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The Jets opened their season in improbable fashion as they beat down the Lions 48-17 in Week 1 in Detroit. Here are grades for each unit...
Rookie Sam Darnold couldn't have had a worse start as his awful first pass was intercepted and returned for a score. But once his "Welcome to the NFL moment" was out of the way, he settled down nicely and had an efficient performance. He completed a deep ball -- something he didn't get a chance to do in the preseason -- for a touchdown to Robby Anderson and made some good throws on the move.
On the opening series of the first half, Darnold went 3-for-3, with Quincy Enunwa's effort after the catch getting him in the end zone to give the Jets a lead they would never relinquish. For the rest of the half, Darnold only needed to throw three more passes, as they padded their lead with an interception, a long run and a punt return.
New addition Isaiah Crowell had a huge day, rushing for over 100 yards and two scores on just 10 carries. He showcased his breakaway speed on his 62-yard scoring dash, but also had some good downhill runs. Bilal Powell averaged five yards per carry, too, and did a good job picking up the blitz. Rookie Trenton Cannon got a chance for some garbage time reps, adding a nice first down catch.
Enunwa had a successful return as he led the Jets with six catches and dragged a couple of defenders into the end zone for the go-ahead score in the third quarter. The Jets struggled to get Anderson involved, though, although the one catch he had was a big one as he came down with a contested catch in the end zone for a 41-yard score. Terrelle Pryor had three first down catches, as the Jets' receiving corps looked dangerous, even with Jermaine Kearse out.
All four tight ends were active, with Neal Sterling catching three passes. Chris Herndon, making his NFL debut, made a good block on Enunwa's touchdown.
The offensive line was expected to be a weakness, but held up well, although admittedly things seemed to get a lot easier for them when Ezekial Ansah was knocked out of the game. The results speak for themselves, though, as their three running backs combined to rack up 175 rushing yards and the Lions only registered two sacks and zero quarterback hits. One of those sacks came as Kelvin Beachum lost his man on a stunt, but the other was a coverage sack.
In Rick Dennison's new blocking scheme, the standout was Brandon Shell, whose powerful run blocking helped set up some big runs by opening running lanes -- including on both of Crowell's touchdown runs.
The rest of the line had mixed results, but inserting Spencer Long at center certainly seems to have solidified the unit as hoped.
Steve McLendon's penetration was a major feature in the Jets' run defense, which held the Lions to just 39 yards. He ended up with three tackles.
Interestingly, the rest of the defensive line failed to register a single tackle between them, but that doesn't mean they failed to contribute. Leonard Williams had two quarterback hits and Henry Anderson was a disruptive force in the pass rush. He did most of his damage as a bull rusher, but his biggest play saw him blow by his man to pressure Matthew Stafford into throwing a pick-six. Nathan Shepherd didn't make an impact in his first NFL game.
Darron Lee had a breakout game with two interceptions, one of which he returned for a key score in the third quarter. Lee had a few negative plays in the second quarter but played disciplined football throughout and seemed to draw confidence from his touchdown. Lee's cohort Avery Williamson had a quiet game, though. Someone must have gotten their wires crossed on Golden Tate's third quarter touchdown, because rushing seven and leaving the safety deep against a five-wide formation is inevitably going to leave somebody wide open.
The Jets didn't create much quality pressure off the edge, but Brandon Copeland and Jordan Jenkins both got close a few times and made a few plays against the run. Undrafted rookie Frankie Luvu also created some pressure, as well as recording a tackle for loss and batting down a pass. The newest Jet, Jeremiah Attaochu, was also active, using a spin move a couple of times to disrupt the pocket.
The Jets' secondary came up big with three of their five interceptions. Trumaine Johnson had an inauspicious first game as a Jet, though, as he fumbled away his interception and got beaten a few times. Buster Skrine led the team in tackles, although much of that came after giving up plays, too. Morris Claiborne added an interception and disrupted a few other passes.
Safety Jamal Adams had an active game and finally recorded his first career interception. Doug Middleton missed a tackle on Tate's touchdown.
The Jets gave up 300 passing yards in total, although they basically went into a soft zone for most of the second half.
Shockingly, the Jets' much-maligned special teams unit -- despite being without two of their leaders in Josh Martin and Rontez Miles -- was a major factor in the win. Andre Roberts had three long punt returns, including a 78-yard touchdown as Copeland, Cannon and Terrence Brooks all made key contributions as blockers.
Literally the only negatives were a shanked Lachlan Edwards punt in garbage time and an early holding penalty on JJ Wilcox. Edwards' other two punts were very good, with one downed at the five-yard line, and kicker Jason Myers made all seven of his kicks and boomed all nine of his kickoffs for touchbacks.