New York Jets Week 1: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Sep 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) reacts after completing his first career touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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.
Sep 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano (left) and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan shake hands after the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
1) The running game – Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory combined for 22 carries for 44 yards and a miserable 2 yards per carry. There were very few to any holes to run through. Tampa Bay was a top-5 team against the run last year and it has carried over to this year. This has started to be a theme for the Jets, though. The only game they got push in the running game with the first team was against the Jaguars. They were stymied by the Lions, the Giants and Sunday. It will take time for the line to gel with two new guards but this does bear watching. The team needs a successful running game to take the pressure off of the rookie quarterback.
2) The secondary – Antonio Cromartie did not seem healthy on Sunday and that is not just because Vincent Jackson had 150 yards receiving. His hip seemed to bother him especially planting on slant routes. Dee Milliner played like a rookie and got beat early before settling down a bit as the game wore on. Antonio Allen also did not have a good game in coverage as he faired poorly when he was isolated one on one. The front seven’s pressure saved the secondary which is usually the other way around for this team. The development of Dee Milliner as the year goes on as well as a second safety emerging are the keys whether this defense is good or great.
3) The offensive line – The line was extremely porous today especially up the middle where there was a ton of pressure all day. The group did not block well for the run or pass. Geno Smith led the Jets in rushing with 47 yards scrambling which shows the ineptitude. The pressure up the middle seemed to come from missed assignments between center and left guard where Vlad Ducasse was. The line needs time to gel but a decision needs to be made on whether Ducasse or Winters are good enough to play or whether they need to go outside the organization for a veteran now that all contracts signed are non-guaranteed.
4) Injuries – No major injuries however Fox’s Jay Glazer reported that Mark Sanchez has a partially torn labrum that will require him to see orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday for a second opinion. In addition to that Sanchez also has a dislocated shoulder. Even though the Jets say he is day-to-day I imagine it might be a while before Sanchez suits up again and by then Smith may already be entrenched as a starter.