Jets: D’Brickashaw Ferguson can teach us a lot about Mekhi Becton

mekhi becton, jets

D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s career arc can teach us a lot. Having excellent pieces at premium positions is the foundation of a rebuild. Mekhi Becton is one of these pieces. Not unlike the New York Jets’ current draft situation, the Jets had an extra first-round pick after trading a star player. The Jets used that pick to select the top center in the draft, Nick Mangold.

Seemingly from the start, D’Brickashaw and Mangold were great and changed the tone of the offense. However, things did not come together until the team signed Alan Faneca to what was the most lucrative contract for an offensive lineman. It was this unit that led to two consecutive AFC Championship appearances.

How This Applies To Becton

There has been some talk about getting the Best Player Available at left tackle. That would be Becton to the right side, whether through free agency or the draft. Becton’s advanced stats show that he is a better run blocker than pass blocker. However, that does not mean that moving him to the right side would maximize his strengths. His sample size is too small because of the injury this year, which drastically affected the lineup. More importantly, NFL tackles are not always interchangeable. It happens frequently, and fans that grew up playing Madden will be desensitized to the actual success rate of moving Offensive Lineman around. It does happen, it works, and in some cases provides a major boost to some players’ careers.

Becton was a high first-round pick and has never played particularly poorly at Left Tackle. Joe Douglas’s strategy of building a wall up from is working but will still take some time to finish. Undoubtedly, the Jets need more help on both line units. However, I’m inclined to leave a good run blocker and an improving pass blocker on the left side before we start making changes to his career.

Yes, he has struggled at times on the left side, but that is not indicative that everything will magically fall into place if you stick him on the right side. That’s not to say it does not work: Penei Sewell has improved tremendously on the right side. Moving a player up and down the line is a legitimate technique of evaluating talent, but in some cases, a player is simply meant to play one position.

Looking To The Jets Success From Past To Present

When the Jets took D’Brickashaw Ferguson in 2006, fans were pleased with a top prospect and filled an immediate need. Later that round, the Jets selected Nick Mangold, and some Jets fans were not happy using two first-round picks on one position group. However, many fans knew that when people say players could be here for a decade, these two had every possibility of being right.

In fact, they both had lengthy prolific careers. They were the catalyst for any success the Jets had during their time. Even with the two best lineman, the Jets have seen this century, it led to only two fantastic playoff runs. Nothing is guaranteed, so the Jets need to follow a plan.

Joe Douglas has gone to great lengths to fortify this unit. The offensive line and their depth have improved, but this was always a massive task. Mekhi Becton has a chance to be great, and Alijah Vera-Tucker can comprise a solid left side of the line. Becton deserves his fair shot to prove he is the NFL left tackle he was drafted to be.

Jets hint at bright future with hard-fought finale against Buffalo

jets, zach wilson

The Jets faced the AFC East champions on Sunday with a surprising result. The final score was expected. Robert Salah’s team played hard for the majority of the game, hinting at a bright future.

The Good

Starting with the positive, the defense held Josh Allen and the Bills offense in check for extended periods of time. At one point in the 3rd quarter, Allen was 2 out of his last 10 attempts. Allen ended the day 24 of 45 for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns. Stefon Diggs had a big day with 9 catches for 81 yards and a score.

The Jets’ defensive backfield was the youngest in the league at the start of the season. The cornerback unit had only started 9 games before this season. All of those young players were on the field for a lot of time for the entire season.

The Jets managed no sacks in the game, 5 quarterback hits, and only 4 tackles-for-loss. The Jets defense will want to upgrade the front 7, especially the linebacker unit. Most observers would say the defensive line is a strength that you can build the defense around.

The Bad

The negative side was the offense. Zach Wilson’s play inspired no confidence whatsoever. Wilson was sacked 8 times for 79 yards, and more than a few were his fault. Wilson drifted deep and outside the pocket consistently all game long. Keelan Cole was his leading receiver, and Jamison Crowder left with injury.

The rushing game was another low point for the Jets. Facing a top Bills defense, they only managed 48 yards on the ground. Michael Carter and Tevin Coleman had good plays here and there, but they were working uphill all day.

The Weird

Bills punter Matt Haack largely had an awful day. He had not been called on the prior 23 drives of the Bills offense. With 5:40 to go in the 2nd quarter, Haack shanked a punt for 28 yards. Offsetting fouls allowed the Bills to punt again, and Haack shanked another punt for 21 yards. He punted again 2 minutes later, with a 22-yard result. When Haack then punted a ball for a touchback, an audible cheer happened every successful punt thereafter. He did later manage to bobble the snap, got away from the rush, and pooch punt it for 8 yards.

Another interesting special teams tidbit from the Bills was that returners Micah Hyde and others would let the punt bounce before fielding the ball. They would act as if the returning team wanted to stay away, let it hop, grab it and run upfield. Hyde did this on 3 returns for 29 yards. The weather may have been a factor, and it was unique to see.

Outlook

The Jets have 2 top-10 draft picks and the 4th most salary-cap space. Joe Douglas and the front office are poised to have another impactful off-season. Many players got their chance to put a lot on film this season. The Jets can look forward to the next seven months of team building.

Ex-Jets/Giants DL Damon Harrison announces retirement

New York Giants, Damon Harrison

Harrison built a nine-year career in the NFL after entering as an undrafted free agent out of William Penn in 2021.

Former NFL defensive tackle Damon Harrison, whose career began with stops in both New York football posts, announced his retirement on Twitter over the weekend. Harrison, often affectionately referred to as “Snacks”, last played with the Green Bay Packers last postseason.

Leaving out the same way I came in…with my head held high and unapologetic. It’s been real, NFL,” Harrison wrote in his departure tweet. “(T)hanks for giving a kid from the projects of New Iberia & Lake Charles Louisiana a chance. I made history!!! They said I couldn’t do it but I did it!”

Harrison’s career is indeed a gridiron story of perseverance and strength, one that began in his hometown of New Iberia, LA. After a knee injury ended his basketball career at Lake Charles-Boston High School, Harrison embarked on a football journey in his senior season and caught on at William Penn University, an NAIA school in Iowa. Harrison made his way onto the radar of draft counts and eventually signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent.

After a strong preseason in 2013, Harrison earned the Jets’ starting defensive tackle job in his second season. He’d go on to start all 48 games over the next three years, earning 105 tackles (12 for a loss). His first career sack came against Tom Brady in an October 2013 win over New England.

Harrison’s resiliency and talents were rewarded with a five-year deal from the New York Giants, a contract that was worth $24 million guaranteed. In a career-best season (86 tackles, 2.5 sacks), Harrison earned All-Pro honors and a reputation as one of the best run defenders in the league. His efforts guided the Giants to an 11-5 record and, to date, their most recent playoff appearance.

Harrison would play parts of three seasons with the Giants before they traded him to Detroit in October 2018, a year that saw him become the first defensive lineman in league history to appear in 17 games. He was added to the Seattle Seahawks’ roster in October before ending his career with the Packers, appearing in both of their playoff contests.

Shortly after he went undrafted in 2012, Harrison declared he would become the “best damn Undrafted Free Agent the NFL has ever seen”. While he admits he fell short, he undoubtedly served as an inspiration in the metropolitan area and beyond. He departed with one last word of wisdom, also on Twitter, before stepping away.

“I fell short but I shot for the stars,” he said. “(S)peak what you want into existence!”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Three stars from Sunday’s win over Cincinnati

New York Jets

Mike White and Michael Carter guided the New York Jets to a jaw-dropping victory over the AFC-leading Cincinnati Bengals.

Behind 405 passing yards from Mike White and 172 scrimmage yards from rookie rusher Michael Carter, the New York Jets earned a 34-31 win over the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals. White, making his first start in place of the injured Zach Wilson, earned the 11th 400-yard game in Jets history and first since Vinny Testaverde reached the mark on Christmas Eve in 2000.

With a huge win under their belts, the Jets (2-5) return to action on Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network).

ESM bestows three game balls from the jaw-dropping triumph..

Honorable Mentions

  • RB Ty Johnson: 86 total yards, 1 receiving TD
  • WR Jamison Crowder: 8 rec., 84 yards
  • WR Elijah Moore: 6 rec., 67 yards
  • WR/Ret. Braxton Berrios: 1 receiving TD, 29.5 kick ret. average
  • LB C.J. Mosley: 10 tackles (1 TFL)
  • DL Sheldon Rankins: 4 tackles (2 TFL), 1 sack
  • DL Quinnen Williams: 1 sack

3rd Star: LB Shaq Lawson

1 interception

A victory over the AFC leaders was child’s play for the Jets’ linebacker.

Lawson was in the holiday spirit when he arrived in East Rutherford on Sunday, as he was dressed like the horror film icon Chucky. He went on to become a nightmare for the Bengals, picking up the Jets’ first interception of the season at the perfect time. That crucial turnover situated Gang Green 14 yards away from the end zone as they went on to punch in the winning score via White’s touchdown pass to Tyler Kroft.

Mosley described Lawson’s takeaways as a “Hall of Fame defensive end type of play”.

“I think about Terrell Suggs doing that all the time, tipping the ball and getting it to himself,” Mosley said, per notes from the Jets. “What a great time to have that happen.”

“I didn’t even think I was going to get it,” Lawson himself added. “I’ve been fortunate these last couple of years. I scored last year, and a pick this year. That ain’t never happened like that. You always run to the ball, and being around the ball good things happen. that’s what we preach every day.”

2nd Star: RB Michael Carter

172 total yards, 1 rushing TD

Carter’s hold on the Jets’ primary rushing duties has grown over the past few weeks (though Johnson remained a factor through some big aerial gains). He had reached triple digits in yards from scrimmage before (doing so in last week’s disastrous visit to New England) but he made a major impact on the Wilson-free settings. Carter’s final tally is the fourth-best output from a Jets rookie running back. He’s also the first such rusher to reach that mark in consecutive weeks since Freeman McNeil in 1981.

“He’s a rookie, but he’s taken it as a vet,” Johnson said of Carter’s efforts. “I told him today, I was like, ‘Man, he was playing a lot. And I was like, ‘Hey man, I appreciate you. You took every single rep you had and you were on your P’s and Q’s, you were on your alignments, your assignments, and your execution.’ So, I was like, ‘Get your body right, let’s do it again on Thursday.’”

“He’s a rookie, but he’s proven that he’s built for this and he’s a vet in a rookie body.”

1st Star: QB Mike White

37-of-45, 405 yards, 3 TD

White’s first career NFL start became a national headline, one that was historic on both a team and national level. His final yardage total, already a rarity by Jets standards (joining Testaverde, Joe Namath, Ken O’Brien, Richard Todd, and Glenn Foley as the green quarterbacks to do so), is the second-best tally for a quarterback in his first start over the past six decades, passed only by Cam Newton’s 422 from his 2011 debut. The quarterback also tallied two of the game’s most important points by himself, literally taking matters into his own hands on a Halloween trick that saw Crowder loft a two-point conversion toss to him, creating the final 34-31 margin.

White was an obvious recipient of the Jets’ offical game ball bestowed by Saleh in the postgame celebration. The head coach confirmed that White earned the right to start Thursday’s game in Indianapolis.

Looking back on White’s Sunday showing, Saleh believed that his quarterback had something special brewing from his first possession. White completed 7-of-7 passes on the drives (part of a 10-of-10 showing to start the game) and the trek ended with the team’s first opening quarter points of the year via a six-yard scoring rush for Carter. That was enough for Saleh to put the game in White’s hands.

“Mike White was poised and took what the defense gave him, but also took shots when he had to,” Saleh said. “He came out comfortable and poised. He drove the ball right down the field and scored that touchdown. I was like, ‘Alright, let’s get this dude the ball and see what happens.’ I know we had some mishaps in the first half where we could have been even more explosive as it pertains to points, but to be down three at halftime despite three turnovers, to show the grit and grind that this group was fighting through. To be down 11 and come back, it’s a gritty group. It was awesome to see.”

White’s instant legend grew so large that fans began chanting his name in support.

“It was a lot of fun. Anytime you get to play football it’s fun,” White said of his first East Rutherford experience. “That’s what we all grew up doing and that’s what we all came to this level to do, so I embrace it, but I think I personally did a good job of not making it more than it is. What helped a lot too, was the coaches’ faith in me and the team’s faith in me. There wasn’t a flinch and guys were supportive, guys were rallying around me and it made it that much easier.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets WR Corey Davis “trending” toward not playing on Sunday

jets, corey davis

Davis is a surprise entry to the New York Jets’ ever-expanding injury report and likely won’t play on Sunday against Cincinnati.

A gargantuan task for the New York Jets has somehow become even more of a chore.

Top receiver Corey Davis is set to miss this weekend’s contest against the Cincinnati Bengals with a hip flexor injury sustained in Thursday’s practice. Head coach Robert Saleh revealed the extent of Davis’ injury during his Friday availability.

“Corey, obviously, he showed up on that injury report yesterday. It’s not looking good. We’re still holding on for hope, but it’s trending in that direction,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “We’ll see, it’s day-to-day. We’re still holding on for this Sunday, like I said, but we’ll see as it goes.”

Davis, working through his first year with the Jets, leads the team in nearly all major receiving categories after six games. The former Tennessee Titan has scored four of the five aerial touchdowns the Jets (1-5) have earned this season and has also earned 349 yards on 24 receptions.

With Davis potentially out for Sunday’s visit from Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, CBS), Saleh hinted that Denzel Mims could finally earn an extended opportunity in the receiving rotation.

“(Davis) is a stud,” Saleh said. “But (the injury) gives Denzel Mims an opportunity to step into that Z role and along with the rotation that we have with Elijah (Moore) and Keelan Cole, so it gives guys opportunities to step up.”

While there’s a glimmer of hope that Davis could be available on Sunday, Saleh ruled rusher Tevin Coleman, linebacker Bryce Huff, and tight end Trevon Wesco out. Huff’s fellow linebacker Jarrad Davis, on the other hand, is set to make his New York debut after spending all of this season on injured reserve, though Saleh hinted he could be on a limited snap count.

“He hasn’t played in a while, so we got to be able to spell him,” Saleh said of the former Lion’s availability. “Quincy (Williams) is going to return from concussion protocol, so we feel good about that. So, we’ll be able to get him at least some reps in there to give JD a break.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: 3 lessons to learn from Sunday’s resurgent opponent

joe burrow, bengals

MetLife Stadium’s Sunday showdown features two downtrodden franchises, but one paces the AFC. What can the New York Jets learn?

Going through the respective histories of the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals is an exercise in futility and annoyance.

Nothing more needs to be written about the Jets’ 50-plus year championship drought, one only complemented by the longest active playoff drought in the NFL, a record they’re in absolutely no danger of losing at 10 years and counting. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is close behind (along with Denver and undefeated Arizona) at five years. but it’s been a full-on three decades since the Bengals have won a mere playoff game. The team is also the only member of the former American Football League that hasn’t captured a championship in the AFL or the merged NFL. Cincinnati’s relatively small-town settings away from the New York spotlight have perhaps helped them avoid the jokes and memes often sent the Jets way in reference to their lack of gridiron accolades.

Yet, as the star-crossed franchises prepare for a Halloween showdown at MetLife Stadium on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS), the Bengals are the toast of the AFC. If the season ended today, the Bengals (5-2) would be the owners of the sole postseason bye on the conference bracket. Energized by the collegiate champion duo of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati made a big statement through a one-sided victory in Baltimore last weekend. Their two losses, one of which was an overtime loss to the mighty Green Bay Packers, have come by a combined six points.

