Nathaniel Hackett's puzzling Micah Parsons strategy crippled Jets offense

14:11 18.09.2023 - New York Post

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Jets came here hoping to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2015. Instead, they got dismantled 30-10 by the Cowboys and are now 1-1 with lots of questions as a tough stretch to start their season continues. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:

1. There will be plenty of criticism for offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett after this one. Breece Hall questioned why he only got four touches after the game, which is not a good sign in Week 2 for the locker room. I think it was hard for Hackett to get anything going because the Jets had so few plays. They could not convert on third down (1-for-10) and when you do that, nothing looks good.

Here is my issue with Hackett: He let Cowboys superstar Micah Parsons wreck the game. If I'm game planning against Dallas, my focus would be making sure there were four hands on Parsons on every play. Tell Zach Wilson to slide the protection to Parsons wherever he lines up. Move a running back or tight end to chip him. Do anything. Do something.

Instead, Parsons was given one-on-one matchups with left tackle Duane Brown for most of the day and Parsons dominated him. He had two sacks, nine pressures and wreaked havoc on the Jets' offense.

Look, the Cowboys are very, very good. Chances are if you put an extra blocker on Parsons, Demarcus Lawrence would have a good day. But I'll take those chances. Let someone else beat you. This was like letting Michael Jordan have open shots and not throwing extra defenders at him.

Parsons is the closest thing to Lawrence Taylor I've seen. He's big, quick and smart. He moves all over the field and he killed the Jets on Sunday. Hackett seemed to have no plan for him.

2. People are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to prop up Zach Wilson. It is an interesting thing to watch. I understand why Robert Saleh and the Jets players are doing it. It's surprising to see others going along with it.

To me, Wilson looked a lot like the same guy on Sunday. He made a few good throws and decisions but looked shaky for most of the day. This is how Wilson has played for most of his career. People remember the disasters but those did not come as frequently as just mediocre play. Wilson's three interceptions came in desperation time. They were not great, but this was not like some of his multi-turnover games in the past where he crushed the team.

I'll give Wilson this: His pocket presence was better Sunday. He climbed the pocket when rushed and used his feet well in the drive at the end of the first half. Wilson did not have any of those plays where he ran 20 yards backward and spun around only to heave the ball back at the line of scrimmage. That was a positive.

I'm still skeptical about the "new and improved" Wilson. This week against the Patriots will be another test for him. I don't see the Jets moving off Wilson quickly. They will give him a long runway here to produce but he needs to play better than he did Sunday.

3. The offense was bad but the more troubling development was how poorly the defense played. This is a unit that has talked about being the best in the league and possibly one of the best of all time. The Cowboys carved the Jets up on Sunday. Dak Prescott completed his first 13 passes. CeeDee Lamb was wide open. The Jets missed tons of tackles and committed some key penalties.

The biggest knock, though, is their failure to make a play. The Jets desperately needed their defense to lift them up on Sunday. The offense was playing without Aaron Rodgers against a very good Cowboys defense. The Jets needed a takeaway to give the offense a short field and some momentum. They got none.

Two plays stand out where the defense could have made a play and didn't. Lamb had a 31-yard catch at the end of the first quarter but fumbled at the end of the play. Somehow Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz recovered the ball 30 yards downfield. How is it possible that an offensive lineman got on the fumble before a Jets defensive back that far downfield?

The next play was the dropped interception by Sauce Gardner, which would have been a pick six. Gardner is a magnificent player but he needs to start taking the ball away more to have more of an impact. He does not get a lot of chances. This was a golden one and he blew it.

Those two plays could have changed the flow of the game.

The Jets defense was very good in the red zone. They only allowed two touchdowns on six red zone trips, but the fact that Dallas had six trips to the red zone speaks to a bigger problem.

4. The pregame chatter was about Rodgers possibly returning quicker than anyone ever has from his Achilles tear to join the Jets in the playoffs. While I have a lot of respect for the reporters who got the story of Rodgers having a new procedure to get him on the field quickly, let's slow down.

First, Rodgers is going to be 40 years old in a few months. Is it really a good idea for him to try to come back this season and play?

Second, let's play the scenario out of Rodgers returning for the playoffs. That means Wilson played well enough over 17 games to get the Jets into the playoffs. Now, the Jets are going to turn around and bench him for Rodgers, who would not have played a full game in 12 months? That makes no sense.

If the idea of Rodgers possibly returning gives Jets fans some kind of hope, great. But this does not feel like an idea rooted in reality.

Revealing stat

The Cowboys ran 83 plays. The Jets ran 46. It's hard to compete when the other team runs almost twice the amount of plays you do.

Surprising snap count

Rookie Will McDonald was a surprise healthy scratch. McDonald, the team's 2023 first-round pick, was a victim of the numbers game at edge rusher. Saleh said the Jets wanted more size at the position against the Cowboys because of their run game. This was always the puzzling part of the Jets taking McDonald with the No. 15 pick. The Jets are deep at edge rusher. It is hard to see McDonald having an impact as a rookie. He could pay dividends in future years but you'd like to get an immediate impact from a top-15 pick.

Game ball

There are not many choices here. Garrett Wilson was the only Jet who made a big play, so let's give it to him. Wilson's 68-yard touchdown provided some hope in the second quarter that the Jets could stay in the game. Wilson only had two catches on eight targets, but one was the biggest play of the game for the Jets.

/ Monday, September 18, 2023, 2:11 PM /

themes:  Texas

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