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Quarterback

We all knew that if Geno Smith was going to being taking snaps in October, the season must have taken a turn for the worst. However, that was the case again here, as the Jets struggled to move the ball all day and Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched for the fourth quarter.

Could the team be about to go with Smith as the starter? They're saying no, for now, but if Fitzpatrick continues to struggle, that day can't be too far off. He started off by looking pretty sharp, but was benefiting from a soft defense from the Cardinals that was sitting back and allowing the offense to take what they gave them. Indeed, Fitzpatrick himself benefited from this on his last drive. Prior to the interception, he had padded his stats by completing 7-of-11 passes for 66 yards in the third quarter.

As soon as the Cardinals applied some pressure, Smith's old issues returned on a strip-sack as he was hesistant, didn't anticipate pressure off the edge and displayed woeful ball security. Shortly afterwards, he forced a throw into tight coverage and was intercepted. It's difficult to judge Smith too harshly on such a short performance, especially with the game already over, but he hardly did much to instil any confidence in his supporters.

Fitzpatrick seemed overly cautious with the ball, perhaps reluctant to risk throwing an interception. He missed on a bunch of passes where he threw the ball out of his receiver's reach, either too high or out in front of them. He made a few nice throws and did have to deal with some pressure, but was simply too inconsistent to keep the Jets in the game.

When the interception finally came, it was in the last minute of the third quarter and, typically, saw Fitzpatrick forcing a tight throw in the red zone after having moved the team downfield against a soft zone. 

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall told the media he was again responsible for this because he ran the wrong route. With the Cardinals in a zone defense, he allowed his man to step in front of him where he perhaps needed to run or settle down in front of the defender but I believe the key here was not Marshall himself being open, but instead running a route that would draw the safety out of the middle.

A review of the film shows that Fitzpatrick had an open Jalin Marshall at the back of the end zone on a post pattern, but forced the ball to the other Marshall instead because the safety was able to stay at home long enough to make that a tight window throw. A more horizontal drag or crossing route would have forced the safety to commit and ensured that one of the Marshalls was open but I can only speculate on what the play design was.

This goes beyond grading and evaluating individual throws now. The team seems to have lost faith in the guy who last year established himself as the kind of leader the team had been lacking. Unfortunately, I don't think the team has any faith in the alternatives either.

Running Backs

Should the Jets be regretting making a move for Matt Forté in the offseason? After missing most of preseason, Forté looked sharp for a couple of weeks but since then has elicited memories of late-season Thomas Jones. In case you're not sure, that isn't a good thing.

It's difficult to lament the loss of Chris Ivory when he's gained just 75 yards on 31 carries all season and is earning considerably more than Forté, but it's obvious the Jets need someone with exceptional burst or the ability to break tackles and right now Forté is providing neither. Was this inevitable or are they just paying the price for over-using him early? If it's the latter, then could he get his legs back if they opt to under-use him for a game or two - and I don't just mean abandoning the run because it's failing and you're getting blown out.

At least Bilal Powell does show some burst and break the occasional tackle. He picked up just 22 yards on six touches last night, but that included two first downs with a third being negated by a hold. Forté had the same yardage total on 10 touches - with no first downs - and also dropped two short passes.

Can we not get a look at Troymaine Pope? He's been active, but they never use him. While he might be raw and still learning the playbook, at least he has fresh legs and could provide a spark if they create a few packages for him. Even if he gets stuffed, at least that would give Forté a rest in between plays where, right now, he would probably only get stuffed himself.

Beyond that, I'm left scrambling for answers. Does the running game miss Tommy Bohanon, perhaps? Did I really just ask that?

Receivers & TE

The Jets definitely continue to miss Eric Decker, but now that his absence has been confirmed as permanent, the receiving corps suddenly looks like a weakness rather than something that can tread water until his return. At the same time, it forces some of the younger players to try and step up, so it will be interesting to see who does.

It seems the cat might be out of the bag in terms of Quincy Enunwa now, as the Jets were unable to get him into the game in the first half. Now a permanent starter that teams are aware of and game-planning for instead of the Jets' best-kept secret, it will be difficult for him to maintain his excellent production so far. Sure enough, he ended up having his least productive game of the year in terms of both receptions and yardage.

However, the fact his three receptions and 42 yards were his lowest output of the season speaks volumes as to how far he's come. Last year, he only achieved that yardage total three times and only had more than three catches six times. He made three nice catches in the second half, including two first downs.

