Jets Overreaction Monday: Analyzing hot takes from Week 1 loss to Carolina Panthers

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Elijah Moore/Robert Saleh/Zach Wilson Treated Image
Elijah Moore/Robert Saleh/Zach Wilson Treated Image

It’s another lost season for the Jets. The offensive line is going to get Zach Wilson killed. The defense can’t get any pressure without Carl Lawson. All those running backs and they still have no running game. And hey, wasn’t Elijah Moore supposed to be good?

For the most part, Jets fans seemed to be OK with another rebuilding project this summer. And many of them sensed the positives from their 19-14 loss in Carolina on Opening Day.

But after far too many rebuilding projects, too many plans that went wrong, and a decade of dreaming of a nonexistent playoff berth, who can blame them for being jaded and overreacting to what they just saw? After all, it’s “Overreaction Monday” – the wildest day of the year for disgruntled NFL fans. It’s just what they do.

The reality is that it wasn’t as bad as it looked. After all, these Baby Jets almost came back and won. But it’s the “almost” part that feels eerily familiar, and might lead to a massive jump to conclusions that could still turn out to be wrong:

Overreaction: Two straight years of fixing this offensive line and Joe Douglas has screwed it up again! And now Mekhi Becton is hurt? They’re going to get Wilson killed.

Reality: Deep breaths … This was the first game with this group of five starters together, plus a rookie quarterback who held the ball a little too long at times, plus he was missing two of his top receivers. And remember, this wasn’t just their first game in a new offense, they’re also in a brand new blocking scheme, too.

Yes, they’ll get Wilson killed if they keep playing like that. But there’s too much talent up front to assume they will. As long as they stay healthy (put a pin in that for a moment) this group will figure it out. Even if they’re not as dominant as the Jets hope they should be pretty good.

As for that health thing … Yes, Becton is out, probably until after the Week 6 bye at least, maybe longer. But the good news is Douglas built this line with depth. George Fant, who won the right tackle job, will just move over to left – and the coaches think he’s a real good fit for this scheme (despite how he played on Sunday). Same for Morgan Moses, who now takes over on the right side.

Aug 14, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (77) laughs during the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Aug 14, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (77) laughs during the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Becton was struggling with the new scheme anyway, so maybe this will be a short-term blessing in disguise.

Overreaction: They won’t have any pass rush at all without Lawson. Quarterbacks are going to have all the time in the world to pick them apart.

Reality: They probably won’t have a dominant pass rusher this season – that one stud, Bosa-like guy. Lawson could’ve been that. But the Jets did put a little bit of pressure on Sam Darnold in the second half on Sunday. And John Franklin-Myers in particular showed he can get some push.

As for the others, there’s talent there. Quinnen Williams was quiet on Sunday, but don’t expect that to continue. Same for Sheldon Rankins. And Bryce Huff has a lot of pass rushing potential. It probably won’t be as great and dominant as the Jets hoped, but the cupboard without Lawson isn’t exactly bare.

Overreaction: The young secondary is way too thin and way too overmatched. It was a huge mistake not to bring in a veteran corner.

Reality: It may come back to bite them at some point, but here’s the thing: The young corners – Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, Javelin Guidry – weren’t bad. Their coverage, for the most part, was tight. And the one big play – a 57-yard touchdown to Robby Anderson – was caused by safety Sheldrick Redwine. The corners weren’t really involved in the play.

And Redwine was only out there because Lamarcus Joyner got hurt. Now that Joyner is out for the season, though, that secondary looks even younger as a whole. That does highlight a mistake. But they were counting on Joyner to be a disruptive force in the defensive backfield, and they had to know they were thin at safety behind him and Marcus Maye.

But the kids they were counting on – those young corners – for one game, they really were all right.

Overreaction: Wasn’t Elijah Moore supposed to be the most exciting rookie the Jets have ever had? The steal of the draft? He’s no good if he can’t catch!

Reality: He was absolutely the most exciting player to watch this spring and early in the summer before he hurt his quad. So yes, his performance on Sunday was very, very disappointing. He dropped one easy dump-off pass and another more difficult deep pass, both of which were perfectly placed right in his hands. Honestly, I’m not sure I saw him drop two passes in a single practice all summer long. Maybe not even one.

Wide receiver Elijah Moore participates in practice as the Jets hold OTA's
Wide receiver Elijah Moore participates in practice as the Jets hold OTA's

The fact that he had just one catch for minus-3 yards despite playing 58 plays was shocking. Maybe his head was swimming from having to prepare for a much larger role than expected with Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole out. Maybe it was rookie jitters.

But it wasn’t a lack of talent. I’m telling you, this kid is good. He’s got special abilities. And he can catch. I guess all I can say is that you’re going to have to trust me on that for now.

Overreaction: Seriously, they draft Denzel Mims in the second round and they can’t get him on the field for more than three plays, even with Crowder and Cole out? Then he gets one pass thrown to him and it goes for 40 yards. Do they even know how to use this kid?

Reality: Yeah, I don’t know what to say on this one. I spent the summer watching Mims get buried on the depth chart, and people in the Jets organization kept insisting they love him, that he was just working his way back to health. Obviously he had a serious bout with food poisoning in the spring, lost a lot of weight, and hadn’t fully recovered by mid-camp. That was always the reason he wasn’t running with the first team.

But he played three lousy snaps in this game – far fewer than Braxton Berrios (37) and even fewer than Jeff Smith (9). Considering he doesn’t play special teams, he very easily could’ve been inactive.

The Jets seem to love his size (6-3, 207) and ability. There was a reason Douglas took him in the second-round last year and it’s unlikely they’re going to give up on him any time soon. Maybe that one 40-yarder will be the starting point for him. If not, maybe he really doesn’t fit this new offensive scheme.

Overreaction: They love all their running backs, they said. The ground game was going to power the offense, they said. They’d use them all and go with the “hot hand,” they said. Great. Then none of them got hot. How is that going to help a rookie quarterback?

Reality: Yeah, 45 yards on 17 carries split among three backs was pretty disappointing, especially since none of them did much in the passing game, either. But again, you have to consider the circumstances before tossing them all in the trash. And that includes an offensive line that really struggled, a rookie quarterback who didn’t get off to a great start, and the 16-0 hole they ended up in.

If you want to be alarmed at anything, be alarmed at this: They had one rush that went longer than 10 yards – a 12-yarder by Ty Johnson with 8:42 left in the game, right after the Panthers kicked a field goal to go up by two scores. In other words, the defense was sitting back on the pass. On almost every other run there was too much early contact and not enough of making people miss.

But odds are, in this system, someone will get hot. The Jets are committed to running, just like the San Francisco 49ers were with this system in previous years, and they always seemed to turn unheralded running backs into stars. Give it time. That’s especially true for Carter, a rookie that the Jets think really has potential to be a solid lead back.

Overreaction: Here we go again … Same old Jets … They make you think they’re going to be good, they talk about hope and optimism, and then out comes the rug from under your feet.

Reality: This bad dance happens every time the Jets rebuild, which is like every three years. They say “Don’t call us the Same Old Jets,” Then they play like the same old Jets. And then fans (and media) cry “See? Same old Jets.”

I can’t promise they won’t get there again, but if you’re saying that after one game … I’m sorry, you just weren’t watching. If nothing else, Wilson gave some real reasons to believe in him. And this Jets team fought back after being down 16-0. Their defense tightened up. Their offense moved the ball. It was far from perfect, but do you really think they looked anything like the mess of the last two years?

I get it. Fans have been through this so many times before, fooled so many times before, they’re jaded. Some of them don’t believe in hope anymore. But this time really does feel different.

Just hold on to something in case that rug eventually gets pulled out from under you again.