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Quarterly report: How the Jets' offense has performed by quarter in 1-4 start

Zach Wilson of the New York Jets against

Zach Wilson of the New York Jets against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Jets are 1-4 through the first five weeks of the 2021 season. The culprit behind the slow start to the season? Well, slow starts to each game.

The Jets' offense has not put up much of a fight in the first quarter of any of their games so far, failing to score any points or generally move the ball. They have had success in the later quarters, but by that time they already are playing catch-up.

Here's a quarter-by-quarter look (plus one overtime) at the Jets' offense this season.

It hasn't helped the Jets' case that when they do have the ball in the first quarter, they tend to give it right back to their opponents soon after. Their very first drive of the season (which ended in a punt) lasted 3 minutes and 36 seconds, and no first-quarter drive since then has lasted longer. (The Jets did have a drive against the Patriots encompassing the first and second quarters that lasted 6:05, but just 57 seconds of it came in the first quarter.)

The Jets have had two seven-minute drives, both coming in the second quarter (7:03 against the Broncos, 7:43 against the Falcons). However, they've had nine drives lasting a minute or less (not counting end-of-half drives), with five ending in interceptions, two ending on downs, one ending in a punt and one a one-play, 53-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis against the Titans.

The Jets' longest first-quarter drive by plays? Once again, their first and third drives of the season, each taking six plays. Their longest drive of the season in any quarter lasted 16 plays against the Falcons — one of six 10-play drives they've had — and ended in a field goal.

The Jets haven't been able to get it going on the ground, with the second-worst first-quarter rushing offense through five games (only the Bengals are worse, with 58 yards on 18 carries). They are averaging 3.05 yards per rush on their 22 first-quarter carries, and their longest first-quarter rush went for 13 yards.

Here's where you start to see Zach Wilson's struggles. The Jets are the only team to have thrown for fewer than 150 yards in the first quarter through five games. (The second-worst team is the Ravens, and at 158 yards, they have thrown for more than four and a half times the first-quarter yards than the Jets. The NFL average through five games is 270, or nearly eight times the Jets' total.)

See that spike in fourth-quarter passing yards, the one nearly double the other three quarters combined? That can be explained by two reasons: (a) the Jets threw more as they frantically tried to come back in relatively close games against the Panthers, Titans and Falcons, and (b) they were able to rack up garbage-time yardage in otherwise blowout losses to the Patriots and Broncos.

This stat speaks to the Jets' inability to get first downs in the first quarter (more on that in a bit). They've punted nine times in the first quarter, with five being immediate three-and-outs. They've gotten five first downs (four rushing, one passing), but all five drives eventually ended with a change of possession (four punts, one interception).

Yep, that's zero points in the first quarter of any game. In fact, the Jets have only been in an opponent's territory in the first quarter once. A kickoff out of bounds by the Patriots' Jake Bailey gave the Jets the ball at their own 40, then Michael Carter ran 13 yards to bring it to the Patriots' 47. On the very next play, Wilson threw his second interception in as many attempts.

The Jets haven't lost a fumble this year, so all of these turnovers are Wilson interceptions. Both of the Jets' first-quarter picks came against the Patriots (on Wilson's first two attempts of the game).

Once again, another zero. That's what happens when you complete just 5 of 18 passes for 34 yards and two interceptions in five first quarters.

Four of the Jets' five first-quarter first downs have come on the ground. Two of the five first downs came in first-and-10 situations (the aforementioned 13-yard run by Carter against the Patriots, and an 11-yard completion from Wilson to Davis against the Broncos). The other three were short-to-intermediate runs: a 4-yard carry by Carter against the Titans, a 2-yarder by Carter against the Panthers and a 1-yard plunge by Tevin Coleman against the Panthers.

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