Even in defeat, the NY Jets' rookie class can provide a positive outlook on the team's future. It was an ugly game in Buffalo, but on an afternoon where there weren't as many highlights as fans may be used to, they still saw glimmers of hope from their young core.
Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Zonovan Knight, and Jermaine Johnson were key difference-makers during the Jets' Week 14 loss to the No. 1 seed Buffalo Bills.
Market Leader: Garrett Wilson, WR, NY Jets ($GDUB)
- Stats: 7 targets, 6 receptions for 78 yards, 97% snap count
After another performance solidifying his positioning as the Jets WR1, Garrett Wilson is now the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year,
Wilson also made history for the Jets in Week 15, as he passed Keyshawn Johnson for the most receiving yards by a Jets rookie.
After being taken 10th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, there were relatively high expectations for Wilson to carve out a role in this offense.
Considering there were pieces like Corey Davis and Elijah Moore in the receiver room, there was a notion that it would take some time for the rookie out of Ohio State to blossom in this offense.
This has not been the case. Since basically day one of the season, Wilson has been not only the most talented but the most consistent producer for this wide receiver group.
It's hard to imagine a better rookie year thus far for Wilson, who should be the Jets' No. 1 threat for years to come. Expect this domination to continue over a crucial four-game stretch to end the season, especially this week against a weak Detroit Lions pass defense.
Remains in S&P 500: Sauce Gardner, CB, NY Jets ($SAUCE)
- Stats: 4 tackles, 1 pass defended, 100% snap count
Sauce Gardner did what he has been able to do for nearly every week and every snap of his rookie year — be dominant and damn near flawless.
In a game where there were two electric playmakers to worry about in Buffalo (Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis), Gardner locked up anyone who was in front of him. He did a particularly great job against Diggs, who burned him once in their last matchup.
Some of his incredible play this season includes an ability to have great recovery time when he does get beat by a step.
Of his NFL-leading 16 passes defended so far this season, many of them have come in critical moments when he is able to regain perfect positioning to get just enough in the way of a receiver to not allow a catch.
He did so again this week — it was yet another highlight to add to his tremendous rookie year in which it feels inevitable that he will be rewarded with the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
RB1: Zonovan Knight, RB, NY Jets ($BAM)
- Stats: 17 rushes for 71 yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 2 receptions for 6 yards, 47% snap count
In only his third week on the field, Zonovan "Bam" Knight has left little doubt when it comes to who should be getting the majority of snaps in the Jets' backfield.
While Michael Carter out-snapped Knight, the rookie was far and away more impressive with his consistent display of burst as well as when it comes to ball security.
While Carter will not necessarily be phased out, it would be smart for the Jets to continue to increase the workload for Knight as the offense needs to maximize the talent of their offensive playmakers.
There were times during the game against the Bills when it felt like, instead of dropbacks on early downs, it could have been smarter to feed Knight. Establishing the run with a back who averaged over four yards per carry seemed like a strategy worth entertaining.
If Knight continues to make this much noise for the rest of the season, he will be making a strong case to be the RB2 heading into the 2023 season.