TheNew York Jets have reportedly avoided a major catastrophe when it comes to Zach Wilson’s injury, but another rookie isn’t so fortunate.
Reports from ESPN’s Adam Schefter had good news and bad news when it came to New York Jets-based medical news stemming from Sunday’s disastrous 54-13 loss to the New England Patriots.
The team has appeared to have avoided a major disaster when it comes to franchise quarterback Zach Wilson, as a sprained PCL diagnosed through an MRI is projected to keep him out for the next 2-4 weeks. Safety and fellow rookie Jamien Sherwood, however, isn’t as fortunate: a torn Achilles has been reported to end Sherwood’s season, further devastating a unit that has seen several regulars fall to injury.
Wilson endured several low hits during first half action on Sunday and was diagnosed with a knee injury after he was victimized by Matt Judon in the latter stages of the second quarter. He was initially labeled questionable to return but Mike White played out the remainder of the defeat, throwing for 202 yards and a score in his regular season debut. White, a 2018 draft pick in Dallas, is the only other active quarterback on the Jets’ roster, though tenured veteran Josh Johnson lingers on the practice squad.
Meanwhile, Sherwood’s rookie season is set to end early after the Jets chose him in the fifth round of last spring’s draft. He was a safety at Auburn but the Jets immediately made plans to shift him to linebacker. Sherwood mostly worked on special teams in the early stages of the season but earned sizable responsibilities when he was granted the “green dot” in place of the likewise injured C.J. Mosley. The wearer of the green sticker is the player who communicates with the coaches on the sidelines. Sherwood played a career-high 52 snaps in Sunday’s loss, earning two tackles.
The remaining Jets will look to move forward when they battle the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Set to return to the field on Sunday, New York Jets Marcus Maye addressed several happenings from an eventful time on the injury report.
This New York Jets rollercoaster drama involving a star safety appears destined for a happy ending, at least in the immediate future.
Thursday saw safety Marcus Maye speak publicly for the first time since the team announced that he injured his ankle during the Week 3 loss in Denver. The ailment has kept Maye out for the last two games but he’s set to return for the Jets’ return to action on Sunday afternoon in New England (1 p.m. ET, CBS). It’s New York’s first game since taking their mandated week off during Week 6 action.
Much has transpired while Maye recovered: when his initial diagnosis of a three-to-four week injury was announced, Maye’s agent Erik Burkhardt curiously noted that his client would be healthy by the trade deadline on Nov. 2. A February arrest for DUI was also made public, one that Maye failed to inform the Jets about in a violation of league rules.
Maye spent Thursday expressing remorse and setting the record straight. While he was unable and/or unwilling to divulge details of his conversations with the coaching staff stemming from his arrest, he apologized and said he addressed the issue with his teammates.
Time will tell what the future holds for Maye both on and off the field. His immediate prospects, however, won’t involve a change of address if he has anything to say about it.
In Thursday’s statements, Maye clarified that he never asked for a trade. As long as the NFL allows him to do so…discipline could arrive for his failure to report his arrest…he plans to do so in a New York Jets uniform.
“They know I want to be here. They know Iâ€™m 100 percent with my guys and teammates and things like that,” Maye said, per Rich Cimini of ESPN. â€œI feel like they know Iâ€™m 100 percent with those guys every time I step on the field.â€
“Every time I’m in this building, I’m 100 percent. Every time I’m on the field, I’m 100 percent. I’m going to be with my guys no matter what.”
Maye brushed off the Burkhardt tweet by merely claiming he doesn’t “have control over (Burkhardt’s) phone”. The defender has been the subject of hypothetical deadline deals, as the holder of a $10.6 million franchise tag has been public about his desires to be one of the NFL’s highest-paid safeties. It’s eerily reminiscent of the Jamal Adams saga, one that ended with Adams burning every New York-based bridge he had before the Jets traded him to Seattle in the latter stages of the 2020 offseason. The primary yield was a pair of first-round draft picks, one of which was traded to Minnesota for the right to draft primary left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Maye admits that he has no control over the rumors but vowed to hand what he can handle as the Jets return to the game field.
“My duty is to play football the best as I can,” Maye said, per notes from the Jets.
To that end, Maye expressed no ill will toward the team when they bestowed a four-year extension (accompanied by a guaranteed $30 million) to fellow defender John Franklin-Myers. He instead celebrated the pass rusher’s windfall and hopes to resume talks toward his own when this season ends.
“He deserves it, he earned it, he worked hard for it. That’s my guy. I’m happy for him,” Maye said. “We’re all in different situations…I can’t control what happens to him. But I’m definitely happy for him.”
With extracurriculars set to be sidelined upon Maye’s return, the Jets (1-4) are overjoyed to be welcoming him back as a matchup with a divisional rival’s rookie sensation, Mac Jones, looms large. Through six weeks, the Jets are the only team in the NFL that has yet to earn an interception. Turnovers as a whole have been hard to come by: the Jets earned four fumble recoveries in their five pre-bye contests but half of those came in their most recent showing, a loss in London to the Atlanta Falcons.
New York management is confident that Maye’s rearrival can help further bolster what has otherwise been a pleasantly surprising defensive effort in the early going.
“He heightens everybody just with his awareness and his communication skills,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said of Maye, per team notes. “Although itâ€™s the first year in the system for him, for this particular system, thereâ€™s a lot of carry over stuff that heâ€™s done. The veteran presence, it will be big for us back there.”
