Jets win stopped the circus and may have saved some jobs


The Jets ended their five-game losing streak with a stunning 30-6 victory over the Texans on Sunday. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:

1. The Jets finally put together a complete game on Sunday and came away with a victory. But what does it actually mean when the record is 5-8? 

The biggest thing is the Jets just needed to calm the waters around the organization.

The five-game losing streak, the inability to score touchdowns, the report last week that Zach Wilson was reluctant to start and Joe Benigno revealing texts from Robert Saleh was starting to give this season a circus feel.

I believe Woody Johnson wants to bring Saleh, Joe Douglas and Nathaniel Hackett back in 2024, but if the team ended the year on a 10-game losing streak and things like the Benigno story or the Wilson story kept popping up, he would have had to consider changes.

Now, I think everyone is safe. The Jets showed what their offense can look like with good quarterback play.

Robert Saleh and the Jets got a much-needed win over the Texans on Dec. 10, 2023. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
Nathaniel Hackett has been on the hot seat. Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Will they continue to get that from Wilson? Color me skeptical.

But the critical thing here was this win should give the Jets some calm this week and it eases the pressure entering the final stretch of the season.

It was also a reminder of how good Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall can be. 

The Jets needed a game like Sunday badly and they got it. The playoffs are out of reach, but the Jets can lay some groundwork for 2024 in this final stretch of games. 

2. The offensive struggles this season have overshadowed how well the Jets defense is playing.

The defense was incredible on Sunday against C.J. Stroud, who entered the game leading the NFL in passing yards.

The Jets smothered receivers and pressured Stroud all day. Stroud ended up throwing for just 91 yards. The Texans had 54 net yards passing and 135 total net yards. 

D.J. Reed breaks up a Texans pass USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Three players in particular I think are underappreciated – Quinnen Williams, D.J. Reed and Sauce Gardner. These guys are superstars but I’m not sure everyone sees it because they don’t put up big stats. 

Williams is so disruptive on almost every play. He notched his third sack of the season on Sunday, but his contributions go so far beyond sacks. If he is blocked by one player, he almost always drives the player into the backfield.

On runs, that makes the back changes his path. On passes, you can see quarterbacks scramble as they see one of their linemen being pushed into them.

Williams has been better against the run this year than I have ever seen him in his career. He is playing at an All-Pro level. Don’t get caught up in his sack numbers.

Reed is one of the best free agent signings I can remember. He is so sticky in coverage and gets his hands on a ton of footballs. He only has one interception (another was nullified by penalty) but like Williams, that is deceiving.

When you watched Sunday’s game, Stroud had no one to throw to because the coverage was just so tight. Jets opponents rarely get big production from wide receivers. They have been forced to throw to tight ends and running backs against this defense.

Quinnen Williams takes down C.J. Stroud AP

Gardner is following up his outstanding rookie season with another strong year. Like Reed, he does not give wide receivers any room to breathe.

Gardner does not have any interceptions this season and he has had a few chances. But his coverage is amazing to watch.

He is like glue on receivers and he does make plays on the football. If he gets a few interceptions, his status in the league will rise even higher. 

3. I spent the portion of Friday’s practice that was open to the media watching Aaron Rodgers.

The veteran quarterback was on a side field throwing as the rest of the team stretched. I was amazed watching him drop back just three months removed from Achilles surgery. If you watched him, you would have no idea that he had been hurt. 

It makes you wonder whether he still may try to play this season. I think it’s unlikely.

The Jets are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet but they do not have a realistic path to the postseason. It would be a bad organizational decision to put Rodgers at risk with nothing to play for.

The other element is how well Rodgers can move laterally. The dropbacks I watched were all straight back. He did not do any rollouts and you have to wonder if he can avoid the pass rush. 

We probably won’t see Rodgers back until 2024 but it is remarkable that we are even discussing it. 

Aaron Rodgers works out at Jets practice Bill Kostroun/New York Post

4. Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich deserves some accolades.

He has the Jets in the top 5 in defense again and continues to dial up strong game plans against top quarterbacks. Ulbrich has been hitting all the right notes this year with his blitzes. 

Ulbrich should get some head coaching interviews this year. He deserves them.

I doubt Ulbrich lands a head coaching job this year because you usually have to go through the interview cycle once and then the second time around you get hired. But it should not be overlooked what he is doing with this defense.

This group could have folded and pointed fingers at the offense but they have stayed together and continue to play hard every week. 

Revealing stat

The Jets allowed just 135 yards, the lowest total they have allowed under Saleh. It is the lowest for the Jets since Jan. 3, 2010 when the Bengals only had 72 yards. 

Surprising snap count

John Franklin-Myers only played 15 snaps (27 percent) on Sunday, but he is dealing with an ankle injury so it may be related to that. 

Game ball

Zach Wilson played the game of his life after a rough week. He completed 27 of 36 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. Now, he has to prove it was not a fluke. 

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