Post Game Thoughts- Jets vs Panthers
It may not have been pretty and maybe our guys on offense tried their best to keep Carolinaís hopes alive, but luckily we donít have Jake Delhommeon our team.
After a terrible game last week, Mark Sanchez bounced back to play a relatively smart and efficient game. For the first time this year Sanchez made much smarter decisions when the play wasnít there. He checked down countless times to Thomas Jones and tucked the ball and ran it as soon as the play broke down. On more than one occasion when a play was covered Sanchez rather than forcing the throw brought it back down and either threw it away or tried to run with it. He made some very nice throws down the middle today and only had one real bad ball where he might have had a TD to Braylon Edwards had he put it out just a little, but instead he got picked off on a nice play by Chris Gamble. Even the style of interception was far different than the usual in the numbers pick he had been throwing. Someone will have to talk with Sanchez about his running, though. You love the gamer in him but he is asking for injury and the whole stadium held their breath when he looked to have hurt his knee. Ball security was a major concern today. Dustin Keller, who had a great game exploiting the seam, had a killer fumble at the goalline. Keller thought he was closer than he was to the end zone and cost the team 7 points. That can not happen in a game like this. It is amazing that Edwards did not have a fumble either. He may hold the ball worse than any other receiver in the NFL based on his performance today. Finally, Shonn Greene had another fumble and this could be cause for alarm with two in only 54 carries this year. Greene needs to keep getting touches to be evaluated, but the team needs to monitor this very closely. There were a few breakdowns on the line again this week, with most coming from the right side of the line, but in general the play was solid. I think an argument could be made that this was the best ob of the season protecting Sanchez today. Thomas Jones did a good job being the focal point of the offense. While the statline was not great, he was the primary offensive option today and he looked to get stronger as the game went on. I thought he played really well in the fourth quarter.
No doubt about it, Darrelle Revis is not just the MVP of the game but the MVP of the year for the Jets. It has been a pleasure to watch his development over the last three years. I remember commenting about Revis back in 2007 and how the one thing missing from his game was the instincts of how to play the ball in the air to get an interception, which was noticeable at times that season. He has now become the most complete corner in the NFL and plays the ball in the air better than perhaps any corner in the league. Someone never sent Delhomme and the Panthers the message as they continued to throw in his direction and Revis made them pay with two interceptions. He shut Steve Smith completely down, but perhaps most impressive was the way Revis shot off a block and blew up DeAngelo Williams inside the 10, on a play where he hit the corner and 90% of the time would have scored a TD. Revis also had the pressure that caused another of Delhommeís interceptions. I still donít believe you can build a defense from the outside in, but if there is one guy it is possible to do it with it is Revis. The defensive line was outstanding today. They mauled the Panthers linemen and never let the running game get off the ground except for a few 3rd and long carries that caught the team off guard early in the game. Shaun Ellis had another strong game and has put together back to back solid efforts. The linebackers all played well. David Harris, Bryan Thomas, and Calvin Pace each had a sack. Thomas looked real impressive on his sack and Pace really abused Delhomme all day long. The secondary switch from Kerry Rhodes to Eric Smith seemed to pay off. Iím Leonhard played better switching roles while Smith was strong in run support and did a good enough job in coverage. Whether it was watching from the sidelines or just one of those lucky days, Rhodes found himself in the right place at the right time two times today. He threw the ball into the stands after his first interception and the team all seemed pretty happy for him. Rhodes also had a near sack. How he handles the benching the rest of the year will be interesting, but if today was any indication the new rotation may work if they stick with it. Overall a tremendous team effort for the Jets on defense.
The Jets coverage units really are bad. The Panthers have an awful return game and the Jets gave up some big punt returns, the worst of which being when two guys collided on the return man and he slipped free. The team also missed an opportunity to down a kick and blew a block which saw Jerricho Cotchery nearly get beheaded. Cotchery had a decent day returning punts, but the real challenge will come against a better team to see if he can do the job all season. He did show great hands in the role. David Clowney was terrible on kickoffs and it looks like Brad Smith may be the guy to get the nod. Smith had a big one late and he at least is familiar with how to run the ball on kick returns. For years Smith was the guy paving the way for Justin Miller and Leon Washington, so he at least understands the scheme and where to go. The Jets specials will probably get a major overhaul.
A completely different sideline experience this week. Rex Ryan actually talked with the offensive guys and met some of them as they came off the field. This was probably the first time I have seen him have a discussion all year, during the game, with the QB. There was a lot more work going on with the offensive players from the assistants as well while they sat on the bench. The game planning was tremendous. The offense ran completely differently in terms of where the receiver spacing was and what Sanchezí progressions seemed to be. Defensively they seemed to have the right call every time and they did a good job with the sub packages.
There were still a few flubs from the sidelines that will hopefully be corrected. If the Revis interception could have been reviewed the Jets made an awful effort getting the special teams out there. It looked as if Kellen Clemens did not realize he was the holder for kicks. There were a few screaming from the sideline substitutions and they had to take two timeouts in situations where you never should have to take them, but none of it cost the team today.
The Jets desperately needed a win today and finally got one. The defense finally played like they did early in the season, harassing the QB, gang tackling, and creating turnovers and that was the difference today. Had the defense done this a few other times this season the Jets would likely be right in the middle of the playoff hunt instead of the outside looking in, but with all the losses today to many of the wilcard contenders Ryan can try to sell his team that the playoffs is not dead yet as they prepare for the fast turnaround against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night.
You have to hope that this is the kind of win that somehow changes things for the team. The kind of win that changes the offensive philosophy. The kind of win that changes the players seemingly lax attitude towards playing the game. The kind of win that gets the criticism off the back pages and starts the positive thinking about the team. The Jets were in this same position once before with a win in Oakland and nothing changed, but maybe the team learned from all the losing and can use this to springboard to at least a 0.500 year. Maybe the short week will also keep the Jets players from writing their own press clippings about how good they are.
It has to feel good to get a win after so many bad losses this year. The nice weather brought out a lot more fans than expected and the Jets finally gave us something to cheer about on the ride home. If they can give the fans something to cheer about on Thursday as well maybe the season wonít be as bad as people expected. That game is likely going to be the difference between 2nd place and last place and the Jets have to keep themselves out of the cellar for this season to be anything positive. If the defense plays like this again, the Jets will find themselves in 2nd place sooner rather than later. Go Jets!