It wasn't exactly pretty, but the Jets figured out a way to get their third straight win on Sunday in the Meadowlands, beating the Giants 13-10 in overtime. The game seemed lost. The Jets trailed by 3 with 24 seconds left in the fourth quarter. They took over on their own 25 yard line after a missed field goal. Two completions for 58 yards in 23 seconds left just enough time for Greg Zuerlein to tie the game and send it to overtime. A defensive stop, and one drive later Zuerlein sent the Jets home with a win.
A win like this tends to divide the fanbase. The Jets came away victorious. Still, there was a lot to not like about this victory, namely the offense turning it a putrid performance for the first 59 minutes and 30 seconds.
I fall on the side of those who are happy. The season is only 17 games long, and it’s about wins and losses. A team has to find a way to scratch out wins even when it isn’t at its best.
This would have been a horrible loss for the Jets, one that would have undone much of the positives of the first six weeks. It might have even been the type of loss that could have started a season defining slide. These things were avoided. For that alone, this victory should be celebrated.
I also think the Jets played excellent football in two of the three phases of the game. Even against a third string quarterback, a banged up offensive line, and an opponent that showed little desire to throw the ball, holding an opponent to 2.8 yards per play is outstanding. Even given the caliber of the opposition, I think this was the finest defensive performance of the Jets season. The Giants offense scored 7 points and was gifted another 3 by a fumble.
Special teams was also outstanding. I mentioned Zuerlein’s two clutch kicks, but the best Jet on the field was Thomas Morstead. I can probably count on one hand the number of NFL games I have watched where I thought the punter was a key to victory. Morstead was active all day and pinned the Giants deep all day.
There is plenty to like about this victory, and my overall feelings are positive.
With that said, I at least understand some of the concerns coming from this game. The Jets are constantly putting themselves behind the eight ball, trailing in the fourth quarter and needing unlikely plays to pull out victories. While they have been making a lot of these plays, this is playing with fire. Eventually if an NFL team isn’t playing complete football, the wins will stop.
The first thing the Jets need to clean up are the penalties. The one Giants touchdown drive was aided by a pair of sloppy 15 yard penalties. The Jets finished the day with 9 penalties for 85 yards. I do believe the Jets can fix this. I don’t expect them to commit bad penalties at this rate going forward. That would be almost impossible.
What will be much more difficult to fix is the offense. The Jets needed a miracle to win a game where their opponent finished with negative passing yardage. With the defense and special teams playing great, that speaks to the troubles the Jets had moving the ball.
There’s no one problem with the offense. The issues are across the board. I think you could say everything other than Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson could be considered a problem.
Zach Wilson’s clutch passes in the last half minute of regulation and overtime will likely be one of the lead stories to come from this game. The hard reality, though, is a team cannot win many games when its quarterback provides so little until less than 30 seconds remain in the fourth quarter.
I feel like Jets fans have been living the same story for the better part of the last 15 years. We so badly want it to work for the young quarterback that we latch onto any incremental sign of improvement as a sign the quarterback is on his way to making it.
Zach Wilson in 2023 is a better quarterback than he was a year ago, sure. I’m not sure Wilson makes those clutch throws last season. That said, he’s still an extremely limited passer who is way too inconsistent with his reads and pocket movements. At this point I think you’d have to say he’s a bottom tier starting quarterback. When the Jets win, it tends to be because he was a neutral on a good day, or the team won in spite of him on a bad day. I know a lot of people won't want to hear this and will point to the plays made late in the game as proof he’s turning a corner. If Zach Wilson plays like this 100 times, the Jets might lose the other 99.
Wilson isn’t the only problem, though. The issues are system wide. The play calling could at least make life easier for Wilson. It isn’t.
The group of pass catchers behind Garrett Wilson is weak. The second best receiving target on the team is Allen Lazard, a big bodied receiver who can’t consistently make tough catches in traffic (which is what you want in a big bodied receiver). I counted no less than three catchable balls in his direction that fell to the ground incomplete. The quality falls quickly once you get past Lazard.
Last but not least is an offensive line that has been decimated by injuries for the second straight season. The Jets had to use three centers in this game alone.
There aren't many obvious solutions for any of these problems other than to hope some offensive linemen recover quickly.
These are real issues for the team, and I understand the concerns.
Still I think these are concerns for another day.
This day is for enjoying the fact the Jets got a win and are now over .500.