1) The growing pains of a rookie quarterback - Geno Smith was 19/34 for 201 yards and 2 interceptions on Sunday. His interceptions were deep in Pittsburgh territory and he missed Stephen Hill on a deep ball where he was wide open. I think Geno Smith is growing. He looked better today than he did against Tennessee, he looked better today against a proud defense, coached by the great Dick Lebeau who had 2 weeks to prep for him, than I thought he would. Geno looked like he belonged today and we get so upset with his mistakes because his demeanor and promise make us think he is farther along than he is. This is only the second time he had to prepare on a short week for an opponent and I’m sure there will be lessons he will take away from this. He has gotten better overall but he needs to value the ball especially in the opponent’s end of the field.
2) The secondary and big plays - Statistically it looks like the Jets had a good day defensively. Four sacks, eight quarterback hits and holding the opponent to 2.8 yards per rush and 6-16 on 3rd down look very nice. Unfortunately what battles were lost were the key battles. The 3rd and 15 completed to Antonio Brown for 16 yards, the 3rd and 1 playaction pass that fooled Antonio Cromartie for a touchdown, the array of screens and underneath routes that Heath Miller ran at crucial junctures. The 1st downs that got the Steelers just close enough to be in field goal range. It was the fact that the Steelers converted enough first downs to own 35 minutes of time of possession. Either Antonio Cromartie’s knee was bothering him or he is having some serious issues because he was abused by Antonio Brown and beaten cleanly by Emmanuel Sanders for the game’s lone touchdown. An array of safety/linebacker combinations could not stop Heath Miller and has made tight end coverage a weakness of this defense. They need to patch these things up quickly with the Patriots and Saints coming soon.
3) Injuries - In addition to Santonio Holmes and Dee Milliner’s hamstring issues keeping them out of action a whole slew of players went down Sunday against the Steelers. Mike Goodson has a knee injury that appears from reports to be serious, Kyle Wilson left with a possible concussion, Clyde Gates left with his arm in a sling and Powell left with a shoulder injury but claimed not to be injured stating he did eventually return to the game. Goodson’s loss will hurt as his role was increasing and it was clear to see he was impacting the game. Kyle Wilson plays better than most think and with pass happy teams on the horizon they need him to be out there. If Gates is going to miss time they are going to need to go outside the organization for help at receiver and returner. Josh Cribbs and Joe McKnight are names that have been mentioned but I don’t knows if Cribbs is healthy yet and if McKnight is able to contribute.
4) Pretty offensive line - The Steelers had a good plan of attack because the Jets did not block them well especially at the tackle position which has been a source of strength. The Steelers had three sacks, six quarterback hits and a ton of pressure all day. While the Jets did average 4.2 yards per rush the Steelers won the battles up front and effectively stopped the Jets ground attack as well. The key for Pittsburgh was to hold the Jets to three yards or less on 1st down then leaning on the Jets passing tendencies based on down and distance. The Jets are going to have to go back to basics and establish the run especially with Wilfork out for the Patriots next week and control the line of scrimmage.
None this week