New York Jets: Grading Week 2’s loss vs. New England

robert saleh, jets

Zach Wilson’s struggles prevented the New York Jets’ offense from moving forward, but Sunday served as another good showcase for the defense.

New York Jets 6 (0-2)

Top Offesnive Performer: RB Michael Carter (11 carries, 59 yards, 2 receptions 29 yards)
Top Defensive Performer: S Marcus Maye (6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup)
Top Specialist: KR Braxton Berrios (4 returns, 95 yards)
Up Next: Sunday @ Denver (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

New England Patriots 25 (1-1)

Top Offesnive Performer: RB James White (6 receptions, 45 yards, 5 carries, 20 yards, 1 touchdown)
Top Defensive Performer: DB J.C. Jackson (3 tackles, 2 interceptions)
Top Specialist: K Nick Folk (4-for-4 field goals, 1-for-2 extra points)
Up Next: Sunday vs. New Orleans (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Offense: D+

Whether it’s fair or not, the state of the Jets’ offense is going to be judged by Zach Wilson’s progress. Even the most optimistic Wilson prophet had their faith shaken on Sunday, as none of his four interceptions could be excused by a baseball-style official scorer. A struggling offensive line missing the services of Mekhi Becton did little to help out: a metropolitan comeback effort was stymied by four sacks of Wilson, all coming in the second half.

The struggles of Wilson masked some encouraging offensive progress: Michael Carter flourished in expanded duties despite the loss of Becton, earning 88 yards (59 rushing) from scrimmage in his second NFL contest. Ty Johnson maintained consistency with 50 yards on a dozen attempts. Carter and Johnson united to obtain half of the Jets’ 18 first downs.

In terms of passes that landed in the hands of Jets receivers, Braxton Berrios continued his strong start, earning a career-best 73 yards on seven receptions while Corey Davis (2 receptions, 8 yards) was held in check. Elijah Moore (4 receptions, 47 yards) hinted at his greater powers while the Jets continued to struggle with generating momentum amongst the tight ends, particularly when they got deeper in New England territory. Ryan Griffin and Tyler Kroft united for a mere 18 yards on a trio of receptions.

In another positive development, the Jets did earn 336 yards of offense on Sunday, besting their totals from all but two games from last season.

Defense: C+

Considering the awkward position Wilson’s turnovers left them in, the defense did commendable work on Sunday. Highlight reels will immortalize Damien Harris’ touchdown run that took several defenders into the end zone with him, but the makeshift unit put forth a respectable effort in their first Mac Jones experience. The 15th overall pick from April’s draft proceedings was limited to mostly dink-and-dunk endeavors, picking up only 186 yards on 30 attempts.

Linebacker C.J. Mosley started to resemble his Baltimore self, limiting his assignments to 20 yards on four receptions while picking up a team-best 10 tackles. Safety Michael Carter II allowed only 17 yards on five grabs. Quincy Williams appears to be another Joe Douglas waiver wire gem, allowing only 13 yards and earning a tackle in the backfield.

New York’s pass rush also upped its game, tripling its sack total from Week 1. John Frankin-Myers is the only Jets on the sack ledger in each of the first two weeks, having also forced a recovered fumble of Jones. Marcus Maye and Sheldon Rankins earned the other quarterback takedowns, all of which came in the first half. The Jets also forced three New England three-and-outs, up from one against the Panthers.

The Jets were once again beaten by multi-talented running backs: in addition to Harris’ arduous but well-publicized run to glory, the Jets were beaten for 65 yards and a score by White. It’s certainly a few notches down from Christian McCaffrey’s wild ride in Carolina, but worth keeping an eye on moving forward.

Special Teams: C+

Matt Ammendola returned to his regularly scheduled kicking duties on Sunday with Thomas Morestead in tow. Ammendola wound up accounting for all of the metropolitan scoring; he converted from 21 and 35 yards out but missed a 53-yarder in the third quarter. Wilson’s de facto arm punts limited Morestead to a single 45-yard attempt.

In addition to his offensive breakout, Berrios further solidified his prescience on the Jets’ return game, averaging just under 24 yards per kick attempt. His 38-yard return in the late stages of the third quarter set up Ammendola’s first field goal of the day.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

Three New York Jets records in danger of falling this season

michael carter, jets

The playoffs might still be a pipe dream, but several New York Jets have the potential to make history this season.

Last year’s New York Jets team made history…albeit by sinking to depths that even the cursed Rich Kotite era managed to avoid (i.e. a 13-game losing streak to open the season). This time around, the Jets have a prime opportunity to earn some more positive accomplishments thanks to a lucrative offseason that brought in several talented names and the addition of a 17th game to the traditional NFL schedule.

