NY Jets fans should keep an eye on these three players in Week 2 against the 49ers.
The NY Jets will limp into their home opener against the San Francisco 49ers this weekend needing a miracle to pull off the victory.
They’re going to have some help in the form of a beaten and battered 49ers team, but in a matchup some have dubbed the “Injury Bowl,” the Jets will also enter with their fair share of injuries.
Starting slot receiver Jamison Crowder has already been declared out while a host of others were placed on injured reserve in recent weeks including the likes of Le’Veon Bell, Denzel Mims, Jabari Zuniga, and Blake Cashman.
For that reason, the Jets will need those who are healthy to step up and exceed expectations if they are to have any chance of defeating the defending NFC West champions.
Typically, there would be some talk of a potential “trap game” for San Francisco in this one. But after losing their season opener to the Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers can ill-afford to fall to 0-2 with a loss to a woeful Jets team.
Still, there are a few things the Jets could do to remain competitive. And there are a few players that the team could turn to as they search to field a competent roster.
For better or worse, Jets fans should keep an eye on the following three players this Sunday.
Next: 3. Braxton Berrios
3. Braxton Berrios, WR, NY Jets
The Jets’ depleted wide receiver corps took yet another hit this past week following a hamstring injury suffered by starting slot receiver Jamison Crowder.
Crowder has been arguably the Jets’ best offensive player over the last two years and remained a lone bright spot in a disgustingly thin wide receiver group. Now, the Jets will be forced to play without him for at least a week.
In his place, the Jets are expected to start the unheralded Braxton Berrios who will be making his first career start. Berrios impressed in limited playing time last season, but remains very inexperienced.
However, Sunday will be his opportunity to prove his worth.
The Miami product hauled in six catches for 115 yards in 2019 including a 69-yard catch-and-run that he almost took to the house. He’ll be matched up against one of the better slot cornerbacks in the NFL in K’Waun Williams so Sunday will be no easy task.
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But for a player who played just one snap on Sunday — a punt that resulted in a fair catch — this will undoubtedly be the biggest opportunity of his career.
Berrios will be starting alongside the likes of Breshad Perriman and Chris Hogan who did next to nothing in Week 1. And if he could step in and fill Crowder’s role in the offense, perhaps he could become a trusted target of Sam Darnold before long.
Look for Berrios to make the most of his opportunity this weekend.
Next: 2. Sam Darnold
2. Sam Darnold, QB, NY Jets
Sam Darnold did not have a good day on Sunday — and that’s probably a bit of an understatement.
While his numbers won’t look terrible (60 percent completion, 215 yards, one touchdown, one interception), the tape isn’t indicative of a player who helped his team in any way. His league-worst 37.2 Pro Football Focus grade is further proof of that.
Darnold wasn’t helped by his situation and he’s never been put in a situation where he has been aided by his supporting cast. But on Sunday, Darnold was bad independent of his situation.
He missed throws, made incorrect reads, and his decision-making was all out of whack. Worst of all, we just didn’t see that same playmaking ability that Darnold has become known for.
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He looks gun-shy when scrambling out of the pocket, clearly thinking about the play as it develops. The improvisation skills we saw from Darnold early in his career weren’t there on Sunday and it has many fearful for his future.
Week 2 will provide him another opportunity to silence his doubters. The only problem is that he will be playing in an even worse situation than Week 1.
Facing a dominant 49ers’ defense, he’ll now be without both Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder. The offensive line held up well in Week 1 — don’t expect that to be the case against the likes of Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford.
Darnold has his work cut out for him yet again. But in what will probably be a weekly occurrence, the former USC star is must-watch this week.
Next: 1. Mekhi Becton
1. Mekhi Becton, LT, NY Jets
One of the few optimistic takeaways from Week 1 was the performance of first-round rookie Mekhi Becton. Becton stepped into a starting role and immediately looked like arguably the team’s best offensive lineman.
Matched up with veteran Jerry Hughes for much of the day, Becton did an excellent job of limiting the effectiveness of a player who’s amassed more than 50 sacks in his career.
The lone sack that he surrendered was more a result of excellent coverage downfield while he was flagged for one holding call where Hughes got the better of him. But aside from that, Week 1 was an impressive debut for Becton.
The Louisville product finished with an excellent 77.2 Pro Football Focus grade which ranked him as PFF’s highest-graded offensive rookie starter. Only 10 offensive tackles finished with higher grades than he did.
Going into Week 2, however, his job is about to get a lot harder.
Becton is expected to be matched up with 49ers’ star pass-rusher Nick Bosa. Fresh off a Defensive Rookie of the Year performance in 2019, Bosa will enter Week 2 looking for his first sack of the season.
And the safe bet is on him getting it.
Becton was impressive in Week 1 against a very solid player in Hughes. But in Week 2, he’ll be facing a top-10 pass-rusher in the NFL.
No matter how he fares, Becton will be can’t-miss on Sunday.