Post Game Thoughts- Jets vs Bills
The Jets got their revenge in a game where the score indicted a much closer game than what was actually played on the field. At 6-6 the Jets will keep their slim playoff hopes alive as they prepare to travel to Tampa Bay and try to move to over 0.500 for the first time since week 7.
It was touched on everywhere last week about Mark Sanchez’ sliding issues and it may have cost him another knee this week. It sounds as if the injury may not have been terribly serious, but Sanchez never returned to the game this week and everyone will be holding their breath to hear the medical report on him. Prior to the injury Sanchez was showing a great learning curve. Though he did cause a few sacks, its better to take a 4 yard loss than throw the ball to the other team. Sanchez moved through his reads nicely and was hitting most of his targets. His worst throw was missing a wide open Jerricho Cotchery for a TD, but Sanchez also had Braylon Edwards drop what would have been an 80+ yard score and David Clowney drop a TD pass. Edwards showed some of those drop problems this week, but made a few outstanding grabs after that. He clearly had a much better feel for the Bills coverage scheme after facing them once before this season. Cotchery made a difference as well and had few nice grabs. The real stars of the offense were the men on the offensive line. Other than one play where DE Aaron Schobel basically fished his way inside D’Brickashaw Ferguson and another where Nick Mangold looked to forget to snap the ball , this unit was stellar. They just dominated the Bills up front creating huge holes for Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene, and Tony Richardson. They had tremendous down field blocking and Ferguson was there to save the game when Kellen Clemens fumbled the ball deep in his own territory. The runners all ran hard and fought for extra yards and everyone involved in the running game was in a tough position once Clemens was forced into the game. For anyone who thought there was resentment over “wasting a season” with Sanchez from the veterans once just has to look at how bad Clemens is. The coaching staff had no faith in him at all, basically running almost every play he was in for. And you certainly can not fault them for that. He fumbled the ball twice, got sacked multiple times, and just looks uncomfortable in the pocket. Clemens just does not look to be an NFL caliber QB. He will have to improve tremendously if he is going to start this season.
Once again two players really stood out this week and once again the two players were Shaun Ellis and Darrelle Revis. Revis was all over the field tonight. He more or less shut down a red hot Terrell Owens and you knew it was only a matter of time before Revis intercepted a football. Revis must have gotten his hands on the ball 5 times in the game and completely screwed up Ryan Fitzpatrick’s rhythm. Ellis came up with two big sacks and was also strong in the run game. Something lit a fire in Ellis the last 3 or 4 weeks as he has been outstanding. It was fitting that Ellis and Revis came up with the two huge plays that ended the game. A very good game by the secondary who were effective in blitzing the QB and covering the entire field to allow the coverage to force Fitzpatrick out of the pocket. There was probably not a Jet fan on the planet who was unconcerned after Lito Sheppard was caught on the first series of the game with a big pass to Lee Evans, but Sheppard did a great job after that. Sheppard needs more games like this if he wants to get a contract next year. The defensive line had a good push, including one play where Sione Pouha just pushed his guy into the backfield as if he did not exist. Calvin Pace had a strong game as well. If there was a weakness at all today it was when the team got run over on the Bills first touchdown drive where they allowed Marshawn Lynch to look like a pro bowler again. The defense just looked disinterested and it culminated with Jim Leonhard just getting run over for a score. Luckily they stiffened up for the most part after that and did a good job all night on Fred Jackson who only ran for 31 yards. As for the two big money guys who have had their issues this year they both had a few mentions on TV. Bart Scott made a crucial stop where he shot on the running back with the Bills driving for a potential TD. Kerry Rhodes got picked on again for a soft glancing shoulder hit, but did not do anything to hurt the team. Overall a strong effort on this side of the ball, something they will need much more of in the future.
Jay Feely hit everything he had to hit and did a good job on kickoffs. Steve Weatherford had one beautiful punt and a bunch of terrible punts that seemed to give the Bills excellent field position most of the game. Fred Jackson seemed to slip the coverage teams a few times, but they did not give up anything excessive which is a step in the right direction. Brad Smith looks like he may be adequate on returns while Cotchery looks like a natural on punts.
A great game plan by the coaching staff this week. Even though it wasn’t great success due to drops, they used the run to set up some big passes that were there and the Jets just did not hit for one reason or another. The run calls nicely mixed up the run attack and the inside handoffs to Richardson killed the Bills all night. The defensive gameplan was tremendous. They constantly were moving guys on the field and mixing up the blitzes and coverages to confuse the offense. At the end of the game Ryan made the proper call seeing the flow of the game to almost completely abandon the pass and let his running game and defense carry the team to the finish line.
Ryan made a great coaching move telling his QB to call timeout inside of 2 minutes to try to force a booth review on the eventual Edwards TD. With the problems the Jets have scoring the ball, and they left at least 15 points on the field tonight, there was no guarantee they would score from the 1. Ryan did make a terrible challenge on the Clowney TD as obviously the guys advising him never bothered to look to see if Clowney maintained possession on a catch.
They may be hanging on by a thread, but the Jets are still alive and you get the feeling that their players have begun to believe in themselves again. The team is now playing to their strengths as they rely on a running attack and an aggressive defense to try to keep the offensive pressure on the QB to a minimum. Maybe it is too little too late, but the Jets have a chance to still be playing a meaningful football game in late December at home.
The big question coming out of the game is going to be the health of Mark Sanchez. For all of Sanchez’ faults they sure looked far better with him in the game than the alternative with Sanchez on the sidelines. The Jets have so much invested in Sanchez they can not afford to let him go on the field in Tampa Bay in 10 days knowing he has two bad knees, so he is going to have to prove his health if he wants to suit up.
The one benefit to playing on Thursday night if you win is that it is almost like having a bye week to get healthy and rested up. There will be a lot of talk as to how Rex will handle the team over these next four days. During their last bye Ryan pretty much sent everyone off to do their own thing and they came back and played their flattest game of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the 1 win Buccaneers on the horizon it would be very easy for the players to overlook the team and not prepare properly. The Bucs have been a live underdog since the QB change and Ryan has to drill it into his players heads that this is a dangerous game.
As for who to root for this weekend I would be pulling for the Patriots to beat the Dolphins. Winning the AFC East is more or less a pipe dream and the Dolphins pose a major threat to the Jets wildcard hopes. The other games are the Texans over the Jaguars, Titans over Colts, Chiefs over Broncos, Raiders over Steelers, and the Packers over the Ravens. If the Jets got a miracle week like this they would be right in the thick of the hunt. Stranger things have happened and maybe the Jets are finally due for some good luck. Go Jets!