Which chapters of the green record book should prepare for a rewrite? ESM investigates…

Zach Wilson: Rookie Touchdown Passes (18) and Passing Yards (3,046)

Current holders: Joe Namath (1965)/Geno Smith (2013)

The Jets’ star-crossed history with quarterbacks is often apparent right from the get-go. No freshman thrower in franchise history has thrown more than 20 touchdown passes and only Smith has eclipsed 3,000 yards.

There’s a prime opportunity for Wilson, who healthily passed the aforementioned yardage plateau in his last season at BYU (3.692), to set freshman history in New York. As a whole, subpar quarterback play has been one of the many reasons why the Jets have failed to keep pace with the rest of the league: NFL passers averaged just over 240 yards a game last season (third-best tally in league history) but the Jets mustered only 194. Those same passers averaged just over 27 touchdown passes while New York could barely earn over half of that (16).

Early indications, particularly the pair of preseason games overseen by Wilson, hint that the Jets won’t hesitate to let their new franchise savior air it out. If all pans out, Wilson could realistically have these marks beat by Christmas (possibly Thanksgiving, but the kid has enough expectations placed on him as is).

Elijah Moore: Rookie Receptions (66) and Receiving Yards (844)

Current Holders: Wayne Chrebet (1995)/Keyshawn Johnson (1996) 

Injuries cost Elijah Moore a chance to create some later summer fireworks, but there’s no doubt that the Jets have big plans for him. As it stands, the Ole Miss alum is the closest thing the Jets have had to a homegrown big-play threat since Santana Moss.

Moore’s training camp showings gave off anything but rookie vibes, according to head coach Robert Saleh, indicating that he will take on a large role in the offense immediately.

“He is so deliberate in the way he goes about his business,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “He’s kind of like an old soul, he’s been here for five or six years already…When you have that ability, especially at such a young age, he’s impressive. He doesn’t make the same mistake twice, he’s a quick learner, he’s always trying to find an edge.”

“He’s set a bar for sure and we’re just excited to see him grow through the season.”

Jamison Crowder’s cloudy forecast for Sunday’s opener in Carolina (due to placement of the COVID-19 list) should only give Moore a bigger chance to make an impact in the Jets’ offense.

Michael Carer: Rookie Rushing Touchdowns (7)

Current Holder: Tony Paige (1984)

The Jets are in the midst of enjoying a bit of a rushing surplus: the team added redemption-seeking Super Bowl alum Tevin Coleman on an affordable one-year deal while effective depth men Ty Johnson and Josh Adams are back.

But many envision rookie Michael Carter eventually earning the primary rushing duties before the year lets out. Carter was chosen in the fourth round out of North Carolina and was able to contribute in both the Tar Heels’ rushing and aerial endeavors. That made him a perfect fit for new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s system.

The Jets’ presumed rushing attack by committee in the early going should keep Matt Snell’s long-standing freshman yardage record (948) from 1964 safe for yet another year. But Carter has some potential in the red zone, as the scorer of 28 six-pointers during his time in Chapel Hill.

“Michael’s got great vision as a runner,” UNC head coach Mack Brown said of Carter during Senior Bowl prep in Mobile, per Eric J. Wallace of the Pensacola News Journal. “He can catch the ball, but he’s got the speed to go score and run over people.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

5 New York Jets who could make the leap into the NFL Top 100

new york jets, zach wilson

Corey Davis, an active New York Jet, appeared in NFL Network’s annual late-summer rankings. Who’s on pace to join him?

As a team struggling to gain traction and stability on the national football scene, the New York Jets will take any form of visible signs of improvement and stability. NFL Network’s annual countdown of the best 100 players from the prior season provided some welcome advancement.

In the annual rankings hosted by the network and determined by the league’s players, Jets receiver Corey Davis came home 91st. Last year’s postings, annually released in late August, featured no active Jets; their lone representative (safety Jamal Adams) had been traded to the Seattle Seahawks by the time the rankings were unveiled.

Who could potentially earn the respect of their peers next to Davis in 2022’s list? ESM investigates…

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

OT Mekhi Becton

One of Joe Douglas’ most fateful moves to date has been the choosing of Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall selection of his first draft. The selection was called controversial at the time…the Jets left several elite receiving prospects on the board…but Becton has provided a solid foundation and has become a reliable anchor for an offensive wall set to protect treasured skill players.