Brandon Marshall had the biggest play of the day, but ended up with just 70 yards on three catches. He also had a penalty and took responsibility for the Fitzpatrick interception. It's clearly been a tough year for him to take and he deserves credit for at least trying to keep everyone positive. How long can that last though?

The three rookies saw more targets than usual with Charone Peake surprisingly leading the team with five catches and in terms of how many targets he saw (10). He made a nice spin move to get to the marker on one play and had a clutch conversion on a slant route on another. That pattern of him being inconsistent with his physicality continued on the pass where Smith was intercepted though and there were two plays where he had his hands on the ball but couldn't complete the catch. All the same, he's definitely progressing.

Shame on the announcers for glorifying the hit on Peake that knocked him out of the game. That was a blatant helmet-to-facemask hit on a defenseless receiver and that bothers me - not because it cost the Jets a first down, but because it makes little sense to have rules designed for player safety being inconsistently applied. I already resent Jon Gruden for the fact that I repeatedly spend ages breaking down a play and discover something interesting only for him to then mention that during the TV broadcast anyway.

The pattern with Robbie Anderson has been the same as with Devin Smith last season. They're looking for him downfield and he's almost - but not quite - coming up with big plays. The one constant variable here is Fitzpatrick, but Anderson still had a chance to come up with that underthrown deep ball. He did make a career-high four short catches though, including one where he was able to bail out Fitzpatrick with a nice leaping grab.

As for Jalin Marshall, he was only in for a handful of plays when Peake - who seems to have moved ahead of him - was being evaluated for a head injury. He had one tough drop, but responded immediately with a nice first down conversion. He also seemed to be coming open on the pass where Fitzpatrick forced a throw to the other Marshall for an interception, as mentioned. 

Even with Austin Seferian-Jenkins inactive, the Jets continue to phase out Kellen Davis, who played less than 10 snaps. However, maybe that was performance related rather than planned in advance because he had a rough game. Davis was badly beaten as the Jets were stuffed for a loss on their first snap, then later false started and allowed his man to get off his block for another stop.

Brandon Bostick didn't play much either, but fared better than Davis as a blocker. He wasn't targeted though.

Offensive Line

With a non-existent running game and Fitzpatrick's struggles at least partially attributable to being forced to deal with pressure, it's difficult to give the offensive line much credit.

The Jets saw Brian Winters return at right guard and reverted to a rotation at right tackle with Ben Ijalana starting. However, Brent Qvale was injured in the first half and Ijalana went the rest of the way. 

So far, Ijalana has done a good job of limiting pressure from the right side, but when he does surrender pressure, it often seems to be at key moments. While partially attributable to coverage and Smith's hesitation, he surrendered a strip sack and also gave up the pressure that led to Fitzpatrick's interception. Other than that, he only gave up one pressure, on a spin move to the inside.

As you can see, on the interception, Ijalana is beaten upfield, but instead of moving his feet to try and stay in front of or regain leverage on his man, he simply shoves him upfield to try and slow his pursuit around the edge. It's semi-effective, but Fitzpatrick is still pressured into forcing his throw. This is something Ijalana does quite a lot and it's a habit which might be lazy and/or poor technique, but you could consider it to be the smart thing to do in situations where the defender gets half a step on you. If the quarterback steps up and throws that before the edge rusher can get to him - something you see repeatedly around the league - that's likely viewed as a well-executed block.

Ryan Clady, on the other hand, isn't giving up big plays, but he is surrendering constant pressure off the edge and against the bull rush. He also had a bad hold to negate a first down run. Part of Clady's issue - other than the obvious adjustment involved in blocking for someone who lacks the awareness and quick release of Peyton Manning - might be that he's being left on an island and that might be influenced by the man to his immediate right.  

James Carpenter executed well all day, but it's becoming more and more apparent that his lateral movement is compromised. He looked good on running plays where he could pull or drive and block someone straight ahead of him, but at the second level or in the open field on screens, he looked leaden-footed when trying to stay in front of his target. That must be affecting his pass protection, preventing him from being able to help Clady and likely causing him to require more help from his center Nick Mangold. It's not something that's been an issue in the past, so I have to conclude this is a by-product of being banged-up.

