Bob Wischusen has been the radio play-by-play voice of the New York Jets for 19 years. Lasting all season, Wischusen will share thoughts about the Green & White in a weekly column.
Quick Turnaround for TNF
Playing the Thursday night game presents the same challenges to every team in the NFL. Two in particular are a short week in practice — and really only one meaningful practice to get ready for a brand new opponent a few days after you last played. If you're a team with a boat load of injuries, and the Jets are certainly in this category, there's no real significant recovery time after playing on Sunday. The Jets are six deep on the depth chart at wide receiver. Both of their offensive tackles were either out of the Colts game or were lost during the game. They had several players go down with injuries as well. It will be a pleasant surprise if any of those players can recover in time to play on Thursday night. Two things, though, that I think the Jets do have going for them are getting right back on the field after a loss, and they're the home team. Being the road team and having to travel on the short week adds a different layer of difficulty to preparing. Those are at least two check marks in the Jets' favor, but there's nothing easy about playing on Thursday night.
There weren't many positives for the Jets to point to in their loss to the Indianapolis Colts. If there was one defensively, just passing the eye test, the tackling seemed to be a little bit better. And probably not coincidentally, LB Avery Williamson was not only able to start, but was able to play 95% of the plays. He's one of the surest tacklers the Jets have. His being part of the defense is always going to be a good thing. What they have to do a better job of on Thursday night, however, is getting to the quarterback and scheming some type of a pass rush. Sunday afternoon against Indianapolis, their failure to get to Philip Rivers allowed him to pick apart a lot of the zone coverages they like to play behind their pass rush. Right now, the Jets don't feel as if they have man-to-man coverage talent. If you give a quarterback an eternity to throw the ball in the pocket, any NFL team will pick apart zone coverage. But sooner or later, they will find some windows open. If the Jets get some pressure on whomever plays quarterback for Denver on Thursday night, their chances to win will increase exponentially.
Importance of QB Sam Darnold's Improvement
There's an old saying in football that in every win, the coach and the quarterback get too much credit, and in every loss the coach and the quarterback take too much blame. That is certainly true right now with the New York Jets. Having said that though, Sam Darnold -- by his own admission -- has not been the franchise quarterback the Jets need him to be through the first three weeks of the season. It's extenuated even more with all of the injury issues the Jets have on offense. When you're six deep at wide receiver on the depth chart and your No. 1 running back is out, you need your franchise quarterback to not only play mistake-free, but to also play like a star. Through the first three weeks, Sam Darnold has not been able to show that quality. He certainly seemed to show it at the end of last season, but he needs to be better on Thursday night. When normally you give the quarterback too much credit when the team wins, the Jets need to pin most of their hopes of winning on Thursday night on Sam Darnold being better. It might not be fair, but that's the hand the Jets and their quarterback have been dealt.