New York Jets Week 17: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets beat the Dolphins in Miami 20-7 to finish the season 8-8. After the Dolphins made it 7-0 it was all Jets from there as the Jets knocked their rival out of the playoffs in the process. How did it happen? Here is the good, the bad and the ugly:

The Good

1) Rex is back! – Immediately following the game Woody Johnson announced that Rex Ryan would return for the 2014 season. An extension hasn’t been agreed to yet but reading the tea leaves I think they will have one in place by the press conference with John Idzik and Rex Ryan on Tuesday. With a depleted roster, the surprise downturn in play from Antonio Cromartie and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and a rookie quarterback who took a while to raise his game, this was Rex Ryan’s best coaching job in my opinion.  His returning is well-deserved. Hopefully there will be a two year extension involved so he can get the weapons on offense he needs this offseason to make a run at the playoffs.

2) Geno Smith continues to mature and develop – Geno Smith played one of his best games of the season today as he was in control for the entire way. Smith has mastered when to stay in the pocket and wait for a receiver come open like the Kellen Winslow reception and when to scramble. Other than one throw he did not force the ball in to bad situations where turnovers could happen. His throw to David Nelson at the end of the 1st half was a 30 yard frozen rope that hit Nelson right in his arms. His footwork and accuracy still needs to be worked on as he missed a few passes behind or over receivers including a would be touchdown to David Nelson but his grasp of the game has advanced by leaps and bounds. Smith finished 17-27 for 190 yards with no turnovers. Smith also had seven rushes for 44 yards and a touchdown not including the three kneel downs at the end of the game. I think the Jets should sign a competent veteran to compete with Smith in training camp and be a viable alternative if Smith gets injured or struggles during the season but I believe that Smith will be a successful starting quarterback for the Jets once he is given better weapons. His play picked up when the offensive line started to keep him upright and give him the time he needs to make plays. Better playmakers will further enhance his skill set and make quicker decisions easier.

Aug 29, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold looks on before a pre-season game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Metlife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

3) The rest of the 2013 draft class – In addition to Geno Smith’s success the other 4 starters from this year’s draft had good games. The much maligned Dee Milliner had his 2nd straight really good game limiting Mike Wallace to five catches for 25 yards and a touchdown. Wallace had 12 targets and Milliner was credited with five pass defenses as well as two interceptions. Milliner was beaten quickly on Wallace’s touchdown and was beaten twice on double moves but the passes were incomplete. He wasn’t perfect but he was an above average NFL corner today and that is more than he has been this year. Sheldon Richardson helped stop a 4th and 1 by Miami in the 3rd quarter and notched his second touchdown of the year playing the “Refrigerator Perry” role for the tying touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Richardson has had a season worthy of Defensive Rookie of the Year, and I hope he gets it. Brian Winters’ play has come on the past few games as he has progressed from someone who is not a capable NFL player to someone who could blossom with a full offseason. He missed time in training camp making his transition from tackle to guard even more difficult, couple that with the fact he played at a small school and the speed of the NFL was a problem for him. The game is just now slowing down for him. Even Tommy Bohanon had two carries for 12 yards during the 2 minute drill that led to Geno Smith’s go ahead touchdown run.

4) Marty Mornhinweg called a great game – From designed runs for Geno Smith, to a halfback pass out of the Wildcat, to passing 28 times and running 42 to controlling the tempo with the no-huddle for spurts it was an inspired game called by OC Marty Mornhinweg. The Jets rolled up 374 yards today compared to less than 200 the last time these two teams met. The team had 5 passing plays over 20 yards with three over 30 yards. Despite Chris Ivory leaving the game after five carries for 19 yards, Bilal Powell picked up the slack with 76 yards on 21 carries as well as a 30 yard pass to Jeff Cumberland on a halfback option. David Nelson had five catches for 66 yards, Santonio Holmes had three for 41 yards, Jeremy Kerley had five for 40 yards, Kellen Winslow had a 34 yard catch and Jeff Cumberland had a 30 yard grab.

5) None of the offense would have been possible without the stellar play from the offensive line – The offensive line played inspired football today notching their second straight game without a sack allowed. Smith was given a good amount of time to throw and had a clean area to set his feet for the most part. It was a terrific effort from the line as a whole against a difficult front. The Jets also rushed for 154 yards and was able to win the time of possession battle by almost five minutes. This was a group that was embarrassed the last time the two teams played so kudos to Mike Devlin, Anthony Lynn and Marty Mornhinweg for getting such a remarkable turnaround.

Sep 22, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) reacts after sacking Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Bad

1) Where has the defensive line gone? – Maybe they are worn down from a year worth of overuse, maybe nagging injuries have slowed them down or other teams have figured out how to counter them but the Jets defensive line and linebackers haven’t been producing. They got no sacks and only 3 quarterback hits on Ryan Tannehill who has been sacked over 50 times this year. The only person to get pressure was Quinton Coples and it wasn’t that often. The linebackers, Davis and Harris, have gotten worse in coverage as they year has gone on. The Dolphins were able to run with Lamar Miller as the game moved along as well. Miller had 73 yards on 17 carries and was getting his yardage in the 2nd half. Other than a terrific stop by Harrison and Richardson to thwart a 4th and short by the Dolphins there wasn’t much to cheer about from a defensive line standpoint. On the whole this year they were the strength of the team and their youth will let them improve each year and most importantly stay together. They need to lock up their coach Karl Dunbar first and then attack the offseason to improve on their weaknesses.

2) Other than Ryan Quigley a bad day for the special teams unit – Ryan Quigley landed three punts inside the 10 with two forcing Miami to start inside their own 11. He had a 3rd punt inside the 20 later in the game. The three returns were for 27 yards with a 15 yard return being added by a bad missed tackle. The only kick return that Nick Folk allowed went for 38 yards and featured more missed tackles. The Jets got a total of 23 return yards with Kerley having 7 yards on a punt return and 16 on an Antonio Cromartie return. Getting a game breaking returner and having a deeper team with better special teamers will help immensely next year.

The Ugly