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Jets Week 2 Game Balls and Anti-Game Balls

NFL: New York Jets at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets are in the win column after a thrilling victory over the Cleveland Browns. Let’s celebrate by giving out some Week 2 game balls (and punish those who didn’t play well with anti-game balls).

Game Balls

Garrett Wilson: I think Wilson was clearly the biggest Jets star of the week with 8 catches for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns. One of the touchdowns was the game-winner in the final minute of the fourth quarter.

This offense is currently seeking a go-to guy. Many of us have been hoping Breece Hall or Elijah Moore would claim the role, but Wilson might have just taken the first step toward becoming THE guy on offense. It’s impressive how effortlessly he gets open. At this point of his career, Joe Flacco is mostly only throwing to a receiver if he has a big window. Wilson is creating plenty of separation with his speed, quickness, change of direction ability, and route running. He is also a dangerous open field runner.

Time will tell, but it feels like we might look back on Week 2 as the birth of a star.

Joe Flacco: It annoys me to no end when after a game like this media types start carrying on about how much criticism a player like Flacco took in Week 1. The criticism was mostly deserved. Flacco was terrible against the Ravens and a huge reason the Jets lost. When you play poorly, you get criticized.

Conversely when you play well, you get praised. Flacco earned praise for his performance in this game. Was he as stellar as his 307 yard, 4 touchdown stat line? Not really. In fact, if Nick Chubb just falls down instead of scoring a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Flacco ends this game with around 5.5 yards per attempt, 17 total points, and a field goal in the second half. Fair or not, the calls for Mike White to start next week probably would have intensified.

Chubb’s score gave Flacco a second chance, and he made the most of it. He exploited a Cleveland coverage bust to hit Corey Davis for a 66 yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 6. Then after the Jets recovered the onside kick, he led the team on a 9 play drive and made his best throw of the season on the Wilson game-winning touchdown.

Prior to the final two minutes, Flacco wasn’t stellar, but he at least did look functional. He mostly hit the open receivers in front of him, which was a step up from a week ago. Even had the Jets lost, he wouldn’t have been the main reason even if the criticism.

Once he got an opportunity to win the game, he did what he needed to do.

Breece Hall: It has felt to me like Jets fans spent months after the Draft being pumped about Hall. Then he struggled in a preseason game against the Falcons behind a backup offensive line, and a lot of people jumped off the bandwagon.

Maybe yesterday’s performance will help put fans back onto Hall’s side. He showed playmaking speed, breaking 50 yards on 7 rushing attempts and adding a 10 yard touchdown reception.

I think over the course of the season Hall is going to get more and more comfortable and slowly take on a bigger role. Yesterday was a first step.

Greg Zuerlein: It was a big bounceback game for the veteran kicker. A week after he missed a field goal and an extra point, Greg the Leg connected from 57 yards out to tie the game in the fourth quarter and made the game-winning extra point. Granted a PAT should be automatic, even in a tie game in the final minute in the fourth quarter. Still, Cleveland’s kicker had just missed one which provided the Jets the opportunity to win it on their extra point.

Braden Mann: Speaking of bounceback performances, Mann had an interesting day. How many times do you see a punter make two game changing plays with neither of them being punts? That’s what happened to Mann. He completed a pass on a fake punt in the first half which eventually led to a Jets touchdown. Then he hit a perfect onside kick to give the Jets a chance to get the ball back late in the fourth quarter trailing by 6.

Brandin Echols: Echols didn’t play much, but he made the most of his limited snaps. Briefly replacing an injured Sauce Gardner during a goal line sequence, the Browns went right after him. Echols stood tall both times he was targeted.

Ashtyn Davis: I don’t know that an interception of a desperation heave does much to change Davis’ career trajectory the way Garrett Wilson’s performance could for him, but Davis’ pick of Jacoby Brissett did wrap the game up.

Mike LaFleur: I really like the game LaFleur called. I think he squeezed as much production as possible out of an offense with a limited quarterback. He made creative use of personnel. I especially liked the personnel groupings that got Michael Carter and Breece Hall on the field at the same time. I also like how frequently on key downs he gave extra blocking help of overmatched tackles against top notch edge rushers.

Brant Boyer: It’s almost impossible in this day and age to recover an onside kick. The rules don’t allow you to load a side of the field with bodies, and teams have figured out how to receive a conventional onside kick. Good for Boyer for getting creative.

Anti-Game Balls

The Entire Defense: I don’t even know where to begin so I’ll just give an anti-game ball to the entire defense. You can remove a couple of players like Echols or Davis if you choose, but there was little redeeming about this performance. Jacoby Brissett’s life was easy. The Jets only sacked him once, and he only missed on five passing attempts all game. The Jets allowed 184 rushing yards. They lost in the trenches. The linebackers were bad. The safeties were all over the place. There were coverage busts. Pretty much any good feelings for the defensive effort Week 1 evaporated.

This performance was so bad that it has me rethinking Week 1. Immediately after the Baltimore game I thought the Jets played well aside from a handful of big breakdowns. Maybe those breakdowns were really the story of the game, though.

Tyler Conklin: It’s only two games, and Conklin has plenty of time to turn it around. That said, if he is supposed to be an upgrade over Tyler Kroft and Ryan Griffin, it has been difficult to tell. Conklin has shown pretty much no playmaking ability in his first two games. He had 6 catches against the Browns but only for 40 yards. For the second straight week, he both dropped a pass and fumbled away a reception. This hasn’t been close to good enough.