Post Game Thoughts: Jets 26 Bengals 10
For the second year in a row Brad Smith beat the Cincinnati Bengals, providing the Jets with the ammunition they need to keep pace with the New England Patriots.
Another very uneven performance by the team on this side of the football. Early in the game the defense continually gave the Jets good field position and the offense never capitalized. To go into the half trailing 7-3 after the Bengals committed two turnovers is totally unacceptable. It was somewhat strange in that they seemed to move the chains on their side of the field with no problems, but once they came close to midfield they just stalled out. QB Mark Sanchez had a bad football game. You can not expect him to be great every week, but against a poor defense like this one Sanchez should have done better. Some of his throws were all over the field and the fact that he had so many passes batted down at the line makes me think his mechanics were way off. Perhaps the short rest affected him more than expected. Sanchez took some bad sacks by holding onto the football forever rather than throwing the ball away. He could have been picked off a number of times and his interception to LB Ray Maualuga was him forcing a ball that should have been thrown away 3 seconds before he threw the pass. It was a quiet game for the two big receivers and the most impressive grab of the game actually came from WR Brad Smith. Braylon Edwards was open at least 3 times and Sanchez just missed him with his throws, the worst being the horribly under thrown pass when the coverage fell down and Edwards could not haul the pass in while still in the field of play. Edwards probably should have caught the ball anyway, but that should have been a touchdown. WR Santonio Holmes did have a score on the day and one or two nice plays, but was quiet compared to his normal level. The Jets did seem to use the backs again pretty well in the passing game, though RB LaDainian Tomlinson again saw a ball bounce off his helmet when he was not looking. That looked like the same route as earlier in the year when the same thing happened so maybe they need to work more on that play. Clearly the star of the offense was Smith who took an end around, that normally goes for about 2 yards and turned it into a game changing score. Smith made one or two nice cuts and the blocking was tremendous. I could not see that well during the run, but I think it was TE Dustin Keller and Edwards who delivered some great shots in there. LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson sealed the end to help spring it. In general the offensive line had a pretty good game and hopefully it was a confidence booster for them, even though the Bengals line stinks. While Sanchez bailed out the line these last few weeks, on this night it was Sanchez who makes the lines stats look bad with his excessive holding of the football. The interior of the line seemed to do really well, especially early as it seemed they were opening some big holes for Tomlinson in the gut of the line. Still the running game is going nowhere fast which could be a bit of a worry as the weather takes a turn for the worst this next month.
A great game by the Jets secondary today. CB Darrelle Revis really turned it up a notch and made WR Terrell Owens a complete non factor. Revis caught some flack for his comments about Owens, but in his last 3 games against Revis, Owens has done nothing. CB Antonio Cromartie made a great athletic play on his interception, though had he missed it the ball would have likely been picked off anyway. Cromartie did not allow Chad Ochocinco to be anything more than a possession guy. Both Safety's played well with Jim Leonhard picking off a pass and Eric Smith breaking up a potential score and contributing on so many tackles. Things looked bad early for Smith as he was targeted right at the start and gave up a reception, but it ended up being Smith's best game of the season. S Brodney Pool, who lost his starting job, missed badly on a tackle and will likely not regain his starting job, though he did make a few plays at other times. One thing was clear watching this game and that is QB Carson Palmer is shot. His decision make is horrible. I have a feeling he will be cut in the offseason, sign elsewhere for a bunch of money and after one year struggle to find a job as a starter. He is that bad. The blitz packages worked better this week and the Jets also were far better in one on one situations. LB Calvin Pace had a big sack and on another play just shot through the line and grabbed RB Cedric Benson from behind. LB Jason Taylor batted down at least two passes and got close to Palmer two or three times. Even though he did not register a sack he was a presence. DE Vernon Gholston even got into the act as he blew up his guy and nearly nailed Palmer in the end zone. It was not a surprise to see DE Trevor Pryce get the safety as the Jets were killing the Bengals line at that point and had come close a number of times with the same type of pressure. The run defense was superb on the day. One thing that stood out is how poor the officiating has become in the NFL. The personal foul that was called on CB Drew Coleman for hitting Owens was nonsensical. I have seen basketball picks that are harder than that in my gym. He never led with his helmet nor did he hit Owens in the head with his body. He stiffened up with his shoulder as Owens went into him. That cost the Jets 4 points. The 4th down roughing the passer call on S James Ihedigbo was equally bad. I don't know any possible way a player could stop in that spot it was so close to when the pass was thrown. There was nothing violent about the hit nor was it anywhere near his head. It did not cost the Jets anything since the Bengals missed the field goal, but it could have changed the outcome. I understand that the NFL is trying to err on the side of caution because of the scrutiny of the concussion issue in pro sports and hastily implemented some of these policies, but they had better use the offseason to tweak the rules and put together a video package for the referees of what is and is not a legal hit. Also please tell the officials there is no need to call a “major facemask” anymore. It doesn't exist. Ok rant over and back to the game. This was the type of defensive performance the Jets needed to get back on track. They created turnovers, made some big stops, and pressured the QB. It is definitely a step in the right direction before the New England game as they will have to stop a pretty strong offense that never makes mistakes to have a chance next week.
