Why Jets should be optimistic, concerned after 48-17 trounci Sept 12, 2018 8:45:42 GMT -5
Post by mainejet on Sept 12, 2018 8:45:42 GMT -5
Why Jets should be optimistic, concerned after 48-17 trouncing of Lions | Can defense continue takeaways?
Posted September 12, 2018 at 07:30 AM | Updated September 12, 2018 at 08:15 AM
By Matt Stypulkoski | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Jets got their 2018 NFL season off to an exciting start with a 48-17 thrashing of the Lions at Ford Field on Monday night. It was the kind of win that breeds confidence, especially when it happens in Week 1. But there are always going to be downsides and areas that need improvement, too. Here, we highlight what exactly made Monday night's win so encouraging for the Jets and also point out a few areas that should still give them pause and may require extra attention going forward.
Sam Darnold has been credit time and time again for this and it's well deserved – what he did after throwing that horrendous pick-six to start the game was impressive. But the entire Jets team was resilient, too. In years past, Jets teams would have packed it in after the Lions marched downfield after halftime and quickly tied the game at 17-17. This group rattled off 31 points in the quarter to put the game away. The way the Jets responded to every bit of adversity against the Lions was striking.
2) Superb ground game
The Jets were horrible at running the football during the preseason. But on Monday night, they averaged 4.7 yards per carry, including a handful of kneels at the end of the game. They tallied 169 yards and showed some explosiveness, too, like on Isaiah Crowell's 62-yard touchdown run. The fact that they were able to consistently put themselves in good situations and move the chains by running the ball is vital to keeping some of the pressure off of Darnold.
3) Steady targets
Darnold threw to seven different receivers, including a mix of wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. Quincy Enunwa was far and away his go-to guy, getting 10 targets and six catches. But Darnold felt comfortable throwing to just about anyone, which is encouraging. It was also interesting to see Terrelle Pryor and Neal Sterling – two guys who seem like they could emerge as threats, but are still question marks at this point – get three catches apiece.
4) Offensive line shines
Perhaps the biggest question entering Detroit is how the Jets offensive line would look when it took the field fully healthy for the first time. Despite getting no reps together in the preseason, that unit was terrific against the Lions. They allowed Darnold to get hit just twice – at least one of which came on a ball he held far too long. They also were the driving force behind the stellar run game. If the Jets can keep that performance going, this offense could far outpace the expectations most set for it coming into this season.
5) Stellar special teams
This may have been the biggest surprise of the night. A flukey play could have ended the Jets lengthy streak of games without a kick- or punt-return TD without it being a truly great night for the special teams. But the Jets didn't come close to stopping at one big burst from Andre Roberts. He was terrific throughout the night, breaking two long returns and handing over good field position. The coverage was fantastic, too; at one point, the Lions had to start inside their own 10 as a result. The entire unit did a good job of flipping field position and producing positive plays, which hasn't been the case for the Jets in recent years.
Here are five areas that should give the Jets pause, despite the overwhelming victory.
1) Penalties still a problem
One year after being among the most penalized teams in the league, the Jets opened by being flagged seven times for 49 yards. That lack of discipline may not have bit the Jets in the behind this time around, but if the penalty issue continues, it will inevitably cost the Jets points and possibly games. They need to nip that problem in the bud before it turns into a habit again this fall.
Matt Stypulkoski | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
2) Can the takeaways continue?
The Jets picked off five passes against the Lions. That is undoubtedly a positive. But the question is what happens when those takeaways dry up for a little while. Will the Jets still be able to get stops and keep teams off the board? They let the Lions move the ball at times on Monday and allowed 339 total yards. Granted, a lot of that came in the fourth quarter when they game was already decided, but it remains to be seen how well this defense will be able to stop opponents when it has to force punts rather than rely on turnovers.
3) Pass rush still struggling
The Jets didn't record a single sack on Monday night and only hit the quarterback four times. Leonard Williams logged two of those, which is good, but the Jets desperately need to start getting their before the ball is released, not after. That was a big problem last year, when they ranked 28th with just 28 sacks. So far, while the sample size is still small, it appears that problem has not be solved.
4) Difficult night for Trumaine Johnson
Trumaine Johnson didn't have his best night, getting flagged for pass interference, beat by Kenny Golladay for a pair of 20-plus yard catches and fumbling away an interception. That was not the start the Jets wanted from a guy they gave $72.5 million this offseason. Odds are that Johnson will turn it around; he has a reputation as a shutdown corner for a reason. But the Jets' minds won't be fully at ease until they actually start to see Johnson fulfill that in a green-and-white jersey.
5) Risky play calling
Todd Bowles said he liked the fact that the offense took some shots against the Lions. And some of them worked, too – just look at Darnold's 41-yard TD pass to Robby Anderson in the second quarter. But aggressive play calling can backfire big time if it happens at the wrong time. The first play of the game – a play-action bootleg – was a little questionable and Anderson's end-around on third down at the edge of field-goal range was a terrible idea. Neither of those poor decisions wound up hurting the Jets in Week 1, but if offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates keeps the pedal to the metal, there's a good chance that the Jets could wind up taking an inappropriate and costly risk at some point this season.
John Munson | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Matt Stypulkoski may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @m_Stypulkoski. Find NJ.com