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Post Game Thoughts: Jets 10 Patriots 13

An ugly game for both teams...

Offense

I think you have to start the conversation with the play of QB Geno Smith. It has only been two weeks but he is at least giving the Jets signs of having a very competent QB lining up behind center. His play has in no way resembled what was seen in that 3rd Preseason game and for most of tonight he was money with his passes, some of which were incredibly difficult throws. He did a good job of creating time with his legs and he has at least learned that when there isn't a play to be made just throw the ball away. Whether or not that was ever drilled into Mark Sanchez' head is irrelevant- he simply never did it.

Smith did more than enough to upset the Patriots on the road, before things fell apart at the end. His first mistake was the pass he made deep in New England territory that was intended for Santonio Holmes. Smith bought time and made the right decision but he threw behind Holmes which allowed CB Kyle Arrington to catch up with Holmes, tip the ball and create the interception. That cost the Jets 3 points. His second one came late in the game when he badly underthrew his receiver which led to an interception, though they were going to punt in that situation anyway. Finally he had a bad underthrow to end the game. I think Smith just tired out at the end and his arm was done. I think that is completely understandable for a rookie that was hurt for a portion of the Preseason being forced to play on short rest.

He was victimized by a number of drops by his wide receivers which I guess is to be expected when you have such a rag tag group of players. By far WR Stephen Hill is the most maddening player, He made a nice grab early and promptly fumbled the ball on his own. He made another nice grab late in the game where he adjusted his route to an underthrown ball, and then followed it up with more drops. The Jets called a screen for him designed to use his size advantage to get a first down in a similar manner to the famous Braylon Edwards playoff TD years ago, but Hill got wrapped up by a small defender and didn't use his body at all. Clyde Gates was arguably worse making almost no effort on a potential TD and a deep pass that would have set up a scoring opportunity. Those two would make for an awesome relay team in track, but as NFL players they are not good enough for the league. Gates wouldn't play on another team and I'm not sure if Hill would either. Ryan Spadola chimed in with a drop as well.

Santonio Holmes played well and had a few big catches including a great toe tap for a first down. He is clearly the only real receiver on the team this year and the Jets really needed him to have practiced this Preseason to get on the same page as his QB. People said he was milking the injury to avoid practice and that hurts the team, considering the dropoff from him to everyone else. The Jets really should be finding a veteran player to insert into the lineup if they are looking to compete this season.

The offensive line was terrific most of the night and just mauled the Patriots line. Vlad Ducasse had a terrific game when he was matched against Vince WIlfork. Ducasse is so strong that he made Wilfork look like nothing out there. I was surprised the Patriots did not try to cross him up more with various looks, but they were content to let him just go one on one and he did well. Clearly tempers flared over at the end when D'Brickashaw Ferguson seemed to start a fight after Nick Mangold went low on Aqib Talib that drew the ire of the Patriots sideline. That is so unlike Ferguson, who got ejected, and Im not sure if it was from frustration from losing a game that they could have won or the battles going on in the trenches. Willie Colon was also ejected.

The running game seemed to be working well behind the line as both Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell were doing damage at times. Ivory is an interesting runner to watch play. Its easy to see how he gets hurt so often as his style does not lend itself to multiple carries or even a long career. He's really physical. The Jets got away from the running game however as the game wore on. Im not sure if that was the right decision, but if the offense is going to be a bigger play offense maybe using the run to build long drives would not work anyway.

Defense

While I think Geno Smith played far better than his stat line would indicate there were phases of the defense that were worse that the stat lines. The defense did come up big when a turnover put the Patriots right in position for an easy TD and the Jets held them to three points. They were terrific against the run and my concerns for them in that aspect of the game are quickly disappearing. You can see that the investment in actual talent on defense has begun to pay off. For years the Jets were a group that got by on scheme and determination, plus excellent corner play. They had lunchpail types in Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito up front but lacked the athleticism most teams had. I feel like the Jets have that now and it will only improve once Coples returns. Hopefully Muhammad Wilkerson is not injured as he came off late in the game with a leg injury. It's ridiculous for fans to think he was faking injury on a 4th down where the clock runs once he gets off the field. He's arguably the best player on the team.

The secondary, however, was a nightmare. It began early with a terrible play by Antonio Cromartie that led to an interference call followed by a huge TD where everyone bit on a play fake and allowed a receiver to be so wide open that I could have made the throw for a score. I'm not sure whose responsibility that was but someone is supposed to account for a WR even when he is lined up to block.

CB Dee Milliner had a brutal game and looked to have been benched late in the game. I think the staff is putting too much on his plate because they were putting him on an island at times and he was getting toasted every time. He had the one nice play where he took the ball out of the Patriots receivers hands but if the Patriots could catch the football (and they were worse than the Jets in that regard) this would have been a blowout loss. By the end I was reminded of the 2009 playoff loss to the Colts where the Jets were trying anyone out to try to improve the coverage. Maybe Milliner was injured, but either way he was bad.

Special Teams

Not much to really discuss here. The Jets punted the ball a lot and Robert Malone was fine in that regard. He averaged around 45 yards a punt. The coverage wasn't great as Edelman had a number of decent returns. One in the 4thwas probably Malone's fault as he hit more of a line drive in the rain, but most were just suspect coverage. With Jeremy Kerley out with a concussion Kyle Wilson got the job and wasn't exactly good when the Jets actually put him back there. He had problems with his footing trying to return, but that was probably better than the Jets other strategy of not putting a return man back there.

Coaching

I think getting on Rex Ryan about the lack of timeouts is legitimate, but when you deal with rookie QBs these things happen. They see a look and panic sets in and you get forced into a time out. I did have a problem with the WR screen play to Hill and subsequent challenge. If you are going to pass on 3rd and 1 it has to be either a big play opportunity or a short rollout that is a high percentage chance of getting the first. There was just no upside to the play call. Hill was clearly down before he extended his arms so it was just a wasted first half time out.

I genuinely have no idea what the Jets were doing with no return man on most of the punts. I wasn't crazy about the idea of Wilson having to return the ball, and his first fair catch seemed to jump a little, but someone had to at least be able to fair catch the football. Unless the feeling was that the Patriots' Punter was just going to place the ball with no bounce it just made no sense to me.

Through two weeks, though, the team looks far better prepared than they were for all but two games last season-the opener against the Bills and the first meeting with the Patriots. The offense is not nearly as antiquated as it was last year or at times the few years before. Those are all good signs for the team.

Overall

Going into this game I thought the Jets would come away with a moral victory and I think they did. The Patriots were huge favorites but the Jets pretty much controlled the tempo of the game. I think most people who watched the game will wonder how the Jets lost this week to be honest. The Patriots receivers were so bad and the Jets dominated the time of possession by so much during the course of the game they should have won, but a few bad turnovers swapped scores enough to allow New England to hang on for the victory.

Last season the loss to New England effectively ended the Jets season. They were emotionally drained after the loss and never recovered. They went out the following week and got shelled by the Miami Dolphins and it was all downhill from there. I don't know if the Jets had the same emotional investment in this game that they did last year, but seeing the fight at the end makes me think that they may have. If that is the case having the extra days of rest may be beneficial.

I think the important thing is that the Jets are able to evaluate their young QB in what are competitive games. Smith has done ok in his first two starts and barring injury this job is his to lose. That's a good thing because a few weeks ago we all were discussing how Sanchez should be the starting QB because Smith seemed so lost.

From here I think the Jets need to seriously inquire about WRs that can help the team in the near term if only to help Smith's confidence. Obviously I'm a big Braylon Edwards fan but I also understand the injury concerns there with his knee. Kerley returning will help but they need someone else. The book on Smith in the reports is going to be a brutal stat line with 3 picks, but that doesn't come close to the real story. If Smith played with NFL caliber receivers the Jets would have won the game and he would be the talk of the town. Now he just needs to collect himself to make sure he is prepared for the Jets next game which they hopefully will win to stay above 0.500.

Apologies on no recap last week, but I didn't get a great view of the game and I didn't think it was fair to post based on that viewing. I should be on a regular schedule for the post games now. Go Jets!

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