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Jets studs and duds after their Week 9 victory over the Buffalo Bills

Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) celebrates with teammates Micheal Clemons (72) and Nathan Shepherd (97).
Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) celebrates with teammates Micheal Clemons (72) and Nathan Shepherd (97).
AP Photo/John Minchillo

The Jets had a signature win over their AFC East rival Buffalo in Week 9, when the Zach Wilson-led team topped the Bills 20–17. 

Sunday’s victory brings Gang Green to 6–3 on the season, and puts them just a half game out of first place in the division. 

Robert Saleh’s team had perhaps their best performance of the year against the vaunted Bills team, with both sides of the team showing up and playing at the top of their game.

Now, we’ll look at who performed well, and who struggled with another edition of Studs and Duds. 

Like each week, 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. 

Duds

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first, and look at the duds of this week.

Denzel Mims

Much attention was paid to Mims this week, as the wide receiver remained on the roster after last week’s trade deadline, despite having requested to be moved earlier in the year. 

While he had been complaining about a lack of targets, Mims finally got a chance to get involved in the offense on Sunday, and didn’t make much of his opportunity.

The 25-year-old, who came to the Jets as a second round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, made his season debut in Week 7, and Sunday marked the game where he was most involved in the offense. 

Mims had 4 targets from Wilson, but only managed to catch one pass, and dropped two other catchable passes. 

To be fair, his only catch was a clutch grab on 3rd and 5 during the Jets’ game-winning drive in the red zone, but that one reception doesn’t make up for the fact that he was a non-factor (and somewhat of a liability) during the rest of the game. 

“It lets me know that they trust me and if it comes down to a crucial moment, they can trust me, so it makes me happy,” said Mims of the catch. 

Still, they’re going to need more from him if they want to continue trusting him. 

The ability to contain the quarterback run

Josh Allen, who came into the game as the MVP-frontrunner, played poorly on Sunday. Still, the highlight of his performance were two rushing touchdowns. 

Allen is mobile, but there’s no way the Jets should have allowed him to get as free as he did with his legs.

The quarterback saw his second rushing touchdown midway through the third quarter, when he scrambled for 36 yards and into the endzone on 3rd and 2. Meanwhile, he was able to pick up multiple first downs with quarterback sneaks throughout the game. 

The Jets defense contained him in the passing game as well as any team could hope for, but they need to improve on their ability to stop the run. 

They’ll be going against Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears in two weeks, who is among the most prolific rushing quarterbacks in the NFL, and they need to adjust their game plan accordingly if they want to truly become an elite defense. 

Studs

Okay, now that the bad stuff is out of the way, let’s get to the good things.

Zach Wilson

This was the best game of the second-year quarterback’s professional career. 

Wilson finished with 18 completions on 25 attempts, with 154 yards and a touchdown pass. He also led the team on a 13-play, 86-yard drive to close out the game in the fourth quarter. 

Most importantly, Wilson took care of the football (with the exception of a strip-sack from Von Miller). 

A high completion rate, and no interceptions is exactly what Saleh’s coach staff has been looking for from the young signal caller. 

And Wilson also made his mark with his legs. He finished with 24 yards on the ground, but those were some clutch yards, and extended several drives beyond what they normally would have. 

In all, Wilson played extraordinarily well. If he can keep that level of play up, the Jets have a real shot to be a threat this season. 

Sauce Gardner

Yet again, Gardner makes it to the “stud” category. 

Going against the best quarterback he’s played in his professional career, the rookie continued to show excellence, and prove why he was more-than-deserving of his fourth-overall draft position this offseason. 

The rookie saw just three targets to his assigned man on 43 coverage snaps, as he was all over the opposing wide receivers on Sunday, denying Allen his first option. 

He allowed just one reception for 42 yards, which came on the first play of the game, but shut down any chance of offensive production from there on. He also had seven tackles. 

Most importantly, Gardner picked off Allen for his second interception of the year on Buffalo’s own 22-yard line, and set up the Jets for their go-ahead touchdown on the next drive. 

Gardner is running away with the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, and Sunday proved why. 

Robert Saleh

The team’s head coach said he regrets a comment he made earlier in the season, when the team’s fortunes were looking down and he said he would be “keeping receipts” on the doubters. 

He has no reason to regret that, and, in fact, he should be cashing in those receipts. 

The Jets are 6–3 on the season, and threatening to take over the first-place spot in the AFC East. 

Gang Green is playing with a sense of swagger that has been absent from MetLife Stadium since the days of Rex Ryan, and a marquee win over (arguably) the best team in the NFL showed the entire league why the Jets are not the doormat they have been in recent years. 

Every player, on both sides of the ball, look and talk like they’re completely bought-into the winning culture that Saleh has instilled from the top. That is nothing to scoff at. 

For more coverage of the Jets, head to amNY.com.

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