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Post Game Thoughts- Jets vs Bengals

The Jets did not disappoint their fans on a freezing cold Sunday night as they came out and simply dominated the Cincinnati Bengals to earn an unlikely trip into the playoffs.

Offense

There is no question who the MVP of the game was today as the game ball goes to WR/QB Brad Smith for the 2nd straight week. I’ve been very critical in the past of the Jets infatuation with Smith as an offensive player, but Smith was brilliant today with his execution of the option. Smith’s run early in the game set the tone for the game and the Bengals never recovered. Smith hit the play perfectly and refused to be dragged down. His second big run was more of the same with Smith breaking through defenders and making other guys just look slow. The Jets offensive line were the unsung heroes of the game. They smacked the Bengals front seven around all game long. The Jets second drive of the game was one of the most impressive and physical drives you will ever see a team put together and it was all due to the O-line just pushing Cincy around. Shonn Greene ran the ball well behind this group today and was the perfect complementary back to Thomas Jones, who really took on a huge workload today. Jones looks to have slowed down these last few weeks, but he never seems to get anything negative out there and is a steady presence on the field. Not much out of Mark Sanchez today and with the wind you could not expect too much. Sanchez threw a few really nice balls and should have had a TD to Braylon Edwards that Edwards should have had. Edwards made up for it by breaking up a would be interception later in the game. Sanchez was careful with the football and will be a liability come playoff time, but he is only going to grow from this experience. He was so excited after the game that you could see how much this meant to him. Jerricho Cotchery was the best wideout today with a few catches and some nice YAC. At some point the Jets will need to throw the football more if they want to advance, but these last few weeks have been perfect games featuring a top notch running attack as the primary offense.

Defense

The Bengals certainly tried to give it their best shot and the Jets defense just swallowed them up and spit them out. S Kerry Rhodes had a huge game. The Jets used him in a ton of different ways tonight and he was a real difference maker on the field. He tipped a pass or two. He made a huge hit on Chad Ochocinco He grabbed a fumble. Had pressures behind the line. That is the kind of game the Jets fans have been waiting for from him. It was surprising to see him caught from behind on his fumble recovery and it would have been nice to see him score the defensive TD, but he had a great game. Cincy’s receivers wanted no part of the cold and dropped everything that hit them, but the Jets had them blanketed almost all game except for one play where Andre Caldwell slipped the coverage deep. The team just looked like they were playing inspired ball from the start of the game onward. While the Bengals did not start their featured runner and tried a few different things, this was not some makeshift unit that was outclassed. This was the real starting unit just being decimated. They made Carson Palmer look awful out there. I can not believe he has ever had a worse game than the one he had today. Im not sure if the Bengals even had positive yardage at halftime it was so bad. Their only first down came on an iffy penalty and the Jets held them to under 100 yards total when the game was over. That is not supposed to happen at this level of football. The only negative that came out of this side of the ball was LB David Harris being injured. Ryan Fowler seemed to fill in most of the time and missed a key tackle on a 4th down play that would have stopped the Bengals. They need Harris next week and hopefully he is ok.

Special Teams

In awful conditions the James Dearth/Kellen Clemens/Jay Feely battery had no problems. Feely hit everything he had to despite the bad weather, though he did have a bad kickoff early on in the game. There looked to be some miscommunication on that one between Feely and the staff. Steve Weatherford punted well in the bad conditions while Cotchery had a nice return. The coverage teams were poor again as they gave up huge kick and punt returns, both times needing to rely on deep help in the form of the kickers to keep them from going for scores. It still is hard to believe how bad they are at covering kicks.

Coaching

Great game today by Rex Ryan and his staff. I cant recall the last time the Jets have had this kind of important game and looked so focused. It was a complete contrast from the 2008 debacle where the team was just going through the motions over the final month of the season. The Jets displayed the type of killer instinct you see from a team that is not just going to the playoffs but actually expects to get somewhere in the playoffs. Ryan had his players send the message that they were in a different gear and the Bengals looked like they wanted nothing to do with that style of physical game. Both the offensive and defensive gameplans were tremendous. Whatever they found in film it seemed as if the Bengals did not know how to react to the different pressure schemes and fronts shown by the Jets. The Bengals looked like they had never seen the option run against them, and the Jets exploited that weakness for huge plays. Great games all around.

Overall

What a fun night. It was a great atmosphere by the fans who showed up late in the cold for what was the most important regular season game the team has played since 2002. The Jets certainly appreciated the effort as they really played it up with the remaining fans after the game was over. Even though the Jets were not a very good home team this year this is the first team since 2002 that really seems to have won over the crowd and the fans really seem to identify with the coach and many of these players.

The Jets now have a short week to prepare for this same team. Rematches are never easy and usually go against the team that won the first round, but the Jets have to be taking some mental advantage into Cincinnati next weekend. The Jets dominated the Bengals frontline players and if they can get off to that same kind of start on Saturday that has to be a big advantage for the Jets. The biggest danger Marvin Lewis had outside of injury was seeing his starting group get outplayed the way they were outplayed today. The game was non-competitive. Players can say all they want about how things will be different “in their building” with something real on the line, but this result has to be in the back of their minds. The Bengals will most certainly play better this week, especially at the receiver position, but if the Jets can set the same physical tone early on the Bengals will be in big trouble.

I truly believe the Jets are a dangerous Wildcard team. That doesn’t mean they are going to the Super Bowl or even winning next week, but they have the defensive scheme in place to match up with just about anyone in the playoffs. They run the ball well enough to keep the opposing offense off the field and cover well enough to keep games from getting to be a track meet. On top of that the Jets are a very strong road team this year and will certainly be a live underdog in any game they may play.

It sure does not seem as if the goals of this team are simply the Wildcard round and that will hopefully keep them playing well next week. In 2006 the goal was just to make it, but 2009 is about winning in it. Hopefully that make a big difference next week. But for tonight it was a big celebration and for once I think people can go into work on a Monday morning and be proud to be a Jets fan. Go Jets!