The New York Jets did not shy away from their matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as many expected.
Quite the opposite actually, they attacked the defending Super Bowl champions head-on leading most of the contest and if not for a couple of crucial late-game mistakes, they would have beaten Tom Brady and the Bucs.
As always, our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller will dive into all the hot-topic questions that are at the forefront of this fanbase after the narrow defeat in Week 17. Today, the focus will be on Zach Wilson’s latest strides, the questionable fourth-down decision on the final Jets possession, moral victories against Tampa, Denzel Mims and more.
But first, a look back at some of our most recent Heavy on Jets roundtable discussions.
- Week 18: Wilson vs. Mike White, grading Joe Douglas at the deadline.
- Week 19: The embarrassment against Buffalo, hopes for the future.
- Week 20: Week 11 miscues and the future at quarterback and head coach.
- Week 21: Wilson’s return, rising stars from Week 12, and Pro Bowl favorites.
- Week 22: Kicker disaster and Wilson’s ongoing ‘process’.
- Week 23: Biggest Jets’ problems right now, Eddy Pineiro reactions, first mock draft.
- Week 24: Evaluating Jets impending free agents, Wilson & Brandin Echols vs. Miami.
- Week 25: Wilson vs. Trevor Lawrence reactions, mock draft targets.
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Postgame Reactions After Week 17
1. It feels like Wilson keeps getting better and better. What impressed you most about the rookie in Week 17 and would you say this was his best performance of the season?
There have been great moments passing the ball (Titans game), running the ball (Jaguars contest), but this one versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was my favorite. Wilson just looked so in control throughout the entire game and I lost count of how many dimes he threw. He hit several tight-window throws and outdueled Brady for much of the afternoon.
The thing that impressed me the most didn’t get much fan-fare on social media. Nobody will talk about it, but it showed progress and development.
It was a routine play-action concept, but Wilson beautiful hid the fake behind his back fooling the veteran-laden Bucs defense, and then like a magician pulling a rabbit out of the hat revealed he actually had the ball and then uncorked it to a wide-open Daniel Brown in the flat. When you think back to the Houston Texans game, Wilson ran a terrible fake that no one believed and the play blew up. This time around he showed that he can learn new tricks.
Going into Week 17, I still had Wilson’s best game pegged as the Titans performance in Week 4, even though some have said the Philadelphia Eagles game and Pro Football Focus awarded him his highest grade versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. I feel like I may have to rewatch Tennessee because that was electric but this week was the smoothest I’ve seen the rookie all year.
I’ve noticed that aside from the Patriots’ losses, Wilson seems to feed off the spotlight matchups — which I love. He played his best against Sam Darnold Week 1, a playoff team in the Titans, a playoff team in Philly, Trevor Lawrence (the prospect picked above him) Week 16, and Tom Brady Week 17. Buffalo will be one final test.
Aside from that, his tight-window passing impressed me most this weekend. Those were Aaron Rodgers type throws against the Bucs and anyone seriously questioning this kid’s accuracy should rewatch the tape from Sunday.
2. Do you agree with the decision to go for it on fourth and two on the final Jets possession, rather than take the short field goal attempt? Also, do you agree with Robert Saleh’s assessment that the play call’s failure should fall on the coaches?
100% I agreed with the decision to go for it. Head coach Robert Saleh described it best in the post-game presser. He decided to take control of the game in his own hands, as opposed to giving Brady another chance.
There have been a lot of people blaming Wilson on social media, to me it was completely on the coaches. They called a timeout before the fourth down attempt, there are zero excuses for them not to get the play relayed correctly and let Wilson know exactly how they want that run. The coaches blew this one and it’s unfortunate because the Jets deserved to win that game.
I agree with Boy Green on the decision to go for it. Four-win teams don’t play for overtime and they definitely don’t trust their defense against the most clutch quarterback of all time. As the old saying goes, “you play to win the game.”
The Jets made the right choice to try and win it but where they faltered was decisiveness. First, time management. Maybe Saleh was letting the clock tick down but to me, this is one area he’s screwed up a bunch in 2021 where he doesn’t make a quick enough decision on whether to kick or convert.
In the end, the Jets burn a timeout which is fine — even if it mattered later — but then with that extra time everyone should know exactly what’s going on. Yes, Saleh was correct to blame himself, the coaching staff and Mike LaFleur afterward. I’m not sure if I even agree with the somewhat predictable Berrios reverse call there to be honest but if you’re going to choose that, don’t give Wilson any sort of option to run. Explain exactly what to do. Don’t make your rookie QB think with the game on the line, make it simple.
3. Coach Saleh said he doesn’t believe in moral victories after the game but as fans, do you take stock in a moral victory against the Bucs, and were there any players that really stood out in the narrow defeat (outside of Wilson)?
I am a guy that rationalizes the result. In other words, if they win, I look at the glass half-full and evaluate things. On the other hand, when they lose, I rationalize the result and can see the silver linings of what is there.
In this case, the Jets maintain a better draft pick — I wasn’t rooting for a loss, but since they lost it makes you feel slightly better. Plus they just went toe-to-toe with the defending Super Bowl champions, how can you not take something great away from that?
Echols has proven to me that he can be a reliable cog in this cornerback group and I never would have thought that possible back post-2021 NFL draft. Both Joe Douglas and Saleh deserve a ton of credit for turning this day three pick into a starter this year. Incredible journey and story, so happy for the kid. Hell, he picked off the greatest quarterback of all time in Brady, he will be able to tell his kids about that one day.
I mean, obviously Berrios but he’s been doing this for weeks now! I’ve always been a huge fan and I’m glad he’s finally starting to get the recognition he deserves. Forget Jamison Crowder, ‘B.B.’ can play that role in 2022 with additional help on the outside.
Can’t wait to look at the PFF grades for this one because I feel like so many guys had underrated showings. Rookie TE Kenny Yeboah had two really nice catches. Ty Johnson and Austin Walter had bounceback games after Michael Carter was injured. Bryce Hall had a few pass breakups that were so technically sound and pretty. And Foley Fatukasi had two huge tackles for losses.
My partner is right, there was plenty to get excited about this weekend but I do want to highlight one coach. The offensive line got off to a shaky start under John Benton, who came highly-touted from San Francisco. As the year has gone on though, his coaching job has been tremendous. George Fant: career year, Connor McGovern: career year, 150 yards rushing with multiple starters missing, no Mekhi Becton all season, and Alijah Vera-Tucker developing nicely.
Bravo, Coach Benton! This O-line should continue to improve heading into 2022.
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2 WRs Make Headlines off the Field
4. Denzel Mims did not play a single offensive snap in Week 17. Gut call, will the Jets trade the former second-round pick this offseason?
I am fully convinced they’ll flip him this offseason. How much do they get back? Based on recency bias you’d say a day three pick at best, but Douglas has proven he gets more value than anyone thinks he can.
With that being said, I believe Mims is sent to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional fourth-round draft choice that can become a third based on playing time incentives. It is a sad story for a guy who is uber-talented but for whatever reason hasn’t been able to put all the pieces together.
Admittedly, I was never the biggest Mims supporter and I pegged this as a “prove it” campaign pretty early in training camp but I never thought the relationship would dissolve this quickly.
If Douglas hadn’t drafted Mims, that would be understandable but this prospect was taken by the current general manager in the second round last year! Now he’s being scratched in favor of Keelan Cole and Jeff Smith. It’s insanity.
Now, having said that I do think Adam Gase had a lot to do with this draft pick and many others. Mims fit the Gase jump-ball target system (like Breshad Perriman), he does not fit the Mike LaFleur one. It seems like it’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll be gone in 2022 and we could have had Chase Claypool (this is not hindsight, myself and many fans wanted him), what a waste!
5. That Antonio Brown tantrum was unexpected, to say the least. What is your strangest memory from a football game?
I mean a prominent player quitting on his team in the middle of a game and stripping off his clothes as he chucks his gear into the stands is certainly up there, ha.
I have seen a lot of different stuff in my 20+ years watching football from fans sneaking on the field naked to fights between teammates. Although I’ll cop out and put this AB story No. 1, I mean, what in the world?
This guy has a Hall of Fame resume but because of all this extra-curricular activity, he is never going to sniff Canton and that is a great travesty as a football purist.
Definitely AB but in the effort of being different, this wild half-baked idea to run off the field with no shirt reminds me of when Odell Beckham Jr. was on that New York Giants. Remember his escapades with the kicking net?
OBJ attacked the sideline tool used for kicker warmups, then kissed it, then proposed to it all in one season. What a novella!
As crazy as it seemed at the time though, the Beckham stuff was all in good fun. Brown’s desperate attempt to seize the spotlight was cringeworthy, and it’ll likely be the final time any NFL franchise is willing to take a chance on the talented but unstable receiver.
Bye AB, nice knowing ya!
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