Breece Hall was aware that some still questioned his speed and whether it was too early, considering his recent major knee injury, for him to once again dominate games.
The second-year running back for the Jets has put those doubts to rest, reaffirming his status as a crucial—possibly the most crucial—element of New York’s offense.
“Zach Wilson said, ‘That dude is a stud,'” indicating Hall’s impressive performance.
In less than a year since tearing the ACL in his left knee on the same field, Hall managed to rush for a career-high 177 yards and score a touchdown on 22 carries in the Jets’ 31-21 victory against the Broncos in Denver on Sunday.
“People have been doubting my speed,” Hall stated, “but I just need some space.”
He found that space during his 72-yard scoring run in the third quarter, which ultimately gave the Jets the lead for good.
“I handed off and looked back,” Wilson remarked, “and you could have driven a semitruck through that hole. So, unbelievable job.”
Coach Robert Saleh had mentioned last week that Hall no longer had a snap limit and could handle a full workload. Sunday’s performance underscored the potential of the Jets’ offense when Hall is breaking out from the backfield.
It’s quite astonishing to consider that Hall’s promising rookie season came to an end in Week 7 of the previous year, followed by several months of healing and rehabilitation.
“I don’t think about it anymore,” Hall confidently stated. “I’m new and improved now. I’ve got my robot knee, so I’m good.”
In the first four games of this season, the Jets struggled to find their footing as Nathaniel Hackett’s offense faced challenges following Aaron Rodgers’ season-ending Achilles tendon injury just four plays into the opener, which led to Wilson taking his place.
Initially, the running game faced consistency issues, despite Hall’s impressive 127-yard performance on 10 carries in Week 1. However, in the subsequent three games, Hall shared carries with Dalvin Cook, resulting in limited opportunities for him, including four attempts for 9 yards, 12 for 18 yards, and six for 56 yards.
“I gave Breece a little head nod before the game,” linebacker C.J. Mosley shared, “because I already knew what time it was.”
Hall has now recorded three of the NFL’s longest runs this season, and his remarkable 177 rushing yards on Sunday were the most by a Jets player since Isaiah Crowell’s franchise-record 219 yards in 2018, ranking as the ninth-highest total in the team’s history.
With 387 yards this season, Hall currently ranks fifth in the NFL, and his impressive 7.2 yards per carry is second only to Miami’s De’Von Achane, who has 12.1.
While Wilson and the offense are still finding their rhythm, Hall has undeniably reestablished himself as a game-changing force that the team has sorely needed.
“Everyone saw what he was capable of in those first six games last year,” Mosley emphasized. “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.”
The development of linebacker Quincy Williams has been noteworthy. While Williams was initially seen as somewhat raw when he was picked up by the Jets from Jacksonville off waivers in 2021, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich made a confident statement last week, declaring him the NFL’s top linebacker. Quincy Williams certainly lived up to that bold claim by achieving a remarkable milestone in Jets history. He became the first player ever to register nine tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, a tackle for loss, and three quarterback hits in a single game.
Red-zone offense was a concern for the Jets in this game. They ventured into the Broncos’ red zone five times but failed to score a touchdown on any of those occasions. While Greg Zuerlein managed to kick four field goals in those situations, there should have been a fifth field goal just before halftime. Unfortunately, an embarrassing clock management error by Wilson and the coaching staff resulted in the Jets heading into the locker room without adding any points on the scoreboard.
“We’ve been effective at moving the ball consistently down the field and reaching scoring positions,” noted wide receiver Allen Lazard. “However, we’ve had some self-inflicted setbacks.”
Cornerback Bryce Hall, a fifth-round pick from the 2020 draft, stepped up in a significant way. He filled in for D.J. Reed, who was sidelined due to a concussion. In the closing moments of the game, Hall made a crucial play, returning a fumble by Russell Wilson, forced by Quincy Williams, for a 39-yard touchdown with just 29 seconds remaining. This was Hall’s first defensive start since 2021, as he had primarily contributed on special teams since then.
Defensive end Carl Lawson and wide receiver Mecole Hardman faced an uncertain situation as healthy inactives in Denver, which raises questions about their roles on the team. Lawson, who dealt with a back injury during training camp, was gradually introduced to the lineup but now seems to have fallen behind other players like Jermaine Johnson and Bryce Huff in the depth chart. On the other hand, Hardman, who was signed to a one-year, $6.5 million deal in the offseason, has only managed a 6-yard catch in 22 offensive snaps.
Offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker’s season has come to an end due to a torn Achilles tendon, which was confirmed by Saleh on Monday based on an MRI. This marks the second consecutive year that Vera-Tucker has experienced a season-ending injury in Denver, as he tore his triceps there in October of the previous year.