New York Jets: Attainable goals for Saturday’s game at Green Bay

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

How can the New York Jets end a (literally) painful visit to Wisconsin on the right note? ESM’s Jets experts investigate…

Following a devastating injury on the football field, the New York Jets will look to pick up the pieces and seek redemption in a familiar place: the football field, namely the not-so-famous thawed, green tundra of Lambeau Field.

The Jets will seek to end a business trip to Wisconsin on the right note on Saturday late afternoon, as they’ll battle the Green Bay Packers in an exhibition contest (4:25 p.m. ET, WLNY/NFL Network). New York and Green Bay have done battle this week through a pair of joint practices within a stone’s throw of the football cathedral.

The latter portion was a scene plucked from Jets’ fans’ most garish nightmares: defensive end Carl Lawson was carted off the field during a team drill. Their newly acquired pressure artist was later revealed to have torn his Achilles tendon, an injury that will keep force him to miss the entire 2021 season. Undrafted secondary defender Zane Lewis was likewise lost for the year in a separate medical incident.

So how can the Jets leave Titletown with a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small? ESM’s Jets experts investigate with an attainable goal for the Jets to aspire to.

Geoff Magliocchetti: Find Clarity, Confident, and Depth in the Offensive Trenches

Jets fans have every right to be sad and upset over losing Lawson. But, as we discussed earlier this week, his prescience alone didn’t launch the Jets into the playoff conversation and the front seven’s pass rush potential is deep enough to weather the coming storm in 2021. This was always going to be a year centered on development and Lawson’s injury shouldn’t change that.

This season is about finding long-term solutions that can sustain the Jets during the potential good time ahead. One area that was full of fostered potential is the offensive line made to protect the new franchise quarterback Zach Wilson. The blockers mostly did their job last weekend against the Giants’ reserve defenders…they allowed only one sack on the night and their rushers had a little bit of real estate to work with. But this week featured some developments, perhaps masked by the mourning over Lawson, that could have the Jets questioning their depth on the offensive wall.

One of their blocking staples from the last two seasons, guard Alex Lewis, retired this week. Another interior blocking project, 2020 fourth-rounder Cameron Clark, was also placed on injured reserve. Alijah Vera-Tucker, drafted to take over interior duties on Wilson’s blindside, has dealt with a pectoral muscle injury all camp and likely won’t play on Saturday.

Furthermore, reports from Green Bay state that the Jets’ line struggled in front of a legitimate opponent, as Green Bay’s starters took center stage during this week’s get-togethers. Brian Costello of the New York Post estimated that Wilson would’ve been sacked seven times during Wednesday’s practice had his red non-contact jersey saved him. Last season’s most cherished silver lining, tackle Mekhi Becton, has reportedly struggled against opponents, both domestically (Lawson) and abroad (Preston Smith).

Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur mentioned that Becton was “going through some things right now”, per notes from the Jets. LaFleur nonetheless remained confident that Becton would regain his freshman swagger before opening weekend in Charlotte.

“He’ll keep on going. We’re only one preseason game in, we still have over three and a half weeks until we go out and play Carolina. Every day, there are still slight improvements that he’s making and we’re just trying to take it one day at a time right now,” LaFleur said. “Mekhi, he didn’t have a training camp last year. He didn’t have an OTAs last May and June so, he’s still working through some things. I got all the confidence in the world in Mekhi because one, I know how talented he is and two, he’s a good dude and he’s going to work through all this stuff. We got a long way to go across that whole front, across this whole offense and myself included.”

The Jets thus need to use Saturday’s proceedings as a way to build back confidence. Green Bay will likewise be resting many of its starters on Saturday, but a big opportunity lingers to regain the good vibes felt after last week’s win over the Giants. Some names to watch include Dan Feeney, who should continue to get premier interior reps with the first team, and David Moore, an undrafted first-year out of Grambling who drew interest from several teams on the rookie free agency market.

Brendan Carpenter: Go Beyond Lawson

The Jets have had a rough week. Leading up to their Saturday afternoon game against the Packers, joint practices took place in Green Bay. As we know by now, these practices were not injury-free.

.There were a few bumps and bruises, but no injury was bigger than that of Carl Lawson. He is going to miss the season with a torn Achilles. This gut-wrenching news, however, does bring about a new goal for the second preseason game: to see the rest of the depth at defensive end produce.

Outside of Lawson, the Jets have John Franklin-Myers, Bryce Huff, Ronald Blair, Jabari Zuniga, and Vinny Curry, (who should return to the field around Week 2). Lawson was clearly the number-one edge rush option, but the team has nice depth and should still be able to apply pressure. The Jets will most likely have an even more noticeable rotation at end during Saturday’s game, and that’s fine.

The season isn’t over. The loss of Lawson hurts, but it creates an opportunity for other players to show their worth on the field. It won’t be easy to replace the impact the Jets’ most expensive offseason addition would’ve had on the field, but they’ll find a way to compensate. The opportunity starts against Green Bay, and they should be up to the task.

Don’t necessarily look for a substantial amount of sacks against the Packers, but the line should be able to make noticeable noise in the backfield on drop-backs. That alone would be enough to reach this new goal on short notice.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Fun Facts and Analysis of the New York Jets’ 2020 Schedule

New York Jets, New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Times and dates have been attached to the New York Jets’ 20 preseason and regular season matchups. ESM reveals what you need to know.

As if you didn’t need more of a reason to stay inside, the NFL just gave you 256 goals to work toward.

The league attached times and dates to its 2020 regular season matchups on Thursday, while preaching caution in the wake of the current health crisis. Nonetheless, the event gave fans a welcome reprieve as they continue to work their way through these trying times.

Here’s what you need to know about the Jets’ slate…

Preseason

Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

TBD: NY Giants (TBD, WCBS)

The annual Snoopy Bowl stays in the Week 1 slot it found itself in last season, even though the Jets and Giants will not play each other during the regular season. Big Blue took last season’s matchup by a 31-22 final.

August 20: @ Detroit (8:00 p.m., ESPN)

The Jets will play a nationally televised preseason game for the second time in three years, the last matchup being a 2018 visit to Washington, which was also on ESPN.

TBD: Pittsburgh (TBD, WCBS)

Pittsburgh will return to the site where their playoff hopes more or less died, as a Marcus Maye deflection game the Jets a 16-10 win.

TBD: @ Philadelphia (TBD, WCBS)

Should it happen, 2020 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Jets and Eagles meeting annually in the preseason. The Jets took last year’s meeting at MetLife by a 6-0 tally

Regular Season

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

September 13: @ Buffalo (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

For the third time in four seasons, the Jets will open their regular season against the Bills. Buffalo has taken each of the first two openers in that span thus far, but Sam Darnold has yet to lose at New Era Field, having bested fellow 2019 first-round pick Josh Allen twice thus far. The Jets have dropped their Week 1 matchup in three of the last four seasons, the lone exception being 2018’s Monday night visit to Detroit.

September 20: San Francisco (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox)

The Jets’ will welcome the defending NFC champions for their first East Rutherford visit for AFC business since the 49ers administered a 34-0 shellacking in 2012 en route to that season’s Super Bowl. New York’s last home opener win came in 2017 against Miami, but they have likewise gone 1-3 over their past four tries in such a game.

September 27: @ Indianapolis (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets are 3-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium since it opened in 2008. Alas, the lone exception is the 2010 AFC Championship Game. New York’s previous visit was a 20-7 Monday night triumph in 2015. Overall, the Jets have taken four of the past five meetings with their former AFC East brethren since that postseason match.

October 1: Denver (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network)

A previous Thursday night meeting with the Broncos didn’t go so well, as Tim Tebow’s 20-yard touchdown run gave Denver a 17-13 win at Mile High. Their 34-16 win over Denver ended a three-game losing streak in the series. The Jets are 2-5 on Thursday night games since the NFL made them a full-time phenomenon in 2012.

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

October 11: Arizona (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox)

No matter what happens between the Jets and Cardinals, the quarterback matchup between Sam Darnold and Kyler Murray will definitely be more exciting than the last time they met at MetLife Stadium. Back in 2012, Greg McElroy relieved Mark Sanchez and guided the Jets to an ugly 7-6 victory. The Jets have won six of the last seven meetings, but fell in the last showdown in Glendale in 2016.

October 18: @ LA Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

Depending on health progress, the Jets are set to make their first two trips to SoFi Stadium, the site of Super Bowl LV this season. The Jets’ last game against a team with a Los Angeles moniker came back in 1993, when they fell to the Raiders at the Coliseum. More recently, the Jets dropped a 14-7 decision to the Chargers in their last meeting at home on Christmas Eve 2017.

October 25: Buffalo (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets will be looking to end a two-year losing streak at MetLife Stadium to the Bills, who are 4-2 at the relatively new establishment in East Rutherford after dropping their first four. This will mark the first time the Jets end their yearly pair with the Bills by the end of October since 2007, a Buffalo sweep.

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

November 1: @ Kansas City (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

Kansas City ended their five-decade plus Super Bowl drought. Are the Jets next? Time will only tell, but the first two AFL champions will meet at Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since 2016. The Jets’ last Kansas City masterpiece came in 1998, when John Hall’s 32-yard field goal as time expired gave them a 20-17 victory.

November 9: New England (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

After two appearances last season, the Jets get one showing on Monday Night Football, thought the MetLife meeting with the Patriots gets such a treatment for the second straight season. The Jets will look to end an eight-game losing streak in the rivalry and also seek their first Monday night win since the aforementioned Week 1 tilt against the Lions in 2018.

November 15: @ Miami (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

With the expanded AFC playoff picture, could these matchups with Miami hold major implications? The schedulemaker certainly seems to think so, as this is the first time a Jets-Dolphins game starts beyond the 1:00 p.m. ET timeslot since December 2016, when a Miami squad led by Adam Gase beat the Jets 34-13 in a Saturday primetime game.

November 22: Bye Week

The Jets’ bye week comes in Week 11 for the second time in the last three seasons.

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

November 29: Miami (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

In this de facto home-and-home series with the Dolphins, the Jets will look to win after their bye for the first time since 2015, when they followed up a London win over Miami with another triumph against Washington. The Jets’ last-second win Miami last December, courtesy of a Sam Ficken field goal, ended a four-game losing streak against the Dolphins.

December 6: Las Vegas (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets finished their stretch against the Oakland Raiders with a 9-11 mark, but they were able to end things on a dominant note with a 34-3 win at MetLife Stadium last season. Las Vegas’ new franchise has not won in East Rutherford since 1996 and is 0-3 at MetLife Stadium.

December 13: @ Seattle (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets haven’t beaten the Seahawks since 2004, and their last win in Seattle came at the since-demolished Kingdom in 1997. Their prior matchup a 27-17 defeat at MetLife Stadium.

December 19/20: @ LA Rams (TBD)

Over the last two weeks of the season, a dozen matchups have been nominated to potentially appear in a trio of Saturday games. The Jets’ penultimate two games are a pair of such choices, including the latter half of their SoFi split.

Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

December 26/27: Cleveland (TBD)

Thus far, Baker Mayfield has gotten the better of Sam Darnold in the two meetings between 2018’s first two quarterbacks. Darnold, however, was unable to take part in last year’s Monday nite tilt, as his illness forced Trevor Siemian and later Luke Falk to oversee a 23-3 defeat in East Rutherford.

January 3: @ New England (1:00 p.m., CBS)

The Jets are still looking for their first win at Gillette Stadium since their epic divisional playoff wince in 2011, but they were at least able to snap the touchdown hex in their last visit. New England and New York last ended their regular seasons against each other in 2018, a game that served as the end of the Todd Bowles era.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags