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 

New York Jets: Three stars from Sunday’s loss at Carolina

New York Jets

Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson had their Sunday revenge against the New York Jets, dooming to a sour start to the Robert Saleh era.

Sam Darnold’s two touchdowns in the late stages of the first half were enough to make a big difference in the Carolina Panthers’ 19-14 win over the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte.

Darnold, the Jets’ first-round pick from the 2018 draft, allowed Carolina to build a two-possession lead going into the halftime break through a 57-yard hook-up with fellow former bearer of green Robby Anderson and a five-yard scoring run that put the Panthers ahead 16-0. The Jets (0-1) fought back with two Zach Wilson touchdowns to Corey Davis but their inability to contain Christian McCaffrey (187 yards in his return from an injury-plagued 2020) led to their demise.

ESM has three silver linings for the Jets…

Honorable Mentions

  • QB Zach Wilson (20-of-37, 258 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT)
  • WR Braxton Berrios (5 receptions, 51 yards)
  • WR Denzel Mims (1 reception, 40 yards)
  • LB Del’Shawn Phillips (12 tackles)
  • S Michael Carter II (5 tackles, 1 TFL)

3rd Star: DL John Franklin-Myers

3 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack

The Jets’ pressure left much to be desired on Sunday, which was probably to be expected in the first game post-Carl Lawson injury. Franklin-Myers did what he could to pick up the slack, however. He had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage including a sack of Darnold on a short third down that helped the Jets’ defense, reeling from consecutive scoring drives, start the second half on a three-and-out.

2nd Star: WR Corey Davis

5 receptions, 97 yards, 2 TD

Davis is one of the Jets’ most intriguing veteran newcomers in the sense that he has something to prove: overshadowed by some prominent weapons in Tennessee, Davis is trying to show the NFL world he’s capable of consistent duties as a No. 1 receiver.

He lived up to the hype and then some on Sunday, becoming Wilson’s favorite target and helping guide the Jets’ offense back into the game. Davis was also a sense of comfort and stability for the slightly frazzled Wilson, who dealt with a relentless Carolina pass rush for a majority of the afternoon.

Davis opted to look at Sunday’s loss through an optimistic lens.

“We’re in the building process of this thing,” Davis said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “There’s going to be some growing pains. Obviously, we wish we could have had this one back but there’s a lot to learn from it.”

1st Star: K/P Matt Ammendola

6 punts, 48.5 average

When Ammendola arrived in Charlotte on Sunday, his days as a distance kicker at North Penn High School (the Lansdale, PA establishment where he played soccer) were long behind him. However, he was pressed into service when primary punter Braden Mann went down with a knee injury that kept him out for the remainder of the game.

The Jets are perhaps a bit too familiar with punter-related calamities on opening day…remember Tom Tupa’s emergency services in 1999?…but Ammendola helped them make the best of it. Pressed into six services when the Jets’ offense sputtered in the early going, Ammendola’s averaged ranked sixth amongst Sunday competitors. He also pinned Carolina inside its own 20 twice, including once on a 65-yard boot. Thus far, that ties Ammendola with Tampa Bay’s Bradley Pinion for the longest punt in this infantile season.

“Terrific job by him. I thought he punted the heck out of it for not really practicing it,” head coach Robert Saleh said of Ammendola’s moonlighting in Costello’s report. “He just stepped right in and did a really good job. Hats off to him. I wish we could have gotten him a field goal [opportunity] somewhere, but I thought he did a great job.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Jets: Four standouts from the Green & White Scrimmage

Playing in front of an East Rutherford crowd for the first time since December 2019, several New York Jets made early statements.

MetLife Stadium welcomed New York Jets fans through its gates for the first time since December 2019 on Saturday night, hosting the annual Green & White scrimmage.

Nearly 20,000 supporters came out to watch the special practice, which was the first sporting event at MetLife since an XFL contest in late February 2020. The team will spend another Saturday at the stadium next weekend, when open their preseason slate against their East Rutherford roommates, the New York Giants (7:30 p.m. ET, WNBC).

“It was awesome to come out here,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh  It was awesome to just be able to go through this thing, go through the stadium and just be able to go through as game-like of an experience as we can create for the players so next Saturday is normal. But it was cool.”

In case you missed the proceedings at MetLife, ESM has four names who stood out…

K Matt Ammendola

The Jets will likely wait until game situations against squads of different colors to make their decision at kicker. But it’s hard to not pencil in Ammendola’s name at the top of the early depth chart after Saturday.

