It should be no surprise to everyone who watches NY Jets games that this team lives and dies on the performance of their defense — that has been their MO since Robert Saleh took over the team. I guess you could argue that has been their MO since the beginning of time, but I digress — it is clearly the catalyst for this current regime’s success.
Turnovers have come at a premium for a team that at one point led the league in takeaways per game, but now, in two consecutive contests, they’ve had zero takeaways.
The Jets still miraculously won against the Giants due to a missed field goal and some timely penalties, but that was just the second game of Zach Wilson's three-year NFL career that he won without a defensive takeaway.
In last week’s Los Angeles Chargers game, he did not even come close to accomplishing this feat a third time in three years as he fumbled twice and scored zero touchdowns en route to a 21-point loss.
The NY Jets have a golden opportunity to force turnovers on defense this week
So, will the defense be able to secure a takeaway? The opposing QB is Aidan O’Connell, who in his first start with former head coach Josh McDaniels had three turnovers (one pick, two fumbles) and zero touchdowns en route to defeat against the Chargers.
Under McDaniels’ coaching, he had another outing, subbing in for Jimmy Garoppolo, and still had a turnover, but this time, he threw his first career NFL touchdown in an 18-point loss to the Chicago Bears.
There’s a new head coach in town, and Antonio Piece won his head coaching debut 30-6 against the same New York Giants team that took the Jets to overtime to narrowly squeak by.
O'Connell played his role of game manager to a tee — 64% completion, zero touchdowns, zero turnovers, and 209 yards. Perhaps they’ve found their Zach Wilson?
They relied on 26 Josh Jacobs carries for 98 yards, two touchdowns, and peace of mind at the core of their offense. If the Jets, who have actually struggled to stop run yardage this season (30th in the NFL), can bottle up Jacobs, then they will force O’Connell to try to win this game with his arm.
Something tells me that no one in Raider nation wants that to happen, and perhaps O’Connell himself knows it can’t happen. But that is the — stop the run and force a rookie making his third start in the NFL to try to dissect one of the most efficient defenses in all of football.
The Jets will get pressure with just a four-man rush like they do better than any team in the league and will have extra defensive backs in coverage. Is this the recipe to end the turnover drought? I hope so.