WR Brad Smith again made a huge contribution with his returns. He was close to breaking a few and then had the game breaker when he returned the kick for a TD which iced the game and mentally broke the Bengals. There were great blocks on the return and Smith made a real nifty inside cut that totally faked out the last line of defense. I believe it was Robert Turner and Matthew Mulligan who had the big blocks early in the return. The punt coverage was great and maybe RB Joe McKnight has found a new position. He was blowing up the punt return on every play. I thought he separated his shoulder on the first hit, he hit the guy so hard. That is what the Jets expected of WR David Clowney and why he is gone. LB Josh Mauga was also all around the ball on the coverage teams.
The fumble recovery was a weird play and I can't believe the Bengals did not challenge. Watching the play I thought it hit him, but he had a chance to recover and just walked away. They never showed a replay so Im guessing there was no definitive angle that it hit him, but that was a huge play by the special teams. Just the fact that the team did a great sell job in recovering the ball was enough to sway the officials and at least save the Jets a challenge. P Steve Weatherford was having a pretty good game, though I'm not sure what happened on the flubbed kick as I did not get a good angle on it. I think the Jet blocker may have gotten pushed into Weatherfords path. The defense bailed him out on that one. It is probably time for the Jets to bring in another kicker to try out. K Nick Folk missed another field goal and his kickoffs were just awful. At one point the special teams coach came out on the field yelling at him. I don't believe he can handle the inclement weather and almost missed an extra point. This has all the makings of a bad situation.
Rex Ryan said he would have the defense ready and they had one of their best games of the year. They seemed to be one step ahead of Cincinnati on almost every play. Even offensively the Jets had players open, but Sanchez failed to deliver. There are times when the Jets offensive mishaps are a coaching problem, but this was a Sanchez problem. The Jets were again over penalized and the block to the back penalties were excessive. If they are going to use players not used to blocking in blocking situations they may need more fundamental practice before the playoffs. Really nothing to complain about.
Well the team is still waiting for the team to click on all cylinders, but they got two of the three units to put in great showings which was enough to win this game and set up next weeks showdown in New England. After 11 games the only thing we really know about the Jets is that they are inconsistent. Some weeks the defense plays great, some weeks they are average. Some weeks the offense plays great, other weeks they don't play at all. Inconsistency is not going to get the team to the Super Bowl and they have to start to get it together ASAP.
Last night was my first trip into the new stadium. The stadium itself is very nice, though it does not feel like a football stadium at all. It feels like a cruise ship with a football field in the middle. Maybe yesterday was not the best day to experience it, but I felt as if the home field advantage from the crowd is completely gone in this stadium. Almost all the noise comes from the end zones while the middle of the field is very tame. The mezzanine in the old stadium was pretty quiet, but this is a ghost town and the clubs inside are so nice it is hard to blame them. The upper deck was empty I guess because of the weather but I have to assume they will make some noise late in the season, but the team clearly has sacrificed some of the crowd support in the new stadium. This had the feeling of a Jets game where the Jets were 4-6 not 8-2. I cant even imagine a Super Bowl there. If anyone wants to know any other thoughts on it let me know, but if you can afford the club seats for a single game Id highly recommend it just to try it. It is that nice inside.
The Jets needed an easy win and this was a pretty good victory for the team. They got a few things on the right track, such as the pass rush and pass protection, and they will be needed for next week. The Jets showed something in the secondary with the incredible cornerback play. This is what the team envisioned with Revis and Cromartie and the first time this year that they got both to play at a high level at the same time. If the two of them play like this next week it will be interesting to see if Tom Brady can pick apart the defense.
The Jets need better play from the offense next week to win the game. I would not be too worried about Sanchez this week as he has played well recently and you have to expect slip ups from time to time from the youngster. It is far better to have a down game against the Bengals than against a good football team like the Patriots. The Jets have to look at the recent films and figure out just what is working for the offense and what is not working. They have over a week to get a gameplan together and need to make sure it works. This is the biggest regular season game the Jets have had since 2002. A win almost clinches the division and home field. A loss and they still have a chance but most likely will be a 12-4 wildcard, a disappointment for the team. Hopefully they get it all together to finally bring the fans that big home playoff game that the fan base has been dying for. They have a chance to make this something special if they get it all clicking next week.