Wow, that was fun, can we do more of that, please?
The New York Jets secured their first win of the 2021 campaign in an exhilarating fashion. Despite having multiple opportunities to finish the job, more on that later, the Jets finally did what they had to in overtime to come away with the 27-24 dub over the Tennessee Titans.
This is unfamiliar territory for our weekly mailbag, so let’s try to all enjoy this together. Our pair of experts: Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller dive through some juicy questions and share their brutally honest takes.
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Best Wilson Tosses, Emotions Bursting at Seams
1. Which emotion best describes your reaction coming off of that Zach Wilson stellar performance? Elation or Relief?
If you were to ask me this question before the game, the answer would have probably been relief. Due to the nature of our job, we talk to a ton of Jets fans every day and it can be hard to stay positive when things look bad. To make matters worse, Wilson had some nightmarish moments throughout the first three weeks and Sam Darnold was 3-0. All of this contributed to a perfect storm that gave Wilson haters all the ammunition they needed to kill this kid, even if it wasn’t his fault a large majority of the time. So to reiterate, if Wilson had an average game and they won it, the answer would have been relief.
The way that Wilson helped the Green & White win this game changes my answer. That was pure elation in every way, and I watched the game on my couch with my two dogs as the only living things in the room with me. The throws he was making had me on my feet cheering like I haven’t done from home in years. My dogs were looking at me like a weirdo and my neighbors probably were too, but I don’t care. The skill that was involved in those “wow” moments was absolutely tremendous and it finally confirmed my initial suspicions, the Jets have not had a quarterback THIS TALENTED in my entire lifetime (28 years old). Now he just has to learn to become more consistent.
Obviously, if you watch my postgame stream you can see the elation (quick shameless plug after every single Jets game I live stream simultaneously on Heavy on Jets Facebook page, my YouTube channel, and on my Twitter account).
That’s the obvious answer, but I’ll be honest I’m going the other way. It’s relief.
If you’re a Jets fan you have been through some dark times during your life. There have been moments where we’ve had “saviors” in the past, but they haven’t lived up to the billing for one reason or another.
Watching the Week 2 home opener vs the New England Patriots where Wilson inexplicably tossed four interceptions and was the butt of jokes across the NFL, it was hard to defend.
The former BYU stud lighting the world on fire with several wow throws in a win, it was utter relief.
Oh thank God, the Jets found their guy. Oh thank goodness they found a way to win that game, despite multiple opportunities to end the game. That was lining up for a classic Gang Green loss and a potential moral cookie.
Now that we have all seen it. Saleh saw it come together, Wilson saw the BYU tape translate to the next level, it’s all real now. Overwhelming relief is the main emotion coming off of this one.
2. What was your favorite Zach Wilson throw from the Tennessee Titans game?
Man, tough question. The Keelan Cole and Corey Davis bombs immediately come to mind because how could they not? I think the one that impressed me most was the botched snap recovery though, caught by Jamison Crowder.
I’m sure everyone knows the play I’m talking about but to remind those that don’t, Wilson fumbled an exchange with Connor McGovern and was able to have the wherewithal to pick up the football in the backfield. At this point, most quarterbacks would panic, especially if they played behind the Jets’ offensive line. Wilson was the opposite, showing extreme poise and composure. Not only did he recover well enough to make a strong throw downfield, but he was also able to find an open wide receiver in the midst of the pandemonium.
Just imagine that for a second. You have some of the strongest and fastest athletes in the world bearing down on you every play and you fumble the snap. It would be challenging enough for most of us to pick up the football, which tends to appear greased in moments like this. Let’s say we somehow get our hands on it. Then imagine looking at a mess of bodies in front of you and somehow having the vision to see beyond that despite the pressure, spot a receiver 25 yards away and hit him with a weighted ball that’s right on the money. Amazing.
The fact that we have choices speaks to what this game was and will forever be looked back on.
This wasn’t like a Sam Darnold game where we are handpicking one throw in garbage time when the team is getting blown out by 30. These throws that Michael and that I will point out were game-changers in this contest.
With that in mind, this is a tough question and you could go a lot of directions, but for me, it was the Corey Davis bomb for a 53-yard touchdown.
I watched this game alone in my living room and I was standing pre-snap and as soon as Wilson breaks the pocket and points, I held my breath. You know when you think something special is going to happen and there’s that half-second where you are on the edge of your seat, that was me.
Then as soon as Davis hauled it in I burst out with pure elation and started running around the house screaming at the top of my lungs. Not only was this backyard football at its’ finest, but what it meant for everyone involved.
The veteran was playing his old team and this was his biggest play of the game and it meant so much to him. I’m still giddy when I watch the highlight, absolutely exceptional.
Some Criticism, Mixed With Some Optimism for Future
3. Who was an unsung hero from this game that deserves more love/respect?
I’m sure there were a bunch, between the pass-rushers on defense, the hard-hitters at linebacker, and the offensive line which did seem better in Week 4. I can’t wait to dive into the film and discuss some unsung heroes later this week but for now, I’m going to go with Bryce Hall. I can’t tell you how many times I saw Ryan Tannehill take a shot downfield, only to see number 37 break it up.