Mangold's effectiveness is always compromised when he has to help other players and that proved to be the case here, as he had a few low snaps and allowed his man into the backfield a few times. Left more to his own devices, Winters had mixed results in the running game but did get bull rushed a couple of times into the backfield and also had a holding penalty.

When Carpenter went down with an injury, it was Dakota Dozier, not Qvale or Wesley Johnson, who replaced him. That was right before half time and Dozier barely held up in pass protection before Carpenter was able to return for the second half. Dozier - active for the fourth time this year - played his first offensive snap of the year, as the Jets can't seem to decide who their third-best guard is. It's probably Winters.

Pass Rush

I was looking forward to seeing what the approach would be in this game after the Jets - desperate to give as much help as possible to their beleaguered secondary - hardly ever blitzed in the Pittsburgh game. That was such a failure that it was inevitable they'd cook up some creative blitz packages in this game. So it proved, but - predictably - the secondary couldn't hold up and the Cardinals were easily able to counter with quick passes much of the time.

This did generate more pressure from the line, though, with Muhammad Wilkerson generating four pressures, including two hits, and also deflecting two passes at the line.  Sheldon Richardson added three pressures and Leonard Williams knocked Carson Palmer down twice. They still didn't register a sack though.

It seemed like the Jets were making a concerted effort to give Wilkerson and Richardson some reps inside. They did this in a variety of ways, including using Steve McLendon as a 3-4 end or Williams as an edge rusher - which was how he got one of his pressures. They had begun the game in a 3-4 look but this backfired when the Cardinals had some success with short passes and outside runs.

Clearly things haven't gone to plan with the linebacker group this year. Mike Catapano, Jordan Jenkins and Erin Henderson have all missed time in earlier games, David Harris was unavailable for this one and Darron Lee went down last night with a nasty looking ankle injury.

These absences have clearly contributed to the Jets being able to play less 3-4 than they intended entering the year. It's also necessitated them using Richardson as an outside linebacker. This was something they vowed not to do this year but they've seemingly had little choice. Even yesterday, as they made an effort to use him on the interior, he ended up playing more snaps standing up than in any other game so far this year. 

One other adjustment the Jets tried to make was using one of their inside linebackers on the edge and dropping their rush linebacker to the inside. Lee and Bruce Carter each saw some reps on the outside with Richardson or Catapano at inside linebacker. I don't think that's what Richardson had in mind when he was told he'd play inside more this year.

Other than the linemen, several pressures were generated by the players who blitzed, although Calvin Pryor was the only player with more than one. Carter and Jordan Jenkins each had a hit on Palmer.  

Catapano and Lorenzo Mauldin each got to the quarterback on blitzes up the middle, but didn't have any tangible success rushing off the edge with Mauldin only getting close once. Of the three outside linebackers, Jenkins was again the most impressive and saw more playing time than Mauldin and Catapano combined. 

Deon Simon and Jarvis Jenkins both saw time off the bench, but didn't generate any pressure and, in fact, have just one pressure between them all year. 

Run Defense

What happened to the run defense? The Jets entered the game with the second-best run defense in the league, although part of that is presumably because their pass defense has been so bad. In this game, Gruden wondered why the Cardinals were continuing to run the ball, but they ended up with 171 yards and three scores so it paid off. 

Having said that, on 35 running plays, the Cardinals had 20 plays that were stopped for a gain of two yards or less, so the defensive line was doing a solid job of bottling up runs most of the time. The exception was on the first drive of the second half, where the Cardinals drove downfield to turn a manageable 14-3 game into a 21-3 blowout. On that drive, they had six straight carries that went for five or more yards, although one was negated by a penalty.

While some of the yardage was attributable to mistakes in the back seven, you can't attribute all of it to that and, while they combined to make a lot of stops, the defensive linemen were occasionally controlled at the point of attack. That might be due to their efforts to employ a traditional nose tackle less often.

As noted, Richardson was employed as a linebacker despite the fact he apparently added weight during the offseason to enable him to play on the line more. That was evident on two end-arounds and a short pass where he was too slow to prevent the runner from getting to the edge. The decision to employ him at inside linebacker also cost the Jets on the long David Johnson touchdown as Richardson run-blitzed up the middle and the run was bounced to the edge. 

There was a lot more to that play though. Let's look at it in more detail:

via GIPHY

The first thing to note is Lee on the edge. That's a blatant holding penalty that was not called, which changes the whole complexion of the game. 

