The “BREEEEEECE” chant came out of the stands and washed over a stadium that is witnessing the birth of a star. And for one day, a day when the Jets finally beat a division opponent, the Jets gave their fans something other than heartache and heartbreak, as well as hope that maybe, just maybe, Zach Wilson has the help he needs to close the gap on the rest of the AFC East.
“We’re not the old Jets. We’re the Jets now,” Breece Hall said after Jets 40, Dolphins 17.
The Jets now are 3-2, and coach Robert Saleh has his first back-to-back wins. No one should care that they beat up on a rookie seventh-round pick named Skylar Thompson, who had to replace Teddy Bridgewater (concussion, elbow) following a safety on the game’s first play.
They call him “Breece The Beast” for a reason. On Sunday, he showed the Dolphins all the moves, running through and over defenders when he wasn’t juking them, showing what a mismatch weapon he can be out of the backfield in the passing game … 18-97-1 TD rushing, 2-100 receiving.
“BREEEEEECE,” MetLife Stadium roared.
“Honestly, it’s a little different ’cause in college, they would do the ‘Breece The Beast’ chant,” Hall told The Post. “It was a little different just to hear my first name being changed, but it was definitely fun out there, gave me a lot of confidence.
“It was cool to see the Jets fans just happy. I feel like we gave them some life today ’cause the last two home games I feel like we didn’t play our brand of football. It was good to just hear them cheering for us and kind of have a lot of life today.”
The Jets scored 40 points for the first time in four years, and Wilson didn’t even have to throw a touchdown pass.
Twice — once on a 75-yard wheel route down the left sideline to Hall and once on a 21-yarder in the right flat to Hall — the second-round pick from Iowa State was stopped at the 1, only to watch complementary backfield mate Michael Carter vulture the TD. Hall’s 5-yard TD in the fourth quarter was justice.
“I was like, ‘Finally!’ ” Hall said, and smiled. “The coaches said if we get the ball, we’re gonna get you a touchdown, and I had already had it in my mind, I’m like, ‘I’m not getting stopped at the 1 again.’ It was a good feeling for sure.”
Wilson (14-for-21, 210 yards, 1 rushing TD) went through his progressions and, ultimately, spotted Hall streaking wide open on the last play of the first quarter.
“I get excited when I see him with that much room ’cause he’s gonna be running for a while,” Wilson said.
Hall ran for a while and carried defenders, a la Mark Bavaro, at the very end.
“He’s a grown-ass man,” unsung right guard Nate Herbig said. “He runs hard, he makes people miss, he’ll run you over … he’s an unbelievable player, and I’m happy he’s on my team.”
Hall, 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, was considered by most as the best back in the NFL draft.
“He’s a freakin’ beast. … If he can go like that man, we can go a long way in this league,” Laken Tomlinson said.
A back like Hall — supplanted by Carter — can be a young quarterback’s best friend.
“He could be great,” Sauce Gardner told The Post. “He reminds me of Shady … LeSean McCoy.
How so? “His acceleration … him being able to stay on his feet after contact … him with that little jump cut that he got. All of that, man. I think his frame … he reminds me of LeSean McCoy, for sure.”
Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins is a seven-year veteran. He’s seen all different styles of backs. Who does Hall remind him of?
“When he has the ball in his hand, when he opens his stride, obviously, I’ve been around Alvin Kamara, so that dual-threat ability, and then when you get the ball in your hands, be able to make guys miss, bounce off tackles, he has that kind of smoothness,” Rankins told The Post.
“And then, he’s really just kind of a mix of a lot of the great backs I’ve seen — he’s got a little bit of Christian McCaffrey as well. You’re starting to see him really lower his shoulder on people, showing you he can run with a little bit of power. And when he does that, he gives me Zeke [Ezekiel Elliott] vibes a little bit. So he’s kind of a mixture of a lot of these talented backs in the league. … You get more comfortable with the way the NFL game’s played, and you’re starting to see those big plays that everybody expects from him are stating to show up in abundance.”
Hall is part of a banner rookie class. It was Sauce who forced the intentional grounding and Bridgewater’s exit. Next week, it could be Garrett Wilson who shines.
“We got our group chat that we always keep each other grounded, man, no matter how much success we’re having,” Gardner told The Post. “If somebody’s down, we’re gonna pick him up. If somebody’s too high, we’re gonna bring him back to sea level.”
The rookie draft-class group chat began near the beginning of the season. “We talk throughout the whole week,” Gardner said. “We actually came in like, we’re gonna have to be tight, ’cause we don’t know how the vets are gonna be treating us. We all appreciate the vets on how they just took us in like little brothers. That’s why we’re gonna be pretty good.”
I asked Hall if he prefers making guys miss or running guys over. “I prefer winning football games,” he said, and smiled.
This content was originally published here.