After each game, we'll be highlighting three defensive and three offensive players and looking in detail at their performance. We'll wrap up today with the offense:
Legends of the Hall
A returning Breece Hall put any concerns that he wouldn't be ready to contribute at the start of the season aside when he burst for 26 yards over the left side on the very first play of the game.
His next carry was almost a 96-yard touchdown run but he was caught from behind at the 13; perhaps a sign of how he's not quite all the way back. However, the 83-yard gain pushed him over a hundred on his first two carries of the season.
While his next three carries netted zero yards, Hall picked up 20 on a screen pass and ultimately finished with 127 rushing yards on just 10 carries.
Dalvin Cook got more touches (16 to 11), as was widely predicted, but Hall's success should have him back in a featured role sooner rather than later. The Jets will just have to hope Aaron Rodgers being out doesn't mean defenses start stacking the box.
If they do, this run perhaps is even more encouraging than the three big plays Hall made with his burst. Great patience, elusiveness and vision to turn a negative play into a positive gain - something which rarely happened once Hall went on injured reserve last year.
We'll see how Hall builds on this next week. The injury to Rodgers might mean the Jets end up leaning on him more than they planned to. Still, this was a winning formula until he went down in week seven last year, so it's worth pursuing.
Who gives a Ruck?
Having barely played last season, Jeremy Ruckert had a solid game in last year's season finale, displaying some encouraging blocking skills. He built on this in the season opener on Monday night.
His biggest highlight was a pancake block on Hall's big run, but he also hustled downfield to get a piece of Jordan Poyer and prevent him from chasing Hall down:
This wasn't the only impressive block by Ruckert, who again showed good aggression and an ability to block on the move and drive defensive backs off their spot or to the ground.
Ruckert was primarily used as the third tight end in 13 personnel packages, which the Jets may have used more than originally intended due to the Rodgers injury. The Jets mostly ran the ball in these situations (15 times in Ruckert's 18 snaps) so he wasn't really a factor in the passing game.
There was an offensive pass interference call on Ruckert presumably for blocking down the field before Zach Wilson had thrown the ball on a play where he looked to throw a screen pass (in the other direction) but ended up trying to extend the play and then throwing it away. It ultimately didn't matter because that was third down so it was declined.
Otherwise, Ruckert didn't make any obvious mistakes and looks like he will be a useful contributor this year, even if the two tight ends ahead of him stay healthy. We can also feel pretty good about his ability to fill in if they get hurt or take over as a starter next year.
Online discussion about Mekhi Becton's first full game since the 2020 season seemed generally negative following the Jets' win, primarily because the announcers singled him out a few times for getting beaten in pass protection.
The good news is that he held up really well and those few plays were the only times he actually got beaten. One was on the first play where he executed a cut block but the defensive end stayed on his feet and Rodgers didn't get rid of the ball immediately. The next one saw the pass rusher generate interior pressure after an inside move. Finally, he got beaten outside once and held his man on the play.
It's fair to note that the Jets didn't pass the ball that much and when they did it was often quick, safe passes, but there were plays where Becton looked good staying in front of his man and repelled an initial and counter move.
Other than the holding penalty, Becton did also have an illegal man downfield penalty although this was unfortunate as Zach Wilson pulled the ball back to throw it on an RPO while Becton fired out to the second level anticipating a run.
In the running game, Becton looked like he was back to something like his best. Of course, his biggest highlight was a typical Becton double-pancake:
However, he had several other positive blocks where he sealed a man inside to set the edge or drove his man off the line. He did let his man get off his block a few times to get in on the play, but these are typically in situations where he's driven him back first.
There was one play which looked set up for a huge gain on a cutback run with Becton and another lineman sealing their men off in space, but unfortunately the center and left guard got driven back and the back had to cut the other way. Those plays go unnoticed but are a sign of what could pop free if they get execution from every blocker at the same time.
The negative here is that he will, of course, face a much tougher test on Sunday against a deep Dallas line that is headlined by Micah Parsons. If he can hold up in that game, it will bode well for the rest of the season.
Previously: Three on D: Jefferson, Whitehead, Quincy Williams