It’s not like there was any advance warning from Bengals: they won 13 games over the past three seasons and there was significant concern about their young superstars. Burrow was coming off a devastating knee injury sustained 10 games into his rookie season while the arrival of Chase carried the red flags of drops and not being an offensive lineman who could protect the young quarterback. As the second half of the season nears, the Bengals will likely be among the most popular choices among those in charge of flexible scheduling.

Conventional football wisdom suggests that the Bengals are prime prey for a trap game against the reeling Jets (1-5), but even the most optimistic Jets fan…that poor, poor soul… is dreading the Halloween nightmare that lies ahead.

The Jets are fresh off a 41-point defeat at the hands of the mediocre New England Patriots. New York won’t even have the services of its young franchise quarterback to work with, as a strained PCL will keep Zach Wilson out for at least the next two weeks. Gang Green will go into the aerial battle with Mike White, who will make his first NFL start while Joe Flacco prepares for his New York rearrival.

If anything, the Jets can take several lessons from a brother in futility…

A good tight end brings a right end

One of the Bengals’ veteran breakout stars has been tight end C.J. Uzomah. The seventh-year pro already turned himself into a popular, eternal Cincinnati trivia answer last season when he caught Burrow’s first touchdown pass before a torn Achilles ended his season prematurely. Uzomah’s receptions have been some of Cincinnati’s biggest energizers: of his 17 receptions, 10 have gone for either first downs or touchdowns. He was appropriately one of the biggest stars of the Bengals’ win over the Ravens on National Tight Ends Day, earning 91 yards on three receptions, two of which were good for long touchdowns.

Burrow believed he had something strong brewing with Uzomah in limited collaboration last year.

“I think he was our top target through two weeks last year…unfortunately, (he) went down with a knee injury early but we really clicked from the beginning with each other,” Burrow said, per Kelsey Conway of Cincinnati.com. Head coach Zac Taylor added in the same report that Uzomah has “found his spot”.

“Joe has a lot of confidence in him,” Taylor said. “He always makes plays when his number is called.”

The Jets are cursed with a laundry list of issues, so much so to the point where their tight end woes have almost been forgotten about. Their necessary removal of Chris Herndon netted them a fourth-round pick but Tyler Kroft, Ryan Griffin, and Trevon Wesco (a combined 110 yards through six games) have done little to pick up the slack. Tight end should undoubtedly be high on the Jets’ offseason to-do list, whether such help comes from free agency (a list that, in fact, includes Uzomah) or the draft (SEC standouts Jalen Wydermyer and Cameron Latu are among the options).

Find and establish a defensive identity

The Jets’ defense was one of the few silver linings about the first four games. What the unit was able to do with a hodgepodge of final camp cuts, day three draft selections, and rookie free agents was admirable, especially considering the awkward spots that offensive turnovers and struggles created for them. The pass rush (confirmed to be missing the services of former Bengal Carl Lawson for the whole season) was particularly impressive, earning 14 sacks through the first four games. That success was personified through a four-year extension via a four-year extension (featuring $30 million guaranteed) for John Franklin-Myers.

But consecutive no-shows have rendered the defense guilty in the ongoing struggles. They were able to salvage a poor first half performance against Atlanta in London with two turnovers but the brutality in Foxboro was all kinds of ugly: Sunday marked the eighth time in franchise history that the Jets allowed at least 550 yards a game and the first time since 1995’s season opener that they allowed at least 50 points in a game. The pass rush, which could’ve helped for the team’s identity for the future, has been non-existent over the past two games: they’ve earned one sack in that span, earned by Del’Shawn Phillips in New England when all was lost.

The struggles on defense have prevented the Jets from leaving the strong footprint in the trenches that Robert Saleh hoped would shape the team’s identity as they emerged from the post-London bye.

“I think we all stand in lockstep with Joe (Douglas), in terms of we’re going to be identified upfront,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “Our D-line has been extremely effective. (It’s been) very, very good playing with a lot of energy, a lot of just overpowering teams, overpowering their opponent. I think (that identity is) starting to get established.”

Cincinnati, meanwhile, believes that they’ve succeeded in establishing their own defensive identity, one generated through physicality, resiliency, and football smarts.

“That’s one thing that we know we are: We’re a tough team. We give everybody our best shot,” first-year Bengal Chidobe Awuzie said of the unit, per Kaelen Jones of The Ringer. “I think the most important thing is proving  (we can compete with the top teams) to ourselves and…building an identity as a team, as a defense.”

“Everybody (has) their football smarts and intelligence,” safety Vonn Bell, in his second year with the team, added through notes with the team. “We’ve just been bonding, and it’s just been gelling together. We’re playing together. It’s a great feeling.”

Find a time and place to use weapons

A hidden subplot of Sunday’s game is the connection between Jets receiver Denzel Mims and Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson. The Jets had a chance to take Wilson in the late stages of the second round of 2020’s draft, but chose Mims with the 59th overall pick. Wilson, the Wyoming linebacker, went six picks later as the first pick of the third round. He has gone on to become one of Cincinnati’s defensive leaders while Mims has inexplicably struggled to gain snaps.

As owners of the top pick in each round of the 2020 draft, the Bengals took advantage: the selections of Burrow and Wilson sandwiched the choosing of Tee Higgins at the top of the second. Cincinnati’s staff, headed by the offensive minds of Taylor and coordinator Brian Callahan, has managed its assets well. Higgins has been a strong depth option alongside slot weapon Tyler Boyd. A strong rushing attack headed by Joe Mixon has been well complemented by spell option Samaje Perine.

Enough also can’t be said about the confidence bestowed in Chase, who has shot up the 2021 Rookie of the Year power rankings. It’s apparent there is a strong rapport between Chase and receivers coach/former All-American Troy Walters, one that has played to the Bengals’ benefit.

Walters, for example, never lost faith in Chase despite some early struggles and now believes that he has only scratched the surface of what he can accomplish at the professional level. The eight-year NFL veteran has noted that Chase has kept their chemistry and routines going despite reaching other-worldly levels of production.

“Nothing has changed. A lot of times when guys have success they stop doing what got them there. But he’s putting the time in all the days before Sunday. He’s got the routine down of how to be a pro,” Walters said of Chase, per team reporter Geoff Hobson. Referring to Chase’s 201-yard outing against the Ravens, it was apparent that Walters’ guidance helped him stay the course after he was frustrated by early Baltimore coverages.

“He wasn’t complaining or griping,” Walters said. “He understood his time was going to come. His average shows when he gets the ball in his hands, he can make some magic.”

Sunday’s game begins an 11-game stretch of uninterrupted football for the hapless Jets, one that will serve as de facto research and development for the future. If the Jets do anything over this final stretch, the coaching staff needs to find ways for young weapons like Mims and Elijah Moore to contribute on a more extensive basis. The team has, in fact, done a solid job of allowing rookie Michael Carter to establish his identity on the game’s rushing antics. It’s time

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets vs. Cincinnati Bengals

mike white, michael carter, jets

Do the undermanned, Zach Wilson-free New York Jets stand a chance against the surprise AFC North leaders? ESM’s experts debate.

  • What: Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) @ New York Jets (1-5)
  • Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
  • Watch: CBS
joe burrow, bengals

Geoff Magliocchetti

Those partaking in 2021 NFL regular season action have been waiting for the other shoe to drop on Cincinnati, the current owners of the AFC’s only bye.

But last week’s shocking win in Baltimore proved that the Bengals are here to stay. If not for two narrow losses to interconference competition, they could’ve stuck alongside Arizona in the ranks of the unbeaten. All this and more spells doom for the next team to run into them…and that just so happens to be the hapless New York Jets.

Such circumstances, as well as the state of the Bengals’ woebegone hosts, set up the perfect recipe for a trap game. But the Jets were barely prepared to give the mediocre Patriots a challenge, and that’s when they had the services of their franchise quarterback. The Bengals will have their share of non-believers, but this isn’t their week to talk.

New York football is in dire straits. Right now, the Jets’ goal is to bide their time until Wilson comes back, to get their train of development back on track. Last week’s six-plus touchdown loss to the Patriots was all too reminiscent of the defeats suffered in the Adam Gase era. This week has the potential to get ugly with the Bengals looking to decimate their doubters. There’s a chance for the defense to redeem themselves after a 551-yard, 54-point allowance…and with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, that’s no guarantee…but not much else for sickly Gang Green.

Bengals 27, Jets 3

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Brendan Carpenter

The Jets will not win this week against the Bengals. I know it, you know it, we all know it.

There are numerous injuries plaguing the team right now, highlighted by Zach Wilson who could be sidelined up to four weeks with a strained PCL. No one wishes an injury on a player, but the time spent sitting back, watching, and learning could help the young QB. Having Joe Flacco back in the mix to help him helps as well.

Mike White is now expected to make his first NFL start Sunday against Cincinnati. It’ll be interesting to see the gameplan with White under center, as he cannot do some of the things Wilson can. In all honesty, that may help offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. It seems, at times that LaFleur is caught up in the possibility of Wilson making big plays, instead of giving him easy options. So, it may be easier for him this weekend. Of course, that’s not all on LaFleur, but it could potentially be a factor.

The defense will be another story. With injuries piling up, especially to the linebacker group, the middle of the field will not be fun to watch. Blake Cashman, Hamseh Nasirildeen, and Jamien Sherwood now all find themselves on IR. C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams are both questionable for the game as well. Who will play linebacker? I genuinely don’t know.

Joe Burrow and rookie standout Ja’Marr Chase may set all new kinds of passing/receiving records Sunday. As a result, a score prediction seems unnecessary. But here’s one anyway:

Bengals 35, Jets 7

quincy wilson, jets

Dylan Price

The Jets host the Cincinnati Bengals this week in a game that assuredly will be spooky. Cincinnati is currently the top team in the AFC and have taken a big step forward in recent weeks. Joe Burrow looks exceptional and Ja’Marr Chase is playing at an unbelievably high level. Trey Hendrickson and the Bengals’ pass rush is efficient and effective. Simply put, this resurgent team is a well-rounded unit. How far the Bengals go from here, nobody can project, but Zac Taylor has undoubtedly turned this team around this year.

