Special Teams, Offense, and Defense Shines in Darnold’s Debut as Jets Dominate Lions 48-17
The NFL season is officially upon us, and all of the questions throughout the off season has been answered to an extent. The Jets couldn’t have had a better start to the season than the pure dominance that has occurred right before our eyes, as they rolled into Detroit and stuck it to the Lions by scoring 21 points in a matter of 2 minutes in the second half. An interesting note to add was that it was all three sides of the ball that scored, starting with a Darnold pass to Enunwa for a TD, then a pick six, after a punt reutrn for a TD by Andre Roberts. There is so much to dissect from this game that I’m going to look through what was the positives and negatives in this game (There’s going to be a lot of positives).
Positives: Sam Darnold performance: Sam Darnold was the youngest rookie to start an NFL game just passing Drew Bledsoe by a couple of days. After throwing a pick six on the very first play, he didn’t look back as he showed poise and calmness in the pocket and finished the game 16/21 for 198 yards, 2 touchdowns and a pick. The yardage wasn’t the best because he didn’t throw a lot of deep balls, but you can tell that he put the interception behind him and focused on the game. The rookie acted like a veteran quarterback.
Offensive line: I have to give some praise to the offensive line, with the exception of allowing 2 sacks the offensive line did a tremendous job protecting Sam Darnold and opening up some cutback lanes for the running backs to go through. Not to mention they gave Darnold enough time to move around in the pocket.
Jets might have a one-two punch in Crowell and Powell: The run game was one of the keys to help Darnold out, and they delivered. Crowell looked like he had a chip on his shoulder and came ready to play as he carried the ball 10 times for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Bilal Powell ( longest tenured Jet) had 12 carries for 60 yards. But Powell did an excellent job picking up a blitzing linebacker, which is one of the reasons why he is still on this team. I’m very excited to see what these two can really do throughout the season.
Special teams? It has been so long since the special teams had been relevant, you have to go back to 2012, which was the last time the Jets returned a punt or kick for a touchdown (per ESPN). The was the last season for legendary special teams coach Mike Westhoff. Well that streak ended last night when Andre Roberts returned one for 78 yards, but throughout the game special teams helped set up the Jets in excellent field position the whole game.
Defense dominates and Secondary shows us why they are “New Jack City”: It had been 73 games since the Jets had a defensive touchdown (per ESPN), that came to an end when linebacker Darron Lee returned one of his two interceptions for a 36 yard TD. The Jets would go ahead and pick off Stafford two more times as well as Matt Cassel for a total of 5 interceptions, one went to new Jet Trumaine Johnson, another to Claiborne, and another to Jamal Adams ( his first career interception). This bunch showed us why they call themselves “New Jack City”. Another question was the lack of a pass rush, and there were times where the Jets could’ve used one but for the most part that defensive line wreaked havoc on Matthew Stafford.
Quincy Enunwa: His first game back after a gruesome neck injury that sidelined him last year and he had himself a pretty good night as he caught 6 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. The defense had a hard time bringing him down and he was Darnolds go to guy.
Negatives: Darnold’s welcome to the NFL: first rule as a NFL quarterback is that you never throw across the field and Sam learned that the hard way. He can’t make those costly mistakes against teams like the Packers, Patriots, or Vikings.
Penalties: The Jets had a total of 7 penalties for 49 yards, which is not terrible but some of them were pass interference and there was one on Jordan Jenkins where if he didn’t go offsides, it would’ve been third and long I believe.
Bates bad play call on third and two: On third and two New offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates called an end around to Robby Anderson where the Lions defense was prepared. He wanted to get Anderson more involved but that was the wrong way to do it. If he would’ve throw it back to Darnold he would’ve had a first down and more because the defense bid on that run and the rookie had no one around him.
Lack of pass rush: Although the defensive line got into the backfield majority of the game, they still could’ve used a true pass rush to help out. There were times were Stafford had all day to throw and it turned out to be a big gain for the Lions. Jets can’t give Brady or Rodgers that amount of time because they will tear that defense apart.
Get Anderson more involved: Anderson didn’t have a productive day besides catching Darnolds first touchdown pass of his career, but he showed that he has potential to take the top off the defense. I would like to see the Jets get him more involved with the offense. Overall this was a great way to start the season of for the Jets, plus I forgot to add that they didn’t have Kearse or Maye in this game (just imagine how they can be with them). They have back to back short weeks coming up as they have their home opener on sunday against the dolphins, then they go to Cleveland on thursday night. These are winnable games, and this team is confident they can get it done. Get used to this Jets fans because this is the standard that they preached about, this is an improved team in many ways, they are faster and more determined.