. When the defense dominates, the offense and special teams give them zero support. They found a way in Cleveland and I give them a ton of credit in doing so but I still think this lines up as a loss for New York.
The Bengals see their season slipping away, Joey B remembers last Halloween, and a Saleh-led Jets team has never won back-to-back games. Plus, something has got to give for Cincy. This is a well-built football team and I see more of a reality check for Gang Green in Week 3: Bengals win 33-26 (I promise I will pick them to win eventually).