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Post Game Thoughts: Jets 24 Browns 13

One of the Jets better games of the season where they had to battle back against some adversity and then won going away…

Offense

This may have been Geno Smith’s best game of the season. He was crisp passing the football and actually seemed in control for most of the game. Was he perfect on the day? No, but he certainly flashed being a gamer and seemed to build his confidence as the game went on. Some of his touchdown throws were really terrific passes and he was making plays with his legs as well. Nobody should mistake Smith for the more athletic QBs that took the NFL by storm last season, but he can be an effective scrambler. His sell job on the late hit call was fantastic. While he was hit out of bounds (very lightly) the referee was not going to call it until he stumbled and bumbled his way to the ground. His teammates and coach came to his aid and the officials were fooled into thinking it was a vicious hit.

I thought WR David Nelson stood out as someone who wants to remain in New York. Nelson is not a number 2, but he can be a very valuable depth player at the position. By no means did he light up the scoreboard but he gave effort at a time when some players might pack it in. Jeremy Kerley continued to show how valuable he can be to the team. If the Jets ever let him go he will put up giant numbers on a strong offensive team. If you put him in Denver instead of Wes Welker his numbers would be great, provided of course he stays healthy. I think the Jets would be wise to lock him up to a reasonable contract before he hits his final year. Speaking of final years, Kellen Winslow showed some fire and its clear he wants to play but his body is just not what it used to be. I wonder if he showed the same intensity he shows now early in his career if he would have lived up to his draft potential? Santonio Holmes had one nice catch, a few drops and we are just one week away from the end…

RB Chris Ivory continued his late push for offensive team MVP. He’s playing up to the level the Jets anticipated when they signed him this offseason. Tremendously hard runner. I kind of feel that Bilal Powell is a nice complement, but he Jets rarely use Powell (and he had a good game with the big 39 yard run) and I don’t know if they plan on shopping him in the offseason and signing more of a shifty 3rd down type or keeping him. Time will tell, but I like the tandem right now.

The offensive line kept Smith from getting hit and opened up some nice running lanes for Ivory and Powell. Im still not sure what the purpose is of Brian Winters playing. Too often he gets manhandled and the assistance he needs from Nick Mangold is pretty outrageous. I guess some experience is better than no experience, but Id be surprised if the Jets don’t have him replaced next season with someone else.

Defense

Much better effort than the last few weeks and the star of the show may have been rookie Dee Milliner! The Browns made it a priority to pick on him and the Jets were putting him on difficult assignments (likely because the season was over) and he played really well. His tackling is kind of poor still but he was keeping up in coverage all day, broke up 4 or 5 passes and had one really great interception. If this is what we can expect from him in the future than the Jets made a good pick.

Overall it was just a good game from the secondary who I assumed was going to have a very hard matchup against what had been a somewhat explosive passing game for the Browns. Antonio Cromartie knocked a pass away that could have been a score. Ed Reed had the interception. It just seemed that everyone was getting into the action.

The defensive line put some solid pressure on Browns QB Jason Campbell as the game went on. Calvin Pace registered another sack and this will be the best season of his career in that regard. That said he’s not a super pass rusher and I don’t think he will be back next year unless Rex Ryan stays on as head coach. Leger Douzable was credited with two half sacks, though I thought he should have gotten full credit on the first one. He also had quite the dance that he must have been saving up following the sack. Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples were both in the backfield today as well.

Like with the offense I think the most impressive thing was the way they bounced back. In the first quarter and a half or so the team almost looked like they were ready to mail it in and they also had a really bad call go against them to aid the Browns to give them a new set of downs at the end zone. I would have expected the Jets to lay down there and they did not. They dominated the Browns offense from that point forward.

Special Teams

First real miss of the season for K Nick Folk who clanged a long field goal attempt off the post. The team also had a laughable attempt at a fake punt and allowed a big kick return and punt return. Pretty poor day overall.

Coaching

We’ll talk about Rex’s future later on, but what we saw today was a major improvement of the end of season stuff that we saw in 2011 and 2012. That’s important because the last two years the team quit and this season, despite looking dead a few weeks ago, came back and played hard over the last few games. Hopefully they do the same in Miami next week and knock them out of the playoffs.

The only thing that I really didn’t like about the game today was the playcalling near the end of the half. The run to Powell, which Powell broke, was more or less a give up play that the Jets run seemingly every week. How the Browns were not prepared for it was beyond me. After that when the Jets got near the end zone off the penalty I would have rather seen two passes into the end zone instead of the pass to Winslow a few yards shy. Instead of two attempts at a TD the team only ended up with one.

Overall

Before the game began there was a report that Rex told the team he probably won’t be back next year and then it was followed by some reports of potential names that the Jets plan on interviewing. Whether those were reports planted by Rex for motivation or truth we won’t know, but from now until the day he is fired or extended it is going to be the main talk about the team.

Ryan has a pretty large body of work at this point. For people to think that these 16 games to really have sealed his fate one way or the other I think are blind to the way things work. It’s even crazier to think that two games with a bad team make a difference. Maybe John Idzik was going to find that he really enjoyed working with Rex and Rexs brand of football throughout the course of the season but the wins and losses should not have meant anything.

I think the body of work for Rex in a league that has evolved into a passing league probably is reason to fire him. The fact that the Jets will end the season with 7 or 8 wins this year is a minor miracle, though. Most of the players on the roster would not start for other teams. I mean the team has two starting safeties that were not good enough for the Texans and Jaguars! It doesn’t get lower in talent than that. I just hope if Ryan is fired that the team is honest about why and doesn’t claim that “playoffs are unacceptable”.

If Idzik has decided to stick with Rex than he has to be committed to building a throwback style team. While on its face that may seem counter productive, the fact is with 32 teams built to stop great QB’s they will have a hard time adjusting to that one weird team that does not conform to the norm. That is a big reason for the success of the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 and even 2012. They presented a physical matchup that teams were not ready for.

The thing is you cant dabble in double talk about building that way and have Rex talking about pistols and option games. You have to commit to building a physical team that is going to have a brand of football that fits Ryans style. Unless you luck into Russell Wilson (and that team was built in that 49ers mold) Ryan will never field a good offense. Give him an Alex Smith type QB, invest heavy in the line, and find bigger sure handed possession WRs and maybe he can do what he needs to get the team somewhere. But the Geno, S. Hill, S. Holmes, Winters, Colon, etc…team is not going to get the job done.

Anyway we shall see where it goes in the coming weeks, but for now the team has one more game and can knock the rival Dolphins out of the playoffs. Miami manhandled the Jets the last time so it should be a revenge game. I said all along that I think its big for the team and fanbase to win these last two games and the Jets knocked one down today and hopefully take care of business next week.

Merry Christmas everyone and go Jets!

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