Top 5 Jets that won the game against Jaguars
By Justin Fried
What a time to be alive. The New York Jets came away with their second straight win in a chaotic game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Who’s to credit for the team’s last-minute victory?
Resiliency. Heart. Determination. No, those aren’t the lines to some second-rate inspirational movie. Those words are the apparent motto of the New York Jets football team that continues to go out there each and every week and defy the odds while silencing their critics.
The Jets followed up a somewhat shocking win against the Miami Dolphins with their second consecutive home victory as they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-20 in OT in a game that was as chaotic as it was thrilling.
Despite being without starters Brandon Shell and Josh Martin, the Jets won the battle of the trenches bottling up the highly-touted Leonard Fournette for most of the game while the running game exploded for a combined 256 yards between the duo of Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire who each had career days.
Before we get to the list, some praise should be shown for the Jets coaching staff, particularly offensive coordinator John Morton and head coach Todd Bowles who called an excellent game again.
Morton continues to turn his lemons into lemonade and is clearly making the most of his limited talent on offense. Bowles is a guy who’s received a lot of criticism during his tenure with the Jets but he definitely should be credited for some of this team’s never-say-die attitude and his recent creativity which is certainly a welcome sign.
That being said, these are the five players who secured the victory for the Jets.
Next: 5. Lachlan Edwards
5. Punter Lachlan Edwards
To understand why Lachlan Edwards is on this list one must first analyze the title of this article series.
Edwards is by no means a good punter and by no means did he have a good game, but he did manage to blast a 70-yard punt in overtime that backed the Jaguars up and ultimately set up the eventual winning score for the Jets.
Despite all of the struggles the Aussie had over the course of his rookie season, the team refused to bring in any competition for the second-year man out of Sam Houston State. Edwards has always been known for his good hang time on his punts but has proven inconsistent with his kicking and is a frequent visitor to “Shank City”.
Regardless, the former 7th round pick has shown a little improvement as of late and his big-time kick late in overtime is proof of that. His punt completely shifted momentum and gave the Jags no room to work with. This led to a quick three-and-out forced by the Jets defense which set the team up in great field position for the eventual game-winning field goal.
Now, this was of course assisted by a couple of bone-headed penalties by the Jaguars special teams, but hey a win’s a win.
Edwards has potential, and if he can become more consistent with his kicks then perhaps he could have a long career in the NFL.
But that remains to be seen.
Next: 4. Kony Ealy
4. Defensive End Kony Ealy
Kony Ealy is doing his very best to make general manager Mike Maccagnan look like a smart man.
And so far he’s doing a pretty darn good job.
Despite trading for him in the offseason, the New England Patriots opted to waive Ealy just prior to the start of the season and the Jets took a chance on the 2014 second-round pick who has not disappointed so far.
Ealy has been positioned as a solid role player and he had his best game as a Jet to date on Sunday deflecting a few passes and consistently being a presence in the face of quarterback Blake Bortles all game long.
His biggest splash play came late in the third quarter when he deflected a pass from Bortles up in the air and batted it to himself as he came away with his second career interception.
The former Carolina Panther has been a solid situational pass rusher for the Jets this season and he showed this past game that he could do more than just get to the quarterback as his ball instincts kicked in on a number of plays. Moreover, Ealy has proven to be one of the lone bright spots on a pass rush unit that’s been relatively lackluster over the first four weeks of the season.
More games like this will only solidify his status as a proverbial diamond in the rough and proceed to make Maccagnan look like football’s version of Billy Beane.
Next: 3. Elijah McGuire
3. Running Back Elijah McGuire
The Jets running game dominated Sunday’s game and this was due in part to the emergence of rookie running back Elijah McGuire.
McGuire, a 6th round pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette, has made the most of his limited touches to this point but it’s only a matter of time before he’s featured more prominently in the offense.
Here’s to hoping this past game will be the flame that ignites the fire.
The young running back rushed for 93 yards on only 10 carries including a 69-yard TD run which resulted in his “welcome to the NFL” moment. He also added 38 yards through the air showing off his versatility in the process.
McGuire has emerged as a player in a Jets backfield that was expected to be dominated by Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. The early scouting reports on him insisted that he was a project player who went down on the first contact and struggled to pick up blitzes consistently.
Much like the Jets this season, he’s proving the doubters wrong.
The rookie has shown great burst when hitting the hole and is already showing he’s more than capable of breaking through arm tackles, despite what the scouts had previously said. He’s also proven to be a competent pass blocker and at this point, it’s hard to make a case that he shouldn’t get more playing time.
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We may be seeing the emergence of a player who could become an integral part of this Jets offense in the near future and if one thing’s for sure:
This future looks bright.
Next: 2. Bilal Powell
2. Running Back Bilal Powell
Once again, when given the chance to shine, Bilal Powell did just that with a career-best 163 yards on the ground which included a 75-yard TD run, the second longest in Jets history.
With the arrival of the “Elijah McGuire Express” and the continued strong play of Powell, it’s getting harder and harder to justify Forte getting snaps when he returns from his injury. And perhaps that’s just what the doctor ordered for a rebuilding team like the Jets.
And yes, despite the fact that they’re now 2-2, the Jets are still a rebuilding team.
Powell has long been an underutilized piece on this Jets offensive unit and each and every time he gets the opportunity to show that he can be a lead back he goes out there and proves it.
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Whether it’s this game or over the last few weeks of last season where he essentially carried what was otherwise a woeful offense and proved his true ability, the 2011 4th round draft choice has made the most of his playing time and it’s about time he starts getting the majority of carries.
He’s heard everything from “he’s too injury prone to be an every-down back” to “he’s just a 3rd down guy”, but for a guy that’s averaged 4.0 yards a carry or more each year since 2012 it’s amazing to think that he’s never been given an extended opportunity as the guy.
At almost 29 years old, maybe it’s too late for Powell to be considered a key piece of this offense for the future. But if that’s the team’s thinking, why the heck is Forte still receiving the number of carries he’s getting?
It’s time that the Jets try out a new two-headed backfield, one that revolves around Powell while mixing in McGuire.
Forte has had a long and wonderful career in the NFL but at some point, his touches have to produce results. And that just hasn’t been happening at the same rate as the aforementioned duo.
Next: 1. Chandler Catanzaro
1. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro
Catanzaro is on this list for essentially the same reason that Lachlan Edwards is.
He literally won the Jets the game.
Catanzaro kicked the ball through the uprights from 41 yards out to effectively win the game for the Jets and send the crowd home happy.
Much like Edwards, the former Arizona Cardinal did not have a great game as he missed from 45 earlier in the game but he connected on the one that mattered most as he gave the Jets their second straight victory.
The Cardinals opted not to re-sign Catanzaro, a former top 10 kicker, who had a disastrous 2016 campaign where he connected on only 75 percent of his field goals and missed four total extra points. The Jets signed him in March of this year and he was able to edge out the young Ross Martin in a preseason kicking battle, much to the chagrin of many Jets fans.
Catanzaro hasn’t been lights out, but he hasn’t looked particularly awful either and more clutch kicks like this one will go a long way in changing the perception of him in the minds of the Jets faithful.
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Clutchness isn’t a physical attribute. It’s a personal characteristic. And perhaps “The Cat Man” as they call him was born with ice water in his veins.
Only time will tell.