Haters and skeptics have been waiting for a day like Sunday. I know because I was one of them. Three of the NFL’s most unexpected teams in 2022 — the Jets, Giants and Vikings — have entered the week in at least three games at odds over .500, according to Football Outsiders, with postseason odds in excess of 60 percent. And then they scored 24 points in three rough losses.
The Jets are currently in last place in the AFC East. The Giants are also closing in on the division’s basement as Washington continues to advance. And while the Vikings remain at the top of the poor NFC North, they are now the proud owners of negative points margins, which tend to be a better predictor of future performance than the team’s actual wins and losses. These teams are a 21-9 collective, but there isn’t a single fan in New York or Minnesota who can feel good after what we saw on Sunday.
And that’s not the only thing these teams have in common: during the offseason, they all also have awkward conversations about their quarterbacks, and there’s a non-zero chance all three will have a different starting center in 2023. So let’s check out the Jets, Vikings and Giants and try to figure out where each of these teams is heading in the short term and what that could mean for their long term.
New York Jets
If your franchise has questions about its young quarterback, there’s no better (or worse, depending on how you look at it) way to check their progress than to take on defense coached by Bill Belichick. Zach Wilson and the Jets did it on Sunday, and after a 10-3 loss, Wilson gave his team a straight answer: He’s not their boyfriend.
Roll up the footage.
.@Connor_J_Hughes: “Do you feel like you let the defense down at all?”
Zach Wilson: No. pic.twitter.com/tiJiTSrFPE
— Video Jets (@snyjets) November 20, 2022
No, not those shots. We will return to this later. I’m talking about this:
It was cruel. And things get even uglier when you watch from the perspective of all 22, where you can see Wilson sabotage the Jets’ offense in ways that aren’t as obvious from a traditional broadcast.
I left Zach Wilson after I saw this.
Wide. open. Denzel. Mims. Touchdown. Missed. pic.twitter.com/wd2lxee73G
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) November 21, 2022
Wilson finished with 77 yards on 22 attempts. Including lost yards due to sacks, the Jets’ passing game yielded a net 44 yards against the Patriots. This is how you lose a game where your defense only loses three points. And that makes the first clip even more killer. Wilson may not feel like he’s letting down a very good Jets defense. but the feeling is clearly not mutual.
— NFL Unlimited (@NFLUnlimited) November 21, 2022
We are now officially in the “bad vibes” zone with Wilson, which seems like the beginning of the end and a promising season for him. Usually when a well-prepared QB goes bust so quickly, it’s easy to blame the infrastructure of the roster and/or the coaching staff, but that’s not what’s happening here. Wilson is surrounded by a young but decent set of options in Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and an already injured Brice Hall. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur did everything in his power to get past Wilson’s restrictions until this week, and he did just fine before injuries to Hall and Aliji Vera-Tucker raised his difficulty level significantly.
Before Sunday’s abomination in New England, Wilson’s clean pocket splits cheered up some Jets fans, who were still hoping the second-year QB had a chance to turn things around. Historically, Wilson did poorly under pressure, but for 10 weeks was the PFF’s eighth-highest passer in unpressurized knockback. Even that was taken from the Pats. Over 15 no-pressure tackles, Wilson completed 28.6% of his passes and averaged just 2.8 yards per game with a 13.3% success rate. Even in the most ideal conditions, the Jets quarterback was lost.
Things eventually got so bad that there was a spike in search traffic at 4:00 pm ET on Sunday for Joe Flacco, who wasn’t even active for the Jets that weekend, and then another on Monday morning. Jets coach Robert Saleh says he’ll stay with Wilson for the rest of the season barring injuries, but it looks like the fans have moved on. Joining the coaching staff to them is only a matter of time. The current version of Wilson, who can’t work as a passer and struggles to make easy, thoughtful shots up, is not a viable NFL player. At the moment, he doesn’t have a tool with which the Jets could create an offense. And until the defense takes matters into their own hands and starts scoring, New York has no other cards.
The Jets are 6-4 and their chances of making the playoffs have fallen to 46%. FiveThirtyEight. They have three games ahead of them against the division leaders, as well as a trip to Buffalo and games against the audacious Jags and Lions. I think we all know how it ended: the Jets didn’t make the playoffs and immediately returned to the QB market in the off-season.
FORTY-THREE! Sorry, I just had to get this out of my system.
The Vikings were one of the top contributors to Sunday’s list of unwatchable football games, but I appreciate them putting an end to the debate about whether they were Super Bowl contenders. I don’t want to overreact to one game, but when it’s a 37-point loss at home to just a “good” team of Cowboys, it’s hard not to.
Minnesota’s 8-2 season is far from over, but any optimism generated by last week’s win at Buffalo was immediately wiped out by Sunday’s crushing loss, largely because the Vikings were bad in every way. whom we feared. The Cowboys found a way to contain Justin Jefferson; the offensive line failed to protect Kirk Cousins (before or after Christian Darriso left the game due to injury); and rookie head coach Kevin O’Connell still hasn’t gotten his Sean McVeigh-inspired scheme to work as intended. And that’s just an insult. A defense that had performed well early in the season, mostly playing in soft zones against a lot of bad backups, couldn’t answer the question of a playoff-level quarterback like Dak Prescott.
Dak Prescott completed 21.8% more passes than expected in the Cowboys’ 40-3 win over the Vikings, the highest of any QB with at least 25 attempts in a game over the past three seasons.
— Next Generation Statistics (@NextGenStats) November 21, 2022
The Vikings have a lot of problems outside of the quarterback position, but talk of their playoff chances starts and ends with Cousins, who is now heading into his worst statistical season in EPA, yards per rebound, success. speed and just about any other relevant metric since his first two years in Washington. And he fails in a way we’ve never seen him fail before. Minnesota’s play-passing game is the first EPA negative since Cousins came in, and he was actually better in obvious passing situations than on early downs when the defense has to account for the run play. It’s awfully similar to last season’s Bengals offense, which became completely dependent on Joe Burrow throwing amazing deep passes to J’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins; only Cousins can’t consistently play like Barrow against pressure, and Cincinnati had two star outs at their disposal, so it worked.
Ironically, this season, Cousins has been more willing to use his feet to create and propel the ball around the field, something that has previously elicited criticism from his game. If you drop this version of Kirk to the 2019 Vikings team that won the playoff game, she could be a contender. But this group simply can’t provide the sketchy guarantees that a limited quarterback like Cousins requires, and a more aggressive approach has led to more negative plays. According to Pro Football Focus, Cousins’ turnover-worthy performance is the highest since 2015, when he narrowly missed the bench early on before breaking out in the second half.
Since the running game produces mediocre results and the action game does not create explosives, the Vikings need The cousins need to play like a star quarterback if they’re going to challenge for the title this season. And we must give him credit, he tries! He doesn’t have enough juice to play full 60 minute games every week.
Even after their embarrassing loss to Dallas, the Vikings are still in good shape. Thursday’s Green Bay loss essentially ended the NFC North’s run and ensured Minnesota would play a home playoff game in January. But if O’Connell and the Cousins don’t find answers to their early-fall problems over the next six weeks, it’s hard to imagine this team playing any further. We’ve already seen Cousins fail to get Minnesota to the point where he was asked to become a more systemic quarterback. We’re looking at a similar conclusion now that most of the gaming burden is on him.
First-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made waves during the off-season, saying the Vikings “have no Tom Brady… no Patrick Mahomes” and admitting it’s hard to win a Super Bowl without one of them. defenders. Cousins proves once again that he is not in that class, but his $36.3 million cap for 2023 suggests otherwise. Unless Adofo-Mensah changed his intelligence report…