For once, there were a minimum of rookie mistakes from Zach Wilson, and Saleluhah to that.
Because these are forever the Jets, or the Jets forever, or according to C.J. Mosley the Rodney Dangerfield Jets, you could have bet your house that somebody would pick up the slack.
So on this day, the rookie mistake belonged to the fiery rookie head coach.
Although, in all reality, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference if the Eagles trotted out Ron Jaworski at quarterback.
It was Gardner Minshew and not Jalen Hurts (ankle) who started for the Eagles, Gardner Minshew and not Jalen Hurts who dominated the Jets 33-18, and this was the question afterward for cornerback Bryce Hall: “Did you guys prepare for Minshew at all during the week, Bryce?”
“No. We didn’t,” Halll said. “We were prepared for Jalen.”
Hall was asked to elaborate.
“Had we known ahead of time, I don’t think it really honestly would have changed much at all. It really didn’t change whether it was Minshew or Jalen, they did pretty much the same thing that we were expecting them to do.”
One minor difference: Hurts is more of a runner (10th in the NFL with 695 rushing yards entering Sunday) than passer.
Minshew is more of a passer than runner (344 yards rushing in 14 games in 2019 in Jacksonville and 153 yards in nine games in 2020).
The offensive system may be the same, but the quarterback running the offensive system was plenty different.
Hurts, bless his RPO heart, was at the forefront of the Eagles’ league-leading rushing team.
So Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, who is clearly on the hot seat, got their beleaguered, embattled defense all lathered up to stop Hurts.
No way were the Eagles about to run roughshod over Gang Green the way the Colts did.
Hurts, listed as questionable, was declared inactive on Sunday.
So Minshew (20-for-25, 242 yards, 11 rushing yards) makes his first start and finds tight end Dallas Goedert for a pair of first-half touchdowns, completes his first 11 passes, engineers scoring drives on his first seven possessions and keeps Wilson on the sideline for 13:50 in the third quarter.
A week earlier against the Giants, Hurts had rushed eight times for 77 yards and thrown three interceptions.
“The offense that they ran was the same offense as Jalen would have played,” Mosley said. “We don’t practice to prepare for one player. We might have a certain defense or a certain call in for a player, but we don’t base our whole defense off one player.”
Asked if the defense prepared for the contingency of Minshew starting, Mosley said: “We prepared for the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense.”
The threat of the RPO with Hurts is what drives the Eagles’ offense. Minshew does not present nearly the same threat.
“One could argue Jalen might be the better athlete or have a better arm or so-and-so, there can always be intangible things like that, but like I said, they didn’t change their offense and we didn’t change our defense at the end of the day,” Mosley said.
Between the breakdowns and undisciplined boneheaded play and the officiating, Saleh was a volcano spewing fire and fury on the sidelines.
“A system’s a system,” Saleh said. “They weren’t gonna change their entire system all in one week. It’s just, what were they gonna call more of? Which we were very familiar with. You’re not gonna get the QB runs, but you’re still gonna get RPOs, you’re still gonna get more intermediate-to-short game, which is what they did. So everything that they did was expected, it’s all part of their game plan.
“The plays were all the same, it’s just where was the ball gonna go? Where Jalen’s a little bit more aggressive, we knew Minshew was gonna be a little bit more intermediate and check down, where Jalen would run, we knew Minshew would hand the ball off or be more RPO-ish, if you will. And then from a pass-game standpoint where Jalen would tuck it and run, we knew that Minshew would try to bide time and he just sat behind that offensive line and did a good job biding time and finding open receivers.”
Saleh has no margin for error, not one, on an inexperienced defense that badly misses Carl Lawson and Marcus Maye. The force of Saleh’s personality and his passion cannot overcome a Mosley encroachment penalty on fourth-and-3, a Shaq Lawson face mask penalty, a Jonathan Marshall hands to the face, a third-and-10 Hall interference.
“Disheartening,” Saleh perfectly said.
“Right now teams are not respecting us, that’s well deserved whether it’s by self-inflicted wounds or the history of the Jets,” Mosley said. “The coin toss, no handshake, [Fletcher] Cox was laughing at Coach Saleh, he was fighting for us, trying to get a play-call. You see that stuff and you feel that stuff and as a competitor, as a warrior, when you’re fighting with your brother, that pisses you off. That’s been going on for a long time. When things change, it’s gonna change quick. When will that happen?, I don’t know, but when it does happen, we’re gonna be ready for it.”
At least the Dangerfield’s won’t have to prepare next week for Drew Brees.
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