Jets takeaways from 27-20 loss to Falcons, including Zach Wilson’s London struggles

Zach Wilson steps in the pocket vs. Falcons

For 40 wonderful minutes, one week ago, the Jets seemed to figure everything out. Zach Wilson and the offense were outstanding in the second half and overtime of their win over the Tennessee Titans.

That sure stands out as an aberration now.

In fact, those 40 minutes are now really the only example of good offensive football Wilson and the Jets have played all season after they reverted to their bad form in a 27-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon. Wilson was not good again, completing 19-of-32 for 192 yards and an interception. The anemic offense managed only 230 yards. The running game was once again non-existent (64 yards).

Yes, it’s early. Yes, it’s somewhat to be expected with a young team and a rookie quarterback. Yes, it’s too soon to pronounce any big judgements now.

But the offense is undeniably terrible. And if the Jets hope to be competitive at all this season, the coaching staff really better figure this out.

Outside of that Titans game, they’ve only had very, very brief flashes of goodness. Their touchdown drive in the first half of the Falcons game got a huge assist from big kickoff return from Tevin Coleman, which set the Jets up deep in Falcons territory. Their second touchdown drive was more impressive – 90 yards, including two big passes from Wilson. But the touchdown was set up by a 41-yard pass interference penalty.

Those were still positive developments, but they were islands floating in a sea of poor execution and unimaginative (and sometimes bad) play-calling. Their defense kept them in this game, much as the defense has done for most of the games this season.

But if the offense doesn’t start to hold up its end of the bargain, it’s going to turn into a very, very long year.

Here are some more takeaways from Jets’ London loss …

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– While the Jets are figuring out their bad offense, they should also try to figure out why it goes beyond bad, all the way to hideous, in the first half. They have been outscored 75-13 in the first half this season and out-gained 1,030 yards to 420. That means the Jets are averaging 2.6 points and 84 yards in five first halves this season.

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) is tackled by New York Jets safety Ashtyn Davis (21) in the first half at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

– The Jets were worried about rookie TE Kyle Pitts heading into this game, and their fears were justified. With WRs Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage out, the Falcons rode Pitts to 119 yards and a touchdown on nine catches. A lot of that is because he’s just that good. But some of it is because the Jets just couldn’t figure out how to cover him, and made some … well, questionable decisions. Like putting DE John Franklin-Myers on him in single coverage on his easy, 2-yard touchdown? In fairness to JFM, CBs Bryce Hall and Michael Carter II and S Ashtyn Davis had couldn’t handle him either. Nor could the linebackers who helped out. Pitts was a monster.

– Remember how the Jets’ rushing attack was supposed to be what makes this offense go, especially as Wilson got his rookie legs under him early in the season? They’re averaging 74 yards per game and have only had more than 100 rushing yards once in five games.

– Another game, another WR Corey Davis drop. And again, it was a tough catch, thrown behind him and in traffic in the first quarter. But the Jets paid him a lot of money to be their No. 1 receiver, in part because he was so good on contested catches. It seems like there’s just one or two per game. Davis finished with four catches for 45 yards on seven targets.

– The Jets coaches are starting to look silly for their refusal to play WR Denzel Mims. He had that 40-yard catch back in the opener, and on Sunday, after being ignored for most of the game, he was wide open for a 27-yard catch in the fourth quarter for one of the Jets’ biggest plays of the game. The kid is a play-maker. The Jets coaches have to get over whatever bothers them about him and figure out a way to get him involved in the offense.

– So much for “boring” football. Wilson’s first interception was a prime example of his penchant for wanting to take the hard road. He had Davis open over the middle and running back Michael Carter open in the flat to his left. So what does he do? He goes deep down the left side to Keelan Cole, who is well covered and … well, you know the rest.

– The Jets’ offensive line was a bright side. They weren’t great in the run game, but they gave Wilson plenty of time. He was only sacked twice, and both came late in the fourth quarter.

New York Jets cornerback Michael Carter II (30) reacts after recovering a fumble in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

– The Jets are still the only NFL team without an interception, and this wasn’t a good overall day for their young secondary. But Hall continues to play relatively well. He’s broken up a lot of passes over the last two weeks, even if he hasn’t been able to actually hold onto one.

– I can generally see what made the officials call a roughing the passer penalty, even when fans are outraged. But I am totally befuddled by the one called on Jets LB Quincy Williams on the opening drive. He launched into Matt Ryan’s midsection when Ryan still had the ball in his hands. The hit wasn’t high and it wasn’t late. And while he landed on Ryan, it’s because Ryan fell back from the hit and momentum carried them both. It was a textbook hit, not a penalty. An absolutely brutal call. Worse, it came as the Jets stopped the Falcons on 3rd and 9 from the Atlanta 36. The drive continued and the Falcons got a field goal out of it.

– The roughing the passer call in the second quarter on DT Nathan Shepherd was legitimate. He came in late and dangerously low. It was his second roughing-the-passer penalty and fifth penalty overall in two weeks. If he’s going to continue to hurt the Jets’ defense, they’re going to have to play someone else.

– At times, linebackers Quincy Williams and C.J. Mosley looked like they were trying to single-handedly keep the Jets in this game. They combined for 16 tackles (eight each) and three forced fumbles (two by Williams, one by Mosley). Williams is turning into an unbelievably good waiver claim for Jets GM Joe Douglas.

– One week after getting seven sacks against the Titans, the Jets’ defense had … none.


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