The reeling Jets returned home to MetLife Stadium looking to put a stop to their losing ways. Their three-game losing streak opened the door for legitimate concerns about the team’s focus. It also put head coach Todd Bowles back in the crossfire of his critics.
Facing concerns head-on can be a productive way of solving them. The Jets didn’t have much of a choice after the beatdown they took last week in Jacksonville. It was either deal with their problems now or let them turn into the anchor that sinks their season.
By deciding to confront their growing list of concerns this week, the Jets went with the proactive route. This proved to be a good decision. They walloped the Denver Broncos with an impressive 34-16 win, Sunday in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
It was an all-around performance by the Jets. The defense and offense shook off a slow start to help get the team back in the win column. Once adjustments were made, both units began feeding off one another.
The run game has been missing from the Jets all season, until this week. Isaiah Crowell ran for franchise-record 219 yards, on 15 carries, with one touchdown. It was a second quarter, 77-yard run to the end zone which accounted for Crowell’s touchdown. It was a clear indication there could be success had against Denver with a ground attack.
Bilal Powell chipped-in an additional 99 rushing yards of his own. But Crowell’s performance was record-breaking. Crowell averaged 14.6 yards per carry, the highest average in a game by a player with at least 15 rush attempts in NFL history.
“We had to run the ball more and run the ball better,” Bowles said. “I think that helped out a lot.”
To put Gang Green’s success on the ground into further perspective, ponder this:
Denver’s defense came into this game allowing only 3.9 yards per rush attempt. They surrendered 4.9 yards per rush attempt to Powell. The Jets finished the day with a scary 8.5 yards per rush attempt, totaling 323 rushing yards.
There were plays in this game where Crowell and Powell looked unstoppable. Denver had no answer for how the Jets kept attacking their defense with runs up the middle.
Crowell, after the game gave props to the offensive line and offensive coordinator, Jeremy Bates, for his record-setting performance.
“It means a lot to me,” said Crowell. “I just wanted to congratulate my O-line because without them, I wouldn’t be able to do that. They were opening up holes all game, and I felt like JB (Jeremy Bates) basically committed to the run and I feel like our O-Line did their thing.”
Since Crowell’s 10-carry, 102-yard contribution, in the Jets week 1 win over Detroit, his numbers have been poor. It shouldn’t be overlooked the Jets also loss their next three games. Kudos to Bates for realizing his offense needed to get their ground game going.
Crowell’s huge touchdown run sparked a chain reaction which has been missing since week 1. Throughout their three-game skid, the Jets were plagued by momentum-killing plays. That wasn’t the case against Denver.
Crowell’s big touchdown run sparked the defense to force a punt. After getting the football back, quarterback Sam Darnold found Robby Anderson on a 76-yard bomb for a go-ahead touchdown. The Jets had scored 14 points in a little over three minutes of game time to ignite the home crowd.
The Broncos pulled to within 14-10, but that’s as close as the Jets would let them get. Crowell and Powell continued to run Denver’s defense off the field. And Darnold hit Anderson again on another gorgeous touchdown throw.
Leonard Williams led the defense with 2.5 sacks of quarterback Case Keenum. Williams and the Jets also made key early adjustments to contain Denver’s dangerous running back, Phillip Lindsay.
“The game is full of adjustments,” Bowles said afterwards. “I thought the guys did a good job of tweaking some things and then getting after it.”
Give the Jets credit for more than just the in-game adjustments. There was a realization, during their preparation, that they needed a different approach and they stuck with it.
It’s only one win, but it does take them off a skid which threatened to derail their season.