Thanks a ton to MacGregor Wells from our New York Jets sister site, Gang Green Nation, for answering our questions this week.
This post is always full of great information from those who cover the Chargers’ opponent, so go ahead and dive right in. Enjoy!
1.) Sam Darnold will not be returning this week and veteran Joe Flacco is set to start once more under center. What, if anything, does Flacco change about the offense? Does he make it better in any way? How about worse?
Joe Flacco provides the Jets with a veteran’s savvy. He is better than Darnold at reading defenses, better at making adjustments at the line of scrimmage, and he throws a better deep ball than Darnold. On the other hand, Flacco is an immobile statue compared to Darnold. Behind a suspect Jets offensive line, Flacco’s inability to maneuver in the pocket, scramble when necessary, avoid the pass rush and throw on the run make him more vulnerable to pressure than Darnold.
Based on what we’ve seen thus far with the Jets, I’d say the two are roughly equivalent overall. Darnold provides the higher highs and lower lows. Flacco is steadier but less able to overcome the Jets overall talent gap. Either one gives the Jets a below average QB.
2.) The Jets have yet to win a game in 2020 and I’m curious as to just how close you believe this team is to getting back in the win column. Is there a game left on the schedule that gives the fan base hope for that first W?
Well, for Jets fans a 2-7 Chargers team looks like a possible victory. Without the in depth knowledge of a Chargers fan, not knowing the precise reasons why the Chargers keep on losing close games, Jets fans think, hey, keep this one close and maybe the Chargers will blow it in the end. After this week’s game the Jets have the Miami Dolphins, who have been a much better team than the Jets, but they have a rookie quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. Rookies are always a possibility to implode with a bunch of turnovers in any given week. It’s not a great matchup for the Jets, but the rookie quarterback gives the Jets a sliver of hope for a victory. Later in the season the Jets have the Browns, who have put up 10 points or less in four of their 9 games. Maybe the Jets can keep that close and get a break at the end. The Jets close the season in New England against the Patriots. Ordinarily that’s an automatic loss, but the Patriots aren’t a very good team this year, and they could be eliminated from playoff contention by then. Maybe they play a lot of backups and the Jets take the final game of the season. The Jets won’t be favored in any game this year, and rightly so, but each of those games gives the Jets a puncher’s chance at stealing a win.
3.) Rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims had a lot of hype coming out of this year’s draft. I know he sustained an injury to begin the season, but what have you seen so far from him this season and has he been/do you expect him to be what the Jets were looking for at receiver?
It’s still much too early for any definitive judgments, but from the little we’ve seen so far Mims looks like the most talented receiver the Jets have had on the roster since Brandon Marshall was here in 2015 and 2016. He’s got great speed, great size, excellent YAC ability, and can win 50/50 balls. It will take time for Mims to develop his route running better. He’s not a complete receiver yet. But he appears to have all the raw talent necessary to become the #1 type receiver the Jets haven’t had since Marshall. Whether Mims and the Jets coaches can develop that raw talent so that he maximizes his natural gifts remains to be seen.
4.) Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said on Wednesday that the Jets defensive line is as good as any defensive front that they’ve faced this year. Are you surprised at that statement by Lynn? Why or why not?
I’m not surprised, because coaches often throw compliments at their opponents so as not to give them any extra incentive on game day. To the extent this dismal Jets team has a strength, the defensive line is it. Quinnen Williams has been hurt lately, but before he got hurt he was developing into the kind of force on the interior line the Jets envisioned when they took him with the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Williams has been excellent against the run and has begun to consistently apply pressure against the pass. John Franklin-Myers has also developed nicely this year on the interior defensive line, at least against the pass. He brings good pressure most weeks, though he can be run against. Folorunso Fatukasi has developed into an excellent run stuffer, though he’s not much of a pass rusher. These are some pretty good players, but I wouldn’t say the Jets’ defensive line is among the elite in the NFL. The Jets need at least one stud pass rusher to join the ranks of the elite. If you’re Anthony Lynn and looking for something, anything nice to say about the Jets, the defensive front is the place to start. But it’s probably not the best unit the Chargers have faced all year.
5.) Go ahead and give us a short summary of how you believe the game will play out and top it off with a final score prediction.
OK, I have zero confidence I can give you a game script that will prove to be anything but wildly inaccurate, but here goes. The one thing the Jets offense has been pretty good about has been scoring early on the first scripted drives. Let’s give the Jets an early touchdown drive. Maybe Flacco completes a dep ball for an early touchdown strike to Mims or Breshad Perriman. From there things will probably go south pretty quickly. The Jets may have all three of their starting cornerbacks out for this game. Justin Herbert will feast against backups to what was already the worst group of starting cornerbacks in the NFL. Chargers drive at will on the Jets depleted secondary, score three first half touchdowns, at halftime it’s Chargers 21, Jets 10. Jets do what they usually do in the second half – make zero halftime adjustments and fold like a cheap suit. Chargers continue to light up the Jets horrible secondary and it’s 31 – 10 entering the fourth quarter. Fourth quarter is extended garbage time, maybe the Jets score because all the Chargers need to do is run out the clock. Final score: Chargers 38, Jets 14.