The Jets improved to a 3–2 record on Sunday with a 40–17 win over the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium, marking their most dominant performance of the season and possibly serving as a turning point for their early-season struggles.
While Gang Green is certainly happy about the victory, we’ll take stock on who performed well, and who struggled with another edition of Studs and Duds.
This column will only look at the performance in the most recent game, identifying who stepped up and who struggled — and what fans can expect from the New York roster in the weeks to come.
First, we’ll examine the bad.
Wilson, a rookie whom the Jets selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, looked like he was on pace for a tremendous season through the first three games, when he was still catching passes from Joe Flacco.
Now that starting quarterback Zach Wilson has returned to action from a torn meniscus and a bone bruise, the young wide receiver has struggled to make much of an impact over the last two games.
On Sunday, he was targeted just four times, and caught three passes for a disappointing total of just 27 yards. Last week, he caught just two passes for 41 yards in their win against the Steelers.
The Wilson-to-Wilson connection was supposed to be special, but it’s been far from that in the short time they’ve been on the field together. Since they had almost no time in preseason, and just two regular season games together, it’s possible they simply don’t have a feel for one another yet. But the Jets invested big in Garrett Wilson, so it’s troubling that he’s been a non-factor with Zach Wilson under center.
Putting aside Garrett Wilson and his early-season play, Elijah Moore headed into the season as the presumptive number-one option at MetLife. That was not the case on Sunday.
Moore caught just a single pass for 11 yards on four targets. He was essentially non-existent against the Dolphins.
Zach Wilson finished with 210 yards in the air, with no touchdowns or interceptions, so some of the blame for the lackluster wide receiver play falls on him — but fans expected the second-year wideout and the second-year quarterback to continue their development together this year. That has not been the case.
The offensive line
At this point, it can’t really be blamed on the offensive line when they fail to protect their quarterback — they’ve been dealing with too many injuries to count.
But yet again, those injuries, and the lack of depth, showed itself in a big way.
Wilson was sacked twice for a loss of 23 yards, and was hit by Miami defenders another three times. Beyond that, he was under significant pressure all game from the Dolphins pass rush, and needed to use his (apparently healthy) legs to scramble away from defenders. That is not the position the Jets were hoping to put their young quarterback in, but with all those injuries, it’s no wonder the line has struggled.
Now that the bad stuff is out of the way, we’ll talk about the good news!
Well, it finally happened.
The Jets drafted rookie running back Breece Hall in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, making him the highest-picked rusher. That obviously came with significant pressure, and high expectations. Though, the 21-year-old failed to show his potential on the field through the first four games, and left fans wanting much more from him.
Then, Sunday rolled around and he put any questions about his potential to rest (even though fellow rusher Michael Carter snagged away two touchdowns that Hall could have had himself).
Hall rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, while racking up another 100 yards in the passing game — including a 79 yard catch in the first quarter that brought the team to the one yard line.
Breece Hall with a 79-yard reception in the Jets-Dolphins game: pic.twitter.com/vTm19mK0lP
— CycloneFanatic.com (@cyclonefanatic) October 9, 2022
This was the consummate break-out game, and if Hall can replicate his workhorse load going forward, he’ll be showing out for the rest of the season.
C.J. Mosley and Kwon Alexander
For a defense that has struggled at times this year, C.J. Mosley and Kwon Alexander have been terrific bright-spots.
Mosley and Alexander recorded 10 total tackles each (seven solo tackles for Mosley, and six for Alexander, who also has one tackle-for-a-loss).
The pair of defenders were all over the field on Sunday, and dominated against the combination of Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson, who took over at quarterback after Bridgewater went down with injury.
While the rushing defense wasn’t amazing, both defenders did a solid job containing the run, and maintaining the Jets lead late into the game.
Head coach Robert Saleh deserves to be praised for his coach job on Sunday, as the team utilized every available option to run up the score to 40 points — more than any other team in the NFL in Week 5.
Zach Wilson played admirably, but wasn’t lights-out, and their top options at wide receiver struggled. But Saleh’s team never quit, and they were playing with a sense of swagger that clearly starts from the top-down.
In his second year, the Jets have already racked up three wins, despite winning just four games throughout all of last season.
A true “leader of men,” Saleh’s impact has been felt far-and-wide in all aspects of the rosters this season.
They will face some tougher opponents in the weeks to come (beginning with the Green Bay Packers next Sunday), but there is clearly a culture of winning in MetLife that was absent last season, and that begins with Saleh.