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Post Game Thoughts: Jets 30 Falcons 28

What a great win for the Jets tonight in Atlanta.

Offense

Down a wide receiver, dealing with injuries, and playing with a rookie Guard the Jets may have had their most efficient outing of the season. Geno Smith really played terrific. It was his first non-mistake game of the year and because of that he'll get a ton of praise this week. He was very calm and poised and threw some great passes on the night including a dart to TE Jeff Cumberland for a TD and a beautiful throw to TE Kellen Winslow for a TD, on a play where Winslow made a great grab while staying in bounds. The last drive was the most pressure packed drive Smith has faced and he really thrived in the situation. He hit a number of short strikes to Stephen Hill and hit Clyde Gates on a pass that should have been a huge gainer but Gates fell over after catching the pass. One the final offensive play of the game I thought he actually identified the defense and audibled into the run that set up the field goal.

Cumberland had an incredible first half finding every soft spot in the Falcons coverage and making a catch. He even made some circus catch where he missed the first catch, popped it in the air, recovered and then caught it. He had more yards tonight than he had all season. Kerley continues to get critical catches in big spots and is one of the more underrated slot receivers in the NFL.

Mike Goodson returned and had a nice run off a Wildcat snap where he pretty much outran the defenders. Chris Ivory had a big run and finished it by trying to leap over a defender that I figured was going to injure him again. Ivory may be one of the hardest runners I have ever seen but he's completely reckless and will never last the season. Bilal Powell was steady and had the important run at the end.

The Offensive Line was a tale of two halves. In the first half they were great but they seemed to have a difficult time adjusting after the half when the Falcons limited their coverage and brought more heat. Brian Winters gave up one awful sack but seemed to be fine the rest of the game. D'Brickashaw Ferguson got run right by towards the end of the game by Osi Umenyiora. There was also a play where Umenyiora lined up unopposed. I really dislike blocking down there because even when the QB reads it right he is going to get killed. Bad memories of the Dwight Freeney sacks of Sanchez a few years back. But for the few bumps they had what mattered was at the end they got it together and kept Smith untouched on his last drive.

Defense

Muhammad Wilkerson is the second best 34DE in the NFL and the separation between Wilkerson and the number three player is growing huge. Wilkerson was all over the field today. He is completely unstoppable at this point and when you match him up against a bad offensive line he is going to feast, which he did tonight. It was such a dominating performance and you have to go back to the 1980s to find a similar type of player for the Jets. He's not a sack artist like John Abraham or Mark Gastineau but he's the best all around front 7 player the Jets have had since Joe Klecko. He's a game wrecker right now and a mark on every opposing coaches film.

DT Sheldon Richardson had another disruptive game though I thought he tired at the end of the game. The Bills rookie LB has the rookie away sewn up but Richardson is going to get consideration. Hes in the backfield a lot. Between he, Harrison, Ellis, and Wilkerson the run defense was great until the second half when they really began to tire.

LB David Harris continues his resurgent season. He was back to being a heat seeking missile on short thrown and draw plays. He had a penalty against Tony Gonzalez that was legit and what seemed to be another that was not. The refs were giving Gonzalez a reputation call to nearly hand the Falcons the win though the officials claimed the penalty was on Demario Davis but he was nowhere near the flag call. Davis played well too, and if that final call was on him that was a bad call as well.

The secondary is not what it has been in the past. Antonio Cromartie got beat again and there were a few calls that could have gone either way. I'm a little worried about him. Gonzalez is a matchup nightmare so that's not as big of a deal. Some of the run support was really bad especially on the TD runs where the help was nowhere to be seen.

I feel like the dynamic of the Jets defense has completely shifted. It used to be a no name line with start coverage guys, but now the whole defense is predicated on the front of the defense. I like that because its more in line with what the NFL has become, but when the pocket doesn't collapse problems can arise.

Special Teams

The unit that really won the game for the Jets was this one. K Nick Folk hit a pressurized field goal for the win and continues to kick the ball off really deep. You had two big returns, one by Kerley and one by Gates, that gave the Jets great field position. Kerley's was a great play where he came back across the field and just outran the coverage before being illegally taken down by the Punter leading to extra penalty yards. Gates got tackled by the Kicker and needs to either stiff arm or learn a move in the future. Antonio Allen blocked a punt. If this unit was just average the Jets would have lost.

Coaching

Rex Ryan made a curious decision to not go for two points with about 12 minutes left in the game that could have pushed the score to 28-14. It led to an interesting decision discussion. IMO, you go for two when it eliminates the chance of a loss. 27-14 or 26-14 is the same. If Atlanta gets to 28 you can lose. If you get to 28 at best they tie. Even running it out further as some did looking at 29 versus 30, again 29 is a no lose scenario. This nearly cost the Jets the game and would have been the narrative if not for the comeback win.

The Jets had a great offensive gameplan that really exploited the weaknesses of the Falcons and the defensive gameplan was great as well. The defense completely confused Matt Ryan for a full half and they made some really gutsy calls at the end that should have paid off if not for a penalty flag.

Rex did make a boneheaded challenge that was clearly done out of frustration and you simply can not coach that way. They had a few substitution problems and a strange sequence on their first drive where they seemed indecisive about a 4th down call. I personally did not think Ryan was going to go for it and he was just hoping to draw the Falcons offside but the Jets never got close to running a play and took a delay instead.

Overall

It really was a great win for the team because nobody gave them a chance to go into a hostile environment against a desperate team and win. For three quarters they embarrassed the Falcons in their own building and, even if the Falcons end up being terrible on the season, that has to stand for something. Now standing at 3-2 in what looks to be a mediocre AFC East the Jets are as alive as anyone else.

This was really a big win for the confidence of the team and the fanbase. I don't know if the Falcons are any good (watching them makes me think they are terrible at least defensively and we all know the coach is not good) but because of where they were last year this is a win that makes people take notice of the team. Personally it is the first time this year I can be somewhat excited because it's the first time this season they did something I did not expect. The same faults are still there but at 3-2 it is much easier to accept the faults than at 2-3 or 1-4, records the Jets could easily have right now.

You have to like the confidence of the QB. Whether it was because of all the turnovers or the injuries to the receivers they did pull back on him last night, but you would never realize it based on the way he was asked to shine around the goal and obviously at the end of the game. It was very different than what they did with Sanchez. When Sanchez got shackled he was shackled and asked to do nothing but not screw up. Here they simply put the QB in a better spot without taking his chances completely away. There is a clear difference in the way the QB's handled failure as rookies which I think in part is attributed to the players but also the coaching staff and front office.

The Jets get to return home now and play 3 of their next 4 at Metlife. They have the winless Steelers next week in what is a big game. Hopefully the stadium is not all yellow as is usually the case when the Jets host Pittsburgh, because this should be a game to feed off the crowd instead of being in a 50/50 environment. If the Jets can move to 4-2 before the showdown against the Patriots they have put themselves in a good position. Again it ensures 4-4 at the halfway mark plus a shot at the division in getting to that record and that is as much as you can ask for.

But this is a big win and now there is a real glimmer of hope that the season won't be the big freefall many expected. Let's take it one week at a time and see where it goes.

Go Jets!

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