Well, that was tough to watch. Especially for me because I was sitting in the 300s section of MetLife Stadium because I’m a glutton for punishment and wanted to see it up close and personal.
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Disappointment and the End of an Era
1. Who or what was the most disappointing thing from this blowout loss to Buffalo?
Man, there are so many but I for one was expecting the offense to put up a dud so I’ll focus on the defense. I’m disappointed in Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich for their stubborn unwillingness to adjust at half-time. Stefon Diggs was dominating Brandin Echols and Javelin Guidry and the coaches chose to stand by their system rather than adapt and try something unorthodox.
That dramatic change would have been shadowing Diggs with Bryce Hall, even if that goes against the core principles of this scheme. A change needed to be made and the pair of defensive minds did not make it.
I’m also disappointed in the defensive line/pass rush, but I’ve had this feeling long before Week 10. This unit was supposed to be a strength and it’s been a nonfactor since the Tennessee Titans victory (aside from a decent Week 8 performance). I do believe this unit is getting out-schemed as well.
Probably spending $300 bucks, waking up at 4 am to drive to MetLife Stadium that is six hours away, watching a blowout loss, and then repeating that long drive back home alone with my thoughts.
That was my first time going to a Jets game in years and there were two sacks that got the crowd electric and jumping around, but most of it was just pain.
The Guidry stuff was painful to watch because that side of the field was right in front of me and before it imploded we were initially questioning it. Echols gets hurt so cold turkey off the bench we put Guidry versus Diggs one-on-one? Okay, they burn you once that was dumb, but then they kept doing it over and over again.
Confounding. Jarring. Hard to watch.
Although the thing I’ll say that was most disappointing was seeing so many Bills fans in the stadium. When the Jets were introduced at the beginning of the game they were met with a chorus of boos, but not because of angry Gang Green fans, it was because of the huge Bills contingent.
It’s hard to blame the fans for not showing up when they get this product on a weekly basis, but it just sucked to witness in person.
2. Is the Mike White fad officially over?
Watching Josh Allen outplay White is the perfect example of why that is. The Buffalo signal-caller is a gunslinger that has days where he makes mind-numbing mistakes but overall, his rare talent helps him overcome his shortcomings. Like Allen, Wilson is a unicorn prospect that has a special skill set. Only a handful of quarterbacks can make the throws that the Jets rookie can make when he’s at his best.
For that reason, I think the ongoing development of Wilson is paramount in 2021. This might be an unpopular take but if the Jets were going to lose in Week 10, it was almost better they lost this way. Now the coaching staff can go ahead and start Wilson once he’s healthy with no blowback from the media or fans.
From being labeled a hero, to a potential quarterback controversy with Wilson, to fans chanting for him to be replaced by Joe Flacco. Man life comes at you pretty fast.
Yeah, it’s safe to say this fad is officially dead.
It was fun while it lasted, we thought for a brief moment in history maybe we found our own mini-version of Tom Brady, but a harsh dose of reality smacked all of us in the face.
The thing I like about it is the conviction. At least it is now abundantly clear that White is a backup quarterback and Wilson is the clear franchise quarterback of the present and future. This wasn’t a game we walked away from saying wow not sure what the Jets should do next week.
Wilson’s PCL strain can’t heal fast enough, it’s time to get him back on the field so we can see if he has grown and developed during his time away.
Silver Linings and Any Hope for Future?
3. What was the silver lining, if anything, from this game?
There were positive performances in this game. I’ll have to review some of the tape and grades but based on the eye test, Michael Carter and Elijah Moore have continued to show they’re the real deal as their rookie campaigns progress.
The running back has been doing this all year and has proven to be a dynamic threat both as a ball carrier and a receiver.
Moore had the shakier start but lately, he’s put most of that bust talk to rest. The 2021 second-round pick now has four touchdowns in four weeks and it feels like Mike LaFleur is finally getting a handle on how to utilize the tantalizing playmaker.
I think there are a few things here. While it doesn’t feel this way, the 45-17 blowout loss is still only that a single loss. If you lose 45-44 or 45-17 they all count the same.
Although the much more damning thing is the 2-7 record and the porous defense that has been bleeding incessantly over the last month.
The silver linings are the young players that will be here for the rest of this season and the future. Carter is a complete back that can execute plays both in the running and the receiving game. I wrote a column about it a few days ago, but MC1 has a chance to be the best Jets fourth-rounder since Bilal Powell back in 2011.
Also, we want to see more Moore.
He has a touchdown in four straight games, but the weird statistic is three of those have come from three different Jets quarterbacks and none of them are Wilson. Odd.
Hopefully, that can change in the second half of the season, but the good news is he looks like a future star. It took all the way until the end of the game, but once they throw him the ball, good things happen.
4. How does the latest defensive lapse affect your perception of Robert Saleh and his lack of adjustments?
I kind of talked about it in question one but it’s discouraging. I love this Cover-3 system as much as anyone but the great coaches doesn’t stay great by remaining static in their game plan.
A perfect example is the Kansas City Chiefs. Their offense has had trouble this year and the reason behind that is that there’s now a blueprint of how to beat them. The two-high safety look that Patrick Mahomes can’t seem to figure out. This defensive game plan has also frustrated Allen at times but it’s not unbeatable. Andy Reid is a legendary play-caller and head coach and I’m confident that he can figure this out.
Saleh and Ulbrich have not earned the term legendary yet. They haven’t even earned great or good in New York. Teams know how to beat this Jets defense and if the coaches don’t adapt, they’ll never succeed in this city.
I understand schematically what he is saying, but it still doesn’t make sense. So you are now announcing to the NFL world that any offense can do exactly what the Bills did with Diggs and they aren’t going to do anything about it?
I also thought that after getting embarrassed by the Colts on defense this team would come out with some fire, but they were embarrassed again.
The lack of adjustments is discouraging and doesn’t bode well with eight more games to go down the stretch. I’m not sure my overall perception long-term has changed, but in the short term I’m angry, disappointed, and demand answers and results.
5. What is on your ‘hope to see’ list for the rest of the year outside of wins & losses?
My focus is on the youth now more than ever. Wilson is number one on that list of developing pieces, of course, being that he’s the quarterback and the face of the franchise, but the Jets have a young team with plenty to evaluate.
Aside from the QB, I’ll also keep my eye on guys like Moore, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Hall, both Carters, Echols, Mekhi Becton if he ever returns, Quinnen Williams, and anyone that I feel is worth the time. In other words, some players have a future with this franchise beyond 2021 and others do not. Those that do need to learn this Saleh-LaFleur system and master it, while the coaches fine-tune it around them.
Hopefully, this coaching pair sticks around awhile for the sake of continuity and that happens when players and coaches combine on a mix of game planning and execution. This roster is still in the infancy stage in that regard.
First and foremost is of course Wilson making plays against, on paper, easier opponents where he could build confidence.
I want to see Becton back for a bevy of games so he can finish strong heading into the offseason. Of course just copy and paste what I said about the rookies and youngsters earlier (Carter, Moore) and I feel the same way on the defensive side of the ball with guys like MC2, Echols, and the like.
I want to see LaFleur continue to find his groove and have a year worth of sample size to evaluate this offseason. I also anticipate being surprised, this team has proven to lose games they shouldn’t, win games they shouldn’t, and a splash of blowout losses in between.
Saleh needs to rally his team and this locker room and try to turn this ship around. Playoffs are out of the question, obviously, but we want to see competitive football or “games that are games in the fourth quarter” as Saleh has preached will happen. It hasn’t happened in a while though.