Next up, Henderson - the inside linebacker on the left side of the formation - gets across to fill the lane as Richardon run-blitzes, but gets schooled by a spectacular open-field move by Johnson. The problems don't stop there though.

Marcus Gilchrist is badly at fault as he comes up far too fast and gets caught inside, Darrelle Revis can't get off a block from Larry Fitzgerald, whose blocking stood out all day, and Buster Skrine loses outside contain as he misses the tackle on the edge

How badly did the Jets miss Harris on this play? Not only were two players out of position due to him not being there, but also Henderson failed to make a play Harris perhaps would have made and the run fit wasn't ideal so there may have been a communication issue.

It will be a real shame if Lee's injury keeps him out for an extended time. If the wheels are going to fall off, at least that would mean that the team has scope to let young players learn from their mistakes. Until he got hurt, this was shaping up to be his best game so far, as he was disciplined and made a couple of plays. He may be better as the mike and therefore not ideally suited towards playing with Harris in the short term. He also perhaps benefited from the Jets not playing as much zone in the back end.

Henderson struggled, as he was constantly blocked out of plays at the second level. Carter saw a lot of playing time on defense for the first time and was in on a couple of stops.

Coverage

One silver lining from last night's game was that the Jets didn't have any major defensive breakdowns in the secondary. In fact, the longest pass they gave up all day was just 14 yards. However, it's difficult to draw too many positives from a performance where the team struggled to get off the field.

Skrine made a nice break-up but otherwise had a complete nightmare. Jerome Boger's officiating crew victimized Skrine all day long, calling him for four penalties, at least a couple of which were extremely dubious. Skrine was trying to play physical coverage, but that proved impossible with how the game was being officiated. Later on in the game, the team obviously instructed him to play off instead and he gave up three consecutive identical plays where the receiver stopped and caught a back shoulder throw.

Skrine has had issues with penalties in the past, but seemed to have fixed that to some degree. Since the NFL tightened up their rules in 2014, he had 20 penalties in the first 20 games, but only five in the last 17 games prior to yesterday night's game.

Revis was flagged once too and surrendered a couple of first downs. He was also blocked out of a couple of plays downfield and would have given up a touchdown if not for Wilkerson rescuing him by batting down the pass at the line.

Marcus Williams held up quite well, although he almost gave up a deep catch inside the 10, just about managing to prise the ball loose. He also had a big contribution as a pass rusher, jumping into Palmer's face to prevent a screen pass as he came unblocked off the edge. That play looked like it was going places.

Pryor - much like Lee - showed more discipline this week. Again, perhaps not playing zone was a key factor here. He made some plays in coverage and did well overall. He wasn't perfect though, as he was badly caught inside on an end-around.

Other than his bad mistake on the long touchdown, Gilchrist played quite well too, making one nice play in coverage.

Darryl Roberts drew some praise after his last performance, but I wasn't really convinced because he was let off the hook a few times by Sammie Coates' unreliable hands. In this game, he only played briefly but got beaten for a first down, a touchdown and a pass interference call. He also seemed to be responsible for a 12 men on the field penalty.

Rontez Miles and Antonio Allen played briefly off the bench, but did not contribute much.

Surprisingly, despite Harris being absent, the linebackers were hardly targeted in coverage. Carter gave up one easy first down though and was also late to react on a quick pass to the flat, leading to another first down.

Overall, the lack of big plays is a minor positive, but the inability of the secondary to prevent quick and easy throws when blitzing remains a concern. It's not helped by their inability to play physical man-to-man coverage without drawing a flag, though.

Special teams

Once again, the Jets' renovated special teams unit didn't get many chances to influence the game, positively or otherwise. Only one field goal was attempted by either team, with Nick Folk's 39-yarder accounting for the only Jets' points. In the return game, every kick-off - by both teams - went for a touchback. Jalin Marshall also opted to fair catch four of the Cardinals five punts with the other one being downed.   Only when the Jets were punting did anything worth discussing happen.

Lac Edwards had a disappointing game with a few short kicks including one that was shanked out of bounds. His one good punt was basically meaningless as he landed the ball inside the 10 with just seconds remaining in the first half.

It's worth pointing out that Tanner Purdum had an uncharacteristically poor game though, with Edwards having to reach for four less-than-perfect snaps in the first half alone. The snap was to his right on the one he shanked - also to the right.

