The regular season is here! The Jets defeated the Tampa Bay Bucs on a final minute field goal 18-17 highlighting Geno Smith’s first start. How did they do it? Here are the quick hits from the games:
1) Up and Down Offense – Geno Smith had a very uneven game that had a fumble and an interception but also led three nice drives. He had a chance to put the game away with a first down with 2:21 left but could not. He led a final drive with 35 seconds left that led to a Folk 48 yard field goal with 2 seconds left. He was 24 of 38 for 256 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. One was a 13 play field goal drive and the other a touchdown drive in the two-minute drill followed by a go ahead 14 play drive that led to a 30 yard field goal. Smith showed poise at times stepping into his throws under pressure but also backpedaled when the rush came at times and threw off the back foot or could not escape. He was more comfortable in the second half with his decision-making especially. However he could not get what could have been a game clinching first down going 3 and out with 2 and a half minutes left. Smith showed an ability to scramble well when the play breaks down picking up a couple of key first downs. The running game was nearly non-existent as the Bucs won the line of scrimmage battle. Bilal Powell had 29 yards on 12 carries and also 3 catches for 29 yards. Chris Ivory had 10 carries for 15 yards. The interior of the Jets line had trouble both pass and run blocking. Kellen Winslow was a big factor 6 catches for 54 yards and had a touchdown. Stephen Hill started to assert himself as the game went along having 7 catches for 79 yards. Kerley had 3 catches for 45 yards. Holmes had 1 catch and was a non factor. Offense got too cute at times with reverses and Wildcat. Gates caught 1 ball and injured himself.
2) Pressure defense folds- The Jets played very well until the final drive where the defense folded but they were bailed out by Geno Smith and the offense. On a 3rd and 10 Dawan Landry missed a tackle on Vincent Jackson who took it to the Jets 30 and in position for a go ahead field goal. The Jets recorded three sacks (Wilkerson, Barnes, Richardson) as well as a safety in the first half. They also bottled up Doug Martin who did not do much other than a 17 yard run before the two minute warning and 5 yard touchdown run in the first half. The Jet secondary was not good as Cromartie was beaten by Vincent Jackson a couple of times allowing over 100 yards and Milliner was exposed in coverage. Antonio Allen was not good in coverage either. He also missed a key tackle that kept a Tampa drive alive. The Jets controlled the line of scrimmage and were able to hold the edge. Kenrick Ellis, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison played well up front. Dawan Landry had a key interception. The Jets had a hard time getting off the field on 3rd downs in the second half as the Bucs converted some 3rd and 7s and 3rd and 9s.
3) Special teams – Nick Folk allowed only 1 kickoff return and made a 43 yard field goal. Jeremy Kerley was again underwhelming as a punt returner. Robert Malone pinned the Bucs inside their own 10 twice and had an 84 yards punt (not a misprint). The coverage teams played well with the exception of a low punt that was returned past the 40 yard line. Ellis Lankster performed a belly to back suplex on one of his tackles (a wrestling move). The Jets were not allowed a kickoff returns as all kicks were out of the end zone for touchbacks.
4) Injuries – Nick Mangold left the game in the 3rd quarter with an elbow injury and returned after one series. Jeff Cumberland, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley were knocked out of the game by Dashon Goldson hits. Cumberland did not return. Santonio Holmes, Kenrick Ellis and Dee Milliner all returned from injury. Clyde Gates injured his ankle on his only catch.According to Fox’s Jay Glazer, in addition to a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder Mark Sanchez also dislocated the shoulder. Recovery time is 4-6 weeks at a minimum. NFL Network reported that Sanchez was going for a 2nd opinion from noted Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday regarding how to handle his partially torn labrum. It is possible we have seen the last of Mark Sanchez in a Jets uniform.