The New York Jets have undoubtedly grown over the past year on the football calendar. But is this type of progress acceptable?
The modern New York Jets are a team of many labels. “Boring”, however, doesn’t make the cut. Many watch the Jets for gridiron schadenfreude and meme ammunition, but even the most relentless virtual court jesters who rely upon the Jets for their material had to take a legitimate interest in what the team had cooking in 2021.
The highly-sought Robert Saleh was granted the head coaching reins while rookie quarterback Zach Wilson was surrounded by the best offensive weaponry a 2-14 team could afford. Corey Davis, Tevin Coleman, Keelan Cole, Tyler Kroft, and Morgan Moses weren’t forming an All-Pro team, but each had two vital traits for a metropolitan squad in transition: postseason experience and something to prove.
It was hard to label the Jets’ 2021 expectations: they upgraded from the previous year’s group if only because anything short of folding the franchise would’ve been seen as an improvement after last season, the cursed final year of Adam Gase’s doomed tenure. There were legitimate reasons for excitement, but nothing that would allow the Jets to crash the AFC’s postseason party hosted by Kansas City and Buffalo.
Saleh, a stabilizing force for a franchise in desperate need of any footing, was kind enough to stop the debate over the Jets’ expectations during the fanfare surrounding his introductory press conference in February. The former San Francisco defensive coordinator flat out promised that the road back to NFL respectability would be paved with adversity. But he was willing to embrace such hardships with open arms in the name of growth.
“Iâ€™m genuinely excited for adversity, because a lot of different things are going to pop up,” Saleh told Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated shortly after his hire. “Everybodyâ€™s going to find out a little more about themselves when adversity hits. I think thatâ€™s when teams have their greatest amount of growth, itâ€™s through adversity…thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m most excited for. I want to see how people respond.â€
Having arrived at a league-mandated landmark…their Week 6 open date traditionally granted to those partaking in the NFL International Series…with a 1-4 record premature analysis of the Saleh era has gotten underway. The latest defeat came overseas, as the Jets fell by a 27-20 final to the Atlanta Falcons in London.
There’s no use in fully assessing Saleh and Wilson; barring complete and utter disaster, they’ll return for 2022. Even the most optimistic Jets supporter would’ve been foolhardy to assume playoffs and the overwhelming standings onslaught has come to pass.
The Western New York juggernaut that rules the East division has been everything advertised and then some. A desperate wild card bid is likely already thwarted by the usual expected suspects (i.e. Cleveland, LA Chargers) and surprise surges in Denver, Cincinnati, and Las Vegas.
Developmental growth is what will define the Jets’ individual seasons and efforts until a more complete team is assembled…so what can be said about 2021?
Through five games, it’s undeniably clear that this team is blessed with resiliency, perhaps the best trait you can ask for when you’re prophetically doomed to a year of rebuilding. That trait is best on display through a defense held together with the masking tape of additions obtained through Saturdays of draft weekends past and present (i.e. Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols). A unit that was supposed to be headlined by the antics of Carl Lawson, Marcus Maye, and Jarrad Davis has given way to breakout campaigns from bargain bin, end-of-camp releases like Quincy Williams and John Franklin-Myers.
For better or worse, the Jets have kept their fans more invested in their games from a scoreboard perspective. New York has faced sizable deficits over its first five games (summiting at a 26-point shutout margin in Denver) but they’ve had the decency…or cruelty?…to keep pace with their powerful opponents until the dam of gridiron destiny finally broke.
But while the Jets have kept things close in terms of the final score, the matters and context as to how they got there have been dubious. Sunday’s latest defeat was a prime opportunity for the Jets to cash in: they were coming off an inspiring win over division leaders from Nashville while Atlanta was missing blooming top receiver Calvin Ridley. Going up against the sputtering Falcons, whose pair of victories have come against the horrifying metropolitan duology of MetLife Stadium, could’ve been almost scripted by a pro-Jets screenwriter.
Instead, the Jets allowed the Falcons’ aging franchise quarterback to look like the Matt Ryan of old (season-best 342 yards) and heralded a Kyle Pitts breakout session (9 receptions, 119 yards, and a score). Granted, perhaps a defensive regression should’ve been expected: the unit has been carrying water for the offense all year forced to start an average drive only 65 yards away from the end zone, an NFL worse. At some point, they probably had to snap, and a breaking point of sorts came on Sunday.
But, despite that, the Jets keep things decent in their final margins, especially when removing the particularly ugly Denver outlier. For as much hullabaloo the Sam Darnold reunion caused, his new employer prevailed only by a five-point margin. After four Wilson interceptions, a visit from the New England Patriots was still only a two-possession game at the half.
So the Jets have established themselves as a resilient team, a pesky group that isn’t going to back down from a challenge and could perhaps even play up to its competition. But how long can they do this? How long can beautifying the scoreboard be a sustainable, respectable goal?
Last week’s win over the Tennessee Titans personified that best-case scenario of what the 2021 season can be: it was a win over a contender, a throat-clearing gesture to the rest of the football world that better times were finally ahead for one of professional sports’ most downtrodden and lampooned franchises. Sure, the win came as the Titans were missing the services of firey receiving options A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, but considering the long-term medical woes the Jets have endured over the first month of regular season play alone that’s hardly a valid excuse.
