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Grading the Jets: Straight A's for Gang Green in first victory

Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets

Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets reacts following the 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Inglewood, California.  Credit: Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey

OFFENSE: The Jets got all the things they wanted from Sam Darnold. He played a clean game. He got rid of the ball quickly. He threw it away to avoid a sack. He didn’t make bad decisions or force things. The Jets are the NFL’s worst offense and they were playing Aaron Donald and the No. 1 defense. Darnold was sacked twice, didn’t turn the ball over, and managed the game and clock at the end well. Darnold had a 98.8 passer rating, his highest of the season. The Jets converted three first downs on their first series and seven total against the NFL’s best defense. The Jets have had eight games this season when they converted four or fewer third downs. They also were successful on their only fourth-down try. Frank Gore scored on a 1-yard run. The fact that they were able to execute on their final series and not give the Rams the ball back was both impressive and surprising considering how this season has gone for them. This was only the fifth time in 14 games they scored more than 17 points.

GRADE: A

DEFENSE: Interim defensive coordinator Frank Bush definitely found a way to get more out of his group than he did last week in his first game replacing Gregg Williams. After allowing 440 yards of offense against the Seahawks last Sunday, the Jets defense was flying all over the place versus the Rams. They gave up 303 yards to the No. 5 offense in the NFL. They pressured Jared Goff from the beginning, and sacked him three times. The Jets had eight quarterback hits and five tackles for loss. Rookie Bryce Hall had his first career interception. Marcus Maye batted away a pass intended for Gerald Everett on fourth-and-4 that put the Jets in position to win. There were some costly penalties, but this was probably was the Jets’ best defensive effort of the season.

GRADE: A

SPECIAL TEAMS: Brant Boyer’s group made some huge plays in this game. The biggest one from his unit was by rookie punter Braden Mann. He made a potential game-saving tackle on Nsimba Webster in the fourth quarter with the Jets up three. Mann also averaged 49.4 yards on his punts, including one for 57 yards. The Jets also had a blocked punt by T.J. Hassell in Rams territory that led to a field goal. Kicker Sam Ficken, just off of injured reserve, made all three of his field goals and both extra point tries.

GRADE: A:

COACHING: The Jets looked as if they checked out in last week’s 37-point loss to the Seahawks. But they rebounded and showed they’re still playing for the coaches and for each other. The offensive game plan was sound, and it worked. Adam Gase made the right call by going for it on fourth-and-1 instead of taking the field goal. It showed that the Jets aren’t tanking. Gase called the right play, too. Run behind "Big Ticket" Mekhi Becton and good things happen. All three phases did their jobs. After all the beatings taken this season by these groups, the coaches get good marks this week since it all came together finally.

GRADE: A

New York Sports