The New York Jets were in a must win situation Week 5 against the Denver Broncos. A loss would have dropped the team to 1-4 with a date against the Philadelphia Eagles awaiting next week. Beyond the difficulty of 1-4, a loss to a bad Denver team would have had broader implications. It would have left the Jets on a four game losing streak, and perhaps wondering what team they could beat. Denver is the easiest opponent on most schedules.
The performance was far from a masterpiece. There are plenty of things to pick apart. The bottom line, however, is the Jets left Denver with a 31-21 win. This team is 2-3 and very much in the mix in the AFC.
Any issues from this game can be dealt with going forward. For whatever reason, the Jets defense has a lot of problems in the first half. This game was no exception. Denver scored 13 points in the opening two quarters and put together three scoring drives.
The offense had plenty of shaky moments, especially at the start of the game. It was an up and down day for Zach Wilson with plenty of positives and negatives.
The Jets made plenty of errors, including a pair of punt return fumbles by Week 1 hero Xavier Gipson.
Don’t even get me started on the coaching staff. The second half play calling was a conservative approach taken to an extreme. Nathaniel Hackett and Robert Saleh essentially decided to forego any attempt to make explosive plays on offense for much of the second half. It was an approach that led to field goals, but prevented the Jets from scoring a touchdown that could have iced the game. The Broncos never should have had a chance to win the game, but they got the ball with the opportunity to do just late late in the fourth quarter in no small part because of how the coaching staff managed the game.
The Jets won, though. Even better, they won because of young players who look like stars. Breece Hall ignited the offense at a point where the Jets couldn’t do much on that side of the ball. Hall dragged the Jets to victory with 177 yards on 22 carries, including a 72 yard touchdown run in the third quarter. This came on the field where his 2022 season suffered a premature end.
After that shaky first half, the defense delivered in the second half, with a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter with the Jets up by two scores the only blemish. Quincy Williams, who suddenly looks like one of the top five linebackers in the entire NFL, helped close the game out with a pair of sacks on the final drive, including a strip sack that Bryce Hall returned for a clinching touchdown.
On an up and down day, Zach Wilson hit some key passes for the Jets, including a pair of enormous completions to Tyler Conklin.
It wasn’t a perfect day for the Jets. Hall wasn’t the only key player the Jets lost in Denver a year ago. It was also against the Broncos that Alijah Vera-Tucker suffered a season ending injury. Unfortunately, Vera-Tucker left this game as well, and some of the early prognostications do not sound positive.
Still, the Jets got the win they needed. Everything else they can worry about later.
In a way, the league has a way of evening things out. A week after the Jets played some brilliant football in a loss, they played some uneven football in a win.
Unlike in college football, there are no style points in this league. Wins and losses are all that matter. Legendary Raiders owner Al Davis famously said, “Just win baby.”
It doesn’t have to look pretty. It doesn’t have to be perfect. An ugly win beats a pretty loss any day of the week.