Post Game Thoughts: Jets 20 Dolphins 7 Tweet
If you canít make the playoffs you may as well eliminate a division rival on their home turfÖ.
Geno Smith finished the season on a high note with back to back quality games. While the numbers are not gaudy he played like he was in control, something he had not done for most of the season. I donít know if that was the Jets allowing him to move around more or the expectations of the playoffs vanishing but we saw some nice throws and runs. His one throw while getting popped was a great job and one we have not seen for years. Do I think Geno is the answer at QB? Not really. There is not one trait that really wows me and I donít think the Jets will hand him the job next season but heís earned the chance to compete again for it. I think his participation in the offseason program and how invested he is in it will say a lot about his future.
I thought Bilal Powell had a nice game and made the most of his opportunity which Im assuming came up from Chris Ivory tweaking something. Powell did get stuffed on a 3rd and short but ran well most of the game and had the nice pass that was one of the bigger plays of the game. I still donít know what the Jets view as his future but he is a nice piece to have. He wonít dominate but he is a professional player. He also had the great play where he did everything he could to make sure Smith got into the end zone on a run.
David Nelson continued his strong play and he will clearly be brought back next season as the backup outside wide receiver. Someone tweeted to me during the game that it would be scary if he was starting, which is true, but if you need a spot starter for a game here and there I guess you could do worse. Heís a better player than Stephen Hill and has a better connection with the QB than Santonio Holmes. Kellen Winslow had a big grab and if he wants to come back on another MSB deal I would think the Jets will take him back. Even though the PED suspension this year seemed to hurt his standing with the team he does bring effort.
The important thing for the offensive line is that they kept the shirt of Smith relatively clean. It needs upgrades but they improved over time. The Guard play brings the unit down a lot and I donít know if either Willie Colon or Brian Winters should be back next season. But neither stood out negatively this week. The key for the Jets next season is getting Nick Mangold back to a high level. He has been a decent player but his salary requires him to be much more. Iíd still entertain offers for him if they exist as his contract comes to a head in 2015 when the Jets will be forced to cut him if he does not take a paycut.
I think the player we really have to talk about this week is CB Dee Milliner. The first interception he had was terrific. It reminded me a bit of a pick I saw when I attended practice a few years ago when Revis dove to the sidelines to grab an errant pass. Great instincts and athleticism. But his actual play of the position is brutal at times. He has to learn to play the ball next season. He should have been flagged for pass interference in the end zone and if it was against a more highly regarded receiver than Mike Wallace he would have been. He was also toasted by Wallace on a play that Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill simply missed.
The bottom line is that Milliner shows flashes of being a really good cover corner but he wont survive playing the way he does. In todayís NFL not turning around, even if you do not interfere with a player, is going to result in flags. He is going to be the Jets number 1 next year which is why he got the harder assignments the last few weeks rather than Antonio Cromartie. Hereís hoping to even more improvement in 2014 and like Smith I think offseason study is critical for him.
The team probably caught a big break with Brian Hartline getting injured early. Hartline has his way with the Jets in the first matchup and seemed to be on his way to doing the same this week. Cromartie just is not the same guy and will need to take a deep discount if he wants to remain in NY. I donít get the feeling that opinions are high on him around the NFL so it is possible he stays, but I would think he is cut first and then re-signed later. Ed Reed has a TD saving tackle and could be back next year depending on his willingness to play for next to nothing. Rex would love to have him but he could opt for retirement, which might be best for all parties involved.
I donít think anyone stood out up front this week though the Jets stuffed a critical 4th and 1 play where the Jets lined up their players in the perfect spot. Muhammad Wilkerson absolutely got snubbed with the lack of a Pro Bowl nod, but hes not yet a household name and that is often how Pro Bowl voting goes. I do think Wilkerson tailed off the final few weeks of the year from his super hot pace, perhaps because more teams took notice, but a PB was deserved.
Quinton Coples did not have a very meaningful game but he was someone I was asked about this week so Iíll mention him. I said earlier this year that his upside might be that of Calvin Pace, but as he overcame his ankle issues he was much better than that. Coples isnít some super freak off the outside with blinding speed, but he is incredibly strong and seems to have no problem engaging and pushing a guy right into the QB. He was in the backfield a lot this season and simply needs to refine his game more to get his sack totals up higher. He is more consistent than Pace too. Pace would have a game with 2 or 3 sacks where he is unstoppable and then be invisible for weeks at a time. I donít see that anymore with Coples. He may have a sluggish game, but so do all players. Im not seeing him take off the multiple games that I felt earlier in the year was going to happen.
I think it is also clear that Inside Linebacker has to be addressed this season. Nether DeMario Davis nor David Harris are good enough to be out there as much as they are. Harris has a $5 million escalator in his contract but I believe that is tied to honors, of which he has none. If he does earn that the Jets need to cut him. Otherwise they need to find a more athletic player to take over one of the two spots. Realistically they are going to need two inside linebackers in the next two years if they stay with a 34 base defense. They are both too much of a liability in coverage to have on a good team.
Nick Folk missed another field goal this week which was too bad as he had such a great year. He ran the kick wide at the start but it did start to hook in. He seemed to think he made it but the refs felt it hooked after passing the upright. Still for a chip shot you should never run it that far. I donít know if he will be back next year and itís not because of anything he did wrong, it may just be the thought that a kicker should never cost much anything. That is kind of how he got the job in the first place so if he goes elsewhere its understandable.
Coaching Hey the team went on the road and beat a team that needed a win for the playoffs. That should count for something. Preparation is still an issue with the staff as they botched up a 3rd and 1 play because they were a bit indecisive and allowed Miami to sub their players, but at the same time they called a perfect defense on 4th and 1 in a similar spot. The Jets clearly outcoached the Dolphins today.
Well after the game we learned that Rex Ryan was retained for next season. I donít think there is anything wrong with that but I wish they would have announced it earlier. To make it seem as if something hinged on two meaningless games is completely embracing mediocrity and the Jets need to move from that. The facts are since 2006 the Jets have had just one season with double digit wins. They have to get beyond this.
8-8 should never be a victory season. The Dolphins finished 8-8 and it was an ultimate catastrophe. I know expectations were low but never embrace it. The Jets season went better than expected but at the same time that meant lower lows when the Jets fell apart in the middle of the season. That falling apart was far more important than the winning at the end. An 8-8 team will make the playoffs in the AF Cand the reason it is not the Jets is because they could not beat a team like the Bills or Dolphins.
Iíll actually be disappointed if this is just a one year retention though. Our team is about to turn over the roster. Holmes is gone. Cromartie is probably gone. The guys like Scott, Woody, Revis, etcÖwho were all big parts of playoff runs are distant memories. I donít want a head coach to coach a team of young guys for just one year. I can understand the thinking that Smith or Sanchez have just one year to prove it and Rex can sink or swin with them, but the rest of the team needs coaching as well.
I would expect many changes to the staff on both sides of the ball if this is just another one year run for Ryan. Filling the staff with ďIdzik guysĒ gets rid of Ryanís security blanket and gives him in house options to hire if Rex fails to make the playoffs in 2014. I dislike that line of thinking but I have to think that is what is going on behind the scenes based on the rumors out there.
So we will see what the future brings, It will certainly be a much different team in 2014 and hopefully all of us a much better team. The Jets home and away splits this season were about as big as the Saints. That can not happen in the future. There is no reason for that kind of discrepancy. The Jets continued to get blown out in games in 2013. That can not happen in 2014. Even when the team loses it has to be a game not a give up. Those are the biggest areas of improvement that must occur.
In terms of need the Jets have to find more receivers. They donít have to be gamebreakers (and please stay far away from Hakeem Nicks) but they need better players. You can add tight end to that mix too but thatís more of a luxury position rather than a big need. The Guards need to be upgraded too on offense. Defensively the Jets will grab another inside linebacker, a pass rusher, and either a Safety or another cornerback. There are many holes but with significant money to spend in free agency and what should be 4 draft picks in the first three rounds there is no reason to upgrade at most positions.
Thanks again for reading in 2013. I know I donít spend as much time on this site anymore because of the time commitment I have to overthecap, but the Jets will always be my team and you guys are always going to be my biggest fans and people I enjoy writing the most for. Many of the offseason cap related posts will probably be there but everything will be linked off this site as well if its Jets related and Iíll continue to pester everyone with tweets to both sites.
I always appreciate the support and you guys have helped OTC become the number 1 independent source of salary cap news and clearly we have continued to be the top source for Jets salary cap information. It is never perfect but we get as close as we can.
A safe and happy New Year to all and Go Jets!