The Jets won for the 1st time in four weeks and raised their record to 6-7 by beating the Oakland Raiders 37-27. For once it was the offense and special teams bailing out the defense. How did it happen? Here is the good, the bad and the ugly:
1) Geno Smith – After looking terrible and defeated for the past few weeks Geno Smith fought back today and played well. He showed some of the attributes that the Jets saw when they drafted him, mainly his athleticism both running the football and on rollouts. He finished 16/25 for 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception. In addition he had five carries for 50 yards including an eight yard touchdown run and a 32 yard run that set up another touchdown. He had four plays over 20 yards. What was most impressive to me was that he led the team to 17 points on the 1st three drives of the second half helping out the defense who couldn’t catch a cold late in the game. Smith was not perfect as he threw another interception when he didn’t look off a linebacker and he missed a wide open Kellen Winslow on a touch pass that went awry. Smith needs to build on this momentum to finish the year strong against three very difficult defenses in Carolina, Cleveland and Miami.
2) The rest of the offense – The reason Smith was able to be effective was because for the most part the offensive line gave him time. Not only did he have time but he had a larger pocket which allowed him to set his feet and increase his accuracy a bit. The only exception is Brian Winters who continues to be the weak link. The other reason Smith was successful is that he had most of his receiving core back (Stephen Hill sat with a knee injury) and they made plays for him. Kellen Winslow had three catches for 61 yards and should have had a touchdown on a throw Smith missed, Holmes had three catches for 55 yards, Jeremy Kerley had four catches for 41 yards and David Nelson had a great bounce back game with four catches on four targets for 32 yards. Smith also threw a nice screen to Powell that went for 24 yards. On the ground, although the blocking wasn’t good Chris Ivory still had a good day with 76 yards on 18 carries including a 15 yard touchdown where he broke five tackles and dragged the Raiders into the end zone with him.
3) Special teams amazing – Antonio Allen said coming in that the team needed a spark and he provided it with a blocked punt that he recovered for a touchdown. It put the Jets in control of the game and showed Oakland that it wasn’t going to be their day. Nick Folk was once again a key part of a win with three field goals including a 51 yarder in the 3rd quarter that kept the momentum from swinging the Raiders’ way. Ryan Quigley had an excellent coffin corner punt that pinned Oakland at their own two yard line. That led to an Ed Reed interception and a field goal.
4) Quinton Coples – On a day when the defense got toasted in the second half Quinton Coples continued his weekly improvement notching a sack, a tackle for loss, a batted pass and two quarterback hits. Coples has gotten sacks in the last two games and is finally regaining the form of his rookie year after an ankle fracture took the early season to get back from and a few more to get in game shape as well as learning new skills for his occasional outside linebacker snaps. A strong finish by Coples will set the Jets up nicely for next year with an emerging Sheldon Richardson, a dominant Muhammad Wilkerson and Coples leading the pass rush.
5) Rex Ryan – Before the game owner Woody Johnson said that he is happy with the direction the team is going in and in the development of Geno Smith and the defense. Both parts of that statements are good for Rex. Woody seems to have bought into the longer term view of the rebuild and the development of the younger players. Mr. Johnson’s tempering of expectations before the season were also a telltale sign of this opinion. Both Idzik and Johnson know that they turned over a roster riddled with holes to Ryan and that Ryan is getting the best out of that talent. The win today was also huge for Ryan as he could not afford to have a four game losing streak and he needed to show that he could once again rally the troops as adversity mounted.