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Patriots 22 Jets 17: Zach to the drawing board

Patriots 22 Jets 17: Zach to the drawing board

In many ways, I felt that today’s game would be a test of maturity for the Jets. They faced a division rival with the tough task of playing on the road after a short week. This is not Tom Brady’s Patriots. This current version of the team looks very ordinary, and they were coming off an ugly loss to Chicago. The Jets have been on fire, winning four straight. They were a week away from the showdown with Buffalo. Take care of business today and the Jets will be playing next week for first place in the entire conference.

29 minutes in it looked like the Jets had answered the bell. They led 10-3. He felt more than that. The Jets were clearly the superior team in the first half. Then two critical fouls occurred in the final minute of the second quarter. Zach Wilson threw an ugly interception that fell backwards, giving the Patriots the ball in field goal range.

No problem. Michael Carter II returned a long Mac Jones interception to put the Jets up by two in the locker room…or so it seemed. John Franklin-Myers was flagged for a rough pass to erase the score. Your mileage may vary depending on whether the call was correct. Personally, I wanted to get fired up about how the Jets were ripped off by the officials. But when I saw the play, it looked like a pretty clear case of roughing up the passer.

The defense held the Patriots to a field goal and preserved a 10-6 halftime lead. From there, though, the Jets seemed to lose their composure. The second half kickoff was missed by Braden Mann, giving New England a short field. For one time all day, the defense allowed the Patriots to march down the field for a touchdown on six plays. The Jets’ missed field goal came after New England took the lead.

While the Jets seemed collectively shaken by what happened just before halftime, no one seemed to lose their composure more than Zach Wilson. Before that interception, he had had a busy day.

At this point, Wilson is probably a one-on-one and a half read quarterback, but he played with confidence in the first half. His read before the quick read seemed accurate, and he was decisive and precise in getting the ball to the first read. With nice play design and the ability to run, the Jets were able to move the ball.

Everything changed in the second half. Wilson threw a pair of ugly interceptions and generally looked out of sorts before a garbage time touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Zach Wilson wasn’t the only reason the Jets lost the game, but his play was the most concerning. The last few weeks, the Jets have been winning games, but I don’t think you can say that quarterback play is the reason. Dominant defense and outstanding performance by Breece Hall carried the team.

I wouldn’t even say the interceptions came out of nowhere. In recent wins, Wilson has repeatedly put the ball in danger but has been lucky to stay unscathed. His luck ran out against New England.

Without Hall, the Jets needed a team effort on offense to compensate. Some players such as Garrett Wilson (6 receptions, 115 yards) had a chance. Even Tyler Conklin, a player who is often the target of my criticism, has stepped up.

For a moment, it looked like Zach Wilson would too. Then he didn’t.

Many Jets fans hoped the team would avoid the mistakes it made trying to develop other young quarterbacks. These past signal callers never had a chance because the Jets failed to adequately build the supporting cast. The Jets are not reliving this history right now. Instead, they provide the fanbase with deja vu of another situation. Rex Ryan’s early years saw a team that was built to win but needed to work around a limited young quarterback. I think it’s fair to say these Jets would be 6-2 if they had adequate quarterback play today.

I don’t know what the answer is. The Jets seemed to misjudge Zach Wilson’s NFL readiness when they drafted him a year ago. In doing so, they chose not to put a viable alternative on the list.

Of course, Zach Wilson wasn’t the only problem with the Jets. The offensive line shows the effects of four players on injured reserve. They didn’t run block or pass effectively, taking Zach Wilson’s problems and making them worse.

It was an uncharacteristically bad day for Brant Boyer’s special teams.

Then you have the bizarre handling of the wide receiver position. Elijah Moore returned to the lineup, but barely saw the field.

The coaching staff did not provide much clarity on the situation.

That explanation is frankly nonsense. The Jets don’t run a one wide receiver offense. No one believes that Garrett Wilson would have walked off the field if Elijah Moore had been there.

I understand that Elijah Moore may not live up to the high expectations placed on him before the season, but he should certainly get more playing time than Jeff Smith. This was a day when the passing game went down in the second half, and the Jets were already without one of their top receivers in Corey Davis. Often benching Moore for someone like Smith is hard to fathom.

Some might say that this is actually a disciplinary problem. Well, if that’s true, they could have left him inactive. Once he’s active, pretending Smith brings more to the table borders on the absurd.

It also seems like a great way to make a delicate situation worse.

Of course, the Jets were ahead of schedule and exceeded all expectations with a score of 5-2. Ugly and disappointing losses are a fact of life in the NFL, even in successful seasons.

All the Jets can do now is refocus as the big game against Buffalo is seven days away. A win against the Bills will make everyone forget about today.





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