It’s not one of the biggest matchups on the NFL schedule. The worst team in the NFL in that of the New York Jets going up against an injury-plagued Denver Broncos team.
While most were not necessarily looking for a good outing between the two winless squads, there were a lot of fireworks that went off at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The backdrop here being less-than-stellar field conditions once again.
In the end, the Broncos earned their first victory of the season with a 37-28 win over the hapless Jets. Here are the winners and losers from this Week 4 “Thursday Night Football” matchup.
Winner: Jets cornerback Pierre Desir
New York needed someone to step up in the fourth quarter Thursday evening. It was looking like much of the same for this horrible football team against the Broncos. An underrated corner during his time with the Indianapolis Colts, this former undrafted free agent did just that.
Sure the ball was thrown right into the hands of Desir. It appears there was also miscommunication between Brett Rypien and his receiver. Heck, Desir allowed a long touchdown earlier in the game. All of that is fine and dandy. The Jets needed a game-changing play. That’s what Desir provided with this pick-six. Unfortunately, it did very little to change the end result.
Loser: Broncos’ Brett Rypien almost gives game away
The Broncos’ third starter in four weeks to open the 2020 season, Rypien actually attempted his first regular-season NFL pass Thursday. Those who watched the former undrafted free agent at Boise State were not surprised by his performance early in his debut.
Unfortunately, things became unraveled in the second half. As you saw above, Rypien threw a pick-six right into the hands of the Pierre Desir. On the Broncos’ very next possession, he threw an equally horrible pick into the hands of fellow defensive back Brian Poole.
Couple that with a horrendous first-half turnover, and it quickly became clear that Rypien is not yet ready for primetime. When all was said and done, these three picks nearly doomed the Broncos.
Winner: Bradly Chubb with huge performance
This former top-five pick is the future face of the Broncos’ defense now that Von Miller might have played his final game with the team. After missing all of last season to injury, the 24-year-old Chubb has stepped it up in Miller’s absence. That came to a culmination Thursday evening.
With the Jets potentially driving for the win late in the fourth quarter, Chubb put immediate pressure on Sam Darnold. The end result was a fourth-down sack and the Broncos’ first win of the season. All said, this former North Carolina State standout recorded five quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks in a huge performance.
Loser: Sam Darnold comes up small
It’s almost like a broken record for the Jets. Mere days after throwing three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns, Darnold just couldn’t get out of his own way Thursday. It’s disappointing in that the third-year quarterback started the evening with a brilliant touchdown run.
From that point on, it was a comedy of errors. Darnold sacked himself in the second half. That’s hard to do. And with the Jets looking for a late-game field goal to win it, Darnold was horrible on two consecutive plays. He nearly threw an interception on third down before taking a sack on fourth down. That pretty much ended the game, leading to the Jets finding themselves at 0-4.
Winner: Jamison Crowder steps up for the Jets
New York needed someone to come up big in the passing game after this area of the team struggled big time through the first three weeks of the season. It might not have been enough for New York to win its first outing in four tries this season, but Crowder did his thing.
Acting as an outlet for struggling quarterback Sam Darnold, this veteran caught 7-of-10 targets for 104 yards in his best performance all the way back in November of 2017. It won’t be enough for the Jets to be competitive moving forward on the season. However, this could help Darnold turn it around.
Loser: Jets head coach Adam Gase
A stale attack on offense. Not having his team ready to play on a short week. A seat about as hot as it gets. That all came out in droves as Gase led his Jets to a fourth consecutive loss to open the season. With Darnold banged up early Thursday evening, Gase opted to ignore the rushing attack. It led to his struggling quarterback dropping back to pass 56 times.
That’s not a recipe for success. Everyone outside of Gase’s inept football mind knew this heading in. Meanwhile, young running back La’Mical Perine touched the ball just five times. No wonder Darnold was hit 10 times and sacked another five times. This dude should be out of a job in Jersey Friday morning. It’s that simple.
Winner: Melvin Gordon ices the game with big run
Even with Phillip Lindsay sidelined since about the midway point of Week 1, this former Chargers Pro Bowler had not been able to get it going. The free-agent signing entered Thursday’s game averaging 58 yards per outing thus far this year. Gordon nearly tallied that on one run, going the distance on a 43-yard scamper to put this game away.
Regardless of whether Lindsay returns healthy next week, this is something the Broncos are going to need from their rushing attack. That’s especially true with the turnover issues we saw from Brett Rypien and with Drew Lock weeks away from returning under center.
Loser: The NFL
It’s now getting pretty darn ridiculous right now. Less than two weeks after the San Francisco 49ers lost multiple players to torn ACL’s at MetLife Stadium, the NFL decided to play another game in Jersey. This also came mere days after a former Pro Bowler had to be placed on injured reserve with a knee injury he suffered on the same field.
Jets wide receiver Lawrence Cager went down with a hamstring injury in the first half after the turf at MetLife Stadium popped up and caught him. This came after Sam Darnold suffered a shoulder injury earlier in the half. While the quarterback was able to return, the NFL found itself on the receiving end of justifiable criticism. Simply put, the NFL needs to provide its players with a safe work environment. That has not been the case at MetLife Stadium through four weeks. There’s no other way to look at it.
Winner: Broncos rookie Jerry Jeudy steps up big time
With Courtland Sutton out for the season due to a torn ACL, the Broncos needed this rookie first-round pick to step up. Jeudy had shown flashes over the first three weeks of the season. The issue here has been drops. It is what dogged the former Alabama star heading into the 2020 NFL Draft. This wasn’t that much of a problem Thursday evening against the Jets.
Including that Randy Moss-like touchdown, Jeudy hauled in 2-of-3 targets for 61 yards. He’s going to be on and off throughout the season. We know how much of a learning curve wide receivers have from college to the professional ranks. Even then, it sure looks like the Broncos found a true star.