The lack of conventional, numerical statistics makes it hard for offensive linemen to leave their mark in the Top 100. This year’s list featured only a dozen blocking representatives, the highest being Indianapolis guard Quinton Nelson at No. 33. But the arrival of Becton could commence a green offensive resolution in New York, even if his contributions won’t appear in the box score. Such contributions cannot and should not go unnoticed.

(Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

S Marcus Maye

In the midst of metropolitan chaos, Maye emerged as a leader in the secondary and, at the very least made sure the Jets made regular appearances in SportsCenter‘s Top 10. His efforts were rewarded with the Team MVP award named after Curtis Martin.

Maye, however, is still left with something to prove enter the 2021 season: a long-term contract was not to be, a franchise tag bestowed in its place. At only 28, Maye is an elder statesman in New York circles as the longest-tenured Jet entering his fifth season). He looks downright ancient in the secondary after the Jets’ recent transactions bid farewell to third-year man Bless Austin in an effort to highlight rookie selections. If Maye can succeed in a larger role, he can earn not only the expensive, lengthy contract he desires but a spot amongst the Top 100 as well.

elijah moore, jets

WR Elijah Moore

Could Moore join his fellow New York newcomer Davis in the Top 100? It’s certainly possible if he lives up to the hype that followed him from Mississippi.

It’s been a long time since the Jets had a consistent, lasting, homegrown, big-play threat. In fact, there haven’t been many efforts in finding one: at 34th overall, Moore was the highest receiver who heard his name called by the Jets since Santana Moss went 16th in 2001’s opening round.

Moore is expected to become one of the biggest faces of the Jets’ offensive makeover. He already has an Offensive Rookie of the Year vote from former collegiate teammate A.J. Brown. The Tennessee Titans star appeared in the 62nd slot in the most recent list.

“I (saw) him working out, I know what he wanted to do. I know the dreams he has. He’s going to go crazy this year with the Jets,” Brown said in an appearance on the Raw Room podcast earlier this summer. “He’s a real sleeper. I would put my money on him for Offensive Rookie of the Year over anybody. I ain’t even discrediting the guys who went in front of him, but yeah, ain’t nobody messing with him … Nobody that came out (of the draft is) messing with him.”

New York Jets, Quinnen Williams

DT Quinnen Williams

Carl Lawson would’ve been a prime candidate to appear on 2022’s Top 100 list, but the football gods had other plans. The deities of the gridiron continued to toy with the Jets’ front seven after Lawson was lost for the season, likewise taking away Vinny Curry for the whole year and Jarrad Davis for the five-week slate prior to the Jets’ open date.

Thus, Williams has a prime opportunity to put the “V” in MVP, as he’ll take on a leadership role while the Jets’ defenders try to tread water. The third overall pick of the 2019 draft enjoyed a breakthrough season with a team-best seven sacks last season. If the Jets’ defense is able to hold opposing offenses in check while Lawson heals, it’ll no doubt come with a healthy dose of Williams’ antics.

Williams remembered a special source of inspiration toward his sense of leadership going into the 2021 season: late NBA star Kobe Bryant.

“The No. 1 thing he told me: Nobody’s going to follow someone who’s not doing their job,” Williams told team reporter Jack Bell in March. “And that was the main thing that stuck with me. You got to set in stone that you’re a dominant player first. You got to go in there and take over and make sure everybody knows like whenever Q says something or whenever this person says something, they’re going to automatically follow because they see you doing the right thing, they see you doing everything first.”

zach wilson, jets

QB Zach Wilson

If one were ranking a Top 100 players of the 2021 NFL preseason, one would undoubtedly have to consider two crucial factors: first, seek help, because you’re ranking 100 players from the NFL preseason. But if you were to continue such a fruitless endeavor, Wilson would undoubtedly appear in the top ten, maybe even the first three or five slots.

The indifference and irrelevance bestowed toward preseason statistics notwithstanding, it’s hard not to at least be excited over Wilson after his summer slate. New York scored on four of Wilson’s six preseason possessions (all but one of which ended in opposing territory) and his passer rating of 137.7 would’ve led all passers had he partaken in the final exhibition game against Philadelphia.

We’ve seen first-year quarterbacks immediately launch themselves into the players’ Top 100 through awe-inspiring freshman showings. Chargers selection Justin Herbert (No. 56) was the revered rookie this time around, following in the footsteps of recent entries Baker Mayfield (2019), Dak Prescott (2017), and Robert Griffin III (2013).

