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Garrett Wilson, Sauce Gardner not the best Jets newcomer

In Sunday’s win over the Browns, the Jets started eight players who were not on the roster last season.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas remade the roster this past offseason, and his moves in free agency and the NFL Draft generated excitement in the fan base and provided hope the Jets could become a winner.

Through two games, some of the newcomers have emerged as key pieces of the team while others still seem to be struggling to find their footing. Here is a closer look at some of the new additions and how they have played so far, listed from the biggest contributors to the smallest:

D.J. Reed, CB

D.J. Reed #4 of the New York Jets react after making an interception during the fourth quarter.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Reed has had a great start for the Jets, highlighted by an interception and forced fumble in the Week 1 loss to the Ravens. He also has been a good tackler and strong in coverage. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the sixth-best cornerback in the league and credits Reed with three receptions allowed in 10 targets. The former member of the Seahawks and 49ers has been the best player in the back end for the Jets.

Garrett Wilson, WR

Garrett Wilson of the Jets
Getty Images

The rookie had a breakout performance Sunday against the Browns with eight catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. Wilson had moves on Sunday that Jets fans have not seen from their receivers in a long, long time. The No. 10 overall pick in the 2022 draft, Wilson looks like he could be a star for years to come. The Jets realized they made a mistake by only playing him six snaps in the first half against the Ravens and corrected it in Week 2, making Wilson a central part of the game plan against the Browns.

Sauce Gardner, CB

Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner of the Jets
Getty Images

As good as Reed has been, Gardner has been close in the first two games of his career. Gardner has allowed five catches, per PFF. It did appear he had a coverage mix-up on Amari Cooper’s touchdown on Sunday, when it seemed as if Gardner was in zone and safety Lamarcus Joyner was in man. Still, Gardner did a great job on Ravens tight end Mark Andrews in Week 1, showing he can cover a big man, and has also been a strong tackler, which was a question entering the season.

Kwon Alexander, LB

Kwon Alexander of the Jets
Noah K. Murray-NY Post

A late addition by Douglas. Alexander was signed early in training camp and has brought energy and ferocity to the Jets defense. PFF credited him with four stops and rates him as the 38th-best linebacker out of 77 they graded. Alexander delivers monster hits that fire up the entire team. He looks like a steal for Douglas.

Breece Hall, RB

Jets running back Breece Hall runs with the ball against the Browns during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sept. 18, 2022 in Cleveland.
Getty Images

Hall scored his first touchdown on Sunday on a 10-yard reception from Joe Flacco. He also led the team in rushing with 50 yards on seven carries, including a 23-yard gain. It was a nice bounce-back game for Hall after a fumble and a drop in Week 1. Hall is explosive, and the Jets need to give him the ball more. Look for him to have a bigger role as the season goes on.

Max Mitchell, RT

Max Mitchell of the Jets
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

No one saw this coming. The fourth-round pick from Louisiana was thrust into the starting lineup after injuries to Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown. Mitchell has fared well with a few hiccups. It has not been an easy assignment. He has faced Calais Campbell, Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney in the first two games. He has given up two sacks, one of them a strip-sack on Sunday when Clowney beat him around the edge. Mitchell also gets credit for jumping on Tyler Conklin’s fumble late in Sunday’s game. That was a huge play in the comeback.

Jermaine Johnson, DE

Jermaine Johnson of the Jets
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Johnson’s role has been limited. He did record a sack against the Ravens, but he is only playing about 20 snaps a game. The Jets have a deep rotation at defensive end, and Johnson is going to have to earn playing time.

Micheal Clemons, DE

Micheal Clemons
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Like Johnson, Clemons is fighting for playing time, but you can see Clemons having more of an impact than you’d expect from a fourth-round pick. He plays with a lot of energy, and looks as if he is really tough to block. Clemons is also playing on the coverage special teams, a rarity for a man of his size (he’s listed at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds).

