Post Game Thoughts- Jets vs Buccaneers
Great performance by the Jets defense today, holding Tampa Bay to basically nothing and carrying the team into a 4 way tie for the final playoff spot in the AFC.
Not much of a showing by this unit today, but they knew going into the game that little would have to be done other than eating clock and protecting the football. The offense squandered some early opportunities, but eventually did enough behind the legs of Thomas Jones to slowly pull away and finish off an easy victory. Jones was excellent on a day when the Bucs may have played 10 in the box at times. Jones did a good job of finding the holes and when he needed to make the big play he turned on the afterburners. Both scores were great efforts by the running back. Shonn Greene ran hard when he had his touches, but the Jets are going to have a very tough decision in the offseason because of his inability to hold onto the football. The Jets anticipated Greene being their future, but right now that does not look to be the case. Greene is a disaster with ball security and does not have that super special ability to justify playing him. As it is he may never get a big carry on his side of the field again this season. Another good game by the offensive line who did basically everything that was asked of them. The right side of the line again did a tremendous job opening lanes for the runners. As for Kellen Clemens, it would be shocking if the Jets ever turned to him again. The coaching staff admitted this week that 2007 may have affected him mentally and he is barely passable as a backup. Clemens did a good job in avoiding the possibility of a mistake, but maybe only had two passes that would be considered good, tough passes. If the staff was using the color codes with him, he was obviously shown red for almost the entire game. Not too much out of the receivers, but Braylon Edwards did make a few grabs and Danny Woodhead had a big reception on a nicely designed play.
An outstanding effort from start to finish. It helps that Josh Freeman doesn’t look like he even belongs on a practice squad, but the Jets did not even give up a first down until the 3rd quarter and if not for a bad penalty would have pitched a shutout while holding the team below 125 yards of total offense. That simply does not happen in the NFL no matter how bad the team. The Jets absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage today never giving Freeman or any of his backs any room to breathe. It seemed as if they were constantly pushing the line backwards on almost every play and when you do that you are going to dominate. The linebackers for maybe the first time this season all had terrific games at once. David Harris set the tone early with a perfect read of the QB for an interception and the team never looked back. Bart Scott was terrific as was Calvin Pace. They also seemed to do a far better job in coverage than usual. Darrelle Revis was his usual fantastic self and he must have batted down at least three passes today. The guy is just amazing. As a tackler you would think he was a safety. His recognition is that good. There was one play where the pass went to one of the secondary targets and Revis was able to break off his route and make a tackle on another receiver. I can not believe that there is a better defensive player in the league right now than Revis. The rest of the secondary also played well. We saw some pressures coming from the corners and safeties and they always seemed to have good coverage. Kerry Rhodes made a beautiful grab at the end of the game which makes you remember how special he can be. That type of athleticism can not be taught, but it seems as if it is going to be very hard for the Jets to recapture his attention. The only complaint of the day comes on Scott’s terrible personal foul penalty. A temper like that can get you by a team like this, but if he pulls that same nonsense against any of these final three teams it is going to cost the Jets. Revis was seen chewing him out for such a stupid play. Scott has had problems like this in the past and has to overcome them in the middle of a playoff chase.
Jay Feely was the team offense for most of the day with 4 Fgs, two of which were from 49 yards. He had one miss which may have been due to a high snap. Brad Smith and Eric Smith perfectly executed a fake punt, which ended up being the Jets biggest passing play of the day. The punt return game was very good and coverage was solid on kickoffs all game. The team did give up an onside kick, but there was nothing the Jets could have done there. It was perfectly executed with a bit of luck thrown in.
The edict has certainly come down from Rex Ryan these last three weeks about how these games are going to be run and managed, and it has been a big success. Is it pretty football? No, but it is winning football. The players all look focused and determined despite knowing that these will be slugfest style games that likely will not get you on Sportscenter. If they did this all season the Jets would most likely control one of the wildcard spots rather than requiring help, but these are all strong positives for next season. The fake punt may have been a bit unnecessary this week, but with a backup QB in a must win game on the road you can understand pulling out all the stops.
For a change what was supposed to be a pretty easy game ended up being a pretty easy game. Now the Jets have to turn their attention towards the Atlanta Falcons who nearly upset the New Orleans Saints, despite playing the game without their starting QB and RB. The Jets can not afford to stub their toe next week and expect to be alive in week 17. The way they have played these last three weeks would make you think they will take the game seriously, but winning 4 in a row in the NFL is no easy task and the Jets have only won that many games in a row once since 2005.
The team got some good playoff breaks today with both Jacksonville and Denver losing games. The Jets still need help and currently rank number 9 in the race, but the schedules would indicate that their biggest competition is going to be the Baltimore Ravens who only have one game remaining where they will be an underdog while being huge favorites in their other two games. The Jaguars will be an underdog in two games while the Dolphins should be an underdog once and only a slight favorite in their remaining two games.
If the Jets continue to play smart football they have a good chance to run the table. The second they revert to their old interception prone and non-cohesive defensive football days the season is over. If Rex can guard against that and keep the team focused maybe he can recapture all the excitement that was here early in the season. The way the Jets run the football and play defense will make them a dangerous team down the stretch, but they must take this week by week and not worry about the future. Atlanta would be a classic trap game as the Jets overlook a team that is 1-5 on the road and potentially demoralized after this weeks lost while looking ahead to the Colts. It would be a disastrous loss. Ryan’s job to keep them focused on the Atlanta Falcons is likely the most important aspect of preparation this week. If he is a success 8-6 with a chance to control their own destiny may make for an exciting Sunday afternoon. Go Jets.