The New York Jets and Detroit Lions had the potential to offer a close and spectacular game on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are battling for a playoff berth, Zach Wilson may have had his career on the line, and Jared Goff’s reputation was on the line. However, it is the tight ends who must be thanked in this match which ended 20-17 in favor of the Lions.
The names of CJ Ozumah and Brock Wright never come up when it comes to the NFL’s best tight ends. They are not the most consistent, the most reliable, the most talented, let alone the best known. Nevertheless, they proved on Sunday, in the very beige MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, why players who play in this position are essential.
Nothing worked for the two quarterbacks present. Young Wilson and veteran Goff lacked poise and precision from start to finish. The former managed only 51.4% of his passes, while the latter raised this ratio to 60.5%.
The point being that when quarterbacks are unable to reach their receivers, it is necessary to turn to tight ends, who run short distances, yes, but who manage to secure balls at the right times thanks to their big paws. To understand the importance of being able to count on these targets who can also block, it would suffice to ask Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes what their careers would look like without the contribution of Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce.
In the meeting between the Jets and the Lions, Uzomah and Wright had three catches. Three plays that became three of four touchdowns in the game. Neither Garrett Wilson nor Amon-Ra St. Brown could tell the difference. The tight ends shone when the light went out and they pulled their respective quarterback out of trouble.
In the second quarter, Uzomah caught a 40-yard deep pass from Wilson before feigning a ground play fake on one yard in the fourth quarter. Three minutes later, Wright wowed the gallery by rushing a long play for 51 yards to give the Lions the lead, and the victory. It was his fourth career touchdown.
An unconvincing audition for Wilson
It’s clear that Zach Wilson’s NFL debut isn’t going quite as well as his expectations and those of the Jets, who picked him No. 2 in the 2021 draft. Yet he impressed during his time there. at BYU University thanks to his cannon arm. However, he seems to be having trouble getting used to the pace of the NFL.
The quarterback missed the first three games of the season due to injury and played the next seven. He had even won five of them. However, due to a lack of leadership and patience from his coach Robert Saleh, Wilson was dropped from the roster in weeks 12, 13 and 14. He was replaced by Mike White, who had well done, but who broke a rib last week. Wilson therefore had the chance to return to Saleh’s good graces.
His audition, however, was not as convincing as that of Roy Dupuis before obtaining the role of Ovila Pronovost. He threw two touchdown passes and an interception for 317 yards, but his decision-making was still faltering. He also lacked bite on several occasions, especially in the last sequence of the match. The 23-year-old Hollywood-looking quarterback was unable to do anything under pressure and the Jets paid the price.
They find themselves with a 7-7 record and every game between now and the end of the schedule will be crucial. It remains to be seen which of the two quarterbacks will get the next start.
Moreover, Wilson’s counterpart in the Lions did little better. He racked up just 252 yards, but it’s mostly another meager outing on foreign courts. His touchdown pass to Wright was only his third on the road this season. Two of the Lions’ final three games will be played on home turf, including the last at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Goff will therefore have to find a way to ignore this nasty habit if he wants to give his team every chance of being part of the end-of-season dance.