Tyler Conklin, TE

Tyler Conklin makes a catch against the Browns.
Getty Images

Conklin has 10 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown, but his production has been overshadowed by mistakes. He’s already had two fumbles and two drops. PFF has him rated as the 63rd tight end out of 64 they have graded. He had a strong training camp, and there is still reason to believe he will be a good addition. He just needs to start protecting the ball.

Jordan Whitehead, S

Jets rookie Jordan Whitehead was able to practice fully on Friday. 
Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

It has not been a good start for Whitehead, who was in coverage on two of the Ravens’ touchdowns in Week 1. He has allowed six catches on six targets, according to PFF. He is currently rated the 69th safety out of 71 they have graded. And he has missed four tackles, which is supposed to be his strength.

Greg Zuerlein, K

Jets place kicker Greg Zuerlein (14) kicks an extra point during the second quarter of the Jets and Giants preseason football game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Bill Kostroun

Two missed kicks in Week 1 were made up for by a 57-yard field goal against the Browns and making the extra point to win the game (admit it, you thought he’d miss). Zuerlein still has a long way to go for anyone to believe the Jets’ kicker woes are solved, but Sunday was a good start.

Laken Tomlinson, G

Laken Tomlinson #78 of the New York Jets tries to block Justin Houston #50 of the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL game on September 11, 2022.
Getty Images

The Jets gave Tomlinson a $40 million contract to improve their offensive line. The early returns on that investment are not good. Tomlinson played poorly against the Ravens, but was a little better against the Browns. He gave up eight pressures in Week 1, according to PFF. His run blocking has not been much better. PFF has him rated as the 62nd-best guard out of 70 graded.

C.J. Uzomah, TE

C.J. Uzomah #87 of the New York Jets looks on during warmups before the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Getty Images

After not having any impact in a limited role in Week 1, Uzomah missed Sunday’s game due to a hamstring injury. Conklin clearly passed by Uzomah in the coaches’ eyes sometime this spring or summer, and now it feels as if Uzomah is the second tight end and will only really be involved when the Jets use two tight ends.

Duane Brown, LT

Left tackle Duane Brown will miss at least a month for the Jets.

This one looks like a terrible signing with Brown now out with a shoulder injury. The Jets have some hope he can return, but Douglas gave him $9 million guaranteed and that could look like wasted money if Brown can’t play at all this year.

One streak down, another in sight

The Jets snapped their 13-game losing streak in September with the dramatic win over the Browns. Here is the next streak they have to break: This team has not been over .500 since Week 2 of the 2018 season after a win over the Lions made them 1-0. They have not been over .500 as late as Week 3 in a season since 2015, when they started 2-1 and ended up going 10-6.

New York Jets defensive back Jamal Adams (33) celebrates his interception with teammates during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018.
The Jets celebrate on the way to winning in Week 1 in 2018, the last time they had a record over .500.

It’s been a lot of losing. A win Sunday over the Bengals would have Jets fans believing in this team. It would also give some hope that they can play meaningful games in December, the goal stated by Douglas.

Stat’s so

Greg Zuerlein tied the franchise record with his 57-yard field goal on Sunday. Here are the 15 longest field goals in Jets history:

57 yards
Greg Zuerlein — Sept. 18, 2022; at Browns
Chandler Catanzaro — Oct. 8, 2017; at Browns

56 yards
Jason Myers — Nov. 4, 2018; at Dolphins
Nick Folk — Oct. 17, 2010; at Broncos

55 yards
Sergio Castillo — Nov. 1, 2020; at Chiefs
Jason Myers — Nov. 25, 2018; vs. Patriots
Jason Myers — Nov. 11, 2018; vs. Bills
Jason Myers — Oct. 21, 2018; vs. Vikings
Jason Myers — Sept. 16, 2018; vs. Dolphins
Nick Folk — Oct. 25, 2015; at Patriots
Nick Folk — Oct. 26, 2014; vs. Bills
Jay Feely — Nov. 1, 2009; vs. Dolphins
Jay Feely — Nov. 9, 2008; vs. Rams
John Hall — Aug. 31, 1997; at Seahawks
Pat Leahy — Dec. 14, 1985; vs. Bears


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