Post Game Thoughts: Jets 28 Patriots 14
After a horrendous start that likely had the most opportunistic Jets fan nervous, the Jets bounced back to dominate the New England Patriots behind the arm of a young QB that matured right before our very eyes.
After receiving much deserved criticism for his performance on Monday night versus Baltimore, QB Mark Sanchez outplayed Tom Brady and led his team to a pretty convincing win against their big rivals. This was a completely different Sanchez than we had seen last year and if he turns into the real deal people may be pointing to this game as the turning point in his career. The series in particular that will be talked about was the Jets first possession of the second quarter which was responsible for changing the entire game. At that point in the game the Jets had lost the home crowd. The team did not even look like they were in the same class as the Patriots. The defense could not get off the field and the offenses one possession led to a three and out. The boobirds were out in force and somewhere a young QB said put this on my shoulders and let me carry the team. The Jets needed to get the defense a rest and get their crowd back into the game. Sanchez answered the challenge as he engineered a 7 minute drive in which he went 7 of 7 for 64 yards and a touchdown. He built on that while driving his team for a crucial field goal at the end of the first half and never looked back. This was a QB that used the entire field for perhaps the first time in his career. Despite being harassed by a pass rush Sanchez stood in there and made play after play. He looked right and threw left. He threw a nifty little pass to his RB to avoid a sack. He used his feet to get outside the pocket and throw on the move. He hit timing passes that only his wideouts could get and, just like a veteran, he found a weakness in CB Darius Butler and attacked over and over getting big completions and timely penalties that helped seal the game.
Two of the receivers really stood out. TE Dustin Keller had one spectacular game to answer the disaster of last week where he ran out of bounds 1 yard short of a first down to end the game. Keller tore up the Patriot secondary for well over 100 yards and a TD. He just always seemed to get enough separation to make things far easier on his QB. This is what the Jets expected to see from Keller when they drafted him in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. WR Braylon Edwards also had a really good game. He made some big catches to keep the chains moving and used his size to grab a beautiful TD pass and 2 point conversion. Edwards does need to keep his emotions in check as he picked up one taunting call and was lucky to not receive another. Jerricho Cotchery also had his share of big catches while RB LaDainian Tomlinson definitely gives the team the nice check down they were missing last year. The running game was solid and Tomlinson looks like he lost three years on his age. His dive to gain that first down at the end of the game was vintage LT. Once he is sprung to the second level he is proving to be a big play threat and I don't think anyone will ever mention the name Thomas Jones again from this point forward. Shonn Greene was steady but unspectacular. They didn't need him once the pace of the game quickened and Sanchez was able to pass the ball so well, but hopefully he will show some of the ability he showed late last year starting next week. If there was one negative in today's game it was the play of the offensive line. This is clearly not the same as last years unit. LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson better get his head straightened out. He had a bad preseason and opener and may have been credited for giving up three sacks in this game. The Jets gave him a lucrative contract this offseason and right now the play is well below anything he has shown since he has been here. Sanchez was getting battered most of the day and the pocket collapsed far too often. C Nick Mangold went our for a few plays and was capably replaced by backup Robert Turner. It would not be shocking if Turner ends up the starting LG at some point this year.
Once again we were able to see the ups and downs of CB Antonio Cromartie. Early in the game Cromartie again looked lost. He fell down against Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez allowing them to gain a first down and he made a strange play against Wes Welker that resulted in a Patriot TD. Then he ended up shutting down WR Randy Moss for the remainder of the game after CB Darrelle Revis left with a hamstring injury. He picked off one pass and was responsible for a second that was caught by S Brodney Pool. He did get called for a penalty, but it was a questionable call and hopefully something clicked with him at halftime that he will carry with him for the rest of the year. Revis played well until his leg tightened up on a Moss TD. Revis expected over the top help on that play, as the Jets seemed to realize that his leg was going to be an issue and the one on one coverage was probably not going to work. The Jets were caught off guard on the TD and S Eric Smith was nowhere to be found. Smith had a terrible game and is just not a starting quality player. His forearm club to the head of Welker for a penalty was responsible for a touchdown drive that would have been stopped. The Jets had no ability to cover Hernandez who killed the team. His 46 yard catch on 3rd and 10 would have likely been responsible for changing the momentum of the game if not for Sanchez' game today. On that play three Jets missed chances on him which is inexcusable in this type of game.
The front 7 all played excellent and OLB Jason Taylor made his first impact play as a Jet with a strip sack of Tom Brady that essentially ended the game. On that play Taylor showed the type of player that the Jets have been missing since the days of John Abraham. Though Taylor is not the player he once was he allows the Jets to just rush 3 or 4 guys and still have a chance at a sack. He made a beautiful spin move to beat LT Matt Light on that play. When he can do that the Jets can drop more guys in coverage to force the issue and today dropping more guys helped contain some of the Patriots wideouts to small gains once the caught the football. DE Shaun Ellis continued his strong start to the season and looks like a guy playing as if he knows it may be his last. NT Sione Pouha and DE Mike DeVito were both outstanding. Pouha owned the middle of the field making some great short stuffs in the run game while DeVito seemed to drive his guys back all afternoon making plays behind the line on the Patriot runners. If those two are able to sustain this type of play no team in the NFL is going to run on the Jets. The Patriots only averaged 2.6 YPC and the credit should go to the Jets defensive line. The whole front of the defense may be the “no name defense” but they stack up as well as any group of stars in the entire league.
Not much to really talk about here. K Nick Folk made his two attempts, but looks like he is going to make you hold your breath every time. He really likes to run the ball right inside the post. P Steve Weatherford continued a strong start getting good air under his kicks. Coverage teams were ok, but not great. They blew an opportunity to down the ball at the one yard line allowing the punt to go into the end zone. That play probably changed the type of offense the Patriots ran on the drive that resulted in the quick TD at the end of the first half. The return game was nonexistent and Brad Smith left with an injury.
The team looked more prepared this week than the last one and the Jets backed off the sell out attack that really helped the defense stop the Patriots passing game. Had they made that same move last week it would have probably led to a Jets win. Offensively the Jets used a far more varied set of plays. They used more receivers to get the pressure of Edwards and Cotchery and they seemed to design plays that played to Sanchez' strengths much moreso than last week. The team did a good job of dealing with a significant amount of injuries during the game and whatever Rex Ryan said at halftime worked as the team never looked back. The slow starts, which plagued the team last year, continued and they got way too conservative towards the end of the first half on the drive prior to the Moss TD, but the Jets staff was clearly the winner in this game.
Everyone overreacts to week 1 in the NFL. Sometimes teams just are not ready for football and that was probably the case with the Jets. This was a totally different team than that game from the second quarter on. They looked shellshocked to start the game and maybe there was some hangover from the Monday loss, but once they scored it all changed. That TD drive in the 2nd quarter just seemed to build up the confidence level of the team. If there was any self doubt that one drive ended it all. It was a reminder to everyone that this is a pretty good team.
People can spin it any way they want, but the Patriots were dominated in the second half of the game. Brady, who everyone was wild about last week, went 7 of 16 for 69 yards, 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble. Once the Jets took the lead and they needed an answer Brady engineered a two play drive resulting in a turnover. The Patriots had no offense at all and the defense got picked apart by Sanchez. The Patriots bandwagon, which tripled last week, probably saw all the newcomers quickly jump off. All that talk that this was the Patriots of 2007 died a pretty quick death.
All it takes is one big win to change the perception of a season and that is what the Jets earned today. After a loss where they had nobody to blame but themselves they came back and held serve in the AFC East with a home win of the Patriots. Everyone who last week said that the Jets were a team in deep trouble seems to have been proven wrong as the Jets looked far more like the preseason darlings than the one game duds. There are still some issues with the team that they have to fix, such as finding a capable safety and how to proceed with the Darrelle Revis injury, but they can do so this week without having to defend themselves in front of the media for a poor game.
Next week the team travels to Miami in a battle to gain the early advantage in the AFC East. Miami is a surprising 2-0 after a great defensive performance in Minnesota, against a Viking team that looks like a shell of last season's near championship team. If there is one thing to rest assured of it is that Miami is going to play a physical game in the trenches so the Jets are going to need to heal their wounds and be ready for a big game against their rivals. Miami won both game against the Jets last season and the Jets should be able to use that as fuel for next weeks game. If the Jets advance to 2-1 all the negativity will be gone for some time and the Jets will put themselves in a pretty good position early on. But for the next few days the team and the fans can bask in the glory of a pretty good win today that shows just what this Jets team is capable of. Go Jets!