The Jets are trending downward and fast. Mike White makes his first career NFL start Sunday and the odds are stacked against him. He didn’t play well coming in on Sunday in relief and a good game from him would be surprising. New York’s secondary faces a receiving corps that can come at them from all angles, and if the pass rush doesn’t assert itself early and often, Burrow will slice them up all day.

I don’t foresee this being a good game for the Jets, so look for an early exit if you’re going to the game Sunday. You might have time to head home and enjoy the Halloween festivities rather than watch the horror movie on turf.

Bengals 42, Jets 10

New York Giants
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Joe Flacco could help the New York Jets’ offense salvage its season

Joe Flacco’s return allows the New York Jets a chance at offensive development and reconciliation for its young core.

At best, Joe Flacco’s New York Jets tenure will be commemorated when Twitter users facetiously play the “legends” game. Favorite examples amongst users in the tri-state area, for example, include “Boston Bruins legend Brian Leetch”, “Orlando Magic legend Patrick Ewing”, or “Los Angeles Sparks legend Teresa Weatherspoon”.

Even if his destiny lies in competing with Brett Favre and Michael Vick for a roster spot on the “Wait He Played for the Jets?!?!” team, Flacco is back for more metropolitan endeavors. After 11 publicized and discussed seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII is now making his fourth move in three years. His latest was confirmed on Tuesday, as he’s going back to the Jets in a trade that sent a conditional sixth-round pick to his former employers in Philadelphia.

Flacco arrives just in time to potentially save the Jets’ 2021 season.

Allow me to go full Mora before you flock to the comment section: don’t talk about playoffs. Ending the NFL’s longest active playoff drought was a remote possibility when this season started and it’s probably a downright impossibility now. Despite another pre-Halloween elimination, the Jets (1-5) are once again offered a macabre gift: a de facto extension of the preseason.

Their remaining 2021 slate features 11 consequence-free opportunities to get the ball rolling on the future. These games, starting with Sunday’s visit from the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals (1 p.m. ET, CBS) are experimental research and development sessions, auditions to see who can stay for the supposedly good times ahead. If they win, it’s a pat on the back. Losses are no big deal as long as the effort was high and draft position is gained.

Such an opportunity would’ve been a godsend for a struggling rookie quarterback like Zach Wilson. Lowered stakes would provide much-needed relief from his freshman season, one where he could make mistakes in a relatively controlled environment. He could take chances, throw deep, and find ways to build chemistry with a young, developing group of receivers without the burden of a potential playoff trip weighing him down.

Then came the injury.

Wilson will miss the Jets’ immediate future after leaving Sunday’s disastrous visit to New England early with what was originally described as a knee injury. The ensuing MRI revealed a sprained PCL that came with a two-to-four week timeline for his return. Under the supervision of backup Mike White, the Jets’ offense got off to a promising start, scoring on two of his first three possessions. Alas, White’s NFL debut spiraled out of control as New England’s lead widened, and he ended the day with 202 yards and two interceptions as well as a touchdown on his first professional pass to Corey Davis.

White performed admirably for someone who was, realistically, never supposed to see a regular season snap. But the 2018 draftee did nothing to vindicate the Jets’ rather bizarre decision to draft to retain him as the primary backup. It’s not like White was a touted college prospect (chosen by Dallas on the last day of the 2018 draft), had a heroic preseason (a career 71.5 passer rating over three summers), or had a connection to the new coaching staff.

mike white, michael carter, jets

There were plenty of opportunities for the Jets to bring in a veteran understudy that could double as a mentor: Brian Hoyer was brought in for a workout but re-upped with the Patriots instead. Nick Mullens worked with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur in San Francisco as a serviceable fill-in but he went to the Eagles and now lingers on Cleveland’s practice squad. The Jets brought in the well-traveled Josh Johnson in the late stages of the summer, but he’s been relegated to the practice squad and holds no gameday value to Wilson.

Simply put, the Flacco rearrival is making up for lost time.

A backup quarterback has two purposes on an NFL roster: hold an off-field role in terms of creating learning opportunities and chemistry and provide emergency services if the unthinkable happens to the starter. Simply put, do not be the reason the team loses a game. Such a gambit has been an awkward endeavor for the Jets, who haven’t had anything of value to play for in a long time.

The closest thing they’ve had to glory days in the new century have been complemented by the veteran contributions of guys like Mark Brunell and Josh McCown. Their statistics weren’t legendary but they left a sizable impact on the would-be franchisee men in front of them. Brunell formed a strong bond with Mark Sanchez while the best numbers of Sam Darnold’s career were earned under the supervision of McCown.

But wins and losses weren’t at stake for the Jets at this point in time. The real concern is the development of their young weapons set to lead them into the next generation. With Flacco, there’s hope that they can get some forward momentum.

The Jets spent this offseason stocking their offensive arsenal in preparation for Wilson’s arrival. Bringing in the big guns like Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, and Hunter Henry was probably out of the question for a two-win team but they nonetheless acquired a talented group of both veterans (Corey Davis, Keelan Cole) and rookies (Elijah Moore). Questions can be raised about how the Jets have used these weapons…Denzel Mims’ 2021 season, or lack thereof, has been particularly ridiculous…but if New York wants to make any offensive progress with Wilson out, White wasn’t going to be the answer.