Wilson, the architect of 297 yards, two touchdown passes, and the Jets’ first comeback from two possessions down since December 2018, created a point on the team franchise timeline that couldn’t be ignored. Of note, was focused on not only the positives but on the work ahead as well.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve fully arrived,” Wilson said, per Jack Bell of the team website. “This is just another puzzle piece of where I want to get. Now we have to stack the blocks. This was a step in the right direction.” Saleh concurred, noting that he hoped the win over the Titans would help the young team’s confidence “snowball”.
Alas, the opportunity to create a winning streak fell by the wayside on New White Hart Lane and leaves a sour taste in the Jets’ mouths. The lost chance to create a rare, guaranteed, three-week period of good vibes is likely not lost on a team that has embraced the low expectations and opinion the football-loving public has bestowed upon them.
Saleh, Wilson, and Co. can preach for hours on end about the Jets’ growth and development, how pleased they are in what they’re building. But all that means nothing if they can’t prove their progress in the most important…or at the very least most conventional…metrics: the win column and the three-hour windows on Sunday afternoon (or, in the London case, morning). Improving the former is a little too much to ask for, but the team can hardly prove that they’re moving in the right direction when they’re falling behind by two possessions in each of its games.
The Jets have been macabrely blessed with the gift of the fact that this season is an automatic improvement over last year’s disaster. But that doesn’t mean they have to be satisfied with it.
Rankins, a playoff staple in New Orleans, sees signs that the New York Jets’ pleasantly surprising defense can compete with the NFL’s finest.
Sheldon Rankins goes into the New York Jets’ London excursion as an avenger of sorts. The former New Orleans Saint could make his former comrades proud with a win on Sunday, as the Jets face the fleur de lis’ biggest rival, the Atlanta Falcons, in the NFL’s first international game since November 2019 (9:30 a.m. ET, NFL Network).
Tony Stark won’t be available. But Rankins is pleased to say that the Jets’ defense, namely the front seven, has enough “superpowers” to work their way through the trials of the road back to respectability.
“There’s a special thing about the group…everyone has their superpower,” Rankins said on theÂ Inside the JetsÂ show on the team’s official website. “We speak about (Quinnen Williams’) straight-line power to just move people out. Foley (Fatukasi) is a mountain of a man. (John Franklin-Myers) has the versatility to move as quickly as he does. Bryce (Huff) is the Tasmanian devil, that’s what we call him, and he probably got that name 30 minutes ago. Myself? I’m kind of the wily veteran in the room right now.”
The Jets’ defense has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2021 NFL season. Stitched together with additions obtained through the Saturday of draft weekend and decimated by injury, the unit has embraced the challenges inherited by a developing offense. Average defensive possessions start a mere 64 yards away from the end zone, the worst starting situation in the league.
Yet, much like Robert Saleh before them, the unit has been a showcase of adaptability and resiliency. Entering Week 5 action, the Jets have allowed 17 red zone possessions, the worst tally in the league if not for Kansas City and Washington (19 each). The sizable opportunities have been created through eight turnovers, a tally that ranks at the penultimate point of the league’s depths (only Jacksonville is worse at 9).
Fortunately for New York, only six of those possessions have ended in touchdowns, behind only a three-team group of Buffalo, Denver, and New Orleans. The resiliency was prominently on display in the Jets’ first win of the season, a 27-24 overtime triumph over the Tennessee Titans. In that win, the Jets saw the erasure of an early 9-0 lead build solely through Randy Bullock field goals.
The early stages of the 2021 season have also brought back the Jets’ pass rush abilities. Such a revival tour was masked by early losses, but Sunday’s effort was impossible to ignore. The Jets earned seven sacks, their best output in nearly four full seasons, en route to their first addition to the 2021 win column. They’ve earned 16 sacks this season, which once again ranks second, trailing only Sunday’s opponent in that category. These numbers have been posted despite the extended medical leaves of impactful newcomers Carl Lawson (out for the season) and Jarrad Davis (out for at least one contest going into the coming bye week).
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â€œNew Sack Cityâ€ – The #Jets DL DOMINATED the Tennessee Titans!
In speaking with hosts Dan Graca and Bart Scott, Rankins acknowledged that the Jets’ newfound aggressiveness is a high-risk, high-reward gambit that can let up big plays. But Rankins knows the value of a disturbance in the backfield: New Orleans ranked in the top six of pressure rates in each of the last two seasons en route to 25 wins and the latter half of four consecutive NFC South titles.
Rankins, 27, has posted pedestrian numbers (four tackles and a sack) compared to his young compatriots. He believes, however, that continued collaborative pressure will help bolster everyone’s numbers. To that point, Franklin-Myers has already reached or neared his career-best tallies. His efforts have since been rewarded with a reported four-year extension with his rookie contract set to expire after this season.
Working in such a system has Rankins feeling like another superhero of both the pages and silver screen. Appropriately, this one calls Gotham City home.
“For me, it’s all about being disruptive,” Rankins said on the program. “The numbers are going to come with that. The more that you wreck shop, get off and disrupt the game and cause havoc inside, the numbers are going to come. Once I put the pads on I’m Batman. I feel like I’m going out there and causing damage. I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing.”
