Post Game Thoughts: Jets 35 Colts 9 Tweet
That was exactly the kind of game the Jets needed to stop the freefall just in time for the showdown in Foxboro next week.
I have to think that when Rex Ryan hired Tony Sparano to be his offensive coordinator that this was the exact type of game he wanted to see. It was the kind of game that the Jets had not really played since 2009 when their offensive line just dominated opponents to create big lanes for their runners. The Jets bludgeoned the Indianapolis Colts defensive front today. After the usual slow start the Jets constructed an impressive 14 play 80 yard drive to take the 7-3 lead and never look back. I said it during the game that this was the teams best drive of the season and I see no reason to back away from that comment. This wasnít catching a team off guard early like they did the Pittsburgh Steelers a few weeks back. This wasnít about playing a team that had no desire to be on the field like the Buffalo Bills. This was about lining your 11 guys up, looking at your opponent, and just smacking them around. The Jets ran 9 times on that drive for 57 yards and saw QB Mark Sanchez convert two third downs to extend and finish the drive. Itís the type of drive that makes a road team think twice about the game. People will probably look at the fake punt as the turning point, but to me it was that drive that really turned this game.
Do the Colts have a good run defense? No, but its not as if the Jets just took advantage of a bad team and did the norm. They wrecked the Colts on the ground. Shonn Greene had his best game since 2009. He has taken a lot criticism this year, and I think its fair criticism, but he clearly seemed to take it to heart and take out his frustrations on the Colts. The spin move he did to score a TD was nothing I had ever seen Greene do in his career. Greene still does some things that are frustrating, such as on one of his big runs not trying to take an angle but instead initiates contact with a defender, but he ran harder than I have seen in some time. The line did their part as well and rarely gave him the opportunity to hesitate, opening giant holes to run through. Joe McKnight got into the act with a huge 61 yard scramble but unfortunately was hurt on the play. I thought it was a shoulder but it seems to be an ankle injury. Bilal Powell also came up with an injury. If both miss time it will really hurt the Jets depth at the spot and it was the one negative of the game. Tim Tebowís wildcat I thought was the most effective it had been on the season. It was only a few snaps, but on the one long Greene run it was Tebow that opened it up as almost the entire Colts defense bit on him keeping the ball which he handed off. That was probably a byproduct of the fact that he rarely seems to hand off when they call his number.
As for Sanchez the Jets played as if he barely existed. To his credit he made the throws he needed to make and converted a few critical 3rd downs early and also escaped what should have been a pancake sack under a sea of Colts, but it is not the kind of game that is going to make anyone feel any better or worse about the QB. Tebow actually had the longest completion of the day on the fake punt and only 3 passes for Sanchez were for more than 10 yards, but he didnít make a mistake and that is what the Jets ideally want from him right now. He wonít have this many free pass games in the remainder of the season but he needed a game where nobody paid attention to him for being a reason for failure. Hopefully it helps clear his head.
Iím sure I was not the only person concerned watching the first two drives of the game. A 3rd and 15 completion. Terrible penalties to give the Colts free points. And if it wasnít for a few Andrew Luck rookie miscue passes the Jets could have given up anywhere from 10-14 points. But once Antonio Cromartie picked off Luck the whole defense seemed to play with the attitude they used to have. All season long the Jets were broken up front and consistently lost the battle of their defensive front vs the oppositionsí offensive fronts. This was the first game that they seemed to reverse the trend. The Colts donít run the ball well and did not really try today, but when they did the Jets made sure it was known that there would be none of that on the afternoon.
This was the best game that the Jets played up front. Outside of a terrible penalty from Muhammad Wilkerson I thought he really stood out. He ended up with 5 tackles, a sack, and a fumble. He looked every bit the part of a first round pick. While I donít think he is ever going to be the top of the line superstar type, I think there is a lot of Shaun Ellis/Trevor Pryce in there. A real solid professional that has all the makings of being the veteran leader in the locker room of a team. Mike DeVito was solid and showed significant improvements over last week game. With the Colts having to throw so often we did get to see Quinton Coples come out rush the QB and you saw the potential he has. He was officially credited with 1.5 sacks, though he had a facemask call, and had a stuff on a run behind the line. Unlike Vernon Gholston the talent is there with Coples. Heís clearly a football player. I just wonder if he is going to put in the work to be great or not. I guess time will tell.
Cromartie had a big interception that seemed to stabilize the defense. It should have been a touchdown. Aaron Maybin got flagged on what looked like a clean block, but I think he got called for actions afterwards where he seemed kind of excited to hit the QB. Cromartie did get a legit pass interference call, but played well most of the day. Kyle Wilson gave up one big reception but seemed fine most of the afternoon while Ellis Lankster made a terrific pick of a pass in the end zone. I thought that was a fantastic play by him. The Jets did catch a few breaks where Luck just missed guys that seemed to be open, passes a solid veteran would have made, but those are the breaks of the game and the Jets made the most of their breaks.
There were some issues that still need cleaning. The coaching staff needs to talk a bit with Laron Landry because he is going to cost the team at some point, either via injury to himself or penalties. Heís a great hitter but can be over aggressive. He should have been called for pass interference on a deep route where he made zero attempt to play the ball, instead just looking to pounce on the receiver. It didnít matter that the penalty wasnít called and the ball hit Landry in the back. 99% of the time that will result in a big penalty. A different approach and itís a turnover for the Jets. He and Yeremiah Bell really have improved the Jets in the secondary, and will help them deal with the loss of Revis, but you can see that there are opportunities that are being missed out there. The Jets also need to cut down on some of the penalties as giving teams free chances is never a method for success in the NFL. Still, this was the first time this season where you actually watched the defense and said to yourself ďthese guys arenít too badĒ.
Tebow converted a big 4th down for the team with a pass that caught everyone off guard. The Colts clearly felt he was running and completely ignored Nick Bellore who turned the play into a 23 yard gain. That was the play that kind of put the game on ice for the Jets. P Robert Malone was terrific and the kick and punt coverage was outstanding for the day.
After last weekís disaster the Jets coaching staff seemed to do a much better job. The fake punt decision here made perfect sense. You were in a position where the chance to gain significant yards on a punt were minimal and the reward was high if you converted. Playing into that was the play selection that I thought clearly, especially with Tebow, was designed to use their prior tendencies to their advantage and confuse the opposition. It just seemed as if there were little things they were doing with the playcalls on both sides of the ball that were different than usual.
It was a far superior strategy, IMO, than last weeks try every trick in the book to win a game against a superior opponent. Last week was almost a concession that they could not win a straight game against a good team. Today was proving, maybe to themselves, that they could line up and play a normal game and come out with a win. Outside of the fake punt, there were really no gimmicks. When you see a strong effort like this in all three phases the staff has to get some credit just as when they get blame for non-efforts on the field.
The Colts are not a walkover team and the Jets really beat them up. While itís not as impressive as beating the Texans itís still a nice win for a team that hasnít played well since the opening quarter of the 2nd game of the season. The NFL is all about momentum and maybe this will give the Jets some momentum. You see it all the time and it goes in both directions. You see teams you donít expect to do well rattle off a few wins and next thing you know they are in the playoffs. Seattle may be a team like that this year. On the other side you see good teams get flustered and then just quit on the year, which may be the Packers or Saints this year. The Jets could have quickly gone on the negative path with a loss today.
I didnít listen to the Jets postgame today and I hope that this was not taken as some referendum on the team and that all is well. That was the attitude that sunk the team last season after they pulled off a few nice efforts against lower quality teams. Not that you should diminish this win, but keep in perspective that there are still 10 more games to go and this was your first good game in weeks. Certainly itís a step in the right direction but there are still items that need to be fixed or improved upon to allow the Jets to maintain their momentum. I think the last few years the Jets have tended to look at the small rather than big picture in these situations and ride the peaks of a season very hard rather than looking at them with a more critical eye.
No team in the AFC East looks invincible this season. Everyone is 3-3 and the Jets hold two wins in the division. Nobody is going to expect the Jets to go into New England and win next weekend, but who would have thought that the Patriots would have lost to the Seahawks and Cardinals this season? You never know. They wonít beat the Patriots if they go into the game with the idea that Mark Sanchez is not going to lose the game and limit him to nothing passes for 100 yards, but I donít believe that will be the way they approach it. When Tony Sparano was with Miami they were much more aggressive with the Patriots than with other teams. If they are in fact saving an assortment of Tebow plays (and I donít believe they are) they will hit the Patriots with them in hopes of catching them unprepared.
Defensively this will be a big test for the Jets. The Patriots, even when the Jets had Revis, routinely lit up the Jets secondary exploiting every possible mismatch. This year the Patriots even have a run game to go with the pass attack and you can bet that they will test the Jets defense early with that look. The Jets are run such that they have a lot of specialist players and specialist roles and New Englandís no huddle is designed to just pick apart a team like that. As soon as they get the personnel grouping they like on the field they wont let that group get a chance to get off the field. Iíd hope the Jets tighten the rotation just because of that and practice with various 11 man groupings against more varied offensive gameplans. A game like this did not test the Jets coaching staff in that regard or put any game management issues on display. Next weekís game will do just that.
A win next week will exceed everyoneís expectations and maybe put some juice back into the season. These next two games are big ones for the team and they have to at least split them, though you really want to get both of them. What is clear is that after years of being a dominant conference the AFC has taken a step back. After years of 10 win teams missing out on the playoffs its clear that 9 wins may do it now. 8 might even do it. There are five 3 win teams as I type this and it could be seven by the time Mondays game is over. The conference only has two standout teams- the Texans and Ravens- and then its everybody else. There is no reason why the Jets cant be one of those teams battling for one of the spots in the playoffs. If they continue to play with the effort they gave today they at least have a chance at getting there.