While White is the likely starter for Sunday’s visit from the Bengals (and, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the planned thrower until Wilson gets healthy), it’s more likely that any professional impact he’ll make will come in another XFL/USFL reboot rather than the NFL. An experienced, accomplished name like Flacco can work with these young receivers and help their development stay on course.

It’s not like Flacco is an inactive slouch as he reaches the twilight of his NFL career. We’re certainly no longer having the infamous “Is Joe Flacco Elite?” debate, but he was arguably responsible for the Jets’ best offensive outputs of the 2020 season. Of note, Flacco’s 128.7 passer rating tallied during a Monday night defeat at the hands of the Patriots last November was the best earned by a Jets quarterback since the 2016 season. Though the Jets lost each of his starts, Flacco at least helped the team gain some offensive traction.

Despite his limited time in green, before temporarily changing his shade for the summer and early stages of fall, Flacco left an impression on the New York landscape.

“I think you saw it, I think everyone saw it, how well he throws the football,” then-Jets offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, now with the Arkansas Razorbacks, said after the New England game in a postgame report from Andy Vazquez of NorthJersey.com. “This guy, he’s gifted that way, and he did some really nice things for us. He’s really accurate. I do think this guy is a starter in this league, and we’re very fortunate to have the quarterback situation we have right now…That’s why Joe was brought here.”

Even before Wilson got hurt, 2021 was meant to be a year of development, growth, baby steps for the fledgling Jets. The injury puts them in danger of losing that as well. With Flacco arrives the rare chance to pick up a win, even if the rewards aren’t immediately reaped.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets’ lack of on-field progress disfigures offseason work

New York Jets, Joe Douglas

Trading off the faces of the franchise is working to the New York Jets’ benefit, but the on-field yields have made them impossible to enjoy.

The New York Jets’ most fruitful endeavors of the 2021 season came in Week 6. By perhaps no coincidence, that week of action marked the Jets’ annual bye week.

The 2021-22 NFL playoff bracket was never going to be the primary criteria for judging the Jets’ season. This year’s AFC environment was already packed to the brim with established division favorites: the Jets’ own East division is set to be dominated by a Western New York overlord for the foreseeable future. Tennessee has taken over the South as expected while pleasant surprises have emerged in Cincinnati and Las Vegas.

The wild card picture features expected contenders like the Ravens, Chargers, Browns, and Steelers. In Kansas City, the two-time defending conference champion Chiefs are shockingly fighting for their lives. Asking a two-win team to launch themselves into that conversation, no matter how much they changed during the offseason, was always a very tall ask, one not even worth asking. Appearing in the “in the hunt” column on the postseason charts NFL broadcasters break out around the holidays was probably going to be the best-case scenario for the team.

Nonetheless, there was much to gain in year one of the shared Robert Saleh/Zach Wilson era, the official start of Joe Douglas’ general manager tenture after he installed his own head coach and quarterback. Progress was the name of the game and it would’ve been hard to take steps backward from the final years of the Adam Gase era. The Jets were left in such dire straits from Gase’s two-year watch that there was no way for them to fully fill all the boxes on their offseason checklist, but Douglas did a solid job nonetheless.

But the biggest moves of Douglas’ offseason were done not in the name of the present, but the future. Douglas officially left his mark on the organization through the trade of previous franchise quarterback Sam Darnold, paving the way for Wilson’s arrival. In return for a quarterback with a career 78.6 passer rating and an unforunate injury history, Douglas was able to secure a second and fourth-round pick from the Carolina Panthers. Darnold’s departure came nearly nine months after fellow franchise face Jamal Adams was shipped off to Seattle for each of the Seahawks’ first-round picks over the next two drafts.

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For the time being, Douglas’ deals look like the finest New York-based robbery since Clive Owen and Co.’s heist in Spike Lee’s Inside Man. Adams may have earned his desired big contract but has failed to stop Seattle’s Russell Wilson-free descent. His first playoff experience was a Wild Card disappointment that failed to stop an injured Los Angeles Rams passing tandem of Jared Goff and John Wolford. Seattle’s ugly Monday night loss to New Orleans currently positions the Jets in the eighth slot of the current 2022 draft board, one of the two appearances within the first octology.

Meanwhile, Darnold became instant comedic fuel for those seeking a cheap laugh at the Jets’ expense: as his Panthers started 3-0 (wins coming against the Jets, Saints, and Texans), many were ready to put him in Canton for his services of making Gang Green look even more inept. Carolina has since dropped four in a row, the latest loss being a listless 25-3 defeat at the hands of the lowly Giants. Darnold was benched for de facto XFL MVP P.J. Walker in defeat and the Panthers reportedly remain interested in the services of the burdened Deshaun Watson, a sweepstakes Douglas smartly reclused himself from.

Per Tankathon, the Jets are slated to visit the podium four times over the first 45 selections if the current pace continues. That alone should make the team smile and emerge from the 2021 campaign with good feelings.

Alas, what’s happening on the field makes it absolutely impossible to appreciate the yields off of it.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Jets (1-5) are somehow finding rockier bottoms than those reached under Gase, much like how Gase “accomplished” dubious distinctions Rick Kotite’s doomed groups managed to avoid. New York’s new futility was best personified through their most recent defeat, a 54-13 shellacking at the hands of the New England Patriots.

