Post Game Thoughts: Jets 27 Rams 13 Tweet
Without a doubt that was a win that the team needed badly.
It many ways it was a tale of two halves for the Jets. The team struggled in the first half, finishing with just 13 points despite twice getting the ball deep in St. Louis territory. The offensive line looked like it could not handle the pass rush and QB Mark Sanchez looked like he was having trouble with the thought of being hit. But their level of play increased dramatically in the second half. It wasnít that they put up big numbers, because they didnít, but they made the plays when they had to in order to break the game open. If the Jets actually found a way to turn the season around their 12 play, nearly 7 minute scoring drive that bridged the 3rd and 4th quarter might be looked at as the turnaround drive. It was the drive that broke the Rams back and more or less put the Rams defense out for the afternoon. What made the drive stand out was that they were never facing bad situations actually converting first downs on 2nd down and not allowing the Rams to get after Sanchez. Their only 3rd downs were a manageable 3rd and 3 and then the 3rd and 5 at the goal. Sanchez hit Konrad Reuland for a big gain on the former and Bilal Powell made his way into the end zone on the latter. Game over.
Sanchez was efficient on the day and it seemed as if the Jets made it a priority to be safer with the football. The fact that Sanchez mentioned after the game that they now want their identity to be a team that doesnít turn it over just reinforced that message to me. Sanchez didnít force the ball too much and hit a nice pass to Chaz Schilens for a score after a pump fake that amazing the Rams continued to bite on each and every time. Jeremy Kerley made a big catch on a similar pump play. By the end of the game the offensive line had clearly set the tone and won the battle of the trenches quite handily. While the running game wasnít spectacular it was efficient and I believe that Powell gives the team more versatility than they have with Greene. When you watch them play I think Greene has more talent than Powell, but Powell seems to make more happen with less than Greene. If both players were on the 2009 version of the team Greene would put up better numbers, but with the line as it is Powell should get more carries and playing time. If there were two players who did not have good games it would have to be Tim Tebow and Stephen Hill. In fairness to Tebow he barely played and I think one of the things I have been saying for awhile is clear with him now- unless Tebow plays a game you wont see any impact from his as a player. If you had a player like Mike Vick in his younger years he fits in with what the Jets are trying, but Tebow is not that kind of athlete. Heís a guy that take a hit, run through a linebacker, and surprise someone with the way he moves for his size, but those are not plays you unlock with one or two tries. Its just like the basketball player that needs to take 25 shots to put together an impressive streak of plays that break another team down and win a game. Thatís what Tebow did last season against teams like the Jets and Dolphins. To think they can get those results with 3 or 4 plays a game is just poor coaching. This was the first game of the year where Tebow looked down on the sidelines even though it was a blowout win. I donít ever recall seeing him without his helmet on in a game before. Normally he sits and follows plays along on his wristband or follows the other team late to watch the game unfold. This week he just seemed to be staring into oblivion sitting on the bench. Hill just doenst look like he can play. Im not sure if you can teach a player to catch at this level. He has no awareness in the field, which can probably be corrected, but his hands are terrible. If the best guys play he should not be playing as much as he has.
Things looked awful at the start. 86 yards right out of the gate and a touchdown on 4th and 1 where they had two guys completely uncovered in the end zone. The Jets were completely confused on the coverage have triple coverage around the corner and nobody in the middle. That drive ended up being as much about coaching as anything else. The Jets seemed to be playing Brian Schottenheimerís tendencies as a Jets coach and he went away from them on this drive, which Iím sure was planned out for the week. After that the defense was dominant in part helped by Sam Bradford of the Rams. For as much grief as Sanchez gets Bradford is every bit as bad if not worse than Sanchez and got paid a lot more than Sanchez did. Bradfordís decision making is horrendous. To throw into coverage on 3rd and long and a route nowhere near a first down is just a sign of an inept passer. The Jets took advantage of every mistake he made and he made a ton of them.
It was really a quality team effort where I donít think anyone stood out in a negative way at all. The players all seemed to work off one another which is what good defensive teams do. DE Muhammad Wilkerson had another strong football game with a sack, a forced fumble, and in general being a disruptive player. Wilkerson is kind of a throwback kind of player that would stand out a lot more if he played 10 years ago when there was more balance between running and passing the football. He will probably never be a good enough rusher for people to consider him an excellent draft pick, but he does many good things that would be noticed if there was a balance in the pass and run games. Laron Landry had another solid game and Yeremiah Bell also added some big hits, though he got caught in coverage on one occasion early. I doubt either will be back next season but for as much grief as the Jets personnel decision making gets these two have been significant upgrades.