The starting cornerback was credited with three passes defended, but he was involved in so many key defensive stops. Maybe A.J. Brown wasn’t out there, maybe Julio Jones wasn’t either, but Hall doesn’t have any control over that. He stuck whichever Titans’ receiver lined up across from him each and every play, with flawless coverage throughout, and that should really come as no surprise at this point. Hall has been a shutdown corner all season, flourishing into a true CB1 in Robert Saleh’s system. He has all the desirable traits; size, length, speed, and most of all, intelligence.
Again, we’re dealing with another first-world problem here with so many great choices/answers to this question.
I’ll pick John Franklin-Myers. He is a man possessed out there through the first month of this season.
The Jets as a team had seven sacks in this game, they had six sacks combined through the first three weeks of the season. Incredible.
He already has three sacks this season which ties a previous career-high and he seems destined for a double-digit sack season. Every single play he is blowing through the line of scrimmage and making big plays happen or forcing the opposing offense to run in the other direction.
4. Quietly whisper your one criticism of the Jets coming off of this game that no one will pay attention to because they won?
The main criticism is probably an obvious one, you got to finish. Most players harped on this after the game so they know it too. I heard it from Wilson, C.J. Mosley, and coach Saleh, but this game never should have gone to overtime. If this were the 2020 Jets, they probably lose that game in extra time but not Saleh’s guys. They stayed motivated and got the job done.
Even so, they had different opportunities to close this out, whether it was Wilson throwing a rare miss or a defensive pass interference call on fourth and long. You can’t make those mistakes in the National Football League and expect to win. It’s a learning experience though, and I say this with the knowledge that this franchise had not led a game before Week 4. This is a young team that has to learn how to close a game out, just like they had to learn how to earn a lead. Winning doesn’t come easy in this sport, you have to be perfect.
On October 1, coach Saleh said that Tony Dungy once told him 90% of football games are lost, not won. The Jets almost allowed themselves to LOSE Sunday’s game with unforced errors. They must work on their precision in those pressure situations.
There are a few, again I claim to be the most optimistic Jets fan on the planet and I normally don’t have much competition in that specific category, but if I’m being honest this wasn’t a perfect game.
The offensive play calling early was obtuse. Why on every second and medium play did the Jets run it? If I was calling it out at home, what do you think the Titans defense was doing? All of those plays resulted in negative yardage and put the young rookie in tough positions on third down.
Although I’m going to pick what should’ve been the final overtime sequence for the Jets offensively.
They got down to the five-yard line and it seemed all but assured they were going to get a walk-off touchdown. Wilson missed a wide-open Ryan Griffin for a touchdown. Then they make a great call on third and 1 from the goal line where Wilson fakes the handoff rolls out to the right, but it wasn’t open, he eats the loss and the Jets attempt the field goal.
What he should’ve done is throw the ball through the back of the endzone. The refs wouldn’t have thrown a flag for an ineligible man down the field on the 1-yard line and as we found out after the game, Saleh said they were going for it on fourth down.
The former BYU stud had multiple chances to end the game in regulation and overtime, he didn’t execute. Thankfully they won the game, it’s always better to learn a lesson from a victory as opposed to a defeat.
5. Do you believe the Jets can build off of this win and turn around their season?
100% yes, because I not only think they CAN win in London, I think they SHOULD win in London. Atlanta is a bad football team. Remember that Dungy quote from Saleh that I just mentioned above? Well, the Falcons lost Week 4. They had a win in the bag over the Washington Football Team and they totally blew it. This opponent is poor on defense, old on offense, and downright unimpressive in every way. 2-3 is a must.
From there, you start to build some momentum. “Confidence is contagious,” as coach Saleh often says, especially with young players. These kids have all the talent in the world, but they need to come to the realization that they can compete with the veterans of the league and win. Some of the Jets’ rookies were children when players like Matt Ryan entered the NFL. It can be daunting to play against your idols, but the reality is that this is still a young man’s sport.
If the Green & White can beat Atlanta, they’ll exit the bye on a two-game winning streak ahead of a revenge game against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. No matter what the end result was the first time around, no one can convince me that the Jets got blown out in that game. There were actually plenty of stretches where I thought they outplayed the Pats, if not for Wilson’s jittery outing (four interceptions). Week 8 is a home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, winnable. Week 9 is a road game against the injury-ravaged Indianapolis Colts, not impossible. If the Jets can manage wins in three out of their next four, they’ll be 4-4, which puts them right back in the hunt. 3-5 might be more reasonable, but I’m an optimist.
This was the pivot point of the Jets season. If you lose you’re 0-4 and that’s clearly the final nail in your coffin. You have your tail tucked between your legs heading overseas to play the Atlanta Falcons without much confidence.
Now the script has been flipped. The Jets are overflowing with chutzpah and now they play a terrible Falcons team and have a chance to get to 2-3 heading into the bye week with the second Patriots game coming after that.
Also at that point, in theory, they should be getting some reinforcements back in Marcus Maye and Jarrad Davis. That should help make a surprisingly elite defense even better heading into the second half of their season.
Gang Green has a chance to play meaningful football in late October and November and that hasn’t happened in a very long time.