Even if Rankins isn’t sending in showstopping stat sheets, head coach Robert Saleh knows just how important he is to the Jets’ defensive revolution. It was Saleh who convinced general manager Joe Douglas to inquire into the former Saint’s services, even as he was coming off a knee injury that relegated him to the injured reserve. Rankins hasn’t played a full NFL season since 2018, when he tallied 15 pressures, 12 tackles for a loss, and eight sacks in his third season in The Big Easy.
Even as Rankins continues to work his way back, Saleh is pleased to see his faith rewarded.
“I have so much respect for his game,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “It was just a perfect match in terms of his style of play (and) with the way we ask him to play. It’s just a perfect match for the way his game is made, and heâ€™s showing it.”
“You could already see, last year, that he was getting back to what he was when he was drafted and then his second year when he was so productive,” Saleh continued. “Then injuries obviously set him back, but when you talk to people around the league, especially in that building, he is an unbelievable leader, heâ€™s got tremendous work ethic, the way he takes care of his body, heâ€™s meticulous in everything he does, and Iâ€™m just really excited for him and the success heâ€™s been having so far.”
Rankins is one of the rare Jets with both extensive experience against the Falcons and on the football pitch: the interior threat has earned 16 tackles, eight pressures, and seven tackles for a loss over eight games against Atlanta and was in the Saints’ starting lineup during their October 2017 tilt against Miami at Wembley Stadium.
The New York Jets announced on Wednesday that linebacker Blake Cashman was made eligible to return to practice. Cashman, a third-year Jet, sustained a hamstring injury during New York’s kickoff weekend contest in Carolina and has missed each of the last three games.
Cashman joined the Jets as a fifth-round pick (157th overall) in the 2019 draft. He enjoyed a breakout campaign when C.J. Mosley went down in his rookie season, tallying 40 tackles (3 for a loss) over seven games before he himself was injured. Career momentum has been hard to generate, as ailments have limited Cashman to a mere five games over the last two seasons and 12 in total. He was limited to special teams snaps during the opening loss in Charlotte.
The Jets placed Cashman on injured reserve and he’s eligible to be activated after the three-game absence. He was one of two Jets linebackers missing significant time, as Jarrad Davis and Hamsah Nasirildeen are also on the IR. Mosley has enjoyed a return to form over the first four games, while rookie Jamien Sherwood and waiver wire pick-ups Del’Shawn Phillips and Quincy Williams have also picked up the slack.
Robert Saleh maintained his faith in Cashman despite the lack of game film over the past two seasons.
“Itâ€™s a matter of getting on the field and doing it on defense,â€ the head coach said in August, per Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press. â€œHeâ€™s done it before, heâ€™s a phenomenal linebacker and weâ€™re really excited to see him get to work.â€
New York (1-3) heads overseas in an attempt to start a winning streak in London against the Atlanta Falcons (9:30 a.m. ET, NFL Network).
London’s calling the New York Jets. Can Gang Green start a winning streak overseas against the reeling Falcons?
What:Â New York Jets (1-3) vs. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
Where:Â Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
When:Â Sunday at 9:30 a.m ET
Watch:Â NFL Network
Geoff Magliocchetti: Jets 23, Falcons 19
Ah, London. Fish, chips, cup o’ tea, New York Jets football…LONDON!
With apologies to the late, great Dennis Farina, the United Kingdom’s capital is a godsend to the New York Jets in the sense that it’s one of the few countries to host NFL football, that, to date, that has yet to host a Gang Green loss. The Jets won their first visit to the island nation in 2015, paced by a career day from Chris Ivory.
Six years later, the Jets are no closer to a Super Bowl but might be in the unusual position of being a one-win team faced with the closest thing it can possibly get to a trap game. The Jets are coming off an exciting victory against a recent AFC playoff staple from Tennessee (albeit one without the aerial services of A.J. Brown and Julio Jones), one that could be long remembered as the first win of the Robert Saleh/Zach Wilson era. They’re now granted a neutral site game against a Falcons that has failed to feast on a predominantly NFC East slate: they’ve already lost to Philadelphia and Washington and needed all 60 minutes to steal a win from the lowly Giants.
Armed with fresh momentum, particularly on offense, all signs point to the Jets starting a winning streak overseas. This being the Jets, of course, it’s never that easy. Atlanta has played better over the last two weeks after losing their first two contests by a combined 49 points. Cordarrelle Patterson is establishing himself as a legitimate offensive threat while the young talents of Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts can’t be denied. Matt Ryan isn’t what he used to be but has remained a serviceable option under center.
The Jets’ defense has tackled (pun intended) a lot of challenges and misconceptions over the past few weeks. Confidence has grown amongst the group, so they should be ready for what Atlanta is ready to throw at it. The big factor this week is how the offense builds on what they were able to do against the Titans. A prime opportunity lingers against a Falcons defense that has allowed 11 touchdown passes and has forced only two turnovers in its first four outings.
Jets-Falcons isn’t the most attractive matchup for the British…well, they did give the world theÂ Cats musical, which in turn led to the garish film adaptation, so consider this revenge…but it should be an interesting case of two desperate teams fighting for 2021 relevancy. For the Jets, it’s a prime opportunity to build the promises of growth and development.
There have already been so many signs of such progress…again, the defense stitched together by draft weekend Saturday pick-ups has been extraordinary…but now there’s an opportunity to post them in the most important stockpile of all: the win column. Putting together consecutive wins is vital in this stage. The sooner Saleh and Wilson get a winning streak off their respective rookie to-do lists, the better.
Dylan Price: Jets 31, Falcons 20
They did it! The Jets finally won a game and now travel overseas for their London game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Atlanta has pieced together two strong performances in a row. They won against the Giants and put up 30 points against the Washington Football Team last week. Cordarelle Patterson has looked like a superstar and the Falcons’ offense seems to be picking up momentum.
Meanwhile, the Jets have found some momentum as well. The offense looks to finally have found a rhythm, and their defense looks really good, coming off a performance where they only allowed two scores. If the Jets’ pass rush can replicate their performance from Sunday, or even half of that, they will cause disruptions for Matt Ryan.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Falcons defense has allowed more than 32 points three times this season. This is an opportunity to continue their momentum as long as the Jets continue to open up the playbook. Iâ€™m taking the Jets to win and travel home from London happy.
Mags’ Best of the Rest
LA Rams (-1.5) @ Seattle (Thu.)
Divisional redemption awaits the Rams on Thursday night, as they should take advantage of a Seahawks defense still looking for stability.
Who Covers:Â Rams Who Wins:Â Rams
Denver @ Pittsburgh (-1.5)
Denver’s (angry) defense, fresh off a respectable effort against Baltimore, facing off with a Ben Roethlisberger showing his age ultimately should trump the decision under center between Drew Lock and the injured Teddy Bridgewater.
Who Covers:Â Broncos Who Wins:Â Broncos
Detroit @ Minnesota (-7.5)
Nothing’s come easy for the Vikings but they should be able to handle business against a reeling Lions squad.
Who Covers:Â Lions Who Wins:Â Vikings
Green Bay (-3) @ CincinnatiÂ
Joe Burrow and the Bengals are one of the more feel-good stories of the early stages of the season, but leave it to Aaron Rodgers to provide a healthy dose of reality.
Who Covers:Â Packers Who Wins:Â Packers
Miami @ Tampa Bay (-10.5)
Though the spotlight is removed, Tom Brady should be able to reestablish another lost AFC East tradition: beating up on the hapless Dolphins.
Who Covers:Â Buccaneers Who Wins:Â Buccaneers
New England (-9) @ Houston
The publicized fall to Brady’s new comrades at least proved the Patriots are trending in the right direction and the evidence should be visible on the scoreboard against the woebegone Texans.
Who Covers:Â Patriots Who Wins:Â Patriots
New Orleans (-1.5) @ Washington
Coming off a shocking home loss to the Giants while Tampa Bay and Carolina start to inch away in the NFC South, New Orleans simply needs this game more than Washington’s division title defense does.
Who Covers: Saints Who Wins: Saints
Philadelphia @ Carolina (-3.5)
The new-look Panthers’ first response to adversity comes against a reeling Eagles defense that let up 461 yards to Kansas City last week.
Who Covers:Â Panthers Who Wins:Â Panthers
Tennessee (-4) @ JacksonvilleÂ
Even if the Titans are forced to sit Brown and Jones again, they have much bigger issues if they can’t take down a Jacksonville dealing with Urban decay.
Who Covers:Â Titans Who Wins:Â Titans
Chicago @ Las Vegas (-5.5)
The promise of more Justin Fields will help the Bears in the long run, but growing pains lie on the immediate road ahead.
Who Covers:Â Raiders Who Wins:Â Raiders
Cleveland @ LA Chargers (-1)
This battle of dowtrodden offenses on the rise should come down to the offensive faceoff, and it’s hard to deny that the Chargers have the edge there for the time being.
Who Covers:Â Chargers Who Wins:Â Chargers
NY Giants @ Dallas (-7)
One thing’s for sure: a battle between the exhilarating Cowboys and the determined-to-prove something Giants provide fireworks that rivalry has been lacking in recent stagings, even if it’s a little much to ask New York to stop the rolling Dallas offense on the road.
Who Covers:Â Giants Who Wins:Â Cowboys
San Francisco @ Arizona (-5.5)
The Cardinals aren’t going undefeated…no team in NFL history is ever doing that again…but their unbeaten streak should continue against a pleasantly surprising 49ers team that’s on the cusp of a quarterback controversy.
Who Covers:Â 49ers Who Wins:Â Cardinals
Buffalo @ Kansas City (-3)
The Bills have feasted on subpar competition, but now face one of the scariest challenges in football that hasn’t been seen in years: a Kansas City Chiefs team with something prove in the regular season.
Who Covers:Â Chiefs Who Wins:Â Chiefs
Indianapolis @ Baltimore (-7)
Fresh off a win in Miami, the Colts could sneak back into the division race with Houston, San Francisco, Tennessee, the Jets, and Jacksonville all looming ahead, but asking them to steal a primetime road tilt from Lamar Jackson and Co. is a little too much to ask for.
A new year and new on-field management appear to have nonetheless begotten controversy in the New York Jets secondary.
A tweet from Erik Burkhardt, the agent of Gang Green safety Marcus Maye, seems to imply that one of the longest-tenured Jets could be on the movie by the time the NFL’s trade deadline rolls around. Burkhardt was referencing a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that Maye would miss the next three to four weeks with an ankle injury.
He was particularly interested in Maye’s estimated return. Under the reported estimation, Maye would be back by the end of October, days before the moratorium on Nov. 2.
“Should be back fully healthy just before the trade deadlineâ€¦” Burkhardt says, accompanying his tweet with a handshake emoji.
