Once again, the Jets are 0-1. And head coach Robert Saleh seems incredibly impatient, saying he’s keeping “receipts” on those who mock his team. This comes after Saleh’s record with the organization, which holds the longest active playoff drought of 11 seasons, dropped to 4-14 following a 24-9 loss to Baltimore last Sunday.
The Jets now face another AFC North squad, the Browns, on the road in Week 2. And that impatience could cause the head coach to yank quarterback Joe Flacco in favor of New York’s favorite backup: Mike White.
Flacco is starting in place of the injured Zach Wilson, who’s out until at least Week 4 after suffering a bone bruise and meniscus tear in the preseason. But the veteran struggled mightily against his former team in Week 1 — he made various errant throws (one of which was picked off) and couldn’t escape the pocket to make plays. He’s never been a running quarterback — but at age 37, the lack of mobility is as apparent as ever.
If Flacco and this offense can’t get off to a fast start against a 1-0 Cleveland team, there’s a chance Jets fans could see White under center by halftime. Or even earlier.
The ball is in your court, Joe.
Jets at Browns
When: Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022.
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH.
Time: 1 p.m. ET.
Radio: ESPN Radio New York 98.7 FM.
Keys to victory
Run. The. Football. Flacco’s struggles at age 37 are obvious and it’s not like White would be the absolute savior of the franchise (don’t get too caught up with the one great performance he had last year against the Bengals). The Jets’ key to offensive success will be through the ground game at least until Wilson returns. Expect running backs Michael Carter and rookie Breece Hall to assume significant roles Sunday.
Tight end trio. Can we get the tight ends involved, please? General manager Joe Douglas greatly addressed this position in the offseason by signing veterans C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin before drafting Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert in the third round. And in the season-opener, Ruckert was a healthy scratch, Uzomah didn’t record a single catch, and Conklin had four receptions for 16 yards and one garbage-time touchdown. Douglas brought these guys in for a reason — use them when healthy!
Pass-rush dominance. Douglas also improved the pass rush both this past offseason and the offseason prior. Since 2021, he’s signed defensive end Carl Lawson to a three-year deal, signed defensive end John Franklin-Myers to a four-year extension, and drafted defensive end Jermaine Johnson in the 2022 first round.
The Jets have the necessary depth and should greatly utilize these weapons against quarterback Jacoby Brissett, a primary backup who’s only starting while Deshaun Watson is suspended for 11 games. Brissett is prone to mistakes (he completed just 52.9% of his throws against Carolina last week) and can’t be provided time to operate in the pocket.
Starting linebackers C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams have a daunting task on their hands going against a Chubb-led run game. As mentioned before, Chubb rushed for 141 yards last week on 22 carries — Mosley and Williams must weaken his impact so the Browns are forced to produce offensively through Brissett.
Did you know?
The Jets haven’t won a Week 2 game since 2016, when Todd Bowles was still the head coach. Two years before even Sam Darnold was in Florham Park.
After starting 0-1 that year, the Jets defeated the division-rival Bills on the road 37-31. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s now out of the league and an analyst for Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime, started that game and threw for 374 yards and one touchdown.
The Jets have drafted two first-round quarterbacks since then, portraying the recent dysfunction the organization has experienced. Darnold obviously didn’t work out and is now in Carolina. As for Wilson…well…we’ll see how he fares over the next few seasons.
The Jets defense was solid during the first half last week and won’t have as big a challenge going against Brissett (compared to the Week 1 challenge of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson).
But I don’t trust the Jets’ quarterback situation. What did Flacco do during Week 1 that gives you any hope this offense can keep up with a Browns offense that features Chubb, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and tight end David Njoku? And even if White does enter the game, how sure can you be he’ll replicate his 2021 performance against the Bengals?
It will be a low-scoring bout but expect the Jets to drop to 0-2. Browns 17, Jets 6.