For the New York Jets, Geno Smith went down in the second quarter, bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick in to finish the game. It was the defense, though, who finally stepped up for the team. After Week 7, we can see what this 2016 squad really is: unpredictably predictable.
And the home….. of the….. JETS! Feels like it’s been forever since fans of the New York Jets could shout this out, right? They might only be 2-5, but a win is a win. Well, the Jets have taken a win in Week 7, and have fully shown us who they really are. The first six weeks of football legitimately gave me migraines and a shameful amount of hysterically crying sessions. No joke.
There was a lot to actually like from this team with the win, which seems to be quite the rarity these days. But, there were also things that still need to be improved, more soon than later (please).
Either Geno Smith or Bryce Petty have to start at quarterback
It’s time to stop this Ryan Fitzpatrick feud. Obviously, when Geno Smith went down, Fitzpatrick needed to come in because the team carrying four quarterbacks only had two active. Given that it will take the world crumbling down to have Christian Hackenberg start a game this year, it makes no sense to keep Bryce Petty waiting.
Smith was playing very well, at least in my eyes. His arm strength is still astonishing. His accuracy was tainted by a couple of dropped balls from the now “iffy” wide receiving cast. After not scoring a touchdown in six quarters, Smith emerged and threw his first TD pass of the season. The 69-yard touchdown from Quincy Enunwa who turned a simple mid-field curl to a momentum-shifting TD had fans on their feet. Then, we realized that this is the Jets, and disaster was sure to strike at any moment. Smith would injure his knee on a sack and would change into street clothes for the remainder of the game.
Cue…. you know who.
That’s right. THE WORST quarterback in the NFL this year, came in to relieve Smith of his duties. The story was (briefly) put on repeat. Geno gets hurt. Fitzpatrick comes in and plays “well.” Rinse and repeat. Fitz would go 4-4 to start with his now-patented screen pass to Matt Forte for a touchdown, giving the gets a 14-13 lead in the second quarter. He also hit Brandon Marshall for a big gain over the middle to bring the Jets into Ravens territory. That’s about it. The rest of his day was, well, Fitzpatrick-esque (without the interceptions!!). Missed throws, eyeing down one receiver *cough cough* Marshall. You get it by now.
To get to my point, Smith or Petty should most definitely be starting Week 8; Smith if healthy. Fitzpatrick was subpar as per usual. Smith has a cannon to stretch out the playbook and give big-play guys like Robby Anderson and Marshall passes down the field.
Petty is a boost of energy that we all saw in the preseason, and his character and ability to be a true quarterback in the NFL should be displayed before it’s too late. In an interview with Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times, Petty stated the wait between his last high school start and first collegiate start, was 1,786 days. One thousand seven hundred and eighty-six days. Pure insanity. That year he did start, though, he finished 7th in Heisman Trophy votes, finishing in front of now Raiders-starter Derek Carr. Petty needs playing time.
The defense showed up! (Yes, you read that correctly)
Before each game, it should be accepted by now that a pass of 50+ yards will be given up by the Jets defense. It happened again, and has become so routine that it’s just time to say “we get it.”
The first half of football was a little shaky, as the defense allowed one of those long bombs, and gave up a 3rd and 19 that lead to a Ravens field goal. Darrelle Revis gave zero effort on a Terrance West big gain that luckily was brought back for offensive P.I. Besides this, Revis was himself again, allowing just one catch for 11 yards to Breshad Perriman.
In the second half, though, the defense was absolutely phenomenal. It really was. Buster Skrine, who had an awful showing on Monday Night Football last week, came back and straight-up balled in the Meadowlands. He picked off Joe Flacco and brought it back to the Ravens’ 3 yard-line. The Jets’ red-zone woes would continue from there, but we’ll save that for later. Skrine had a couple big hits and played a completely different game compared to last week. Marcus Gilchrist added an interception on the defense’s stat sheet on a ball that was literally thrown right to him.
That’s the amount of rushing yards the Jets allowed today, the lowest in franchise history. New York’s defensive line stole the show. With Muhammad Wilkerson being declared out with an injury to his surgically-repaired ankle, it was finally time. Time for what, you ask? Time for Sheldon Richardson to finally put his hands in the dirt and play on the line. The Jets have been mis-utilizing Shells, having him stand up and play OLB, instead of on the line in his natural position. And, as it is seen at points week after week when you put him on the line, HE MAKES PLAYS. Richardson tallied his first sack of the season as well.
Matt Forte was the Matt Forte of Week’s 1 and 2
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It took a couple weeks for Matt Forte to return to his Pro-Bowl self. The first quarter consisted of a mix of Forte and Bilal Powell, and Powell was noticeably more efficient.
His ability to shoot out of the backfield like a cannon has Jets fans often ponder as to why he’s only used as a third-down back most of the time.
Fortunately for Forte, (that’s a lot of “f’s,” I’m sorry. Say it 5 times as fast) Powell was listed as the third quarterback on the depth chart, so the Jets had to keep him sidelined as Fitzpatrick was on the field. This was to ensure that Powell would be ready just in case Fitz got hurt.
Forte looked sluggish to begin the game, as he wasn’t exploding through gaps and playing how we saw him the first two games of the season. After recording a touchdown reception in the first half, Forte would add three more receptions to give him four with a total of 54 yards. On the ground, Forte would rack up exactly 100 yards on 30 touches.
The amount of carries he had might draw some worry to fans, as we saw Forte seem a bit overworked to begin the season, and tail off the track until now. All in all, it was great to see the running game become established again against the league’s leading rush defense. The Jets came into today scoring a league-low 15.8 points per game and put up 24 against Baltimore. More importantly, though, they finally scored a couple touchdowns. Which leads to the next aspect of the team…
Red-Zone offense is still gut-wrenching to watch
Buster Skrine comes up with an interception and brings your offense to the opponent’s 3-yard line. What do you do if you’re the Jets? You score a field goal.
The red-zone offense has been putrid this year, after being one of the most efficient in 2015 at this time. Last year, the Jets had a 66% red zone scoring percentage (TDs only). This year, a 36% red zone scoring percentage. Good enough for last in the league. High-fives, anyone?
Although they did fail miserably to capitalize on the Skrine interception, the Jets did score a touchdown on the next trip to the 20. Luck was on their side for this one. After a Forte fumble inside the 5, the Ravens would recover the ball, only to be stripped by Marshall, giving the Jets possession and a fresh set of downs. Forte would eventually step into the end-zone, giving the Jets a 24-16 advantage, which would also be the final score.
Oct 23, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22) rushes for a touchdown against Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (58) during second half at MetLife Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Ravens 24-16.Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Last, but not least, special teams
Abysmal, to say the least. Lachlan Edwards, whom the Jets drafted 235th (7th round) overall, pulled a “that’s so Jets” move. Attempting to receive the snap to punt deep in Jets territory, Edwards let the ball go right between his hands, leading to a fumble recovery in the end zone for a Ravens touchdown. I guess that’s a way to prove that punters aren’t receivers, huh?
Edwards then had a punt later in the game that literally only traveled 17 yards.
The return game led by Jalin Marshall was mediocre, as he had two kickoff returns for 21 yards and three punt returns for 18 yards.
Lastly, the blocked punt towards the backend of the fourth quarter is inexcusable. I don’t care that the Ravens have a freakish habit of blocking field goal attempts. It’s unacceptable. You have the chance to go up two scores on a team that has had all six of its games decided by 8 points or less. They have a knack of making games close, and we know that watching the Jets late in the fourth quarter with close games, is about at scary as scary gets.
“Meh” to “Eh?”
Nonetheless, the Jets came out with a more-than-much-needed victory in Week 7. Next up is Cleveland, and although they are the league’s worst team, it would be so-Jets to fall short. The next slate of games leading up to the bye week is winnable. They are crucial. If the Jets can go 5-5 into the bye with how bad the season has started, then this season has a whole different feel to it. Cleveland, Miami, and Los Angeles are all before the bye.
At 5-5, the Jets can go from being a “meh” team to an “eh, they’re pretty good” team. In my father’s words, “they are just good enough to make sure you watch their games, despite how upset they make you.” Now, they have a chance to have us back to being invested just as much as we were last year.
New York, please take it one game at a time, because our fragile fan-hearts can’t take much more sadness…. at least this year.