Breece Hall knew some still questioned his speed and whether it was too soon after a major knee injury for him to be able to take over games again.
The second-year Jets running back has silenced the doubters. And he reminded everyone why he’s such a valuable – maybe the most important – part of New York’s offense.
“That dude is a stud,” quarterback Zach Wilson said.
Less than a year after tearing the ACL in his left knee on the same field, Hall ran for a career-high 177 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in the Jets’ 31-21 victory over the Broncos in Denver on Sunday.
“People been trying to say I’m not fast no more,” Hall said. “I’m like, ‘I just need some space.’”
That’s exactly what he got on his 72-yard scoring scamper in the third quarter that gave the Jets the lead for good.
“I handed off and looked back and you could have driven a semitruck through that hole,” Wilson said. “So, unbelievable job.”
Coach Robert Saleh said last week that Hall no longer had a snap limit and was able to carry a full load. And Hall’s performance Sunday showed what the Jets’ offense can be with him bursting out of the backfield.
It’s remarkable to think it was Week 7 of last season when Hall’s promising rookie season ended and several months of healing and rehabilitation followed.
“I don’t think about it anymore,” Hall said. “I’m new and improved now. I’ve got my robot knee, so I’m good.”
The Jets mostly sputtered through the first four games as Nathaniel Hackett’s offense struggled to regroup after Aaron Rodgers tore his left Achilles tendon four plays into the season opener and Wilson replaced him. The running game couldn’t consistently get much going early, although Hall had 127 yards on 10 carries in Week 1. But he and Dalvin Cook split carries the next three games, with Hall having four attempts for 9 yards, 12 for 18 yards and six for 56 before Sunday.
“I gave Breece a little head nod before the game,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said, “because I already knew what time it was.”
Hall now has three of the NFL’s longest runs this season and his 177 yards rushing Sunday were the most by a Jets player since Isaiah Crowell’s franchise-best 219 yards in 2018 and the ninth-highest total in team history.
Hall’s 387 yards this season rank fifth in the NFL and his 7.2 yards per carry are second only to Miami’s De’Von Achane (12.1).
With Wilson and the offense still finding their way, Hall has firmly reestablished himself as a game changer that has been sorely needed.
“Everybody saw what he was capable of those first six games (last year),” Mosley said. “He has a lot to prove for himself and obviously to the world. We ride with Breece all day, so I’m glad to have him on our side.”
LB Quincy Williams’ development. After Williams was regarded as a bit raw when he was claimed by the Jets off waivers from Jacksonville in 2021, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said last week the older brother of Jets D-lineman Quinnen was the NFL’s best linebacker. Quincy Williams backed up that bold statement by becoming the first player in Jets history to record nine tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, a tackle for loss and three QB hits in a game.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Red-zone offense. The Jets made five trips inside the Broncos 20 and came away without a touchdown each time. They got four field goals from Greg Zuerlein in those situations but should’ve had a fifth right before halftime when an embarrassing clock management mistake by Wilson and the coaching staff sent the Jets into the locker room without points.
“We’re doing a great job of being able to move the ball consistently down the field and get into that scoring position,” wide receiver Allen Lazard said. “We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot.”
CB Bryce Hall. The 2020 fifth-round pick started in place of D.J. Reed, who’s in the concussion protocol, and scored the sealing touchdown when he scooped a fumble by Russell Wilson that was forced by Quincy Williams and ran 39 yards for the score with 29 seconds left. Hall hadn’t started on defense since 2021, playing mostly on special teams since.
DE Carl Lawson and WR Mecole Hardman. The two veterans were healthy inactives in Denver, clouding their roles. Lawson dealt with a back injury during training camp and was eased into the lineup but appears to have been surpassed on the depth chart by the likes of Jermaine Johnson and Bryce Huff. Hardman, signed in the offseason to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million, has just a 6-yard catch in 22 offensive snaps.
OL Alijah Vera-Tucker was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, Saleh confirmed Monday, citing an MRI. It’s the second straight year Vera-Tucker suffered a season-ending injury in Denver after tearing his triceps there last October.
9 – The number of penalties called on the Jets in Denver, a week after they had seven against Kansas City.
The Jets host the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday before their bye-week break. New York is 0-12 against Philadelphia – the only team the Jets have never defeated in the regular season.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL