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Post Game Thoughts: Jets 20 Panthers 30

At least the Jets fought this week for a few quarters against a good team.

Offense

The Jets continue to treat QB Geno Smith with kids gloves until they need more and I'm not sure if that is really giving him a fair chance right now or not. If you are going to sink or swim with a young QB you have to decide if you simply want to throw him to the sharks or if you want to try to protect him. The Jets fall somewhere in the middle. Early in the game they didn't ask Smith to do much. Short passes and handoffs seemed to be the gameplan. They rolled him out a few times which worked at times and at others did not. But when they fell behind 0 they decided to open it up a little and he promptly threw a game ending pick six interception. I don't k now how easy it is to turn it on and off but I kind of feel it's difficult to ask him to do something that the gameplan was never designed to ask him to do. He did bounce back from that and lead the team down the field for a meaningless score but I doubt anyone has any more or less faith in Smith following this game. His recognition of blitzes coming from the secondary was awful.

The one bright spot on the team continues to be RB Chris Ivory. If he can stay healthy he will contribute to this team in the future. He is probably the only skill position player we can say that about. Ivory had a 35 yard run and ended the day with a 6a yard a carry average. Bilal Powell had a nice run as well but I do not get the feeling that the Jets feel those two complement each other that well. I tend to think the Jets will be drafting a runner in the middle rounds of the draft this year to pair with Ivory. Sheldon Richardson got in the action playing the Fridge role and rumbling in for a score. At the time that was a huge play and had to have everyone thinking the Jets had a chance.

Santonio Holmes called out the Panthers secondary and he proceeded to do nothing but drop the football. The day can not come soon enough when he is a former Jet. I don't know how hard it is to judge ahead of time when guys turn it off once they get paid but Holmes turned it off the day he landed on the cover of the newspapers drinking champagne or whatever he was drinking. The Jets receivers are terrible and when you combine it with a bad young QB you get an awful offense. There is a place in the NFL for Jeff Cumberland and David Nelson, but when they lead your team in receiving yards you are in trouble. Finding receivers in the draft is difficult (see Hill, Stephen) but the Jets are going to have to go there and probably bring in a solid secondary option in free agency.

The offensive line continues to be up and down. Smith was sacked four times but two of those came on corner blitzes. Greg Hardy ate up Brian Winters on one sack and when Austin Howard went down I was sure there would be more to come but that was not really the case and then Howard came back in. That said everything just seems chaotic up front and that the Jets are always at a disadvantage. I do think Howard is a keeper but if so they are going to have to replace both Guards or pray that Winters gets significantly better. Dumping Matt Slauson was a mistake. For whatever reason the Jets internally did not think much of him but he is better than any Guard they have on the team by a wide margin.

Defense

One of these days people will join in with me and say this is a defense with a few nice players and a respected coach and nothing else. Cam Newton had his way with the secondary, which should come as no surprise. They just are not good. The play when he suckered Ed Reed in and then flipped the ball to DeAngelo Williams for the score was typical of the defense. David Harris is far too slow to be able to stop a play like that and the secondary offered no help with the Safety way out of position. Dee Milliner got blocked out of the play and that was that. I know some people complained of a hold on him but there was no fight to get off of that block. Milliner has to adjust to the nature of the NFL and right now he's still in college mode where his team is far superior and guys cant physically challenge him. He's lost out there. Hopefully he improves next season because he is the only guy who should be back next season in the secondary.

The Jets performance is almost completely dependent on a few players up front. When they perform well the defense looks good. When they don't it looks pretty bad. Quinton Coples had a few impact plays this week. He just looked like he swallowed Newton on one sack. I still feel as if his career will end up much like that of Calvin Pace, but he is even more athletic than Pace was in his prime. Pace had a sack this week as well and I have to imagine he'll either be back here next year or playing Buffalo. He's had his best year in a few seasons. Richardson had a really strong play where he grabbed Newton with one hand and then brought him down while he scrambled. Impressive stuff.

The problem for the Jets is that those great pieces up front don't work in unison yet. Coples, Richardson, Wilkerson, etc. are all good in their own right, but they are not a devastating unit yet where teams have to worry about the rush every play. Wilkerson is the best of the bunch and most consistent, but I think opponents are willing to let whatever happens happen because they don't think the Jets can sustain it. The Jets need to eventually get to the point where they have at least two guys overwhelming the defense on multiple plays. Once that happens is when you get teams to change their gameplans and blocking schemes to deal with you. Coples and Richardson are very young so I believe it can happen, but they need that right now.

Special Teams

The Jets are not good enough to deal with a backbreaking special teams play and that is just what occurred when they failed to block on a punt and saw the punt blocked on the true game loser. I have no idea what kind of miscommunication happened on that play, but the Jets parted the seas and blocked nobody. It may have been the easiest punt block in the history of the NFL. He literally looked like he may have been able to grab the ball before the punt. That's awful. On the positive side Nick Folk continues his solid play and he has earned himself a multiple year contract. I don't know if that will come from the Jets but he has earned it.

Coaching

The Jets played a much better team today and competed for 3 quarters. I don't think you fault Rex Ryan for anything that went on. They were conservative for sure but it was working until the special teams play broke the game back in favor of the Panthers. I don't expect Ryan to be back for a number of reasons but he did everything he could with this team today.

Overall

Once the Dolphins won today the season was pretty much over anyway. I know its still not official but its over. Like I said last week I thought it was important to finish 2-1 in the last three games and I will stick with that. The Jets have to win these next two games to make this a successful season. The Jets raised the bar somewhat with the fluky start and with the chances of a top draft pick gone winning is everything. For the last few years the team has pretty much suffered throwing out a similar lineup as the one that made the 2010 championship game with not enough key changes. Those changes will finally come next year when bad draft picks and signings will be purged from the team. Nobody in the front office is going to be fooled by a two game winning streak but it will make us all feel better especially if the team can knock the Dolphins out of the playoffs in week 17.

The Jets and John Idzik certainly have their work cut out for them next season. They need a receiver, lineman, quarterback, safety, linebacker, and cornerback. That's a lot but with over $40 million in cap room and multiple draft picks there is no reason for the Jets to not at least get an opportunity to get every position they need changed on the roster. New coach or not there is no reason why the Jets should not be able to turn over enough of the roster so that they can compete in 2014 for the playoffs. While they will have competition for free agents a good GM will show his worth by making the most of the draft and a wise use of funds for lower cost but high performing free agents.

Apologies on the late posting of this but Im having some issues with the site in which I got locked out of the site at home so I had to post off a different network. It should be fixed by tomorrow.

Go Jets!

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