Sports

Are the Jets Watchable Yet?

Time is a flat circle, but we want to help you break it. To that end, we’ve enlisted two experts — one familiar with the ins and outs of New York’s football teams, the other a nationally focused football analyst — to answer an essential question as a service to readers: Is this team good yet?

Devin Gordon, who has written about sports for ESPN and GQ and is the author of “So Many Ways to Lose: The Amazin’ True Story of the New York Mets, the Best Worst Team in Sports,” observed both the Giants and the Jets from a locally focused perspective.

Charles McDonald, an N.F.L. analyst at For the Win and co-host of “The Counter” podcast and the “Setting the Edge” podcast, offered a national view.

Jets

The Jets (1-4) fell behind early to the Atlanta Falcons (2-3) on Sunday and couldn’t finish a second-half comeback, losing, 27-20.

Insider’s perspective:

Was it the Jets, or was it the jet lag? The N.F.L.’s London games have been the annual horse in the hospital of football programming. Sunday’s matchup against the Falcons at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium — kickoff at 9:30 a.m., Eastern time — presented some unique variables to evaluating the matter of the Jets’ current level of watchability.

At this point in the season, though, the Jets have established some constants. They racked up more penalty yardage than passing yardage in the first half, and have now been outscored, 75-13, in the first halves of games this season and outgained, 1,030 yards to 420. Against the Falcons, they went into halftime down, 20-3.

When the Jets finally showed up in the second half, Zach Wilson flashed what must officially be his favorite play: Roll out to the right, then bombs away. He usually does not attempt it until the second half, and during that narrow slice of action, the Jets are genuinely electric. In the third quarter, down, 20-9, after a touchdown drive to open the second half, Wilson went to his pet play, but receiver Corey Davis was well covered and the ball fell harmlessly to the turf.

Midway through the fourth quarter, he tried again, and this time the rookie wideout Elijah Moore was so wide open that Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell had to flatten him at the goal line before he caught it. The critical 41-yard pass interference call, forced by Wilson’s arm and Moore’s speed, led to a touchdown and 2-point conversion that brought the Jets within 3 of the Falcons.

Was it a vision of the future? A prebrunch fever dream? Was that really the soccer player Christian Pulisic in the house wearing Gang Green gear? Is this real life? Matt Ryan answered right back with a touchdown, and the Falcons won, 27-20. Welcome back to reality, Jets fans.

Verdict: Should’ve slept in.

Outsider’s view:

So far, Robert Saleh’s Jets squad doesn’t look all that different from the Adam Gase era. That isn’t to say that Saleh, Zach Wilson and the rest of this regime won’t figure out how to win games and play competitive football, but their 27-20 loss at the hands of the hapless Atlanta Falcons goes to show how far away the Jets are from building something worth watching.

The offense has been a total eyesore, scoring just 3 points in the first half against the Falcons. Wilson and the Jets’ running game were able to put together a few drives in the second half to close the gap, but as a whole, it was another lethargic effort.

At 1-4, the 2021 Jets are better than only the 2020 Jets, who didn’t get their first win until Week 15, by record at this point. But it doesn’t seem like this team is capable of putting together a quality, professional product for the entire 60 minutes — and that has been the case for far too long.

Returning from London, the Jets will have a chance to regroup over the bye week before their rematch against the Patriots in Foxborough. They last played to a 25-6 Patriots win in Week 2, when Wilson resembled Sam Darnold in the infamous “seeing ghosts” Monday night game.

Verdict: This season looks like a rerun, and you can change the channel.

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