Even though the New York Jets have fallen to 1-3 on the year, there is plenty of time to turn around their season and be back in the thick of the AFC Playoff Picture.
A 23-20 loss to the defending champs may have been the team’s third straight loss, but it was an important turning point in the season. Improved quarterback play, strong defensive standouts, and excellent coaching adjustments showed just how good the unit can be even without their franchise quarterback on the field.
All eyes turn now to Denver, Colorado for Week 5 of the NFL season for New York. A do-or-die situation awaits Gang Gren in a key matchup against the Broncos. A win would put the Jets on the right track with an easier schedule awaiting them later in the season. With the preparation now fully focused on their next opponent, there was a lot to take away from Florham Park on Wednesday morning.
The one big injury update head coach Robert Saleh had Wednesday was that starting cornerback D.J. Reed is in concussion protocol. New York is “confident” that Reed would be ready for Sunday’s game against the Broncos, but concussions are very tricky to test and recover from.
While the Jets are confident they’ll have their starter on the field Sunday, they did take a hit in terms of depth. Brandin Echols will be OUT Sunday due to a hamstring injury. In his place, Saleh confirmed that the team would be looking to bring in an extra corner to the practice squad.
Tony Adams and Wes Schweitzer are both back at practice this week after missing the last two due to injuries and Mekhi Becton is in his usually scheduled practice regimen. The team also opened the 21-day practice window for rookies Carter Warren and Jarrick Bernard-Converse.
Outside of Reed, the Jets are relatively healthy going into Week 5.
RB Room Improvements
A big part of New York’s success on Sunday night was the ability of the offense to get chunks of yards on the ground. Lost in a career night for the quarterback was that Breece Hall averaged close to 10 yards a carry. At this time, Saleh confirmed that the team will no longer have a “pitch count” for Hall. The Jets’ second-round pick last year is averaging over six yards a carry this season on just 35 carries. Expect his workload to increase over the next few weeks.
While Gang Green continues to see great work out of Hall, their other starting running back hasn’t been as successful. Dalvin Cook is averaging the least amount of yards per carry for runners with over 30 carries on the season. His lack of burst and vision has kept him grounded in an offense that needs everyone clicking to succeed.
Cook’s struggles could be at an end soon according to Saleh though. New York’s head coach confirmed that the lack of OTAs or training camp has had an effect on the veteran running back but his GPS speed continues to increase. The Jets believe the former Viking is starting to get his legs under him and in line for strong performances in the future.
“Status Quo” in QB room
Thanks to the excellent play from Zach Wilson on Sunday Night, the Jets are maintaining a “status quo” approach to the quarterback room. Saleh confirmed that Tim Boyle would be the backup to Wilson in Denver and that Boyle has “earned the right to be the immediate backup.”
That means Trevor Siemian will continue to slowly make his way to the active roster and it may be another week before that happens. The Jets play against the Philadelphia Eagles in two weeks but as long as Wilson continues to play well, there may not be room for the former Bronco quarterback to get on the field at all in 2023.
Regarding Wilson, New York is looking to see their starting quarterback “stack up” successful weeks on the field. The organization believes his confidence is up if he continues to trust in his teammates and “lets it rip” on gameday.
Consistency Matters in 1 Jets Drive
We’re only four weeks into the NFL season but the Jets have already been the victim of several important calls not going their way. The league apologized for a poor roughing of the passer penalty on Solomon Thomas in Week 2 against Dallas and now will have to explain why a controversial holding penalty on Sauce Gardner negated a third interception on Patrick Mahomes Sunday night.
According to Saleh, it’s not that the calls were wrong, but rather the lack of consistency on a play-to-play basis.
“There’s a style of play that gets established between the way we officiate and the players. Their DBs are handsy, our DBs are handsy, it’s just why in the fourth quarter did we decide? That’s all,” Saleh said Wednesday. “You can look at every play and I promise you someone’s cheating on every play. You can throw a flag on every play. But that’s not the point. It’s where’s the consistency? What are we trying to accomplish? That was where the frustration was.”
It’s not just the officiating crews that need to be consistent in the eyes of the Jets though. The team continues to be impressed with several key contributors to their season and is looking for more consistent play from them.
Bryce Huff was called a “special football player” by Saleh on Wednesday after forcing a safety and recording six quarterback pressures against the Chiefs. As the team prepares for the Broncos this week, a consistent mindset is also important for the coaching staff as well.
“The sense of urgency should always be the same to me…if you’re acting differently based on the importance of a game, you’ve already lost,” Saleh added.
A win in Denver would not only save the Jets season, but it would put them on a path to getting back in the AFC playoff race. And with the improved play of the offense, the sky seems to be the limit to how far Gang Green can go.