Perhaps unfairly, the Jets’ long-awaited turnaround is going to be judged by the performance of Wilson, the latest entry to the team’s everlasting audition to replace Joe Namath. Even with the undeniable improvements from the rock-bottom endeavors of 2020, making the playoffs is going to be a tall task for Gang Green. If Wilson starts his career on the right note, his peers must take notice.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets starters will get “a quarter, couple of series” on Saturday

new york jets, zach wilson

New York Jets fans shouldn’t be late to MetLife Stadium on Saturday if they wish to see Zach Wilson’s unofficial debut.

While it appears that the New York Giants will hold their young franchise thrower out of this weekend’s metropolitan showdown, their MetLife Stadium roommates are taking a different approach.

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh announced on Thursday that Zach Wilson and the primary offensive unit will play at least the first two series during Saturday’s preseason opener (7:30 p.m. ET, WNBC). It will mark the first unofficial action in a Jets game uniform for Zach Wilson and several others, including receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole.

“We’re thinking about a quarter, couple of series for all those guys,” Saleh said precisely when it came to Wilson’s time, per notes from the Jets. “(We) just kind of (want to) get him his first action.”

Speaking after a practice session on One Jets Drive, Saleh noted that between the incoming rookie class and last season’s young group, over 30 players will be partaking in their first NFL preseason game on Saturday. Last year’s exhibition slate was completely wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are a very, very young football team and they’ve got to be able to go through the process of pregame and prepping themselves mentally and getting in their own space and getting ready to play a football game and then going out there and playing a couple of drives,” Saleh said. “To me, this is a big deal. These moments are priceless, especially for this team.”

Though Jets fans will who venture out to MetLife Stadium for a sanctioned NFL contest for the first time since December 2019 will get to witness Wilson’s first game action, several other debuts could be delayed.

Saleh announced that receiver and second-round pick Elijah Moore would “probably” require an MRI after leaving practice with what he described as a quad issue. Fellow rookie Alijah Vera-Tucker will miss Saturday with a quad issue, but Saleh was optimistic that he would be ready to prepare for the following weekend’s tilt in Green Bay, labeling him “day-to-day”. Dan Feeney currently sits in the second slot behind last spring’s 14th overall pick in the left guard slot on the Jets’ opening depth chart.

Injured veterans like defensive lineman Quinnen Williams (foot) and receiver Braxton Berrios (groin) are set to join Vera-Tucker in the Packers prep, per Saleh.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

What are realistic expectations for the 2021 New York Jets?

new york jets, zach wilson

The New York Jets undoubtedly became a better team over the past eight months. But are they a playoff team? ESM’s experts discuss.

The 2020 New York Jets left the franchise’s immediate and long-term future in a rare state of optimistically macabre: after the Jets sunk to the depths of the football underworld…plummeting to dubious valleys that even the cursed Rich Kotite era managed to avoid…any move the team made in the offseason could’ve been seen as an improvement.

With both the Stanley Cup and Larry O’Brien Trophy…not to mention every medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo…earned and bestowed, it’s officially socially acceptable to start forecasting the 2021 NFL season. The metropolitan arrivals of so many elite new faces, of both the rookie (Zach Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Elijah Moore) and veteran (Carl Lawson, Corey Davis) variety have gotten fans excited, as has the hiring of head coach Robert Saleh.

But the ultimate question lingers: after a two-win season and now ensnared in the NFL’s longest active playoff, just how much improvement will the Jets show in the one place it matters…the standings, namely the win column?

ESM’s Jets experts ponder this quandary as the preseason opener against the New York Giants looms on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, WNBC)…

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Magliocchetti

To take a page out of another New York sports decisionmaker Brian Cashman, let’s view Joe Douglas’ New York Jets from the perspective of the Death Star.

Ignoring the fact that the Star Wars-based superweapon is destroyed in each of its incarnations, Douglas does have a Death Star at his disposal. But it’s not the behemoth seen in A New Hope (and, by extension, Rogue One), nor is it the partially constructed but “fully armed and operational battle station” from Return of the Jedi. Rather, the Jets’ Death Star resembles the infantile version Vader and Palpatine look over at the end of Revenge of the Sith.

The Jets began this offseason with the hiring of head coach Saleh. In contrast to the Adam Gase hire, a transaction praised exclusively by modern hot take artists, the Saleh move was lauded by on-field participants both domestically and abroad. New York was and is by no means a football destination yet…one needs to establish a victorious on-field prescience before they become that…but the Jets were able to attract several names with championship experience, winners that were attracted to what Saleh was trying to build.

Douglas and Co. could’ve stood pat on the pass rush, a rare 2020 silver lining after the breakouts of Quinnen Williams, Foley Fatukasi, and John Franklin-Myers. They instead bolstered the unit by bringing in rising pressure artist Lawson and NFC postseason staples Sheldon Rankins and Vinny Curry. Elsewhere on defense, they prepared for Saleh’s reimplementation of the 4-3 with the arrival of linebacker Jarrad Davis, whose finest defensive days came in Florida and Detroit’s similar formations.

On offense, newly minted quarterback Zach Wilson’s arsenal appears to contain more firepower than anything Sam Darnold had to work with. Two-time Super Bowl participant Tevin Coleman is ready to work with potential day three draft gem Michael Carter in the backfield, while the upgraded aerial attack features Davis and Moore uniting with returnees Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims. Mekhi Becton returns on the line with Alijah Vera-Tucker on Wilson’s blindside.

Yet…the playoffs remain a pipe dream.

The AFC East already appears to be under the control of a new potential dynasty in Western New York, so capturing the quartet for the first time since 2002 appears to be out of the question. The North could well send three teams to the postseason, while the West’s mighty Kansas City Chiefs show no signs of slowing down, even with the Los Angeles Chargers rising fast with Justin Herbert. Even with an extra playoff spot, it’s asking a lot for the Jets to establish themselves in the crowded conference.

Even if the AFC wasn’t packed to the brim with contenders, the Jets aren’t fully completed just yet. There were so many holes so fill, so much damage to repair from the Gase era that it was a guarantee that some area of the roster was going to be neglected. One look at the current depth chart shows that the secondary got the raw deal, as inexperienced options like Bless Austin, Ashtyn Davis, and Bryce Hall are set to assume primary roles. On offense, there are plenty of players that can become major contributors (Carter, Moore, Davis), but they lack the experience in the primetime situations they’ve been called upon.

Until Saleh’s group proves otherwise on the field, their dire straits are more indicative of just how poorly the Gase era went. Gase might be gone, but the dark spirits of his tenure will linger over the Jets’ facilities until the fruits of Saleh’s process appear in the win column. A good season in 2021 would be to at least double the two-win tally from last season and perhaps earn an upset win over an elite opponent, a similar process to what the Chargers went through last year with Herbert.

Record Prediction: 6-11

new york jets, zach wilson
Mandatory Credit: New York Jets/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Brendan Carpenter

The New York Jets have a lot of hype leading into the season and for good reason: rookies Wilson and Moore highlight a revamped offense. Lawson adds a much-needed pass rush to a defense that needs it with unproven corners.

The Jets, however, are not a playoff team just yet. Aside from their own play, they find themselves in an increasingly brutal AFC East. Each team is improving, but, at the moment, Gang Green finds themselves behind Buffalo and, most likely, either New England or Miami…maybe even both.

Yes, the future is bright and fans should be excited. All of the excitement should be taken with a grain of salt, though. There need to be reasonable expectations for this season. So, realistically, look for this team to win about 6 games of the newly-implemented 17 game schedule.

Record Prediction: 6-11

carl lawson, new york jets
(Photo: Getty)

Dylan Price

As the Jets head into a season filled with promise, I want to make one thing clear before I begin: I do NOT expect the New York Jets to make the playoffs.

I expect the team to take a significant step up and approach the 7-9 win territory. With that said, I foresee hiccups along the way: Wilson will likely experience significant growing pains early as he leaves Brigham Young University and acclimates to the bright lights of Broadway. I firmly expect struggles from both sides of the ball early as they look to establish a new identity under a new coaching staff. Lastly, I have a bad feeling about the secondary, but guys like Hall and Michael Carter II will likely get better as the season progresses.

On a lighter note, I foresee a strong debut in green and white for Lawson, Rankins, and Davis. Lawson is a legitimate threat to finish in the top ten in sacks, while Rankins and Davis will likely be impact contributors if they can stay healthy. Finally, look for rookies, Michael Carter (the running back) and Alijah Vera-Tucker to make names for themselves early, although the story will be Moore, the budding star receiver.

Record Prediction: 7-10

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Jets: Elijah Moore takes things personally in new motivation

elijah moore, jets

The New York Jets’ showstopping rookie receiver has found a special form of motivation going into his NFL debut.

Michael Jordan took things personally and it appears Elijah Moore is about to do the same.

Speaking with The Athletic’s Connor Hughes, the New York Jets’ rookie receiver unveiled a new brand of motivation going into his first professional campaign. Before Moore descends upon Jets training camp, his focus lingers on his hotel room’s bathroom mirror, where the names of five fellow first-year receivers dwell on a piece of paper. Each was chosen ahead of him during the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland.

Moore was labeled a first round choice out of Mississippi in many mock drafts going into April’s proceedings but was not among the five receivers that went within the first 32 picks. Those honors instead went to Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati), Jaylen Waddle (Miami), DeVonta Smith (Philadelphia), Kadarius Toney (NY Giants), and Rashod Bateman (Baltimore).

These names are the last things he sees before he departs for Florham Park. Hughes’ report dictates that Moore will also speak them aloud before he makes the short trip to One Jets Drive.

“A chip (on my shoulder)? You could say that,” Moore told Hughes. “I think I’m the best. God doesn’t make any mistakes, but yeah, I’m going to show them why I should’ve gone first.”

Chosen 34th overall, the second pick of the second round, Moore’s selection is nonetheless historically high from a Jets perspective, as he’s the highest receiver the Jets have chosen in the draft since Santana Moss went at No. 16 in 2001. He’s been well worth the wait, turning into one of fellow rookie Zach Wilson’s favorite targets as training camp rolls on.

Moore’s early returns have yielded positive reviews both domestically and abroad. An agile victory against cornerback Corey Ballentine in training drew Instagram praise from both Odell Beckham Jr. and A.J. Brown. The latter is quite familiar with what Moore can bring to the table, as they spent a season together in Oxford, while Beckham labeled Moore “special” in a tweet from March.

The Jets are all too pleased with what the Moore experience has done to their offense in the early going.

“He wants to be as good as he could possibly be,” offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said of Moore this week, per notes from the Jets. “He’s just ultra-prepared, he knows what he’s doing. He’s extremely detailed, that’s what’s cool about him because when he makes a mistake or he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he just flat out doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

“He rarely makes the same mistake, if ever. He’s just on top of his stuff, he’s a talented young man. It’s cool because as he’s learning this scheme you can tell that he’s getting comfortable and his skillset can really shine through.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets revel in front of fans for the first time since 2019

New York Jets fans saw their team in person for the first time in nearly 20 months when 1 Jets Drive opened to the public over the weekend.

Granted access to their team for the first time since December 2019, New York Jets fans took full advantage, packing Florham Park for the first public training camp session over the weekend.

With both training camp and MetLife Stadium closed to the public during the health crisis last year, it had been nearly 20 months since the Jets held activities in front of a flesh-and-blood crowd, dating back to the 2019 season’s penultimate contest against Pittsburgh. Things looked a little different: ongoing precautions pushed back certain training camp traditions like photos and autographs another year. On the field, only 15 players that partook in that win over the Steelers remain on the Jets’ roster.

But that was of little concern to the fans, who giddily made their prescience felt with the Jets’ future on display. The loudest cheer of the day was likely reserved for a long scoring hook-up between rookies Zach Wilson and Elijah Moore.

Jets fans had made it clear that they were excited to see their team again…after all, free tickets to the public sessions in Florham Park disappeared in less than 24 hours…but physically seeing their supporters officially made the return of relative gridiron normalcy a reality.

Alijah Vera-Tucker kicked things off by leading the first spelling of Jets in a video shared by team owner Woody Johnson. One young fan proudly displayed his makeshift Wilson jersey, as strips of duct tape buried the Sam Darnold marks originally printed. According to NFL Network’s Judy Battista, the excitement was so palpable that one overzealous fan was ready to book tickets to Southern California for February’s Super Bowl.

The summer debut of Carl Lawson was one of the most anticipated events of camp, evidenced by a group of fans clad in shirts depicting Lawson adorning a Jets beanie shortly after his March signing. Lawson has lived up to the early hype and thanked fans for their support by declaring “Man I love being a jet” [sic] on Twitter shortly after Saturday’s festivities.

The Auburn and Cincinnati Bengals alum previously spoke to the team’s official site about the impact he’s hoping Jets fans will have on the revamped pass rush this season.

“Please come to a game, especially our home games, because it will help me a lot. It will help the D-line a lot,” Lawson implored in an interview with team reporter Eric Allen. “You are actually helping by being at the game…You don’t (have) to like me. You don’t have to do anything extra. Please, just come to the games and scream as loud as you can when the offense is on the field so they can hear nothing, and that would help me a lot.”

If the weekend was any indication, Jets fans are not only going to be big fans of Lawson, but will be more than happy to acquiesce to his request.

Head coach Robert Saleh likewise earned high approval ratings from fans. Florham Park engaged in hysterics when Saleh turned his famous “All gas, no brake” mantra into a chant for the fans, promising them “a lot of fun” once they get back to East Rutherford. The Jets open their preseason slate against the New York Giants on August 14 and their 2021 home debut comes on September 19 against the New England Patriots.

