The Jets have numerous issues to fix, but one of the most distressing may be the mental state of two of their brightest young stars — their two best offensive playmakers.
Breece Hall sounded beaten down after the Jets were throttled by the Dolphins, 34-13, on Friday. Garrett Wilson was at a loss for words, which is rare.
The Jets (4-7) have lost four straight and haven’t been competitive in three of those games. They’ve generated two offensive touchdowns and have been outscored by 72 points during this losing streak.
This is taking a major mental toll on the two second-year offensive players.
“I don’t know what I can tell you all. I don’t know what I can tell the fans,” Wilson said. “I’m out. I’m out.”
Hall had a lot of things to say, and much of it was about how he’s pressing too much because he feels he has to make a big play every time he touches the football. He said it’s led to him “making mistakes I’ve never made in my career.”
This is alarming from such a confident person and player. Hall has been the Jets’ best weapon on offense. Before Wilson caught a 1-yard touchdown pass in garbage time on Friday, Hall was the only Jet to get in the end zone in the previous six games.
“We’re not moving the ball and I’m trying to be the spark and I know that everybody is looking at me to make the play,” Hall said. “That’s the worst thing when you’re trying to make the play but you can’t. Or you’re pressing so much you make a little mistake.”
The Jets’ offensive problems are far-reaching and all-inclusive, from play-calling to execution to missed blocks and assignments. They are starting their third-string quarterback, Tim Boyle. They’ve used 13 different offensive linemen and now are playing some backups to the backup up front.
Robert Saleh has benched veterans — Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb — and moved on from running back Michael Carter in favor of rookies in hopes of generating a spark. The Jets’ offense has totaled 314 yards and produced 13 points in the last two games combined.
All of this is devastating to Hall.
Defenses are loading up to stop him because of the Jets’ issues passing the football — and they’ve been successful.
The Jets have thrown for more than 200 net passing yards three times in 11 games and their quarterbacks have been sacked 23 times in the past four games. Hall had 49 yards on 14 touches against Miami. That’s his lowest production since Week 3, when he was still on a snap count coming off a torn ACL.
“I take pride in being one of our ‘A’ players,” Hall said. “I expect to almost be perfect every week. I’m trying, but it’s been hard because I’ve been pressing so much. Some part of me feels like I’m in a box a little bit.”
Hall was asked to elaborate and said, “When you’re the focal point of the defense, everybody knows essentially what you’re going to do each play, everybody’s trying to stop you. It’s been hard . . . With my touches I’m trying to make a play, which has been difficult. But we’re just trying to get better every week.”
Saleh said Hall needs to work through this and focus on the things that make him “a special talent.”
“We all agree when the ball’s in his hands we’re better, but there’s grimy yards that a back has to understand he has to get,” Saleh said. “When you press, you’re going to try to create explosive every single play and you’re going to lose that style of play that makes you special.
“He’s a big back. He’s 220 pounds. He has elite speed, but he also has the elite ability to lower his shoulder and get vertical when he needs. Once he reconnects to that, I think we’ll start seeing him for what we know he is.”
Wilson has had his own difficulties and ailments lately. He’s playing with an elbow injury that he acknowledges is affecting him. Before his touchdown Friday, he hadn’t scored since Week 2. That’s a byproduct of the Jets’ passing-game woes. But he lost two fumbles in the past four games.
“I’ve had a rough stretch,” Wilson said. “It weighs on you. It [stinks] because you put a lot on yourself. As hard as I get on myself, I’m going to go back to the drawing board and figure out how it never looks like that again somehow.”
He should not be the only one.