As Jets head coach Robert Saleh said this week, "We're always trying to accelerate the process and win immediately. We want to win. We want to win now." No sooner can that happen than Week 2 of the '22 season when the Jets prepare to rock 'n' roll over the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday. Here are five players to watch as the Green & White attempt to reach .500 for the first time since they were 3-3 in 2018:
WR Elijah Moore and RB Michael Carter — As rookies, the two lit it up for the Jets with 10 touchdowns and 1,556 yards combined. In Sunday's opener, they appear primed to lead the way again. Carter zipped for 100 scrimmage yards, the fourth time he's reached triple figures in his young career. And Moore had a 24-yard reception from Joe Flacco in the opening quarter, marking the seventh consecutive game he's played in and caught a pass for 20+ yards. That's the second-longest active streak in the NFL and it's the longest by a Jet since Eric Decker's 11-game streak in 2014-15. And considering that Cleveland played Carolina's run game well but its pass game not so well — Baker Mayfield launched a pair of 50+ passes, including a 75-yard TD strike to ex-Jet Robbie Anderson, vs. the Browns in their opener — Moore extending his streak seems doable.
LT George Fant — Fant won't be the only one but he may be the primary hoped-for immovable object in the way of the Browns' irresistible force. DE Myles Garrett usually lines up as the defense's right end, but he could also appear at left end and as a left inside rusher on passing downs, in a three-point or two-point stance. Regardless of where he lines up, the Jets will need an answer for him if they plan to get their offense untracked. Garrett in four games vs. the Green & White since 2017 has at least a sack in all four, multiple sacks in three, and career totals of eight sacks, 11 QB hits, 17 pressures, two PDs behind the line, three penalties cause (two false starts, one illegal use of hands), plus one QB KO, when he roughed Trevor Siemian while sending him to the sideline in the 2019 MetLife meeting.
See the top photos from Wednesday's practice leading up to the first road game of the 2022 season.
MLB C.J. Mosley — Mosley and the Jets' No. 3-ranked run defense are feeling good about themselves after holding the NFL's top rushing offense over the previous four seasons in the Ravens to 63 yards and the top rushing QB in Lamar Jackson to 17 yards. But this week is a different challenge. QB Jacoby Brissett isn't the threat — it's the tag team of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Jets have held Chubb in check in their three previous meetings (combined 31 carries for 96 yards at 3.1 yards/carry but also two TDs) but Chubb has been one of the NFL's top RBs since 2018 with 5.33 yards/carry and 23 100-yard rushing games, including Sunday's 141-yard opener at Carolina. And Hunt, beginning his sixth season, has scored 46 TDs, including one rushing and one receiving at the Panthers.
K Greg Zuerlein — Robert Saleh had positive words for Zuerlein, who missed a 45-yard field goal try and an extra point in his Jets debut vs. the Ravens: "I'm not worried about 'Z'. Obviously, it wasn't his best day. I'm very confident that he'll bounce back just fine." True enough, "Legatron" didn't have his best day, considering he's one of 11 Jets kickers to convert 45% or less of possible placement points (3 of 7, 42.9%) in a season opener. But consider that Zuerlein, in his 10 previous "second games" from 2012-2021, regardless of how he did in those openers, converted all 23 of his FGs and all 22 of his XPs. And in the nine games following the nine worst percentage in Zuerlein's career, he was 14/16 on FGs and 22/23 on extra points. We agree with the coach that he'll bounce back fine. But until then, we'll watch.