“It’s fun just to have human interaction again and fans, listening to them scream and boo and whatever else they were doing over there. It was awesome,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “I appreciate them coming out. It’s not easy in this climate right now to be able to step out and break out of your comfort zone. For them to come out here and enjoy a practice, hopefully it was worth it for them.”

Fans will be welcomed back to Monday and Wednesday’s practice sessions at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on 1 Jets Drive this week, with additional availability on August 9, 11, 24, and 25. Tickets to Florham Park are sold out but a limited number of entries are available to the Green & White practice at MetLife Stadium this Saturday. They can be obtained on the Jets’ official site.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

Quinnen Williams, Marcus Maye top New York Jets’ Madden 22 ratings

New York Jets

Defenders reign supreme, but a strong offseason wasn’t enough for the New York Jets to impress the powers that be at EA Sports.

Put EA Sports on the list of so-called experts the New York Jets will be looking to prove wrong in 2021.

The unveiling of player ratings for EA’s upcoming pro football simulator Madden NFL 22 (the 35th edition of the long-running video game franchise) is complete after Saturday, released in conjunction with ESPN programs. In terms of overall team ratings, the Jets round out the list of 32 teams, coming in last with a mark of 72.

The effects of last year’s two-win endeavor apparently still weigh heavily on the Jets, whose strong offseason failed to impress EA’s talent evaluators. Their plunge becomes particularly visible when it comes to the offense, as they’re the only unit ranked below 70 with a 69 (right behind 31st-ranked and fellow AFC East competitor Miami). They fare slightly better on defense, as their label of 74 is tied for third-worst on the list with Cincinnati and Detroit. Only Atlanta (73) and Houston (72) trail.

In individual cases, Quinnen Williams tops the Jets’ personal rankings with an 86 rating. It’s an eight-point improvement from the opening rankings of Madden NFL 21, which perfectly showcase the transformation the Jets have gone through over the past year. Of the top 15 names in the Jets’ ratings from last season, only four (Williams, C.J. Mosley, Marcus Maye, and Jamison Crowder) remain.

Defenders take the first four spots of Jets’ ratings and seven of the first ten. Williams is followed by Maye (85), Mosley (84), and Carl Lawson (83). The offensive group is paced by receiver Corey Davis, who’s tied with his fellow New York newcomer Lawson (83).

As previously reported, Zach Wilson earned a 75 overall rating, second amongst rookie passers behind Trevor Lawrence. Wilson is tied for the fourth-best rating amongst rookies overall, tied with receivers JaMarr Chase and DeVonta Smith. Though he was upset with his respectable change of direction rate of 93, rookie catcher Elijah Moore nonetheless tied for the team lead in the subsection with Crowder.

The Jets’ full team rankings can be found here.

Five players were granted access to the “99 Club” as gainers of the game’s top possible rating. The Los Angeles Rams (Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey) put in two each, as did the Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce). They’re joined by Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams. One such member, Mahomes, graces the cover with fellow Super Bowl LV competitor Tom Brady.

Madden NFL 22 will be released on August 20. The game can be pre-ordered on several platforms on its official site.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Zach Wilson brushes off tough camp debut

new york jets, zach wilson

Zach Wilson’s New York Jets training camp debut reportedly went awry, but he’s not going to let one bad day disrupt an aura of hope.

You never forget your first day at a new job…though Zach Wilson reportedly might want to.

The second overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft made his New York Jets training camp debut on Friday afternoon. Observers noted that rust accumulated during a brief contract dispute…one that kept Wilson out of the first two summer sessions…was apparent.

Wilson apparently got off to a hot start. According to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, he found fellow rookie Elijah Moore on his first throw as a contracted member of the Jets, but things went downhill from there. Another toss went “directly” into the arms of safety Marcus Maye (per NorthJersey.com’s Andy Vazquez) and DJ Bien-Aime of the New York Daily News hinted that there could’ve been more.

“Zach Wilson’s first day back he has not been good,” Bien-Aime said. “(Errant) throws, a couple almost interceptions, an (actual) pick. (He’s) been hesitant.”

Wilson was obviously the center of attention after practice, as he was immediately questioned about the effect his brief holdout had on his debut. He arrived in New Jersey on Thursday, taking a red-eye flight from his home state of California. Despite missing the first couple of practices, Wilson isn’t going to use the idea of playing catch-up as an excuse.

“I wouldn’t say I’m behind. It’s just my first live bullets again and it’s just getting back into the mix. I know the plays and I know my assignments, I know what’s going on, and I just got to execute,” Wilson said, per notes from the Jets. “That’s what practice is for. Every day is going to have something frustrating, and that’s why I’m out here. I’m just trying to learn every single day, how I can improve, and just knowing my plays better, and just the different looks our defense is throwing at us. It’s going to be a process.”

