The Jets won a thrilling game on Sunday afternoon 18-17 on a 48 yard field goal by Nick Folk with 2 seconds left. The field goal capped a wild final minute where Tampa Bay would go ahead on a field goal of their own with 35 seconds left only for Geno Smith (with a little help from Tampa linebacker Lavonte David) to drive the Jets into position for the winning kick. Let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly from this Week 1 win:
1) The defensive line and pass rush – The Jets controlled the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball putting pressure on Josh Freeman and limiting Doug Martin to 65 yards averaging just 2.7 yards per rush including a 17 yard draw before the two minute warning. Freeman was a mere 15-31 for 215 yards with a touchdown and an interception and looked confused by the fronts he was seeing. Despite their aggressiveness they remained disciplined not getting beat on any screens or passes to the backs out of the backfield which was a huge problem last year. Kenrick Ellis’ return to the lineup was felt immediately as he occupied blockers leading to David Harris and Demario Davis having 15 tackles between them as well as stopping the run. Muhammad Wilkerson was his usual dominating self with a sack and a knack for being around the ball. Damon Harrison was very effective at getting penetration during his time in there. Antwan Barnes was terrific as he had a sack and consistent pressure. Barnes will only become more effective once Coples gets back leaving Barnes to get single teamed most likely by a tight end or back in certain situations.
2) Geno Smth’s poise – Smith had a typical rookie game with some ups and downs but the impressive thing about him was how he reacted to the lows. He had a fumble and an interception in the second quarter and Tampa looked in position to take control of the game but Smith had an excellent two-minute drill that culminated with a touchdown pass to Winslow. He seemed unfazed by Tampa’s last-minute field goal and led the team down the field for the game winning score even though he was helped by the unnecessary roughness penalty. Geno also knew when to tuck the ball and run showing elusiveness in the open field leading to a few key first downs. Smith also wasn’t afraid to throw the ball away when things weren’t there which is another positive sign for the rookie. In a game where the running game did not help him and the pass protection wasn’t good Smith was able to still pull out the victory. The young signal caller showed flashes today of a player the Jets can build around.
3) Stepping up – Kellen Winslow stepped up huge against his former team having 7 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. He gained the separation he needed and looks like a weapon. He seems to have a good rapport with Smith already. Stephen Hill showed excellent hands in catching 6 balls for 39 yards. Most of his catches were in tight coverage and he did not have a drop. Jeremy Kerley had 3 catches for 45 yards despite being knocked out of the game for a short period by a helmet to helmet hit by Dashon Goldson. Both Ferguson and Howard pass blocked well as the pressure Tampa generated was from the inside.
4) Very special teams – Nick Folk had the game winning 48 yard field goal and also had a 43 yarder in the first half and a 30 yard field goal in the 3rd quarter. Only one of Folk’s kickoffs were returned. Robert Malone pinned Tampa inside its own 10 twice and booted an 84 yard punt. He did have a low kick that was returned to the 42 yard line as well as a punt that went into the end zone late in the game that could have pinned Tampa deeper on their final drive. Jeremy Kerley once again fair caught his way through the punt returns for the most part and there were no kickoff returns. The coverage teams were good.