This isn’t the first time a Burkhardt tweet has caused a green stir. In March, Burkhardt expressed displeasure that the Jets hadn’t signed his client to a long-term deal, doing so in a reply to ESPN correspondent Field Yates’ tweet about the Jets’ $80 million in cap space after the release of defensive end Henry Anderson.
“(The Jets) refuse to take care of their best player, Captain, & team-voted MVP in his prime who had several All-Pro votes,” Burkhardt said. He also referenced Maye’s switch to his natural free safety spot after the team tradedÂ “(He) played out his entire rookie deal and even changed positions on his contract year (after they got rid of last yrs [sic] All-Pro safety).”
Adams eventually burned down his metropolitan bridges through a series of disparaging social media posts. He got his wish for an expensive long-term deal after he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks, who granted him a four-year, $70 million contract last offseason.
Maye is instead playing on a $10.6 million franchise tag in lieu of the long-term deal he sought. He has tallied 23 tackles and one sack through the Jets’ first three games. Maye, like Adams before him, has expressed a desire to become one of the highest-paid safeties in football but dedicated himself to a year on the tag shortly before the year opened.
â€œWinning games is first, thatâ€™s what you play the game for,â€ Maye said on Sept. 4, per team reporter Jack Bell. â€œAlso, (you play it to) take care of your family and making sure youâ€™re set up for the future. Control the controllable. If you have no control over something, thereâ€™s no point in getting all upset. If youâ€™re not here to win games, then what are you doing this for?
â€œOnce (contract talks) were over with, I just put it to the side and got back to the basics of playing football. Once I get on the grass I never worry about anything else.â€
In lieu of Maye, the Jets welcomed back safeties Ashtyn Davis and Sharrod Neasman to practice on Wednesday after the two spent most of September on injured reserve. New York (0-3) returns to action on Sunday afternoon at home against the Tennessee Titans (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
The New York Jets locked linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips onto their active roster and bid farewell to a substitute safety.
The New York Jets announced a series of roster moves on Tuesday, transactions headlined by further adjustments to the defense. New York (0-2) added linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips to its active roster and waived safety Sheldrick Redwine. Offensive lineman Isaiah Williams took over Phillips’ spot on the practice squad.Â
Phillips was a practice squad promotee in each of the Jets’ first two games and has filled in for the injured Jarrad Davis and Blake Cashman. He tallied a game-best 11 tackles in the opening weekend tilt in Carolina, his regular season debut in green. The Illinois alum previously worked with current Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich as an undrafted rookie in Atlanta and appeared in two games with the Buffalo Bills last season.
Redwine was part of the Cleveland Browns’ final summer cuts and was scooped up by the Jets shortly after. The Miami alum took over at safety after the season-ending injury to Lamarcus Joyner but was overshadowed by another practice squad arrival and former Hurrican, Adrian Colbert. Redwine had six tackles over two games and was mostly relegated to special teams during last Sunday’s home opener against New England.
Williams has lingered in the systems of several squads since entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Akron in 2016. He was on the active roster for Sunday’s Week 2 contest but did not appear in any snaps and was waived shortly after.
The Jets return to action on Sunday afternoon on the road against the Denver Broncos (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).
The New York Jets’ 11th consecutive defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots saw several optimistic causes slip through the cracks.
The New England Patriots beat the New York Jets in front of a crowd of disgruntled metropolitan football fans…yes, folks, New York City isÂ back.
New England’s Empire may be over…its destruction brought about by the loss of its superweapon Tom Brady…but it has retained control of the East Rutherford system through a perfect three-game slate over the last two seasons. That includes Sunday’s 25-6 triumph at MetLife Stadium, one that provided the rudest of introductions to whatever lingers of the Jets-Patriots rivalry to Zach Wilson, he of four interceptions in the defeat.
It’s often hard for the Jets to glean anything positive out of get-togethers with the Patriots, who have now won 11 in a row over Gang Green. Eight of those defeats have come by multiple possessions and the Jets (0-2) have yet to earn a regulation win over New England in their modern MetLife-sponsored home since the original staging in 2010. The 19-point loss provided more or less the same heartbreak New York has been accustomed to over the last decade.
Yet, Sunday’s defeat somehow featured several unique bastions of hope in the midst of another defeat…
The Jets’ run game enjoyed a significant boost on Sunday: not only did it triple its yardage output from opening weekend at Carolina (45 to 152, besting its total in all but one game from last season), it did so without the offensive line assistance of Mekhi Becton.
Jets running backs averaged nearly 4.8 yards per carry on Sunday, which could come up big for the developing offense as Wilson still seeks to solve the NFL game. Ty Johnson, for example, maintained his brand of New York consistency (50 yards on 12 carries) while Tevin Coleman burst up the middle for a 17-yard carry in the second quarter.
But Jets management is likely enthused by the progress Michael Carter made on Sunday. Carter, the team’s fourth-round pick from last spring, is expected to pull away from the Jets’ current committee set up and flourished in an expanded role against the Patriots. The 88 yards he tallied from scrimmage were most for a green rookie rusher since Elijah McGuire in 2017 (93).
With five interceptions over his first two games, Wilson could for looking for some non-aerial antics to assist him as he gets further absconsed into the Jets’ offense. The rise of Carter can help the Jets build some much-needed, sustainable offensive momentum.
