The New York Jets snapped their three-game losing streak with a 34-16 victory over the Denver Broncos following an exciting showing from the offense. How does the unit grade out after this big victory?
If we’ve learned one thing about the New York Jets through five weeks it’s that they can only win in blowouts. Although the final score may only show an 18-point victory, a late garbage-time touchdown and multiple missed opportunities make the game seem closer than it really was. In actuality, the Jets outplayed the Broncos in every phase of football, and perhaps no margin was wider than the one between the team’s two offenses.
While the Broncos offense struggled to put the ball in the end zone against a stout Jets defensive front, the Jets offense exploded with big play after big play paving the way for a record-breaking performance. New York excelled with both their passing and rushing attacks, but it’s hard to discuss this game without first talking about the team’s success on the ground.
The Jets running game erupted for 323 yards which is a crazy stat in its own right but even crazier when put into perspective.
The 323 rushing yards were the most by a Jets team since 1972 and the second most in franchise history. This comes just one week after the team mustered up only 34 rushing yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Statistically speaking, the Jets run game was nearly 10 times more effective this week.
Most of these rushing yards came courtesy of Isaiah Crowell who shattered plenty of records of his own en route to a career day. Crowell rushed for a total of 219 yards, the most ever by a Jets player in a single game. This also marked the most rushing yards in an NFL game since Le’Veon Bell‘s 236 in 2016.
With just 15 carries on the day, Crowell averaged 14.6 yards per carry which rank as the highest by any player in a game with a minimum of 15 carries. Not only that, but a 12-yard reception helped to boost his total scrimmage yards to 231, also the most by a Jets player in franchise history.
In short, the Jets rushing game was dominant on Sunday.
Bilal Powell added to the fun falling just short of 100 yards rushing on the day capping off a supreme game by the Jets running backs. But all the credit certainly shouldn’t go to the team’s dynamic duo in the backfield.
The Jets offensive line played their most complete game in quite some time easily handling Denver’s stout front seven and paving the way for the team’s rushing success.
Jeremy Bates employed a mostly zone blocking scheme with double teams working efficiently, extra in-line blockers sealing off the edge, and linemen getting into the second level to complete the control of the line of scrimmage. Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, and Brian Winters each had excellent games running the zone blocking scheme to perfection but a special shoutout should go to the team’s right tackle, Brandon Shell.
Shell has developed into a very solid offensive tackle for the team over the past few years but his tendency to step up against elite pass rushers is one that tends to fly under the radar. Shell faced a huge test in this game facing one of the most complete edge defenders in the league in Von Miller.
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Not only did he pass that test. He aced it.
Miller was held without a sack and was a relative non-factor throughout the game with Shell more than holding his own against the talented Broncos defender. The Jets seem to have found a gem in Shell who was considered a developmental prospect coming out of South Carolina as a 5th-round selection in the 2016 draft.
Shell’s rookie deal runs through next season and if he keeps playing like this, the Jets would be wise to keep him around and make him a centerpiece of the offensive line for years to come.
The other story to come out of the Jets offensive explosion in this one was the growing chemistry between rookie Sam Darnold and wide receiver Robby Anderson. Anderson had become the forgotten man of the offense over the past few weeks but he burst on to the scene once again catching three passes for a whopping 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Two of his three catches came on simple fly routes where Anderson beat his man, something the talented receiver has been able to do consistently in his career. This time Darnold was able to drop the ball exactly where it needed to be for Anderson to haul both balls in for two long touchdowns.
The first of which came early in the second quarter when the speedy wideout burned past cornerback Bradley Roby and brought in a beautifully thrown ball from Darnold for a 76-yard touchdown.
It’s worth noting that on that play, Roby wasn’t in press coverage. Far from it. The former first-round pick gave Anderson nearly 10 yards of cushion but less than five seconds later, Anderson had jolted by Roby nearly five yards in front of him by the time he caught the ball.
When at his best, Anderson is an elite deep threat who has the ability to run past any cornerback in the league. He may have gotten off to a slow start, but the talent is there and if Darnold could hit him regularly downfield, the Jets may have a deadly combination on their hands.
Anderson’s second touchdown grab came on an absolute dime from Darnold who laid the ball right into the hands of the Temple product who was tightly covered by Roby for a Jets touchdown late in the first half. The throw was likely the best of Darnold’s young career and emphasized his improved ability to hurl the ball down the field.
Last week the Jets took some shots downfield, more than they had all year. Unfortunately, Darnold missed nearly every opportunity.
This week he wasn’t missing.
Even on a couple of incomplete passes, the ball was where it needed to be but the receiver didn’t come down with the ball for one reason or another. And that’s the most encouraging fact about all of this. Darnold made mistakes last week and missed throws, but he came back this week and corrected his mistakes and hit on balls he missed last week.
Forget the stats for a second. Forget his 45% completion percentage. This is the best we’ve seen Darnold look, no question about it.
He already has the chemistry with Quincy Enunwa, who was surprisingly held without a catch in this contest. The next step is developing that same chemistry with Anderson. And if Sunday’s game is any indication, the Jets may be looking at a trio of players to build around on this offense for years to come.
The Jets may not be a playoff team this year and fans would be foolish to expect this type of production out of the offense on a regular basis but for at least this game, the Jets offense played lights out and is well-deserving of a high grade.