Post Game Thoughts: Jets 26 Saints 20 Tweet
FIf you can figure this team out you sure have a better grip of the Jets than I have.
Normally every week I start out talking about Geno Smith but there is no reason to do that this week. RB Chris Ivory put on a show today that may have been the best individual running back performance by the Jets since 2009. Someone very close to the Jets told me this year that the Jets season would hinge on Ivory. I figured he'd be too injured to rely on, and while that has been the case most of the year he carried the team today. He ran like a man possessed against the team that saw fit to trade him for a 4th round pick and was pretty much unstoppable.
He finished the afternoon averaging 7.7 yards per carry and when the Jets were in a more competitive game it was even more impressive than that. While I thought the right side of the line played well and FB Tommy Bohanon had some big blocks, Ivory created many of those yards by himself. I thought it was G Brian Winters that pulled around the goal and let his guy slip off him and right into Ivory,. Ivory just ran right through the defender and had a monster gain. That wasn't the only play where that ultra physical style of running led to extra yards. I don't know if one win is worth a 4th round pick and a contract, but Ivory was everything the Jets expected today and they would have lost if he was not on the team.
In general the offensive line was tremendous, specifically on some of the outside plays. There were at least two plays where I saw LT D'Brickashaw Fergsuon way down the field blocking including the screen to WR Greg Salas that went for 40+ yards. As a group this was probably their best effort of the season. The first game against the Patriots I thought they out-physicaled the Patriots but this seemed like a total domination. It was nice to see them answer the call coming off what was easily their worst effort of the year in the loss to the Bengals.
Geno Smith's biggest play was his scramble for a score. I don't think Smith is a great runner but I think he is a good scrambler and is athletic enough to make guys miss at times. He basically broke the defenders ankles on a move that got him into the end zone. As a passer he didn't have a good day but I thought at times his not trying to make things happen was a positive. When the one play broke down by the end zone he didn't force a throw and cost his team 3 points. Instead he tucked the ball and ran making sure they kept possession. There are certainly growing pains with Smith, but he already has a better handle on giving up on a play that Sanchez ever did. That's probably part coaching but also part on the player for taking the lessons to heart.
The WR corps. Is banged up. Jeremy Kerley looked like he really hurt his elbow on that replay and hopefully he is ok as he is one of the better slots in the game. I didn't listen to the post game for an update but it did not look good. Stephen Hill was invisible but they weren't looking for the kind of routes that he would be effective at. In general the Jets were just trying to find secondary targets that were not going to draw much defensive attention.
This was a game all about the Jets front of the defense. They did such a great job of confusing Drew Brees and getting in his head it was unreal. Brees at times looked completely lost and was wasting time outs and his team getting called for penalties. I think the player who deserves the most praise might be LB Quinton Coples. Coples has been a total disappointment this year with the one hope being that injury kept him from being effective. Colples today flashed all the positives we saw in him as a rookie. I felt like he was in Brees' face on so many critical plays and nearly caused an interception on a batted pass. I doubt his stat line is going to reflect anything special but he made so many important and timely plays that I was really impressed.
Another player who should get some credit is LB Calvin Pace who ran right around TE Jimmy Graham on one play to just annihilate Brees on a sack. I have not seen Pace get to a QB like that in three years. I was so shocked when it happened that I had to do a double take to make sure on the number. He also had some tackles on the day. Of course Muhammad Wilkerson was all over the place again. He registered a sack, nearly picked off another pass, and was all over Brees most of the day. I can't believe in polls I've seen discussing Pro Bowl/All Pro teams of the first half of the season that he is not on there. Outside of JJ Watt there is not a better lineman in the NFL. That's not Jets fan exaggeration either. He's unstoppable.
The secondary was a bit of a mixed bag. S Dawan Landry did a good job breaking up a pass which led to an interception by LB Demario Davis. CB Antonio Cromartie picked off the Saints on a tipped ball as well. But when you took the pressure out of it I thought the secondary again was poor. They gave up a number of big passes and got lucky on a few drops by the Saints. Cromartie fell over trying to cover Robert Meachem and while it's a play where feet get tangled it was not the kind of play that should see you falling over. I say that because Meachem never broke stride and I think Cromartie was simply beat and caught a glancing blow that knocked him down. That would not have happened last season. Cromartie was a bit upset with his teammates after that and had Brees thrown a better ball it would have been a score.
I think the Jets have to give Cromartie more help and that may have been what he was upset about. There was nobody around to aid him on that play and when the ball hangs like that someone should be in position to help. Whether injury or something else Cromartie is physically declining and you can not leave him in single coverage down the field anymore. All told the Saints had two passes over 50 yards and four or five over 20. That's not good secondary play.
I'm sure at some point in time K Nick Folk will begin to falter as the weather turns but he was perfect again and that was a big part of the win. P Ryan Quigley played well with no shanks. Josh Cribbs had a big return and is starting to grow on me as a returner. He certainly doesn't hesitate once he gets the football in his hands and I think he will get better as the team gets used to playing with him.
Rex Ryan is going to be very difficult to fire after this season. New GM's often are hell bent on removing the inherited coaches but this is two quality wins on the season in his building and he is a relatively popular coach. Rex put in a defensive gameplan that flustered and confused the Saints. The Saints, who are considered to be one of the best coached offensive teams in the NFL, just seemed lost against Ryan's defense. He had them over thinking the game and blowing time outs and taking all kinds of costly penalties. That was on the coaching plan and making his players prepared to execute the plan.
Offensively they were not letting the Jets beat themselves and they went against some of their usual tendencies in the passing game which I thought caught Rex's brother off guard. If there was one complaint about the team I thought it was the play selection around the goal when they passed two times at a time when the run was working really well. I admit that's a bit nitpicking but I was surprised when it happened.
The fans at the game this week deserve a round of applause. This was a non-divisional opponent and I thought the crowd was treating it like it was the Dolphins. It was great and the second great atmosphere game at Metlife this season. I think the crowd helped rattle the Saints and made for a tough environment for them- a nice payback for the great homefield that the Saints experience because of their crowd.
Honestly I have no idea what to expect from this Jets team. I have never seen a team this up and down in the 30 plus years Ive watched the team and the NFL. One week they lose by 20 and another week they beat a good team only to lose by 40 the following week and then beat another good team the week thereafter. It honestly makes no sense at all. This is the least talented roster Ryan has ever had to work with and they are going to end up with their best record in the last three years. The Jets could conceivably end up with 9 or 10 wins and see fit to replace 8 starters on the team via free agency and the draft.
The team has to break out of this win/loss/win/loss rut and start stringing wins together especially as the schedule gets easier. Nobody ever thought the Jets would be 5-4 at this point and record-wise should be the favorite for the playoffs if they can begin to show some consistency. The Jets have their bye this week and traditionally Ryan's teams have been a mess off the bye week with a 1-3 record mainly against inferior teams. He has to have them ready to destroy the Bills when they return from their bye week.
This was a great win but I don't want this to be the high point of the season. Jets fans can start to become greedy now and hope for those playoff games. The Jets have to begin to act the same way and expect to win these games and not get so wrapped up in a victory that they misfire the next time they take the field. In my Jets fandom lifetime I can think of two seasons where the Jets probably didn't belong and still made the playoffs (2006 and 1991) and I want this to be the third one.