The New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers finished their first game, and the Panthers came out victorious 19-14. What was a long wait to see Zach Wilson play in a regular season game ended in an emotional rollercoaster. Here is a review of the Jets – Panthers Week 1 game.
The Offensive Line
The offensive line was atrocious. There is no other way to say it. On 37 dropbacks, Wilson was sacked 6 times. He was hit 10 times total. That is NOT sustainable, as we have seen with players like Andrew Luck and Joe Burrow. The running game was no better. On 17 carries, the Jets managed 45 yards.
Not only did the offensive line not play well, but Mekhi Becton went down with a serious-looking injury in the 4th quarter. He had been beaten around the edge, and was taken off the field in a stretcher. Keep in mind, as poorly as they played, the group of five players starting on the line has never played a single snap together. Alijah Vera-Tucker was out for the entire preseason and was limited in practice throughout.
Morgan Moses will look to fill in at left tackle for Becton as he sits for the next couple of weeks. Regardless, this group needs to get it together, or it’s going to be a long season for Wilson.
The Young Defensive Backs
One of, if not the biggest question marks for this Jets team coming into the season was the cornerback group. Composed of young players throughout, including five rookies, the group actually looked pretty decent. Sam Darnold is no Aaron Rodgers, but while he looked good, it was mostly short passes to Christian McCaffrey, who finished with nine receptions for 89 yards. Darnold found Robby Anderson deep for a score in the second quarter, but he simply ran past safety Sheldrick Redwine.
Michael Carter II and Javelin Guidry stood out the most. Guidry was flying around, and took down McCaffrey on a great open-field tackle for loss. Michael Carter II had a great pass breakup late in the third quarter on a deep ball down the sideline.
In all honesty, the defense actually looked pretty decent, including the defensive backfield. They only allowed 19 points, with three coming in the second half. They hunkered down and kept everything in front of them after that horrendous Anderson touchdown.
The Defensive Line
The defensive line, as opposed to the offensive line, played pretty well. The Panthers averaged 4.1 yards per carry, which is not terribly efficient, and it was thanks to pressure generated by the guys up front. Sheldon Rankins was creating pressure on almost every play, and John Franklin-Myers really stepped up as an impact player.
According to PFF, four Jets defensive linemen generated three pressures: Quinnen WIlliams, Bryce Huff, John Franklin-Myers and Foley Fatukasi. Shaq Lawson recorded three tackles and one pressure. While encouraging, the pressure this group generates HAS to translate to sacks. It has been the Jets’ issue for years, back to when Leonard Williams was their best defensive lineman.
Hopefully, this group can continue playing well, and even play better next week against a solid New England Patriots offensive line.
As mentioned before, Becton went down on a play where Wilson got sacked. News has recently broken that he has suffered a dislocated kneecap, and will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks.
Lamarcus Joyner only played a couple of snaps before tearing a ligament in his elbow, which will reportedly sideline him for the rest of the season. He could have been useful on the aforementioned Anderson touchdown.
Jamien Sherwood was also ruled out for the rest of Sunday’s game with a foot injury. There are no real updates on how serious it is. And finally, Braden Mann went down for the rest of Sunday’s game after being rolled up on. (Matt Ammendola did look good punting it though.) This is still a tough loss, and in general, the Jets have gotten pretty unlucky.
In conclusion, Sunday’s game would have been considered a success if the offensive line kept Wilson a little bit safer. He posted an ‘ok’ final stat line, but a game can never be considered a success when a rookie quarterback gets sacked six times. This team is nowhere near playoff contention, but hopefully, they can put together a better effort next week in their home opener against the Patriots.