New York Jets Week 15: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
By Craig Hoffman
Dec 15, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to pass the ball during the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
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.
Dec 15, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; New York Jets punter Ryan Quigley (1) has his punt blocked by Carolina Panthers linebacker Jason Williams (54) in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
1) The secondary can’t cover anyone including me well maybe not me – The Jets refused to let Steve Smith beat them and he didn’t having three catches for 20 yards. However, Greg Olsen, Brandon LaFell and DeAngelo Williams also played in this game and they were running free, especially Olsen. Olsen had five catches for 88 yards and looked dominant with his speed and strength. Brandon LaFell had three catches for 61 yards finding the seam and Deangelo Williams had a 72 yard touchdown off of a screen pass. It was a group failure as no one member of the secondary stood out as terrible just no one was able to stop their man. The zones were played too far off allowing underneath completions and the safeties were terrible with coverage and angles taken so there were many big plays. Give the defense credit for most of the game when the Panthers would drive the field the defense would not break in the red zone. In the early 4th quarter Carolina had only 16 points and it was a three point game. A punt block that set the Panthers up inside the Jets’ 10 yard line changed the game after the Panthers punched it in for a touchdown and a pick-6 by Geno Smith sealed it.
2) The Panthers were able to run at will especially in the second half – The Panthers may have averaged 3.5 yards per carry but they were able to run whenever they wanted against the Jets. They had 131 yards on 36 carries. Deangelo Williams had 81 yards on 15 carries and specialized in outside cutback runs that got him around the defensive line and into the linebacking core. Mike Tolbert had a touchdown and did all the short-yardage heavy lifting needed. The defensive line would make a play here and there especially Wilkerson’s 3rd down stop in the Panther’s 1st drive and the amazing play where Richardson chased down Cam Newton and dragged him down with 1 hand to force a field goal. But there weren’t enough of those plays. Wilkerson is nursing a wrist injury and isn’t able to get off blocks as well and Sheldon Richardson despite that nice play and scoring a touchdown running the ball as a goal line back had a very quiet day too.
3) The offensive line’s pass blocking – The decline of D’Brickashaw Ferguson, especially as a pass blocker, has been surprising. He has had a bad year by his standards and most starting left tackle’s standard. Today he gotten beaten clean by Greg Hardy and there was backside pressure on Geno Smith all day. Brian Winters is very much a project and isn’t ready now. He also was beaten cleanly and quickly by Hardy for a sack. The unit was able to get it together for spurts and that’s when, not surprisingly, the scoring drives occurred. Killer sacks like the one on the 1st play of the second half set a bad tone and ruin the rhythm of the offense. There are no capable backups on the team either and the line must be addressed in the offseason.
4) Special teams other than Nick Folk – The key play in this game was the punt block that the Panthers recovered inside the Jets 10 yard line. It led to a touchdown and took all of the momentum the Jets had. The play was almost a mirror image of the block Antonio Allen had to spark a Jet victory. My question is if you saw that as a problem for another team wouldn’t you look at your own unit to see if you have similar issues? The punt block wasn’t Quigley’s fault but his 44 yard average was. The Jets need to find a good college free agent or use a compensatory 7th round pick to find a long-term solution at that position. The kick return team was very close to having Ted Ginn Jr. break off two long kickoff returns before arm tackles saved them. That needs to be tightened up.
Dec 15, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) scores a touchdown as New York Jets defensive back Aaron Berry (22) and inside linebacker David Harris (52) and cornerback Dee Milliner (27) defend in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
1) The screen pass disaster – The Titans were able to get their breathing room in this game from a 72 yard screen pass to DeAngelo Williams that went for a touchdown. First Cam Newton faked a screen to the left and most of the Jets, Ed Reed included, bit on the fake. Then Williams got a block on David Harris who chased after Williams very slowly. It was at that point that Ed Reed tried to tackle Williams but took a terrible angle and missed while Dee Milliner could not get off of a block from Brandon LaFell allowing Williams to run into the end zone untouched. This was a complete breakdown that showed a lack of discipline. It was indicative of how over aggressive the Jets were that screens and counter runs worked all day because of their over pursuit.