I waited until this afternoon to write this update, because I knew that my seething rage would’ve colored it and that wouldn’t be a very objective or effective piece.
It was very clear coming into this season that the Jets were making a conscious effort to get back to the roots of our AFC championship games. We were going to play mistake free, run the ball, and let the defense keep us in games. We followed that game plan effectively for about 50 minutes against a good team Thursday. If Marty can lean more on Ivory and Powell who looked excellent and the defense keeps playing lights out, we could win a lot of football games.
The defensive front 3:
It was clear coming out of last season that Muhammad Wilkerson is the unsung star of the Jets defense. The rotation of “Big Snacks” and Ellis in the middle with rookie Sheldon Richardson on the other side was a dominant force that has held two formative running games to less than 3 yards per carry in a row. Rex seems to have a point when he says that these lineman eating, green-clad monsters could be successful together for 10 years.
I’ve been inspired by the admittedly confusing Calvin and Johnson Nike commercials, and I’ll be splitting my analysis of Geno Smith into two sections: The Geno and the Smith.
For all but the last 3 possessions of the game, Geno looked like he was going to do exactly what the Jets needed. He extended plays with his feet, he threw the ball away instead of forcing it, and he made some excellent mid-range throws (including one that hit Clyde Gates in the chest and was dropped).
If Geno can continue you to play like he did in most of his drives against Tampa and New England, he may be the quarterback to solve the Jets problems.
There were some rotational players that came up big in a Rex Ryan defense that’s more complicated than Tom Brady’s range of emotions. Darrin Walls, Antonio Allen, and Demario Davis all made plays, Davis showing once again that he is a speedy, physical specimen that was sorely needed on in an aging linebacker corps.
The protection for Geno still wasn’t there against free rushers, but Vlad Ducasse who generally would find himself somewhere between “the bad” and the “please god, release this player” did a good job of handling all-pro defensive tackle Vince WIlfork.
I didn’t expect the blitz pickup to improve much in a short week, but I think that it will be addressed before heading into a game in Metlife against a crafty Buffalo defense.
Santonio Holmes can’t do it all, and he can’t do most of it until he’s fully healthy. With Jeremy Kerley out, Clyde Gates had an opportunity to prove himself in the slot, but instead he looked like he belonged on the Patriots with the amount of catch-able balls he dropped.
The lone bright spot was Stephen Hill, who managed to look like a productive target for more than one week in a row. If Hill can continue to improve his catching and make jump-ball plays like he did last night, he’s going to be a favorite target of Geno’s.
I won’t put all of the blame on Geno for failing to come up big for the win in the fourth quarter, but an under thrown deep ball and a late crossing route both led to interception that should’ve been placed better. If Smith wants to keep his job, he’s going to have to put together a consistent 60 minutes. Next week against an ailing Bills defense should provide ample opportunity.
I can’t count how many times last night on defense and special teams that I found myself shouting, “Julian Edelman is the only person who can catch, can we please cover him!”
The shifty returner’s seeming inability to get less than 10 yards on every punt was not the ugliest part of our special teams however. Our punt coverage was lacking on the few plays when Kyle Wilson went pack to receiver. With Kerley out I understand the drop in production, but there were several plays when Wilson could have easily turned up field for 15+ yards, but he chose to call a fair-catch or fall on his face.
Summing it All Up:
This was an ugly loss, but we knew going in it was going to be ugly. We learned a lot about the Jets this week and I think we’ve proven that we have a core of players that can compete for the next several years. I’m personally still on team Geno, and I think if he can get Kerley back, he’ll be able to string together some wins.