For all the concerns about the Jets’ defense in the early going, the unit has held its own in the early going. The 19-point disadvantage seems ugly to the naked eye but the Jets have lingered in their defeats far longer than should’ve been possible thanks to some strong adaptation by the defense. Wilson’s turnovers should’ve buried the Jets but the defense kept the damage relatively in check, yielding 16 points from the four turnovers.
The Jets’ young secondary group limited attacks from New England’s receivers, as it was once again mostly running back assistance that sank their efforts. James White was a menace on both the ground and through the air, tallying 65 yards on 11 touches. Nothing more needs to be said about the 26-yard rushing touchdown from Damien Harris that dragged several Jets defenders in the end zone.
But the secondary assistance was very reliable, limiting opposing wideouts to only 69 yards on nine receptions, limiting rookie Mac Jones to mostly dink-and-dunk strategies. The pass rush also drastically improved, earning three sacks of Jones in the first half (Marcus Maye, John Franklin-Myers, and Sheldon Rankins being the lucky recipients). New England’s 260-yard output was Patriots’ worst tally against the Jets since 2014. New York could also take faith in a strong performance from C.J. Mosley, who earned 10 tackles in defeat and once against finished a Jets game without incident.
The former Raven was particularly enthused by a late defensive stand by the Jets on the Patriots’ final possession of the afternoon. New England was situated only 25 yards away from the end zone after a turnover on downs but earned only a Nick Folk field goal to create the final margin.
“I know it looks familiar to a lot of people, but I can assure you that this is not the same team. We’re always going to show resilience, we’re always going to battle,” Mosley said, per team reporter Randy Lange. “That’s the picture I try to paint. Even on that goal-line stand at the end, it was all heart for us. In the locker room, we told ourselves we had a great week of preparation, everybody came into this game confident. Now we’ve got to take it to the next level. It’s not on the coaches. It’s on the players wearing the uniform.”
The Jets’ offense was mostly stuck in reverse thanks to Wilson’s turnovers, but has another reliable receiving threat emerged?
While Jamison Crowder continues to recover from a bout with COVID-19 and a little more uncertainty has emerged around Denzel Mims (a healthy scratch for Sunday’s defeat), Braxton Berrios has picked up the slack.
It would’ve been easy for Berrios to get lost in the receiving fold after the arrivals of Davis, Keelan Cole, and Elijah Moore (who hinted at his powers with 47 yards on a quartet of receptions), but the third-year is making a name for himself. Through two games, Berrios is the Jets’ leading receiver with 124 yards on 12 receptions. That includes a career-best 73-yard showing on Sunday while New England locked down Corey Davis. Berrios has also been a reliable prescience on special teams, as his 23.8-yard average kick return ranks 10th amongst players with at least two attempts. His 38-yard runback in the first half set up the Jets’ first of two field goals of the afternoon.
While both Cole and Moore seem poised to take over in the slot if/when Crowder departs next offseason, Berrios’ development is worth keeping an eye on. The former Patriots previously described himself as a “Swiss Army Knife” in a report from team writer Ethan Greenberg.
“I have everything to work on,” Berrios said in January. “I think there is no one harder on me than m, and I’d like to keep it that way. I truly have everything to work on as a receiver, as a football player in general. Truly, I’m looking forward to doing that and coming back an all-around better player.”
The New York Jets’ makeshift defense, faced with lost pressure and Saturday draft picks in big roles, put out a respectable effort in Week 1.
It wouldn’t have been a New York Jets opener with a reminder that the team often serves as living, gridiron-based proof of the existence of Murphy’s Law. Thus, it was only natural that ex-bastions of New York hope contributed to the team’s Sunday demise.
Quarterback Sam Darnold and receiver Robby Anderson served ice cold revenge on a sweltering late summer afternoon, accounting for all but three tallies of a 16-point quarter that made up the majority of the Jets’ 19-14 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Panthers. Darnold, Gang Green’s most recent false prophet under center, ended the frame with a five-yard scoring run with 35 seconds remaining after previously tossing a 57-yard six-pointer to Anderson, a rare source of green metropolitan offensive power during the prior decade, one who claimed that the Jets were making him “(lose) his love” for football.
Anderson’s lucrative grab was his only catch of the afternoon, but Darnold tallied 234 aerial yards in the first half…needing only a single game to eclipse his highest such tally in New York. He and Darnold’s collaborative heroics provided fresh material for a football landscape that finds the slightest Jets mistakes to be a guaranteed punchline. The coming week will undoubtedly be filled with thoughtpieces and hypotheticals from both fans and commentators alike about whether the Jets made the right decision in letting Darnold and Anderson move on. Those theories will be callously pushed forth by Zach Wilson’s rollercoaster afternoon (20-of-37, 258 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) partly brought upon by a porous offensive line effort that led to six sacks and “a little whiplash” for the second overall pick of April’s draft.
But despite the endless “what if?”-based questions that Sunday produced, the Jets earned an undeniable victory: putting forth a strong defensive effort that can’t be erased by two entries in the scoring summary.
Youth in revolt on offense generated enough hype to mask the Jets’ defensive inefficiencies, ones that were the unavoidable consequence of having so much to work on after last year’s garish campaign gave the Jets so much to work on that it was guaranteed some roster area was going to be neglected. Even the quickest look at the depth chart would yield the area most affected: having spent most of the offseason transactional periods trying to surround their new quarterback with a potent welcome wagon and pressure artists with experience in the 4-3, the cornerback depth chart became a hodgepodge of young journeymen and acquisitions made during Saturday of draft weekend.
