Sep 12, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) celebrates a touchdown with nose tackle Damon Harrison (94) during the second half of a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Week 2 is in the books as the Jets lost an ugly game in New England 13-10. Despite having numerous chances to tie or win the game thanks to a dominant 2nd half defensive effort the Jets could not get it done. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly:
1) The Offensive Line – After a terrible week 1 where it was rough sledding to run (only 2 yards per carry) or pass (5 sacks allowed and many more pressures) the Jets offensive line began to gel in Week 2. The Jets ran for 129 yards at a clip of 4 yards per carry and though they allowed 4 sacks they were mostly coverage sacks. Most surprisingly Vladimir Ducasse more than held his own against future Hall of Famer Vince Wilfork. If this performance spurs Ducasse into being the piece that stabilizes the line then that will be the key takeaway from this game. Seeing how Ducasse fares against a more mobile opponent will tell the tale of how far he has come. The line should continue to improve as they get more reps together and grow into a unit.
2) Chris Ivory – After a slow start to the preseason due to a hamstring injury and a forgettable Week 1 performance we saw the Chris Ivory that made the Jets want to trade for him on Thursday. Ivory ran extremely hard and was surprisingly nimble as well. He ran for 52 yards on 12 carries. The fact that he only got 1 4th quarter carry should be a crime. Expect Ivory to start leading the team in carries as they year continues. As long as the line gives him something his productivity will not be able to be ignored.
3) The Second Half Defense – The Jets held Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to 61 total yards and 0 points in the second half. They had 3 first downs and no drive longer than 6 plays. Yes I know the Patriots did not have Gronkowski, Amendola or Vereen but to hold a professional football team to those dismal numbers is significant, especially one quarterbacked by Tom Brady and coached by Bill Belichick. The Jets defensive line was once again dominant against the run holding the Patriots to 54 yards rushing for the game at 2.3 yards per carry. In Week 1 the Patriots ran 35 times for 158 yards against the Bills for 4.5 yards per carry and leading them to a time of possession advantage of 15 minutes. In Week 2 the Jets held the ball for 8 minutes more than the Patriots. Damon Harrison has turned into a very good player and not just a nice story (read Alan’s profile of Harrison here and film study of Harrison here). Sheldon Richardson is quickly becoming a star that makes a living in the backfield. For most of the game the versatility of the Jet defenders and their ever-changing looks held Tom Brady to 19-39 for 185 yards and 1 TD.
4) Geno Smith’s 1st 3 Quarters – Through 3 quarters Geno Smith had not looked spectacular but he made plays when he had to and showed poise. He led an 11 play drive in the first quarter that resulted in a field goal and then a beautiful 9 play drive for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter to bring the Jets within 3 points. He was holding on to the ball too long again but he was making the right decisions and getting progressively better. He led the Jets on a drive to start the 4th quarter that took them to the Patriots 26 but then the rest of his night we will come back to during the Ugly section.
Sep 12, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) on the sidelines during the game agains the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
1) Dee Milliner – Dee Milliner had a really rough night, so rough he got benched in the second half. Milliner was consistently beaten on the outside by Aaron Dobson & Kenbrell Thompkins. If it weren’t for Dobson and Thompkins being both out of sync with Brady the Jets would have been in a much deeper hole and most likely blown out of the game. There were multiple plays when there was a broken coverage leading to a receiver running free, none more painful than on the Patriots first drive where Milliner apparently did not pick up Dobson who ran in for the touchdown 39 yards untouched. Kyle Wilson replaced Milliner in the second half but the one who shined was Darrin Walls as he had a couple of 3rd down pass defenses in the 2nd half to keep the Jets in it. Hopefully watching the game from the sidelines and a 10 day break before the 3rd game will get Milliner’s head straight so we can start seeing the best of this very promising cornerback.
2) The End of Game Fight – After Aqib Talib intercepted Geno Smith with less than 40 seconds remaining to seal the deal Talib started dancing around instead of just going to the ground. When he finally decided to go out-of-bounds Nick Mangold tackled him out-of-bounds in what appeared to be at first glance a dirty tackle. Afterwards you could see that Talib turned at the last second making Mangold’s tackle look like a dirty play when it fact it wasn’t. Mangold did hit him out-of-bounds but it wasn’t a malicious, dirty hit. Regardless what followed was a brawl, that as others have mentioned, where it appeared according to the officials that the Jets were the only ones involved. Two Jets lost their composure and got ejected. D’Brickashaw Ferguson threw a punch and Willie Colon pushed an official’s hands off of him. If any of them are suspended it will severely hurt the Jets chances to beat the Bills in Week 3. According to Jason LaCanfora of CBS it is looking like it will be fines not suspensions thankfully although the league still will review it.
3) Mark Sanchez News – Before the game Mark Sanchez spoke to Rich Eisen and said he is not a candidate for surgery for his torn labrum at this time and will continue a rehab he says is going well in hopes of returning in 2013. Sanchez also said the he won the quarterback competition “without a doubt”. Despite how he feels he is being treated that is the wrong thing to say from a guy who has always been a good teammate and team guy. He knew that this would spark unnecessary conflict if and when he returned to the team. Rex Ryan refuted Sanchez’s account by saying that he never told Mark that he won the competition and that the statement is false. On Saturday the Jets decided to put Sanchez on short-term IR making him eligible to return after the bye Week 11. I think they should have just put him on season ending IR and let him heal properly while finding a new team and let the Jets move on to let Geno have the reigns and see what he can do without Sanchez lurking. Alan weighed in on this topic as well and you can read that here.
1) Geno Smith’s 4th Quarter – The Jets had a 3rd and 5 from the Patriots 26 early in the 4th quarter and Smith threw an interception on a pass that was behind Santonio Holmes on a play where Smith should have tucked the ball and ran or throw it away. The problem is instead of letting this mistake go and try to win the game with a clear head, Smith instead went 3 and out in his next possession followed by two more interceptions and looked like a flustered rookie playing in his first road game. This lack of poise, after showing it Week 1, is disappointing but is part of the ups and downs of an NFL rookie. There will be better moments this year for Geno Smith as he grows but this 4th quarter was one to forget and definitely cost them a game they should have won.
2) Wide Receiver Miscues – Geno Smith was not alone in his culpability for this loss he shares that with his wide receivers who were awful. Stephen Hill had a drop, a fumble of a beautiful deep post pass and a mental mistake where he ran his route too shallow and could not fight for a 1st down. Clyde Gates had just 2 catches on 8 targets including a drop on a deep ball that would have set them up inside the Patriots 10 yard line. Ryan Spadola also had a costly drop (although not classified as one by Pro Football Focus it was catchable and a drop in my opinion). Santonio Holmes had 3 beautiful 3rd down conversions but still isn’t at the level the Jets need him to be at.