While some may have you believe the sky is falling for the New York Jets franchise right now, that’s more narrative than it is truth.
Of course, I was frustrated watching the Week 2 defeat from the seats of MetLife, but I also couldn’t help but notice that the Jets did a ton of things right in this game. The offensive line improved in pass protection, the run game had some burst behind Michael Carter and Ty Johnson, rookies and second-year prospects were making plays all over the field, and the defense was stout behind a formidable pass rush.
It was a total reversal of what we saw in Week 1 when Zach Wilson and Corey Davis carried the team. This time, they might have had the two worst performances for the Green & White, but that’s okay.
When the problem is simple — like a 22-year old quarterback forcing throws — it’s a lot easier to solve. When there are a million different issues that need correcting, that’s much more concerning.
Weirdly, I feel better after Week 2 than Week 1 despite the scorelines because I’m confident that Wilson will rebound. I also feel better because of how sturdy the defense looked, and one of the key contributors on the defensive side was John Franklin-Myers.
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‘Breakout Star’ Has Lived up to Expectations
At least so far, Franklin-Myers is proving that 2020 wasn’t a fluke. During our regular season Heavy on Jets roundtable preview, we selected 2021 breakout stars and ‘JFM’ was my pick for the honor.
The versatile defensive lineman has been forced into a full-time role on the edge after the season-ending injuries to Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry. He logged 86% of his snaps lining up outside the offensive tackle position. Originally, JFM was supposed to be a chess piece for coordinator Jeff Ulbrich to use both inside and outside.
Despite the role reversal, Franklin-Myers has flourished as Gang Green’s highest-rated defender on Pro Football Focus through the first two weeks of the season. His overall grade is an 81.4 but the defensive end has really stepped it up as a run-stopper.
In preseason, JFM was getting killed on the run. That’s changed during the regular season, as the edge has accomplished six tackles (two for a loss) and one fumble forced. All of this has contributed to a 78.1 run defense grade.
He’s also been steady as a pass rusher, with a sack in each contest so far and a team-leading six quarterback pressures (tied with Quinnen Williams). In a time where the Jets needed a Lawson replacement to emerge, Franklin-Myers has answered the bell.
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Jets Should Consider Extending JFM
As we know, it’s been a long time since the Green & White have extended a home-grown player. Franklin-Myers was not drafted by the Jets but for all intents and purposes, he’s made a name for himself with this franchise.
Joe Douglas found JFM on waivers after the Los Angeles Rams decided to cut him ahead of the 2019 season. The D-lineman red-shirted year one in New York before captivating fans in year two.
Head coach Robert Saleh said this about his edge rusher on September 15, just before Week 2. “For our system and what we do, [Franklin-Myers’ skill set] is pretty cool. He’s fantastic as an edge setter in the run game, he can rush the passer outside [or] inside, it just comes down to winning one-on-ones on a consistent basis. The more he does that, the better [he’s] going to be but I really like his mindset [and] I really like the way he communicates with his teammates, so he’s been a blessing since the day he walked into this building and we’re excited to have him.”
Right now, Franklin-Myers is about as good of a bargain as you can find in the NFL. He’s currently making 920,000 bucks in 2021 on a contract that is about to expire. The defensive end is due for a raise and the Jets should make sure that they’re the ones to give it to him.
The longer they wait, the more his price tag could rise. JFM is a team leader in the locker room that can play multiple positions on the defensive line. He’s averaging a sack per game in 2021 and he’s turning 25 on September 26.