Even after losing Aaron Rodgers, the Jets somehow pulled out a victory over the Buffalo Bills. There were numerous heroes. Let’s credit as many as we can as we give out Week 1 game balls.
Xavier Gipson: On a night with many heroes for the Jets, Gipson was the evening’s final hero with a 65 yard punt return touchdown in overtime. The Jets have been burned over and over by rookie return men from Jalen Saunders to Kyle Wilson to Justin Miller. Gipson’s return finally gave this team a positive memorable moment from a first year return man.
Jordan Whitehead: You’ve had a pretty good Week 1 when you reach a full season incentive. That’s just what Whitehead did with his three interceptions. The first one was a pretty brutal mistake by Josh Allen, but the last two were exceptional breaks on the ball by Whitehead. It was by far his best game as a Jet.
Quincy Williams: The last couple of years I have said there is “Good Quincy” and “Bad Quincy.” Monday night we saw “Great Quincy.” He was all over the field making plays, finishing with 10 tackles and looking solid in coverage. Time will tell whether this was a fleeting moment or the start of a fifth year jump. Still this effort deserves recognition.
Quinnen Williams: The star defensive tackle might not have filled up the stat sheet, but he was constantly a disruptive presence and had a quarterback pressure which induced Allen’s second interception.
Quinton Jefferson: Non-Quinnen defensive tackles were among the few question marks for the Jets on defense. Jefferson’s two sacks in the first game will go a long way to alleviating concerns.
Al Woods: A sack and consistent disruption for the other defensive tackle import from Seattle this offseason.
John Franklin-Myers: It was a huge night for the Jets defensive line, and Franklin-Myers joined the sack party along with otherwise solid play.
Micheal Clemons: The big hit he delievered on Josh Allen forced a critical fumble in the fourth quarter.
Breece Hall: One of my big questions entering the season was how long it would take Breece Hall to look like a vintage version of himself. It’s one thing to be medically cleared to play. Running backs coming back from serious knee injuries frequently take time to get back their explosiveness. It seemed like Breece had it back immediately. He was over 100 yards rushing after two carries. With Rodgers out, the season takes on a very different shape for the Jets. Hall will once again become the focal point of the offense sooner rather than later.
Garrett Wilson: With the Jets shifting to a conservative gameplan after the injury to Rodgers, Wilson didn’t have much of an opportunity to fill up the stat sheet. However, he produced a critical third down grab to extend a drive and then had the best catch of this young season, somehow hauling down a pass in the end zone to tie the game in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Conklin/CJ Uzomah/Jeremy Ruckert: I give Jets tight ends plenty of grief so let me give them credit. The offense went with heavy personnel groupings after Rodgers left and a focus on the run. The tight end crew did a capable job blocking and helped to spring a few big runs.
Zach Wilson: I know including him here will likely be controversial. I’m not saying he was great. In fact I’m not sure how much better he is than last year. Here’s what I will say. Zach was thrown into a virtually impossible situation. He had to take over at the start of the game after a full training camp and preseason of never working with the first team offense. He didn’t have a game plan he prepared to run. The entire team was crushed emotionally after Rodgers’ injury. So was the fanbase. And much of the fanbase was ready to turn on him. His performance was uneven, but he hit on some plays in the fourth quarter that were critical for the win. The Jets will need him to be better going forward, but I give him a game ball for this effort.
Who gets your game balls?