After each game, we'll be highlighting three defensive and three offensive players and looking in detail at their performance. We'll start today with the offense:
X on the spot
The Jets couldn't have expected Xavier Newman to be forced to be the center for more than half of this game, but Robert Saleh confirmed that his ability to snap the ball was part of the reason he was elevated for the game. Only an injury to both Connor McGovern and Wes Schweitzer would require him to actually snap the ball but, of course, that's exactly what happened.
The injuries were both serious enough to not only require Newman to play for the rest of the game, but also to land both players on injured reserve which could mean Newman will need to play this role again at some point. Maybe even on Monday night.
Had the Jets elevated someone like Dennis Kelly, who can't play center, instead - or if Newman had been completely overmatched - the Jets would have been scrambling for an emergency contingency plan, which is probably why Laken Tomlinson was practicing his snaps on the sideline.
What is interesting, though, is that before the Schweitzer injury, Newman was the first player into the game at right guard. He's a player that has played some center, practicing at the all three interior line positions throughout his college and pro career, starting one game at center in college and playing 76 snaps there in preseason, but has more experience at guard. CJ Mosley said after the game that he'd earned his shot by making himself known in practice.
For the brief time he was in at guard, Newman definitely looked more comfortable than he did at center, slowing down Dexter Lawrence as best he could, but unable to prevent him from being disruptive. Then again, it's worth noting that Lawrence was already having a ridiculously disruptive game even before McGovern went out.
When he moved to center, Newman couldn't have made a worse start, as his first snap was fumbled away for a turnover and then he almost airmailed a shotgun snap over Zach Wilson's head for a safety. However, once he settled his nerves he was able to snap the ball without issue.
Newman gave up a handful of pressures, including a sack on a play where he picked up Lawrence on a stunt, although Wilson basically ran into trouble on that play. However, there could have been more as he was cleanly beaten a few times at the line by Lawrence and one of the guards helped him out.
The Jets couldn't run the ball at all with Newman at center, as they had just nine yards on eight carries by running backs and didn't even try to run to ball in short yardage situations with him in there. Then again, running backs only gained eight yards on seven carries before McGovern's injury. They actually gained seven yards on two runs when Newman was at guard, so it would have been interesting to see if they could at least have kept running the ball with that group.
Undoubtedly the most important thing Newman did all day was to get the ball snapped so the Jets could spike it with one second left to set up the game tying field goal. That was terrific execution by everyone under extreme pressure.
For something else positive, Newman shows off a bit of power as he goes looking for work here. Unfortunately, Wilson is hurried anyway as Lawrence leverages his way around Tomlinson.
Ideally, Joe Tippmann will be back from his quad injury for this Monday night's game but if he isn't, Newman could find himself at center again. Chris Glaser, who was poached back from Dallas on Wednesday is pretty much the only other option, although Jason Poe could also be elevated from the practice squad or someone who hasn't played the position before could be prepped for emergency duties.
Billy Turner Overdrive
Billy Turner stepped in at right guard when Newman was forced to move to center and it's perhaps surprising he didn't get into the game for Newman considering the fact that he's played over 2,700 snaps at guard during his NFL career, including almost 1,200 in a full time role in 2019.
However, when we broke down Turner's film after the Jets signed him, our conclusion was that he's much better at right tackle than at any other position.
To his credit, Turner didn't give up a sack, a quarterback hit or a penalty. However, his experience came in handy when trying to pick up stunts.
Despite this, he was a bit late picking up a few stunts or helping across on a few occasions, which led to Wilson being flushed from the pocket. Also, when he ended up matched up with Lawrence after a stunt, he was unsurprisingly overpowered by him.
Turner's versatility is useful in an emergency, but if he is called into extended action in that role, his history suggests he could end up providing them with below replacement level play.
With the way offensive line injuries have piled up for this team over the past few years, it's likely we'll see him back in there before too long, though.
Allen Lazard has been a bit of a disappointment with only 17 catches so far, although that's partly due to the fact he's been targeted a lot less than he was when he had a career-high 60 last season. Lazard was targeted 100 times in 15 games last year but has less than 30 targets in the first seven games of 2023.
Interestingly, though, he is averaging a career high 15 yards per catch despite the fact that he the depth of his targets and completion percentage is pretty consistent with the rest of his career.
In Sunday's game, Lazard struggled with just two catches for 16 yards on five targets until right at the end of the game where he found an open area over the middle and caught the pass that set-up the game-saving field goal.
Lazard is a player who needs to deliver on contested catches because he doesn't create a ton of separation. However, with the Jets' conservative offense, they don't like to take too many chances so that may be part of the reason his target share is down. Before this weekend's game, he had made four contested catches on eight attempts, but he was outmuscled at the catchpoint on two incompletions in this game. Lazard also failed to hang onto the ball after a diving catch near the marker.
So far, many Jets fans have been frustrated with Lazard's drops, although he's only had three according to Pro Football Reference. Clearly some of those contested catches fans felt he should have come up with were not counted as drops. Prior to this season, Lazard had just 14 drops on 259 targets in his career, so three drops in 29 targets is well above his usual drop rate, which has been solid in the past. 4-for-10 is consistent with his career numbers on contested catches though.
If Aaron Rodgers had been playing, Lazard would surely have had a bigger impact because of the trust and chemistry between the two players. Hopefully he can step up his production with Wilson at quarterback too, though. That big play on Sunday could be a good sign that this might develop.