That's the trouble with a struggling team. Even if you manage to fix some of the issues you've been having, you can't guarantee that the things you could usually rely on week-in and week-out won't have an off-day and end up costing you anyway.

For someone with a supposedly booming leg, should we be concerned that Edwards hasn't had a gross average of 44 yards or above in any game since opening day? Perhaps not, because at least he's getting enough hang time that the short kicks aren't getting returned.

In this game, Juston Burris - who didn't see any time on defense - did a good job of getting downfield in coverage. He made one terrific tackle after blowing past the vice on the outside and blew up another punt even though he missed the tackle. On another play he drew an illegal block in the back penalty, one of two penalties he drew on the day.

Peake also did a good job of getting downfield and blew up a punt return for a loss. He was well-blocked on another play though.

Even with the Jets getting downfield well, one of the punts was close to being broken for a big return, but Bruce Carter made a solid open field tackle after four players (Burris, Miles, Henderson and Josh Martin) overpursued.

Final thoughts

Mercifully, the Jets finally made it through the tough part of their schedule. They now face a slate of games against the Ravens, Browns, Dolphins and Rams which seem winnable and could enable them to get their season back on track before their first meeting with the Patriots.

Unfortunately, those four games aren't actually as easy as they once seemed. The Ravens were 3-0 to start with and even though they've lost three in a row, all three were games they could and probably should have won. The Rams also had three wins in a row, including two against teams that beat the Jets, and could easily be 4-2. Even Miami just beat the Steelers and the Browns might still be the Browns, but perhaps they are due or something.

Moreover, the Jets don't look capable of competing with anyone right now, let alone beating them. It's difficult to remember a season where things looked so bleak at such an early point. Even in 2014, where they also began 1-5, there was a sense that they'd been unlucky in some games against good teams and might be on the brink of a turnaround.

Hopefully I'm overreacting, but things don't look too promising right now.

Tags: BGA

Sep 30, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) drops back to pass during the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Sep 30, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) drops back to pass during the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

QB Sam Darnold (elbow) appeared on Wednesday's Jets injury report, but head coach Todd Bowles told reporters he isn't worried about the rookie.

Darnold fully participated in practice and is not expected to miss any playing time.

However, DL Leonard Williams (back), WR Robby Anderson (hamstring) and RB Isaiah Crowell (foot) highlighted a long list of Jets who did not practice.

Tags: Leonard Williams, Marcus Maye, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson
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Joe Namath talks Sam Darnold 00:02:45
Jets legend Joe Namath talks about Super Bowl III, advice from Bear Bryant, and his thoughts on Sam Darnold's chances with the current team

Ahead of the Jets honoring the 50th anniversary of their Super Bowl III victory, Hall of Fame QB Joe Namath sat down with SNY's Jeane Coakley to reflect on that upset win, how he prayed "run clock," and what he thinks of today's QB Sam Darnold...

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Oct 14, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts (27) celebrates with cornerback Morris Claiborne (21) in front of Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal (14) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Oct 14, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts (27) celebrates with cornerback Morris Claiborne (21) in front of Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal (14) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

 

Click below to listen...

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Jan 1, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews (18) looks to catch a pass for a first down against Houston Texans defensive back Robert Nelson (32) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Brown)
Jan 1, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews (18) looks to catch a pass for a first down against Houston Texans defensive back Robert Nelson (32) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Brown)

The Jets are bringing in free agent WR Rishard Matthews for a workout Tuesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The 29-year-old veteran was cut by the Titans last month after he requested a release due to his unhappiness with his playing time. He registered just three catches and 11 receiving yards over the first three weeks of the season.

But with Quincy Enunwa out between three and four weeks with a high-ankle sprain, the Jets are looking for a stopgap at wide receiver.

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New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa fumbles the ball in the second quarter after a hit by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa fumbles the ball in the second quarter after a hit by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Quincy Enunwa had developed into Sam Darnold's most reliable receiver early in the season. He was the player Darnold threw to the most and turned to when he needed a third-down catch.

So what is Darnold going to do without Enunwa, who suffered a high-ankle sprain and will probably be out for about a month?

Tags: Quincy Enunwa, Sam Darnold, Terrelle Pryor, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oct 7, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Oct 7, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Sam Darnold wasn't just twiddling his thumbs while waiting to get drafted this past spring. Like all fans of his future NFL team, the Jets quarterback was keeping a close eye on the Kirk Cousins free agency saga before the Redskins QB signed with the Vikings.

