The Zach Wilson- and Mike LaFleur-led Jets offense couldn’t find any sort of rhythm in its Sunday morning loss to Atlanta.
There was hope; there was optimism coming off the Jets‘ huge Week 4 win over Tennessee — their first of the 2021 season.
The offense looked better against the Titans, and so did rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who put together his best game as a pro (297 yards and two touchdowns).
Momentum is crucial in this league, which is why that Jets win was so important ahead of a trip to London for Sunday’s matchup against the Falcons. Unfortunately, however, Gang Green and its first-year quarterback failed to ride that momentum toward a second consecutive win, and it came at the heels of Wilson’s struggles and offensive inefficiency.
Even with a number of reliable backs on the roster, the Jets couldn’t efficiently run the football in order to take pressure off Wilson.
And even with various reliable weapons, including Denzel Mims (who, again, was used sparingly), the Jets failed to take advantage of an Atlanta secondary that was allowing 264.0 passing yards per game entering Sunday.
Wilson additionally continued his interception streak and threw a pick for the fifth consecutive game to commence his pro career. He’s now thrown nine interceptions thus far in his still-young rookie season. Zach finished with 192 yards on 19-of-32 passing.
I understand this was supposed to be a developmental season for the Jets given Wilson’s inexperience, the fact it’s Robert Saleh‘s first year as an NFL head coach, and the overall young roster.
But some of the issues are concerning — those issues arose across the pond in a 27-20 loss at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
2016 Matt Ryan?
This Jets defense, entering Week 5, was relatively strong in comparison to the team’s other units.
But on Sunday out in London, they let an aging Matt Ryan look like the Matt Ryan of 2016, when the longtime Falcons quarterback earned the NFL MVP Award.
Ryan put together arguably his most impressive game of the season thus far, throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns on 33-of-45 passing. These superb numbers came in spite of the fact the Falcons were missing receivers Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, which further provides context to how poor the Jets secondary was.
Pressuring Ryan could always lead to the veteran making mistakes due to his inability to portray sheer athleticism, but the Jets failed in that regard. New York didn’t rack up a single sack throughout the contest.
Part of the reason the Falcons were able to find this type of success through the air was also due to the production in the run game.
The Falcons gained a total of 108 yards on the ground thanks to 53 yards from Mike Davis and 54 from the ever-dynamic Cordarrelle Patterson, who continues to be such a talented weapon in Arthur Smith’s offense.
This Jets defense needed to step up and at least provide Wilson and the offense the opportunity to get out in front on the scoreboard. It’s unclear if the jet lag or a lack of preparation led to the underwhelming performance — the bottom line is Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich’s unit took a step backward.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY