The Jets lost Sunday to the Carolina Panthers by the score of 30-20 to fall to 6-8 on the season and all but eliminate themselves from playoff contention. What was a 16-13 game in the 4th quarter turned on a punt block by the Panthers and the Jets couldn’t recover. Here is the good, the bad and the ugly:
1) The running game - The team ran 28 times for 158 yards against the top ranked defense against the run for a 5.6 yard per carry average. Ivory was once again excellent as he rushed 11 times for 66 yards breaking a long run behind a terrific D’Brickashaw Ferguson block. Geno Smith has learned when to scramble and when to stay in the pocket and he got away from the persistent Panthers pass rush by running six times for 44 yards. Bilal Powell ran like he did earlier in the season running eight times for 37 yards. The line opened holes against one of the best fronts in the league and should be commended on their run blocking.
2) Quinton Coples - Coples has continued to improve as the year has gone on and his work has been paying off recently. Today he had a sack which was the 3rd consecutive game that he has registered one. He also had two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. Coples has been in the backfield a lot and after an injury as well as learning a new position his development seems to be back on track as well. Wilkerson, Coples, Richardson and Harrison are a terrific young defensive core that will continue to flourish in the years to come.
3) Calvin Pace - Calvin Pace notched his 9th sack of the year in Sunday’s game. I repeat Calvin Pace notched his 9th sack. Pace has benefitted the most from the attention paid to Coples, Wilkerson and Richardson and has made the most of it. So far it has been a pretty good return on a veteran’s minimum contract. Kudos to Pace for coming back at such a reduced salary and working so hard to regain his 2009 form.
4) Geno Smith compared to Geno Smith’s other road starts - Smith did not have a huge day Sunday he finished 15/28 for 167 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for 44 yards. What Smith did do today is show better poise and pocket awareness. Smith was able to scramble away from the rush when needed and was able to convert key 3rd downs to keep drives going. The team finished 8-15 on 3rd down. He made one mistake, throwing into double coverage to Holmes, which was picked off and returned for a touchdown. That being said Geno was more confident with his throws and more willing to check down when his original read wasn’t there. He is still not a terribly accurate quarterback, his footwork needs a lot of work especially under center and he needs to be able to slide protection on a cornerback blitz but all in all he is improving despite piss poor offensive line play and an awful set of skill position players.
5) Nick Folk is amazing - Folk hit two more field goals including one from 54 yards to run his total this year to 30/31. The field goal from 54 was especially important because Carolina had just drove the field and stalled in the red zone and a miss would give them terrific field position to start their next drive as well as momentum. Folk is having the best season that I have seen a Jets kicker have and I hope he is rewarded with a Pro Bowl berth.