"I was definitely following it," Darnold said Monday ahead of his Week 7 matchup with Minnesota Sunday at MetLife Stadium, per the New York Daily News. "During the draft process, there's nothing really else to pay attention to. Because I'm not on a team. We're not trying to dial up anything. I'm not at USC trying to figure out what we're going to do the next year. And I'm not on an NFL team trying to figure it out."

Tags: Sam Darnold
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Sep 30, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) scrambles during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports (Douglas DeFelice)
Sep 30, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) scrambles during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports (Douglas DeFelice)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: Six weeks into the season, all four of the rookie quarterbacks taken in the Top 10 of the NFL draft have at least three starts on their resume. They've had a chance to get rid of their first-game jitters, or to catch the NFL by surprise, and they're starting to settle in to their rookie seasons.

It will take years, of course, to determine which of the four is the best. It might even take that long for one of them to lead a team to the playoffs. But now that they've all settled down, it's easy to determine which ones are off to the best start.

Here's a look -- and a ranking -- at how the Fab Four are faring so far...

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oct 7, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Oct 7, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

On the heels of a strong performance in Week 5, Sam Darnold was tremendous in the Jets' Week 6 win over the Colts. And his Pro Football Focus grades bear that out.

According to PFF, Darnold has the second-best passing grade (89.8) in the NFL over the last two weeks. Over that same span, his 71.4 deep accuracy percentage is third and his accuracy percentage with a clean pocket (87.2) is fourth.

Things opened up for Darnold in Week 5 due in part to the record-breaking game running back Isaiah Crowell had. But in the win over the Colts, he picked apart the Indianapolis defense without the benefit of being able to fall back on a red-hot ground game. 

Tags: Sam Darnold
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 (Richard Mackson)
(Richard Mackson)

The Raiders are awful again, and are reportedly ready to trade some of their most valuable assets -- including WR Amari Cooper. Should the Jets have interest?

Cooper -- the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 Draft -- left the Raiders' Week 6 loss due to a concussion and has had a down 2018 so far after having just 48 receptions for 680 yards in 2017. But he was highly productive during his first two years in the league when the Raiders were actually competitive. 

He had 72 catches for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns during his rookie season in 2015 as the Raiders went 7-9. During Oakland's 12-4 season in 2016, Cooper reeled in 83 catches for 1,153 yards and five touchdowns.

Tags: Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Terrelle Pryor, Danny Abriano
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Aug 24, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) makes a catch against the New York Giants during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Aug 24, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) makes a catch against the New York Giants during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa will miss around three to four weeks with a high-ankle sprain in Sunday's win over the Colts, SNY.tv's Ralph Vacchiano has confirmed.

Head coach Todd Bowles said Monday that Enunwa, who did not play in the second half on Sunday, suffered a sprained ankle but did not reveal its severity.

The three-to-four-week timeframe is typical for high-ankle sprains, although it could vary.

Tags: Quincy Enunwa
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Dec 10, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; New York Jets free safety Marcus Maye (26) in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)
Dec 10, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; New York Jets free safety Marcus Maye (26) in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)

Jets S Marcus Maye suffered a broken thumb during Sunday's win over the Colts, reports SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.

According to Vacchiano, the team is still evaluating the extent of the injury. Maye missing three-to-four weeks is a reasonable estimate, adds Vacchiano, but is far from a certainty. 

Vacchiano adds that there is some hope that if Maye heals quickly and can tolerate the pain, he may be able to play with a cast on (Maye was wearing a cast after Sunday's game)...

Tags: Marcus Maye
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Kacy Rodgers Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)
Kacy Rodgers Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)

Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers received some good news on Monday.

Rodgers, who has been battling a serious undisclosed medical condition the last two weeks, was cleared to slowly return to his coaching duties and will be the defensive play-caller again this Sunday.

Head coach Todd Bowles, who had taken over the defensive play-calling responsibilities in Rodgers' absence, revealed the good news in a conference call on Monday calling it a "big relief."

Tags: Morris Claiborne
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Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

In Sunday's 42-34 win over the Colts, Jets QB Sam Darnold put together his most complete performance as a pro, completing 24 of 30 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Let's look at some specific examples before we draw conclusions...

Tags: Brian Winters, Jordan Leggett, Neal Sterling, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold
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Oct 14, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon (89) catches a pass over Indianapolis Colts cornerback Chris Milton (28) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Oct 14, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon (89) catches a pass over Indianapolis Colts cornerback Chris Milton (28) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The presence of all those Super Bowl III heroes on Sunday wasn't just a celebration of the Jets' greatest achievement, it was a painful reminder of why it's so hard to believe in this year's team. There have been too many years of heartache, too many seasons of disappointment, too many times the rug was pulled out from under everyone's feet.

So when these Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts 42-34 on Sunday, barely hanging on in the end, there were surely a few skeptics who saw the team's obvious flaws. And when Todd Bowles stepped to the podium and said "We're right back in the thick of these things," it's understandable if everyone rolled his or her eyes.

Tags: Darron Lee, Indianapolis Colts, Leonard Williams, Quincy Enunwa, Sam Darnold, Terrelle Pryor, Ralph Vacchiano
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Jets talk 42-34 victory 00:01:09
Jamal Adams, Sam Darnold, Jermaine Kearse, Chris Herndon and Todd Bowles talk about the positives after a huge win over the Colts, 42-34.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - As the Jets celebrated the 50th anniversary of their last Super Bowl championship team, Sam Darnold gave them even more reason to believe that the next one won't be too far off.

The 21-year-old Darnold, in his first real shootout against a top tier NFL quarterback, out-played Andrew Luck on Sunday afternoon. He completed 24 of 30 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns and one interception to lead the Jets to a 42-27 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Luck was pretty good too (23 of 43, 301 yards and 4 touchdowns), except for the fact that he threw three interceptions. He also even nearly engineered a second-half comeback but fell an onside kickoff recovery short. But overall, Darnold was the more impressive quarterback for most of the game, after he shook off a shaky start. He did get help from a Jets defense that forced four turnovers, but the running game wasn't nearly as good as it has been...

Tags: Bilal Powell, Buster Skrine, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oct 14, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (10) rushes for yards after a catch as Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore (23) pursues during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Oct 14, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (10) rushes for yards after a catch as Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore (23) pursues during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter: The Jets held off the banged-up Colts for a 42-34 win on Sunday to improve to 3-3 on the season. Let's highlight three of the best performances, along with three players who were disappointments.

Winners

QB Sam Darnold 

Tags: Marcus Maye, Sam Darnold, Terrence Brooks
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SNY's Week 6 Jets Report Cards 00:02:46
Ray Lucas, Willie Colon, and Bart Scott hand out their report cards after the Jets beat the Colts on Sunday, 42-34.

The Jets have moved to 3-3 on the season after defeating the Colts 42-34 on Sunday. The Jets Post Game Live crew handed out their grades for each unit, and what they ultimately thought of the Jets' latest performance. 

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 (Robert Deutsch)
(Robert Deutsch)

Sam Darnold has seemed comfortable as the Jets put together back-to-back wins to move to 3-3 on the season.

During Sunday's victory over the Colts, the rookie quarterback was 24 of 30 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. 

So what's the area where Darnold has improved the most?

Tags: Sam Darnold
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Aug 24, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets former quarterback Joe Namath during pre game warm up before game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Aug 24, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets former quarterback Joe Namath during pre game warm up before game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Legendary Jets QB Joe Namath is a fan of rookie Sam Darnold, but stressed that how high Darnold reaches will be about his surrounding cast.

"I do see a physical ability and I understand a mental ability," Namath said Sunday before the Jets honored the 50th anniversary of their Super Bowl III victory. "But I can't emphasize enough -- it's about the front line of both sides of the ball, it's about the kicking game, it's about the entire team, man."

Namath then started talking about Archie Manning, who he said would have been the first Manning Hall-of-Famer if the Saints (the team Namath referred to as the 'Aints') had put a quality team around him.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Danny Abriano
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New York Jets running back Isaiah Crowell carries the ball against the Denver Broncos in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets running back Isaiah Crowell carries the ball against the Denver Broncos in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

Jets RB Isaiah Crowell (ankle) will play in Sunday's game against the Colts.

Crowell, who was a game-time decision, was limited in practice earlier in the week. 

The 25-year-old Crowell is coming off a record-breaking game in Week 5 when he had a Jets-record 219 rushing yards and added a 12-yard reception in the Jets' win over the Broncos. 

Tags: Buster Skrine, Charone Peake
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How Namath became Broadway Joe 00:01:25
Jets legend Joe Namath reveals the origin of the name "Broadway Joe," see the full interview on Jets Pre Game Live, Sunday at 12pm on SNY!

How exactly did Joe Namath become known as "Broadway Joe" during his career?

In an interview with SNY, Namath said the nickname was coined by offensive lineman Sherman Plunkett

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Todd Bowles Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Todd Bowles Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Bruce Arians has always been a big believer of Todd Bowles, which is why the former Cardinals head coach is also a big believer in the future of the Jets. 

Arians, who will call the Jets' game against the Colts for CBS on Sunday, told the New York Post on Friday that Gang Green is headed in the right direction and that they have the right man to get them there. 

"I think (Bowles) is doing a great job there, especially now that he's got a quarterback," Arians said.

Tags: Sam Darnold
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New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

DL Leonard Williams missed Thursday's Jets practice due to a "sore back," according to Todd Bowles. (NY Daily News)

"He just woke up like that," the head coach said, per the Daily News. Bowles did not say how the sudden issue impacts Williams' availability on Sunday against the Colts.

Williams, a vital piece to the Jets' defense, enjoyed his best game of the year in Week 5 against the Broncos with two sacks. 

Tags: Leonard Williams
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Bowles, Bates prep for Indy 00:00:55
Jets head coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates discuss the Jets' mindset heading into Sunday's match-up with the Colts.

Jets head coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates discuss the team's mindset heading into Sunday's matchup with the Colts.

The Jets (2-3) kick off against Indianapolis (1-4) Sunday at 1 p.m. at MetLife Stadium.

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Sam Darnold (14) Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Fuller)
Sam Darnold (14) Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Fuller)

Jets WR Jermaine Kearse and rookie QB Sam Darnold are locker room buddies. They sit right next to each other in the room, and Kearse takes advantage of that by preaching his veteran wisdom whenever he can on the 21-year-old signal caller. 

One way he does that is recalling the time he was a rookie in Seattle back in 2012, and a fellow rookie in QB Russell Wilson was in the same boat as Darnold this season. He was a young gun coming off a solid Wisconsin career, and was looking to make an immediate impact in the NFL. 

During a break in game action in the Seahawks' second preseason game, Wilson returned to the huddle and heard Kearse talking as he began to speak. What he did next immediately caught the attention of Kearse. 

Tags: Sam Darnold, Scott Thompson
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Pennington talks Darnold 00:02:36
Former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington looks back on his time in New York, and shares his thoughts on the development of rookie Sam Darnold

Former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington looks back on his time in New York and shares his thoughts on the development of rookie Sam Darnold.

Pennington also spoke about his ongoing work with the Mayo Clinic.

Tags: Sam Darnold
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Darnold and Bowles on Indy 00:00:37
Sam Darnold and Todd Bowles talk about building on last week's big win, and finding a way to beat the Colts on Sunday.

Jets QB Sam Darnold and coach Todd Bowles look ahead to the team's matchup against the Colts on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Jets are hoping to build from their week 5 win over the Broncos, which ended a three-game skid.

 

Tags: Sam Darnold
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Sep 30, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) drops back to pass during the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Sep 30, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) drops back to pass during the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

As Colts head coach Frank Reich started preparing to face Jets QB Sam Darnold, he couldn't help but notice some similarities between the Jets' QB and Carson Wentz, who he coached during his time as offensive coordinator of the Eagles.

"It feels like a little bit of the same personality; it's not too big from the standpoint of intellectually, but also emotionally, the game's not too big," Reich said, per the NY Post. "Physically, just being able to make the throws, and some of the athleticism."

 Wentz, who suffered a torn ACL in the final weeks of the regular season last year, finally returned under center for the Eagles in Week 3 and has totaled five touchdowns and one interception.

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New York Jets running back Isaiah Crowell carries the ball against the Denver Broncos in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets running back Isaiah Crowell carries the ball against the Denver Broncos in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

Jets running back and reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week Isiah Crowell did not participate in Wednesday's practice due to an ankle injury.

CB Trumaine Johnson (quad), CB Buster Skrine (concussion), WR Charone Peake (hamstring), WR Andre Roberts (elbow/foot), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (foot) and C Spencer Long (knee/finger) also missed practice.

Jets head coach Todd Bowles said Crowell hurt himself during Sunday's win over the Broncos. Crowell set a franchise record with a career-high 219 rushing yards in the victory.

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