Friday marked Wilson’s first activities on 1 Jets Drive since June’s minicamp, where his performances earned mostly positive reviews. During the time off, Wilson went somewhat viral amongst Jets fans for mixing business with pleasure during a family vacation, watching film on his iPad and getting in throws on a golf course. He said he kept working with the tablet but that the virtual sessions were no substitute for actual reps.

Fortunately for Wilson, he said his teammates had his back and that there were no ill feelings toward his temporary absence. This early professional hurdle was new territory for Wilson, who mentioned that he based his life around “(playing) ball just to play ball because I love the game”. That part isn’t changing for the BYU alum anytime soon. Despite the $35 million windfall, Wilson clarified that “the fun part of it isn’t the money, it’s definitely playing football.

“There’s a part of you that just wants to get it done. But you want to get it done the right way,” Wilson said of the negotiations. “It’s a rookie contract that you’re going to have to play with for four years, and so, you’ve got to handle the business side of it to where both sides of the party can agree. So, we just had to make sure we got that done.”

In his own availability, head coach Robert Saleh confirmed that there were no hard feelings between he and Wilson. He gleaned a positive from Wilson’s early struggles, noting that the defense “was moving around really well” on day three of installation. Saleh labeled Maye as “impressive” in the early days of training camp, especially after the franchise-tagged safety missed a majority of spring activities while working through negotiations of his own.

As for Wilson, Saleh said that Friday struggles were understandable, maybe even expected, due to facing a defense running on the momentum of three days of chemistry-building on his first day on the job. Moving forward, Saleh wants to see Wilson “find a way to get better every day”.

“I know sometimes we can get focused on results, but there’s a process and he’s got a tremendous one,” Saleh said in further notes from the team. “(You) can’t control certain things that happen play in and play out, but you can control your process and how you approach things day in and day out. We’re already getting a really good feel just going through the draft process and OTAs. He’s going to have the right process, he’s going to get better.”

Wilson will play in front of his first New York crowd on Saturday, as the weekend session is the Jets’ first training camp practice open to the public since the summer of 2019.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Zach Wilson, Elijah Moore receive initial Madden ratings

new york jets, zach wilson

If EA Sports’ virtual affairs are anything to go by, the New York Jets are getting an upgrade at quarterback.

Zach Wilson was one of the big winners of the Madden NFL 22‘s original rating reveals, as his debut rating of 75 ranks second amongst incoming professional quarterbacks.

The second overall pick of the 2021 draft sits only behind top choice Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars and is tied for the fourth-highest rookie overall with receivers Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith. Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts tops the list at 81.

Initial player ratings for the 35th edition of EA Sports’ long-running football simulator named after Hall of Fame head coach/commentator John Madden are slowly trickling in as NFL teams open their training camps. The reveals are coming through ESPN programming such as SportsCenter, Get Up!, First Take, and NFL Live, as well as EA’s official accounts. ESPN has dubbed the event Madden Ratings Week and a full schedule of unveilings can be found here.

Members of the “99 Club”, those who attain the highest possible rating in a Madden game, will also be unveiled throughout the week. Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams is the first such honoree.

Wilson’s reveal came on Sunday during the Kickoff Special hosted by Laura Rutledge and Mina Kimes on Sunday afternoon, which unveiled the rankings for top rookies, as well as veterans in transition. In addition to his overall number of 75, Wilson gains ratings of 94 in throw power (nine points ahead of his New England counterpart Mac Jones), 83 in speed, 79 in passing under pressure, and 70 in awareness.

Of note, Wilson ranks ahead of newly minted Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, his predecessor in the Jets’ franchise quarterback role.

Elijah Moore’s partial reaction to his original Madden rating was shared on the franchise’s official Twitter account. Though Moore’s overall rating of 73 was not revealed in the video, in which he co-stars with several of his fellow freshmen, it did catch his reaction to the change of direction subsection. Moore gets a little ahead of himself…he believes he should he receive a 100…but he still earns a respectable 93. Moore, however, isn’t pleased with his grade.

“Who is above me?” Moore asks. “Because 93 is kind of low. I really don’t know anything I can do.”

Madden NFL 22 will feature two athletes on its cover (Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes) for the first time since the edition that was released for the 2009-10 season (Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu). It will be released on August 20 and is available for pre-order on EA’s official site.

Will you be leading Wilson and the Jets to Super Bowl glory in Madden NFL 22’s franchise mode? Follow @GeoffJMags and continue the conversation.