The New York Jets overcame the loss of their starting quarterback and a ten-point deficit at halftime to defeat the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. It took overtime, some terrible decisions by Bills quarterback Josh Allen, a phenomenal effort by the Jets’ defense, and one of the best catches you’ll ever see — but the end result was a huge win for the home team and a devastating loss for our Bills.
Most of our Jets players to watch came up huge on Monday night, with one notable exception — and that was through no fault of his own. Here’s how our five Jets to watch fared this week.
QB Aaron Rodgers
Man, that just wasn’t what I was expecting, and it wasn’t what I wanted to see, either. Rodgers is a great player, one of the best to ever play his position, and his addition to the Jets gave the team legitimate hopes at not only qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but making some noise in the tournament once they qualified. Well, four plays and one incomplete pass into his season, Rodgers tore the Achilles tendon in his left leg, and he’ll miss the entire 2023 season as a result. That’s not to say that this team can’t make the playoffs this year. After watching that defense, they are certainly capable of keeping the Jets close enough where a bounce or two can go their way on offense and lead to victories. But, the road there becomes immensely harder with Zach Wilson at quarterback.
RB Breece Hall
In positive injury news, Hall looked all the way back from his ACL tear that he suffered last season. His first two carries couldn’t have been any better, as he broke off a 26-yard run on his first touch and followed it up with an 83-yard run on his second. Buffalo woke up after that, and Hall managed just 18 yards on his final eight carries, but you can’t just remove the big plays from a guy’s tally to show that he somehow wasn’t as effective as his monster line would suggest. A 10-carry, 127-yard night is fantastic no matter how it’s accomplished, especially when it’s a guy’s first time playing in a real game after a major injury. Hall also caught his only target, a screen pass from Zach Wilson, and took it 20 yards. He’s the real deal.
WR Garrett Wilson
The line isn’t great — five targets, five catches, 34 yards, one touchdown — but it’s that one touchdown that really stands out. The Jets scored one offensive touchdown, and it came on an absolutely bonkers play by Wilson. I appreciated it in real-time, but looking at the replays since only solidified what I thought I knew: that catch was incredible. For starters, cornerback Tre’Davious White was in great position. Zach Wilson threw a terrible ball. White was ready to bat it down with his left hand (his right hand had Wilson’s left arm pinned down). So Wilson somehow reached around with his right arm, backhanded the ball to himself, tipped it up again while he was on the ground, and secured the catch. Just a Herculean effort from one of the game’s top young receivers.
DT Quinnen Williams
He is just so darn good. Williams was tough to block all night, and even though he didn’t have one of the five sacks the Jets collected (old friend Quinton Jefferson led the way with two sacks), he did manage five tackles, one big fumble recovery, one quarterback hit, and one tackle for loss. The quarterback hit came after Williams beat center Mitch Morse almost immediately off a snap, causing Josh Allen to heave an ill-advised throw into double-coverage for his second interception of the night. Williams is one of the best in the business, and Troy Aikman kept putting him in the company of guys like Aaron Donald and Chris Jones for good reason.
CB Sauce Gardner
This was not a banner night for Sauce, though his reputation certainly seemed to make Josh Allen hesitant to throw the ball his way. When Allen did attack Gardner, though, the Bills had plenty of success. Allen was five-of-five for 64 yards when targeting Gardner. It would have been six-for-six, but Stefon Diggs extended his arms just a bit too much on a catch in the fourth quarter, earning himself an offensive pass interference call in the process (Peyton Manning really didn’t like the call, for what it’s worth. Watching it live, I wasn’t surprised to see the flag... and after seeing the replay, I still wasn’t terribly surprised). Gardner finished with three tackles on the night.