Few remnants of the New England dynasty linger since Tom Brady flew south, but their monopoly over the Jets is a troubling leftover: of the Patriots’ ten wins earned in the post-Brady era, four have come against the hapless Jets. East Rutherford’ portion of the 2021 meetings was equally ugly, as the Jets failed to visit the end zone in a 25-6 defeat. A week later, they were on the wrong end of a shutout in Denver, the tenth scoreboard blank in the NFL since 2019. Of those no-shows, the Jets have been responsible for three of them.

In further Sunday struggles, the 54 points were the most scored by a Jets opponent since the team let up 56 to those same Patriots in 1979. It was also the eighth time in franchise history that the Jets let up at least 550 yards in a game since opening weekend of the 1998 season. Unlike that overtime thriller in San Francisco, no divisional title/AFC title game appearance awaits at the end.

What New England did on Sunday is what, frankly, the Jets should be doing. Nobody is expecting them to light up the scoreboard on a weekly basis (nor should they) but the Jets’ lack of on-field progress is disturbing. Solace can be gained from the fact that the team is well-set for the future…the elevator ride up the draft board is the sweetest form of gridiron schadenfreude…but it’s hard to get excited when the on-field product suggests that there’s still so much to work on.

Douglas’ drafts have also done little to inspire faith in the draft day rewards. Sure, his primary picks (Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker) have provided a solid foundation for the wall in front of Wilson. But addressing the entire body of work is a new exercise in football frustration and futility.

Take his original class in 2020, for example. Becton has been strong but has spent most of this season on injured reserve (along with sixth-round punter Braden Mann). Nothing more needs to be written about second-round weapon Denzel Mims’ lack of snaps (his 20 on Sunday were a season-best). Jabari Zuniga (3rd) and James Morgan are already gone while Morgan’s fellow fourth-rounders La’Mical Perine and Cameron Clark have united for a single snap this season. While there’s hope for secondary defenders Ashtyn Davis and Bryce Hall, they haven’t made any of the missed opportunities worth forgetting: for example, Jeremy Chinn, Logan Wilson, and Antonio Gibson went within the immediate ten post-Mims picks. The already pointless selection of Morgan is even more bizarre considering Gabriel Davis went to Buffalo three choices later.

It’s great that the Jets have accumulated such valuable draft capital…but does that mean much when the on-field product still wallows in gridiron shame?

Granted, there’s still time for the Jets to come out clean on the other side of this season: arguing about the fates of Saleh and Wilson (who is missing at least the next two weeks with an injury) is pointless: even the Jets won’t be so impatient to give up on them after one year. Another macabre gift has been bestowed in the sense that the Jets’ season is so far gone and already removed from the postseason that they have 11 consequence-free opportunities to stage free research and development for the future, starting with Sunday’s visit from the AFC North leaders from Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Douglas arrived in one of the most thankless jobs in professional sports. To his credit, he’s making the best of it through not only his draft board maneuvering but late summer cuts that have created a professional future for themselves (i.e. Quincy Williams, Ty Johnson). Trading off the franchise faces and his action on the offensive line was refreshing after years of Mike Maccagnan-supervised negligence. To say Douglas has the best intentions would perhaps be the understatement of this young season.

But if good intentions served as championship criteria, everyone would be undefeated.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets reacquire QB Joe Flacco

In the aftermath of Zach Wilson’s injury, the New York Jets have brought back Flacco, last year’s backup who was stationed in Philadelphia.

The New York Jets have welcomed back quarterback Joe Flacco through a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. Flacco, 36, was the Jets’ backup quarterback last season before moving on through free agency.

This Monday deal was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who says that the Jets sent over a sixth-round draft pick that could become a fifth depending on Flacco’s playing time.

Flacco’s return comes in the wake of a Zach Wilson injury suffered in Sunday’s 54-13 loss at the hands of the New England Patriots. The second overall pick of last year’s draft underwent an MRI and was diagnosed with a PCL sprain. Head coach Robert Saleh confirmed that Wilson will miss two-to-four weeks during his Monday statements, per notes from the Jets. Mike White finished out the game, completing 20-of-32 passes for 202 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. The Jets also have well-traveled veteran Josh Johnson on their practice squad.

The Super Bowl XLVII MVP and Audubon, NJ native now returns to the tri-state area. Partly brought in for his potential as a veteran mentor, Flacco appeared in five games for the Jets (1-5) and made four starts after Sam Darnold missed time with a shoulder injury. He served in a similar capacity in Philadelphia (2-5) as he was listed as the top backup for Jalen Hurts, though he did not appear in any games. Garner Minshew will likely take over that role in Flacco’s place while the team also signed Reid Sinnett off waivers from Miami. Flacco was Denver’s opening day starter in 2019 after 11 years as the Baltimore Ravens’ franchise quarterback.

Flacco posted respectable numbers in New York after coming off neck surgery, tallying 864 yards and six touchdowns against three interceptions. That included a 262-yard, three-touchdown performance in a Monday night contest against the New England Patriots in November.

It remains to be seen if Flacco will be able to start for the Jets’ next contest, as they battle the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET, CBS). A Thursday night tilt in Indianapolis awaits after the Bengals’ visit.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags