New York Jets Week 17 Loss Gave Glimpse of Bright Future

Jets Future
Spread the love

Entering Sunday’s matchup between the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, nobody thought the underdog could pull off the upset. And rightfully so. The Buccaneers had more talent, better coaching, and of course Tom Brady. Tampa Bay is on their way to defending their crown, whereas the Jets are already looking towards the off-season. Yet, someway, somehow, the Jets had Brady and the Buccaneers down to the wire in what wound up being a 28-24 loss. Even so, it is hard to ignore the fact the Jets gave fans a glimpse into what is a bright future.

New York Jets Week 17 Loss Gave Glimpse of Bright Future

Developing the Right Culture

One of the storylines this season for the Jets has been developing a winning culture, albeit with the expectation 2021 would be a brutal, development-focused year. Nevertheless, Head Coach Robert Saleh has his squad playing with a fire and passion late in a lost season that the Jets have not seen before.

All season long, injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated rosters across the league. New York is no different, as they came into the game without starting center Connor McGovern, running back Tevin Coleman, and their top three wide receivers. By halftime, the team had even lost starters in Michael Carter (concussion), George Fant (knee), and were onto practice squad call-up Kenny Yeboah as their main tight end.

And that’s just on offense.

Either way, Saleh had his four-win Jets taking Brady down to the wire and could have forced overtime had the team kicked a field goal on their final possession. Nevertheless, it is the fact that Zach Wilson and company did so that is impressive. All season long fans have been waiting to see the team string together multiple competitive football games. Their loss marks the third straight one-possession ballgame, as the Jets are putting together a strong finish to a rough season.

Zach Wilson is Getting Comfortable

One of the biggest takeaways from Sunday’s game is the performance of 2021 second overall pick Zach Wilson. It has been a very long, up-and-down season for the rookie out of BYU that has been filled with underwhelming play, injury, and criticism. Though, it would appear Wilson is finally settling into the speed of the NFL game.

Throwing to Braxton Berrios, Keelan Cole, Jeff Smith, and Yeboah, Wilson had one of the better games of his rookie campaign. No, his 234 passing yards and touchdown are not going to stand out. Rather, it is the film from the game that will make people realize he is beginning to see the game slower.

Tampa Bay has one of the better defenses in the league. One that includes playmakers such as Devin White, Carlton Davis, Antoine Winfield Jr., and many more. For Wilson to toss his fourth straight game without an interception is progress. He has begun to take what the defense gives him, pick and choose his shots, and really develop a feel for the pocket. In other words, Wilson is gaining confidence as his rookie year ends, which will go a long way for him as he enters his first off-season as a pro.

Braxton Berrios Deserves Extension

One of the storylines of the late 2021 Jets season has been the emergence of Braxton Berrios. A waiver wire pickup in 2019, Berrios has not only proven to be a very good return specialist (2021 Pro Bowl alternate) but has made significant strides as a receiver. On Sunday, Berrios hauled in eight of 12 targets for 65 yards and a touchdown. He also added another touchdown on the ground, as he finished with 77 yards from scrimmage.

The Miami product has a budding connection with Wilson, and one the Jets cannot ignore. Set to hit free agency alongside Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole, Berrios is a must retain for the Jets this off-season. Only 26-years-old, Berrios has become too valuable to let walk, especially with Elijah Moore and Corey Davis being their only roster locks at receiver in 2022.

Run Blocking Vastly Improved

Last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Jets run game totaled 273 yards on 36 carries. Against the Buccaneers, who have a top ten run defense, the Jets finished with 150 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 26 carries. With Carter (3 carries for 54 yards) exiting early, the Jets relied on Austin Walter and Ty Johnson to carry the load.

But it was the blocking upfront that cleared the way for another successful day on the ground. It started along the interior, as Dan Feeney, Alijah-Vera-Tucker, and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif cleared way against Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh. At this point, it is hard to ignore the impact Duvernay-Tardif has had on the Jets offensive line since being acquired at the trade deadline. He certainly has played his way into being considered for a new contract this off-season.

One thing to watch for next week will be the status of George Fant. If he cannot go, third-year tackle Chuma Edoga is next up to start at left tackle, with Morgan Moses manning right. As the Jets evaluate their future plans upfront, getting Edoga reps will help determine their need at tackle with Moses set to be a free agent.

The Defense has Long-Term Pieces

In 2021, the Jets defense has been bad. The unit is at the bottom of the league in yards allowed, points allowed per game, and various other categories. Except, once again, the Jets can walk away from a game knowing they have hit on multiple core pieces moving forward.

In the secondary, Bryce Hall has earned himself a starting cornerback spot next season. Rookie Brandin Echols flashed his ability on the outside, as Jason Pinnock has settled in as a corner-safety hybrid. At the same time, C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams remain tackling machines. Simply put, for as much work as the Jets defense needs, they can find a handful of contributors currently on the roster.

A Bright Future in New York

Look, now a 4-12 record is by no means pretty. However, the Jets are finishing the season off playing tough, gritty football. More importantly, they are making progress in developing a competitive culture, which is what the 2021 season was all about. As General Manager Joe Douglas lays out his off-season plan, with all the capital the Jets possess, it is hard to ignore what could be a bright future for Gang Green.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images