The New York Jets found their way into the win column Sunday with a surprisingly dominant 20-6 win over the Miami Dolphins. The Jets were the better team on the field from start to finish, which not many onlookers expected after two atrocious performances to open the season. Here’s what went right for the Jets in their first win of 2017.
Surprise! The Dolphins stink
Let’s clarify something right away: The Jets are not suddenly Super Bowl contenders because they beat Miami. The Dolphins made unforced errors early and often, committing eight penalties (including five pre-snap flags in the first quarter alone) and dropping passes left and right. Granted, the Jets finished with more penalties and penalty yards than the ‘Fins did, but New York didn’t let that slow it down.
The Dolphins also went 1-for-12 on third down attempts, which is dismal, and threw two interceptions. But let’s get into that in bullet number two…
Dominant defense makes the difference
Let’s face it – the Jets scored the same amount of points, 20, in Week 2. The Raiders blew them out. The defense stepped up this week and made the biggest difference.
After the loss to Oakland, I wrote a column bemoaning the fact that the Jets’ defense lost its way. It was the worst rushing defense in the NFL through two weeks and gave up the highest single-game point total in the Todd Bowles era in the Raiders game. What a difference a week makes – the Jets held the Jay Ajayi-led Dolphins running attack to 30 total yards, and Miami didn’t score until garbage time.
Give credit to Demario Davis – although there were times it looked like he forgot how to tackle, he ended up making a team-high 12 tackles to lead the Jets’ rushing defense. Terrence Brooks, a surprise impact player, grabbed two interceptions – one off punter Matt Haack in a bizarre fake punt attempt, and another off Jay Cutler when it mattered most. And of course, rookie safety Jamal Adams was crucial to the Jets’ success, as he made two tackles for loss, including a sack, and broke up a pass.
Don’t sleep on McCown
He’s not a Hall of Famer or even a franchise quarterback. But up is down and black is white in the early goings of the 2017 NFL season. To fit that theme, Josh McCown looks like one of the league’s top 10 quarterbacks. He finished Sunday with 18-for-23 passing (78.3 percent completed), 249 yards and a touchdown. The TD was a beautiful 69-yard connection with Robby Anderson, who burned Alterraun Verner on the play late in the second quarter.
This isn’t entirely different than McCown’s performance Week 2 against Oakland. He went 16-for-24 last week, and this is his second straight game without throwing a pick. Although that doesn’t sound like a high bar to clear, it’s actually impressive for any quarterback starting for the Jets. McCown is doing everything the Jets need him to do in this season of true limbo, leading a less talented team as they wait to likely draft the QB of their future next spring.