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.
Defense Providing Encouragement
Last Sunday's loss to the Bills — for the New York Jets defense — was a case of glass half-empty and glass half-full. The glass half-empty: The defense never forced a punt, and it's hard to change field position and get that aspect of the game on your side if you can't get a stop outside of FG range. But I would prefer to look at their performance as glass half-full. The unit allowed 18 points, it never let the Bills get into the end zone. In the red zone, the defense got stop after stop and it also continued to take away the ball, which is the most important thing a defense in the NFL can do. Add it all up, and 18 points allowed by a defense in the NFL should be good enough to win. So, if Gregg Williams' defense continues to sacrifice yards between the 20s, but tightens up in the red zone and forces opponents to kick 3s rather than score 7s, the offense will keep them in games and they'll have a chance to score a few. To me, that's the biggest sign of encouragement to take out of the Jets defensive performance this past weekend.
Protection Must Improve
If you've watched the Jets' offense struggle as it has all season long, and then turned on the first half, at least against the Buffalo Bills, your eyes told you you were looking at something different. With Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims and La'Mical Perine all on the field at the same time, the offense was noticeably faster. That speed should serve it well the rest of the season. No offense, however, is fast enough at the skill positions to make up for an offensive line, running backs and tight ends that can't protect the quarterback. That was the biggest difference in the second half in the loss to the Bills. When the Bills blitzed and they brought numbers toward Sam Darnold, in protection they just didn't have answers. They simply need that group of players to play better. Mims and Perriman can take the top off the defense. They can get downfield and they can be difference makers with their speed. But they'll only do that if they have time to run a deep route, and that time is provided by pass protection. The Jets must do a better job of protecting Sam Darnold and finding answers in protection so that the speed has a chance to do what it's intended to do.
Rookies Ruling the Roost
No one escapes blame when a team is 0-7. And even Joe Douglas, who has unpacked boxes still in his offense, is hearing it from the fans. But the biggest impact Douglas has had and will have in making improvements to this roster, is going to be through his draft classes. And if there is some encouragement to take out of what we've seen as of late, it is from his first draft class. It looks like the only thing that's going to keep Mekhi Becton out of the Pro Bowl every year is whether or not he can stay healthy. He looks to be that good so far. Mims certainly looked the part in his first action this past Sunday. Perine, as it appears, is going to become the Jets' primary RB. Jabari Zuniga and Bryce Hall appear on the verge of returning and playing major roles in the Jets defense in the second half of the season. So, if Jets fans are going to take some encouragement that this Jets roster is going to get better, the No. 1 thing that you want to root for is the success of this and future draft classes. At least the early returns this year seem to indicate that Douglas is off to a good start.