Eric Smith came up with an interception on a nice play and Bart Scott had a fumble pickup and run that set the Jets up deep in Rams territory. Quinton Coples again made some plays in the backfield. There is real potential there. David Harris registered a pressure but the play he was effective in the pass coverage as well bottling up his guy as soon as a short pass was caught. Thatís a step in the right direction. Really other than last weeks late game collapse the defense has played much better despite some of the scores for the last few weeks. They still have enough here to win games where the offense plays well, they just donít have enough to cover for an offense that plays poorly.
Another terrible game for the special teams. The Jets had another field goal blocked, their second of the year, a muffed punt, a failed fake punt, and should have given up a special teams return for a score. The score was nullified by a penalty that if it had been called on the Jets would have seen the fanbase in an uproar. There may have been a slight jersey grab on the play but it wasnít blatant. More than that I donít think it would have made a difference in the outcome of the play. The Tebow fake was lost from the start as the Rams had certain personnel out there designed to negate the fake. The staff has to inform Tebow to not call a fake there. Nick Folk did make two big field goals but missed one on the day. Joe McKnight had a big kickoff return while Kyle Wilson, who replaced Kerley as punt returner, had a nice one to go with his muff.
Rex Ryan had a tough job this week dealing with in house problems that were broken in the media while at the same time planning for not just one, but likely two football games since the Jets have the quick Thursday turnaround this week. Somehow he got it to work as the team didnít look distracted or fractured in any manner. There were some rumors that the story was not entirely factual and that it consisted of quotes taken from the past, and if that is the case maybe it did bring the team closer together.
In the game there was only one mishap which came after a Rams big pass on the first drive where Ryan had to call timeout before the following play. I think the Jets were caught offguard by what was going on and it led to wasting a TO, which didnít fix anything. The Jets tightened up after that and they seemed to make adjustments in the second half to exploit certain areas on both sides of the ball. It became clear that once the Rams settled into their base offense that Ryan seemed to have a good idea of where the ball was going and what many of the play designs were.
While some are making this win out to be something big, the reality is the Jets are a 4-6 football team coming off their first win in four games and only their second win in their last seven. This was basically a win that kept the season on life support, nothing more and nothing less. It was a win the Jets desperately needed but there is a big difference between winning a game in week 11 to keep the season from spiraling out of control and a win in week 17 to get you into the playoffs.
For the Jets to turn the season around they have to win on Thanksgiving. If they can go out there and beat the New England Patriots next week to get to 5-6 the Jets can solidify their status as a wildcard contender in a bad AFC conference. A loss and they are really right back in the same place they were before this week. 5-6 gives you a fighting chance to get to 9-7 against an easier portion of the schedule where you will not be a big underdog to any of your road opponents and should be favored to win the two home games. 4-7 most likely isnít going to get you past 8-8, which is no guarantee for anything.
The Jets were probably helped this week by being on the road and avoiding the booing that would have happened had they been home following the bad start to the game. This win may have bought the team an extra possession or two on Thursday before the crowd lets the home team have it if things break badly. Itís a factor of the game that the Patriots will try to exploit as they know the Jets home crowd is not going to react kindly to a bad start that makes them think there is no chance. What is difficult is that these Thursday games, which I do not care for at all, favor the more talented team. In the NFL an inferior team needs time to prepare and get gameplans in to win these type of games. Maybe the Patriots are immune to that because they are so well coached, but I would like the Jets chances better on a Sunday then on Thursday. I think the league is doing a disservice to everyone by having so many Thursday games, but thatís a topic for another day.
If the Jets can get relatively mistake free play from the offense and a team effort like this on defense there is no reason to not believe that they can at least make the season seem competitive in December. But the Jets need to prove that they can do it each and every week for anyone to believe it. The last time the Jets did that against the Patriots their offense was nowhere to be seen for two more weeks. If you donít see the offense again for another two or three weeks then the season is over. Lets see what happens on Thursday.