Post Game Thoughts: Jets 38 Bills 7
If the Jets played the Buffalo Bills every week they would be 16-0 and they would probably lead the league in interceptions.
I think it was tremendously disappointing to see QB Mark Sanchez only play one series on the day and proceed to throw no passes at all. If you are going to do that why even bother dressing him in the first place? Maybe he asked for it so he could get a 16 game season, but it really made little sense to me. Offensively the game had the feeling of the final preseason game with backups galore but there were certainly positives in the game. The biggest positive was the play of RB Joe McKnight who looked like a completely different player than the one we saw during the preseason. He ran the ball hard and didn't dance around. Most importantly he held onto the football while gaining over 150 yards. Going into the game I felt he was the one backup that could make3 a case for playing time in the playoffs and I think he did just that. It also has to make the team feel a little better about the selection in the draft. Still you have to take the game with a grain of salt. After all this is the Bills, one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, just looking to go home in week 17. FB John Conner even had over 40 yards against this defense. QB Mark Brunell got the bulk of the work and did show he still had an arm with his two touchdown passes but also made one throw so bad you would have thought he was still a rookie. Much like the season finale last season the Jets went with a great deal of Brad Smith under center plays. Whether that is to simply force the opponent to practice for different looks or a warmup for the playoffs is something we will see next week. Another solid game for the offensive line, though G Matt Slauson did give up a bad sack again.
This is what is maddening about the career of LB Calvin Pace. Pace, who has been abysmal most of the season, comes out in a meaningless game and plays with more fire than perhaps any other time this season. Pace was all over the field. He pressured the QB. Broke up plays in the backfield. Tipped passes and intercepted a ball. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come, though his track record would say he will be back to being invisible next week. The Jets went will all backups at the corner positions but the QB play was so bad from Buffalo that it was hard to judge how well they played. CB Drew Coleman had a rough go early in the game and could not stay with his receiver. Again it's a limited sampling but CB Kyle Wilson looked like the better player and maybe has earned himself some extra time next week, especially if Coleman slips up early. CB Marquice Cole made a few plays and had two interceptions handed to him, one of which he returned for a score. S Dwight Lowery continues to make plays. I will be disappointed if he goes back to riding the bench in favor of S Eric Smith next week. The Jets need players that can make plays in the secondary and Lowery is the best Safety they have in that regard. The pass rush was better this week in addition to Pace's big day. LB Jason Taylor had a few pressures and nabbed a sack and the secondary is good at generating pressure, which they will have to hope works next week. The Vernon Gholston experiment has likely come to a merciful end. He got the start and did very little on the day. You can not even compare the football instincts of UDFA Jamaal Westerman and Gholston. Westerman gets into the backfield and smells out plays. Gholston is that guy that gets to the pile after a tackle is made. I really thought Gholston would be back in some role next year, but why even bother at this point? He doesn't do anything of note and I think for the fans its just a bad memory whenever they see him out there.
All in all it was a fine day with the exception of the punt coverage, which was poor. P Steve Weatherford had a chance to set the NFL record for punts inside the 20, but I believe he missed out when twice the coverage team blew an opportunity to stop KR CJ Spiller inside his 10 and both times saw him run wild for over 20 yards. K Nick Folk continues his string of short field goals. Everyone will be holding their breath with him next weekend. Kickoff distance is still poor.
I don't think there is too much you can really evaluate with a game like this, but give Rex credit for having his guys playing motivated football with nothing on the line. In similar situations today the Chiefs, Ravens, and Saints all played poorly.
I guess we will learn next week if the decision to take the ball out of Sanchez' hands hurts the Jets chances or not. The team did get a laugher of a win to feel good about themselves but if they lose their offensive rhythm they will be second guessed for the decision to rest Sanchez. That was one of the debatable decisions on the week and considering how poorly the offense has played off rests it was a bit surprising to see.
The real season for the Jets starts this week. The road will by no means be easy if they want to duplicate last years success. If they want to do it they are going to have to beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in back to back weeks on the road. That is a very hard road to travel, but one they have to do if they want the year to be considered a success rather than a disappointment.
Are the Colts beatable? Certainly they are. This is not the same Colts team the Jets played last season and its is a team that has struggled all year with injuries and defensive efficiency. One this is for certain and that is the Colts will be putting up points. They have only been held below 20 twice this season and ten times they have put up 27 or more points. They seem to have to work much harder than they did last year to put those points up, but the bottom line is they score a lot. If you want to win you are going to have to do it offensively which makes the decision to break the offense up this week is going to come under much scrutiny.
This is going to be a must win game for the team. The Jets were built in the offseason to beat Indianapolis and New England before the Patriots performed a mid season overhaul of their team. To lose in the Wildcard round to one of the teams you spent your entire offseason planning for will be a big failure on the part of the front office and coaching staff. While Manning is clearly going to be the best player on the field and they also have two stud Defensive Ends that are looking to create havoc on a fast surface, every where else the Jets should have the advantage.
The Jets need to get the X-Factor players up for this game. The Calvin Pace's, Dustin Keller's, and Jerricho Cotchery's of the team. The players that have the talent but for one reason or another rarely seem to let it come out and shine. Those are the players who will win the game for this team. Those are the players that will make the difference while the Colts focus on the Braylon Edwards and David Harris types. Play well and the Jets should definitely win the game and then get their second shot at the Patriots.
There was a time when I said I would want no part of the Colts in the first round of the playoffs, but I think I have slowly changed my mind and can see positives in this matchup on the intangible side that were not here with the Chiefs. Arrowhead would have been an insane stadium. Lucas Oil is not going to have that atmosphere for a Wildcard game. If anything this round is beneath them. Kansas City is a far better home team than Indianapolis and is also better coached. Rex can talk about how his secondary that has been attacked all year can win against the greatest of them all and render all the criticism moot.
Most importantly this matchup gives Rex Ryan a way to motivate the troops. Last year Rex went into the playoffs with the “nobody believes in us” speech and went out and mapped their way through the Super Bowl and back home for the victory parade. It worked for that team, but the same motivational tactics rarely work. This year is all about revenge. Revenge for the AFC Championship game. Revenge against the Pats by winning this game. Revenge against the Ravens who Rex is going to say will be their AFC Championship game opponent and finally revenge against the Packers in the Super Bowl. These are the teams that had everyone write the team off at various points this year and the Jets can make it right by winning when it counts. I think the Colts let Rex draw up the perfect scenario for this team and have them chomping at the bit for that opening kickoff. I don't think they would have that same attitude if they played the Chiefs in round 1. Hopefully it all pays off for the team.