The football gods indulged in their beloved tradition of toying with the Jets, centering their cruel divine intervention on defense. Two of the high-profile defensive additions (Jarrad Davis and Carl Lawson) were bitten by the injury bug, the latter’s ailment erasing his 2021 season entirely. Qunnien Williams, fresh off a breakout campaign, missed nearly all of the offseason preparation after hurting his foot during a workout at the team’s Florham Park facility.
Suddenly, the issues in the secondary couldn’t be ignored: the franchise-tagged Marcus Maye was/is believed to be capable of holding down the fort at safety but the headliner at corner was 2020 fifth-rounder Bryce Hall, he of eight NFL games that showed promise but didn’t turn him into a seasoned professional veteran. Rutgers-based project Bless Austin was projected to be the man next to Hall as he entered his third season but the Jets bid him farewell less than two weeks before Sunday’s kickoff. The Queens native has already been scooped up by Seattle, creating a reunion with Jamal Adams.
Austin’s position on the depth chart was literally left blank on the depth chart shown on the team’s official website. Three names currently sit in the spot, all of them chosen on the most recent Saturday of draft weekend. Sixth-round choice Brandin Echols was there alongside undrafted Isaiah Dunn while fifth-rounder Jason Pinnock was inactive. It was part of defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich referred to as a “committee“-like approach to Sunday’s contest.
Such struggles set a dangerous stage: Carolina was already welcoming back two four-digit yardage receivers (Anderson and D.J. Moore) and was also anticipating the return of Christian McCaffrey after an injury-plagued 2020. Much like how Wilson was blessed with a better cabinet than anything the Jets had to offer in the last three seasons, Darnold was also provided his best arsenal after three years in offensive purgatory in New York. To put things in perspective: out of the 45 touchdowns Darnold threw over the past three seasons as a Jet, 26 were bestowed to receivers that are already no longer employed by the Jets. Now, he had a chance to work with potent weapons rather than aerial washouts.
Yet, the Jets defense held strong for as long as they could. Two plays will define their afternoon…and, perhaps, their season, in the eyes of the common fan, but it’s not fair to deny what this fledgling unit was able to accomplish in Charlotte.
There were countless opportunities for the Jets to break on Sunday: Carolina shook off Matt Ammendola’s unexpected punting heroics to drive into the Jets’ red zone, but the defense forced them into a situation that to an aborted Darnold fumble that gave New York the ball back. When the offense failed to take advantage of the opportunity (Wilson’s first professional interception to Shaq Thompson), they cracked down in the red zone, forcing Darnold into a pair of incompletions that yielded a mere field goal. Darnold’s history and the late scores could’ve blown the game open, but they never allowed the deficit to balloon past two possessions. The makeshift secondary did its job in its professional debut.
Pressure was understandably at a premium with Lawson missing for the year, but it came at the most opportune time. Faced with a two-yard third down, John Franklin-Myers broke through for a big sack that provided the best start possible for the second half. It was a 30-minute stretch that saw Carolina run only nine plays past the Jets’ 35, including none in the third quarter. Darnold threw for only 45 yards in the second half, 17 coming on a single throw to Ian Thomas on a drive that led to a mere punt. Carolina’s most lucrative drives came through strong starting field position: another drive that ended in a field goal began at their won 37 while two final runs from McCaffrey after an onside kick helped the Panthers seal the deal.
The Jets (0-1) were eventually done in by typical antics from McCaffrey, who sent a dire warning to the rest of the league through 187 yards of offense in his anticipated return. But there was no denying the strides the Jets made under Ulbrich and head coach Robert Saleh, he of San Franciso’s defensive prowess over the past four seasons. Last year proved he’s more than capable of adapting to tough situations brought about by medical issues. He picked up where he left off against the Panthers, even if the proof didn’t linger on the scoreboard.
“We had a great red zone stand where we got the takeaway. In the second half, I thought they came out and stood up to the challenge,” Saleh said of the defensive effort per team contributor Randy Lange. “The challenge at halftime was just keep getting our offense the ball, keep giving them opportunities and they’ll flip it. I thought the guys showed resolve. I thought (Ulbrich) did a great job with his halftime adjustments. And I thought the offense responded and made a game out of it.”
Linebacker C.J. Mosley is used to victorious defensive efforts, having worked with Baltimore’s strong units during the latter parts of the last decade. Mosley was granted captaincy honors by his teammates, bestowed the task of leading this brave new defense into the future. Despite some late cramping issues, Mosley finished Sunday’s contest with four tackles.
Sunday provided a major personal victory for Mosley, who finished a Jets game for the first time in his three years under contract. But he was prouder of the victories earned as a unit, ones that could potentially change opinions on the Jets’ defense moving forward.
“I loved every second of it,” Mosley said in Lange’s report. “I was just happy to be out there, happy to have that ‘C’ on my chest, happy to be out there leading the defense, happy to be running around doing what I love. It wasn’t the results that we wanted as a unit or as a defense, but it was the first game, we’ve got a lot to improve and we’ve got to get ready for next week.”
The Jets’ revamped defense will make its East Rutherford debut next weekend against the New England Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS).