I’m not a big believer in moral victories in the NFL, but I was ready to give the Jets a pass if they lost to the Cowboys in Week 2. The team was really being the eight ball. They faced a road game on a short week. That’s never easy. The game was against an extremely talented Dallas team that could not be playing better football at the start of the season. The Jets were coming off an extremely emotional week that saw them win an overtime thriller while losing their franchise quarterback for the season. This also was an out of conference game, making it less significant for Playoff implications.
If the Jets had shown some fight and just ended up running out of gas or being outmanned, it would have been understandable. You can’t win them all.
An effort like the 30-10 Week 2 defeat to the Cowboys cannot be excused, however. The Jets showed little life and little fight.
With the loss of Aaron Rodgers, the Jets are back in the mode of leaning on their defense to deliver victories. The unit is supposed to be elite. It certainly looked the part in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. Week 2 against the Cowboys was a different story. Rather than keep the Jets in the game, the defense forced only three punts the entire game. Dak Prescott connected on his first ten passes, and CeeDee Lamb went over 100 yards before halftime.
It’s easy to get on Zach Wilson. To be certain, things fell apart for him in the second half as he threw three interceptions. But the message all week was that the defense needed to do the job and prevent the Jets from getting into a situation where Wilson had to lead the team to victory. In reality the Jets almost certainly lose this game with Rodgers at quarterback. But with Rodgers, the team would have at least had a puncher’s chance of turning the game into a shootout. When the game was tight for the first two and a half quarters and Wilson was asked to manage the game, he flashed some ability to do so. When things got away from the Jets, and Wilson needed to make the difference, it’s where the trouble started.
The defense didn’t just fail to carry the Jets. It didn’t even play a credible game. The vaunted pass rush recorded only one sack of Dak Prescott, and the Cowboys scored on seven of their first nine possessions.
I think it is fair to say the coaching staff has culpability in the loss. It felt the entire game like Cowboys play callers were a step ahead of Jeff Ulbrich and Nathaniel Hackett. A number of plays stick out. The Cowboys seemed to get Lamb isolated with the defender of their choice at will in the early stages of the game. Meanwhile on the offensive side of the ball, Micah Parsons got to Zach Wilson on a critical early play looping from tackle to center at an angle that was perfectly designed for the protection the Jets were in.
The easiest thing in the world to do is pick apart game planning and play calling. I believe this is a players’ league. Most of the things coaches get criticized for in these areas are really more about a lack of execution than anything the coaches do.
Still this game might be an exception. There are just so many things I saw that didn’t make sense. The best player on the Jets offense, Breece Hall, only got four touches. Duane Brown, who looks like a shell of his former Pro Bowl self, was left to get destroyed by Parsons, a matchup he couldn’t handle. On a critical red zone snap, Ulbrich left Brandin Echols in man coverage, which resulted in a penalty.
The only real positive I can muster is that I don't think the Jets are anywhere near as bad as they looked. Everybody had a bad day.
All the team can do is look forward to Week 3 and a game with the Patriots.