Jets head coach Robert Saleh gestures during the first half...

Jets head coach Robert Saleh gestures during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C.  Credit: AP/Nell Redmond

OFFENSE: Zach Wilson made one mistake – a bad interception that he underthrew. Other than that, the rookie quarterback played well, all things considered. He was sacked six times, hit 10 times and ran for his life all game. His mobility and ability to make plays on the move were evident and helpful. He had 258 passing yards, two touchdown passes and ran for a two-point conversion. The offensive line clearly needs to be better, and losing Mekhi Becton, who suffered a knee injury, won’t help. The run game needs to be better. They totaled 45 yards rushing. An outside zone blocking scheme didn’t work on this day. Dynamic rookie Elijah Moore did nothing. He had one catch for minus-3 yards and couldn’t haul in a deep throw from Wilson that was definitely catchable.


DEFENSE: Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich’s unit wasn’t as bad as the offense. To give up only 19 points against some explosive offensive players (Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson) isn’t terrible. But the defense gave up a number of big plays. Anderson caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from former Jet Sam Darnold, who threw for 279 yards and scored a rushing touchdown on a QB draw. Moore had catches for 27 and 26 yards. McCaffrey had 187 yards of offense, including an 18-yard run late to help salt the game away. The Panthers got inside the 10 four times, and scored only one touchdown. The other three resulted in two field goals and a Darnold fumble that Sheldon Rankins recovered.


SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Matt Ammendola stepped in when Braden Mann hurt his knee on his first punt and did a great job. Ammendola, who didn’t attempt a field goal or extra point, punted six times. He boomed one 65 yards, and averaged 48.5 yards. The Jets’ punt coverage was solid, as they allowed 40 total yards in returns.


COACHING: Robert Saleh didn’t get the win in his NFL coaching debut but his team showed fight. It’s a start. But the Jets knew the Panthers would bring pressure on Wilson and they did nothing to counter that and didn’t really adjust. Wilson was sacked three times in each half. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur needs to be a little more creative with his play calls, too. The Jets running it one fourth-and-1 and getting minus-1 yard is reminiscent of Adam Gase. The defense made some adjustments in the second half to keep Carolina out of the end zone.


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