The Jets nearly pulled off a comeback win, but lost against the Vikings on Sunday. Lost 27-22 in Minneapolis. Below are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. The focus was on offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and his decision to throw the ball from the 1-yard line on third-and-four on the Jets’ penultimate drive. I didn’t have a problem with it at the time, but I decided to take a closer look to see if the criticism was valid.
I still thought LaFleur’s decision was good.
Here’s the first thing: If Mike White gets the ball a little too far in front of Braxton Berrios on fourth down, the Jets will score the game-winning touchdown. If Berrios can secure the catch after the fumble, the Jets have won the game. If that happens, we won’t talk about it.
Here’s why I think LaFleur made the right call: The Jets offensive line was pushed back Sunday. They didn’t play great. If you look at the Jets’ previous drive, after they had pass interference at the Vikings’ 3-yard line, LaFleur gave the ball to Zonovan Knight for a first down and he lost 2 yards. He then called two passes, one of which was a White scramble. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, he called a White sneak that brought up the score.
Now go to the series in question. The Jets reach the 9-yard line with 2:17 left. They bend short to Corey Davis, which takes them to the 4th and gives them new downs. LaFleur now runs first and second on Knight. Vikings defenders pounded Knight in the backfield on both plays. The Knights gain 3 yards on the first play. It is stopped for no gain on the second pass. LaFleur tried to throw a corner to Garrett Wilson at third, but Wilson tripped. Berrios then singled in the fourth.
I get that everyone thinks he can be an offensive coordinator, but I think LaFleur was right here. It wasn’t Marshawn Lynch against the Patriots. Knight made his first career start and the offensive line was fluid all day. Still, the Jets were inches away from scoring the go-ahead touchdown here if White and Berrios connected.
When it comes to the fourth game, I’ll look at LaFleur, who entered the lineup empty-handed. Why don’t you at least think you might be running defense? You give the previous seven people a test answer with that form. They know you’re throwing and can ignore running.
Overall, I think LaFleur does a good job. Offensive coordinators always take the heat. It comes with the job. But LaFleur doesn’t deserve to be killed for it.
2. I stumbled upon the final show Sunday night that the Vikings were reviewing the game. I’m amazed at how much the perception of the Jets has changed this season. The Jets have been a staple for people for a long time and have been viewed as an easy win in the schedule. But the analysts on that show talked about what a great win it was for the Vikings against such a good Jets team. They also say the Vikings won’t see as tough a defense as the Jets this season.
Who knows what will happen in the final five weeks of the season, but it’s safe to say that the Jets have gone from laughingstock to a respected team around the NFL in recent years. Credit to Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh for making this happen.
3. It wasn’t Mike White’s best game on Sunday, but he is there was still enough to convince you that he’s a guy who’s moving forward. There shouldn’t be any question about White being the backup at this point. He looks very confident and confident there. It’s not even about Zach Wilson now. The point is that White deserves this shot. I don’t think the Jets need to declare him the starter for the rest of the year. It seems pointless to me. But Salih knows he has to ride with White until the wheels fall off.
White had some great throws in this game, but the one that stood out to me the most was a fourth-and-10 pass to Corey Davis for 31 yards in the fourth quarter. White was drilled by Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter earlier in the game. White looked injured. He stayed on the lawn for a while. The fact that he shook off that shot and then delivered that pass on fourth down showed tremendous strength.
White has a little something for him, and the Jets are feeding off of it right now.
4. One of the great parts of my job is seeing all the different stadiums in the NFL. I had only been to US Bank Stadium once before Sunday, and that was for the 2018 Super Bowl. It was my first time there for a Vikings game and wow, it was impressive. The stadium itself is beautiful, with glass that lets in natural light even when you’re in the dome. The game day atmosphere is similar to a college game. The fans sing “Skol” together and have a big drum that they beat. They had a lot of cool promos on the video screen and even fake snow falling from the roof before the game.
One constant thought when I visit these stadiums is: How did the Jets and Giants get MetLife wrong? This is New York/New Jersey. That stadium has to be the best in the league. However, it feels very dated and unappealing. The stadium is sometimes loud, but there is no real atmosphere. How come they didn’t design the stadium to look like the world’s most famous skyline? Why is he so … so … so … gray?
With so many other great stadiums built around the country in recent years, it just stinks that New York fans are stuck in a bad stadium.
Disclosure of statistics
Garrett Wilson’s 162-yard reception was the third time a Jets receiver has had that many this century. Jerricho Cotchery had 165 against the Ravens in 2007 and Eric Decker had 221 against the Dolphins in 2014.
A surprising number of shots
The Jets have made adjustments to their defensive line rotation, and Quinnen Williams is now playing more. Williams made 49 snaps (72 percent) on Sunday. Williams played less early in the year. The Jets love to rotate their defensive line, but it makes sense to have your best player on the field more.
Garrett Wilson looks like a superstar. He dominated Sunday with eight catches for 162 yards. He made big play after big play, no bigger than his 60-yard catch when he broke the ball for an 11th down. Wilson is great with the ball in his hands. The Jets have found themselves as a true playmaker.