Team reporter Ethan Greenberg stated that while Chris Naggar converted only 1-of-4 attempts, Ammendola was perfect in his quartet, half of them coming from at least 50 yards away. The Jets have converted only 6-of-11 from that distance since Jason Myers absconded to Seattle after the 2018 season.

WR Corey Davis

Davis helped the Jets make the most of a tough night offensively. Per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Zach Wilson struggled, completing only 11-of-24 passes and throwing two interceptions. But the incoming Davis helped the unit keep their chins up and gave the fans something to cheer about.

A lot of excitement in the Jets’ new receiving outlook has surrounded Elijah Moore, particularly after he stole in the show in public training camp practices in Florham Park. But Davis made a decent case for primary receiver duties on Saturday, making three big grabs during two-minute drills. One highlight reel grab saw him tear the ball away from Bryce Hall.

Some may have already built the Jets’ offensive future around the Wilson-Moore connection, but it’s clear that Davis plays into the team’s long-term plans and can’t be forgotten.

LB C.J. Mosley 

Fans had to be extra patient when it came to seeing Mosley again. Saturday marked only the third time in the last 24 months that his cleats touched the MetLife Stadium turf, as his Jets career has been weighed down by medical issues.

Mosley knew going into Saturday’s proceedings that he was going to have to do a lot to live up to the five-year, $85 million deal granted to him in 2019 as the final marquee signing of the Mike Maccagnan era. Even a perfect showing wasn’t going to alleviate the concerns, but he was one of the biggest breakouts of a strong day for the New York defense.

The former Baltimore Raven, down nearly 20 pounds from his last listed playing weight (250) worked mostly in coverage during Saturday’s proceedings. His shining moment came during a two-minute drill, when he cashed in on Lamarcus Joyner’s breakup of a Wilson pass intended for Jamison Crowder, diving to earn the interception.

Mosley was pleased to reintroduce himself to the New York faithful but acknowledged that it has to be the start of something bigger.

“I haven’t put (anything) on tape in two years. I just have to remind everybody,” Mosley said afterward, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “Today was a great start. It felt good to be out there after a long time.”

“There’s always more to improve on. I missed two tackles out there, two big tackles, in my opinion. That’s something I’ve just got to get back to working on in practice.”

Assessing the defense was a little tough considering Saturday’s restrictive nature…live tackling was kept to a minimum…but several defenders managed to post strong showings. John Franklin-Myers tallied a sack, while Javelin Guidry likewise earned an interception of Wilson.

QB Mike White

Much like their kicking slate, the Jets’ backup quarterback conundrum will likely gain more clarity through the exhibition slate. But in the absence of newly minted favorite Josh Johnson, who did not partake in Saturday’s event, White gained some early ground.

White was the only Jets thrower to earn multiple scoring passes, finding Josh Malone and Kenny Yeboah for the respective tallies. A big opportunity awaits the former Dallas Cowboys draft pick, who has been on and off the Jets’ active roster over the last two years. Fellow New York returnee James Morgan likewise had a scoring pass on Saturday, finding rookie rusher Michael Carter.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets make yet another change at kicker, release vet Sam Ficken

New York Jets

The New York Jets have turned to former Oklahoma State Cowboy Matt Ammendola to solve their long-running kicking woes.

The New York Jets have added yet another kicker to their roster, announcing the signing of Matt Ammendola going into the weekend. In a corresponding move, the team released veteran leg Sam Ficken.

Ammendola joins the Jets after four seasons at Oklahoma State (2016-19), successfully converting 77 percent of his triple attempts (60-of-78). He led the Big 12 in scoring (139 points) during his sophomore season in 2017. In his final year, he earned at least 10 points in half of his 14 games. The Pennsylvania native departed OSU second in program history in successful field goals since the turn of the century. Ammendola previously spent time in the Carolina organization, signed in March and released in May.

The Jets’ search for a consistent kicker since the departure of Pro Bowler of Jason Myers after the 2018 season continues with this transaction. No matter who suits up for the Jets in their August 14 preseason opener against the New York Giants, he will become the seventh different kicker (including preseason contests) since Myers inked a four-year deal in Seattle. Ammendola is set to compete for the top kicker spot with Chris Naggar, an undrafted rookie out of Southern Methodist.

Ficken was one of the latest names added to that special teams mix, spending parts of each of the last two seasons as the Jets’ primary leg. He got off to a strong start last season, converting each of his first nine three-point attempts over the five games before a groin injury marred the latter parts of his year. Over four other games, Ficken was only 6-of-9 from three and 4-of-6 on extra points. He was released prior to the Jets’ season final in New England but was signed to a reserve/future contract shortly after.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags