Post Game Thoughts: Jets 27 Bills 20 Tweet
An enjoyable and exciting win today.
I think it is actually hard to find a place to start this week because, for the most part, the offense played extremely well. I guess itís best to start with the Jets rookie QB Geno Smith. I have to admit I was really surprised at how many people quickly turned on Smith following the Patriots game. All things considered I thought he played pretty well until he gassed out at the end and you have to understand that rookie mistakes are going to happen. While they would have won the game with a veteran QB at no point did I think people should be calling for Matt Simms to be taking over as starter.
This game had plenty of warts as well as he had two costly interceptions, but when I look at a rookie QB I want to look at the positive aspects (unless they are just that bad) because many of the other issues are correctable. Some of the throws that Smith makes down the field are really beautiful. The pass to Stephen Hill was a terrific throw. Smith knew he was going to get pummeled but he stepped into the throw and hit Hill in stride for a score. The winning TD pass to Santonio Holmes was just a bullet down the field that was placed perfectly. Smith right now is showing physical tools that are very impressive for a young QB. Now he has yet to deal with real adversity to see his mental makeup but for the most part I have been happy with where he is. Of the two rookie QBs on the field Smith was clearly the more polished of the two and it was not even close.
The wide receivers were terrific. Were the Bills missing some key players? Yes, but many of those players had been missing in action for some time. The Jets receivers abused the Bills secondary. They abused them last season as well in a game where the Bills were just not prepared but today they just outran them. Holmes was terrific. This may have been his best game as a Jet. Some of the catches he made were Grade A catches. The kind of receptions the Jets thought they would get when they re-signed him in 2011. There was the leaping catch for a first down. The great adjustments he made to some big passes. And of course the game winning score. Maybe Holmes goes back to being nobody next week, but for this game he was spectacular. Hill abused the Bills down the field and showed much better concentration that usual. Hill has physical gifts but he is so raw. He is like the old Raider track meet style players. If he can do this consistently he can be a part of the Jets future.
RB Bilal Powell had a strong game keeping his legs moving on every play and really picking up some tough yardage. It was his best game as a pro by far racking up 149 yards and playing the role of a workhorse back. Powell has always been a hard runner but he had something extra today that I did not think we would ever see. The Jets really did not to waste the resources they did on Chris Ivory, who was injured again today, and Mike Goodson, who is still awaiting his return to the active roster. Iíll touch on this a bit later by Powell is really benefitting from the offense the Jets are running which is loosening up the defense somewhat.
The offensive line for the most part was good. DíBrickashaw Fergsuon pretty much handled Mario Williams whenever he lined up on that side and they didnít give up any sacks on the day. Vlad Ducasse had a bad game getting flagged 4 times, but he also never gave up a sack so that was a positive. There was also a wild play where Nick Mangold somehow thought Smith was in shotgun calling for the snap when Smith was trying to audible and nowhere near the center. That was another good play by Powell to scoop that ball up.
The Jets have not played enough good teams to call this 2009, but this defense has the makings of the best defense the team has had since 2009. The defensive front is really something to watch. This is clearly the best defensive line of the Rex Ryan era. Now some of the sacks the Jets picked up were due to Bills QB EJ Manuel just looking lost on the field but they were not making the game easy on him by any means. Muhammad Wilkerson was all over the field again and racked up two sacks. When the Jets drafted Wilkerson I said his upside was Trevor Pryce, which is pretty excellent, but at this point itís far higher. He is the best lineman the Jets have had since John Abraham and if he continues to be durable he is going to be the best since Joe Klecko.
The only big downside for the line today came when they seemingly had Fred Jackson stopped for a loss and rookie Sheldon Richardson was busy celebrating the stop for the team as Jackson scooted right past him for a monster gain. Itís a bad play but for an excited rookie I can see how it happens. Now we just have to make sure it never happens again. He did atone for it with a big stuff and then a sack. He has had an impressive start to his career. Damon Harrison made a big stop or two in the middle as well.
The improved play up front has seen much better play from LBís David Harris and Demario Davis. Harris had a backfield stop that was reminiscent of what he used to do in 2009 and 2010. It seemed as if he outmaneuvered the block and just hit the hole like a truck. I believe Harris also generated the initial pressure on what turned into a big sack by Davis. Davis had a number of stops on the day. The team never let CJ Spiller do anything in the game and outside of the Jackson run the front 7 was stellar.
For the second week in a row the Jets benched a former first rounder in favor of Darrin Walls at corner. Maybe the Jets should just think about starting him. Kyle Wilson was awful on the day. He had one nice coverage early where he may have picked off a pass had he not been interfered with, but he ended up with 4 penalties on the day and gift wrapped the Bills a scoring drive with all the penalties. His penalty nullified a fumble that would have been recovered by the Jets. He got pulled for a stretch to try to collect himself after that series.
Overall, though, the secondary was pretty solid. Stevie Johnson had his 90 yards or so, but for the most part was held in check. TE Scott Chandler had a few big grabs including a score where the defense just seemed to lose him. Other than those two players there was only one other big pass play. Iíd say that this is an area where the Jets will improve and this game was a step forward from the Patriots game where receiver s ran wide open and just dropped the ball.
Special Teams I thought Nick Folkís 47 yard field goal, which was a perfect kick, was a big play in the game. I thought taking a 17-6 lead meant a lot to the teams as they went into the half. P Ryan Quigley looked fine, though I do not really understand the need for the punting change this past week. The Jets did actually field punts this week. I guess thatís a positive.
There were two big issues coming out of the game. The first was the use of challenges. The Jets blew back to back challenges in the 3rd quarter which kept them from being able to challenge a fumble that would have been awarded to the Jets and ended the game. Now I understand the use of the first challenge. The Jets had a 4th and short at the Bills 37 which is no manís land. It is a difficult field goal and a punt is nearly worthless. The Jets were going to have to spend a time out because they were unsure what to run, so Ryan instead challenged the spot of the football. While he had no chance of winning it gets you far more time to prepare the team for the play.
Now I disagreed with the decision to go for it on 4th only because, given the way the game was unfolding, I donít want to hand the Bills field position and allow one play to get them in field goal range and then let an offensive mistake lose the game, but once the decision is made you may as well get the right play. I donít think the FB draw is the right play but the reasoning behind the challenge was fine.
However, once you waste one challenge you have to keep a second challenge for a big moment in the game. Rex got frustrated when the Bills immediately hit a big sideline pass route to get them into Jet territory. It was clearly a catch and if he waited for one replay would have seen as such. Instead he threw the red flag and that was it for the challenges and it nearly cost the Jets dearly. You simply can not challenge that kind of play in that spot. Unless its 100% going to be overturned you can not waste it and he did.
Ďthe second issue was all the penalties. Rexís post game was his usual ďI know we will get this fixedĒ routine, which normally I just throw away as his lip service, but in this case he is right. Of the 20 penalties 8 came from Ducasse and Wilson, two players just overmatched on the day. Quinton Coples had two false starts in his first game back and I think Wilkerson had two false starts as well. That is just overanxious players in an early season home game. Some of the other penalties like illegal ships and offensive interference are not going to be common occurrences. So while I joked during the game that this was the New York Raiders I donít feel like this is as bad as it looked.
I do want to point out how well the offense has been called. While I often think that bringing a QB along slow is a good thing the Jets are calling games to their strength. This is not 2009 with the ridiculous running game. Ball control wonít win games and these are coaches hoping to keep a job or potentially be elevated. So the Jets have come up with this downfield pass attack that may be low percentage but when it hits is going to produce scores. The Jets ability to utilize that pass attack is really helping out Powell, IMO. Heís facing one or two less defenders cheating run now and gaining way more yards because of it.
Amazingly enough I actually thought the Jets would start the year 2-1 and then watch things go downhill from there. Iím sure as they sit here 2-1 many people will be surprised at the record, but I donít think people should be. Rex Ryan has always beaten other poor teams and neither the Buccaneers nore the Bills are good football teams. The start has not really changed my opinion of the team, but the run defense and downfield passing game have been much better than I thought they would be.
I think these next few weeks are where we begin to learn more about the Jets and what the expectations should be. The Titans are proving to be a tougher team than many had expected and could easily be 3-0 right now. How the Jets perform in Tennessee will say a lot about the team and its future. From there they go to Atlanta to face a Falcons team that right now looks stuck in 2012 and not playing the best football. If the Jets could go 1-1 and be competitive in both games I think it will be a good sign.
With the Steelers looking awful splitting those two games should get the Jets to 4-2 heading into the rematch against the Patriots. I think that would be tremendous as it ensures a 0.500 start to the season. In the second half of the season the Jets schedule gets easier with the Browns, Raiders, and Bills again on the schedule. With a 4-4 start you can at least map out a way to 9 wins which could be enough to get into the playoffs. Going into the NE game with a record of 3-3 will put a damper on expectations.
What is most important though is that we are watching a QB at least develop and show more than enough positives to make you think that he can be a good player at this level. Everything in the NFL is based on the QB playing well and Smith has at least shown enough through 3 games to say that he can be a starting QB in this league. If the receivers can play this well there is no reason to think that the Jets canít win because they have a rookie QB. The defense is good enough to hold teams to low outputs and a few big WR grabs will give them enough points to pull ahead. Letís hope it continues next week.