After this past weekend, it is safe to officially say that these are not the “Same Old Jets.” Defeating the Buffalo Bills by a score of 20-17, the team improved its record to 6-3, its best start to a season in over a decade.
This win was crucial for the Jets, proving that the team can continue to bounce back from adversity and losses. This was most apparent with quarterback Zach Wilson and his command of the offense. After the Patriots game, in which Wilson threw three interceptions, many people questioned Wilson’s short-term viability to lead the team. Between his decision-making and inability to play within structure, many were concerned that Wilson’s play would continue to harm the Jets.
While the overall question of Wilson’s future is still undecided, the second-year quarterback showed that he could handle adversity and help lead the team to victory. Wilson had 154 yards passing, completing 18 of his 25 attempts and having a touchdown in the process. He was decisive and quick with his decisions, getting the ball out on time. Wilson played within the structure of the offense and did not try to be a hero; as a result of this, the execution of the play calls was smooth.
In addition to his passing, Wilson added 24 yards rushing. The second-year quarterback finally showed off his running ability, rushing for first downs when the opportunity was there. The running helped to keep the Buffalo defense honest and kept the passing lanes open.
This game had other standouts that helped the Jets win against a very talented Bills roster. The offensive line was dominant, opening running lanes for Michael Carter and James Robinson while wearing down the Buffalo front seven. In addition, Garrett Wilson showed off his superstar ability, pacing the Jets with 92 receiving yards on eight receptions. He looked crisp on his route running while also showing a dynamic ability in space with the ball in his hands.
Quinnen Williams continued to be a dominant force for the Jets, racking up another sack and disrupting the Bills’ backfield all game. In addition, Jermaine Johnson and Bryce Huff each had critical sacks, showing off their pass-rush ability when the Jets needed it most.
In the secondary, Sauce Garnder and D.J Reed continued to show that they are one of, if not the best, cornerback duo in the NFL. Outside of a long Stefon Diggs reception, the cornerback shut down the talented Bills wide receivers for most of the game. Gardner had an interception and the game-winning pass deflection, continuing his impressive rookie season that has already gained him a potential place among the best corners in the NFL.
After the game, head coach Robert Saleh spoke about the outside perception of the team versus how the team views its success
“I know a lot of people are going to be surprised, right? I don’t think there is a person surprised in the locker room. It’s a hard-fought game. That’s a damn good football team, a well-coached football team over there. Buffalo has championship aspirations, but I don’t think there is a guy in that locker room who didn’t think we could win.
The Jets’ head coach also spoke about the team’s mentality in games they are behind in.
“We don’t flinch. I think we’re too young to flinch. Just a belief and preparation. We believe we can win if we just go 60 minutes. I’ve said it before, our three preseason wins were in the fourth quarter. So there is just a belief that if you just give us time or if we have a play to play, we’re going to treat that play like a championship moment. We’re going to do our best. I feel like they have that mindset,” said Saleh.
Zach Wilson also spoke this past week about what Saleh has brought to the Jets, saying that “he does a great job with setting the culture of the team.”
“You hire your guys to call plays, and he’s an amazing defensive coach, obviously, and I know he’s probably in there doing whatever he needs to do to get that room right, but majority of what his job is, is to bring in the right culture, the right mindset, show guys the tools that we have and how to bring us together and how we can play well together. So, I think he does a great job with that each and every week, just showing everyone how well we can be playing together.”
The Jets firmly control their destiny with eight games left in their season. Powered by an elite defense and a supplementary offense, the Jets have their best chance to make the playoffs since the 2015 season. And with Josh Allen dealing with an injury, the AFC East division title is not entirely out of the question.
If the team can go .500 the rest of the way, which would be a 4-4 record, they will finish with ten wins. In an AFC that is a little bit weaker this season, that should be enough to secure a playoff spot. Considering the Jets’ schedule, which still includes games with Chicago, Detroit, and Jacksonville, there seems to be a very good chance of this happening.
Throughout this season, the Jets have shattered the expectations placed upon them. This was a team who had a Vegas projected win total of 5 and a half wins and was expected to simply compete in games; instead, the Jets have shown that they are one of the best teams in the AFC this season. As a result, the playoffs are in sight for a team that has not made it there in over a decade. For that reason, the Jets seem primed to soar to new heights and continue to show why they are one of the most exciting teams in the NFL.