David Nelson continues to establish himself as a potential keeper, as his first career multiple-touchdown game helped spark the Jets to their 24-13 win. Nelson has pretty good chemistry with Geno Smith, who also hit him for two first downs, one of which saw Nelson drag his man to the marker. In addition to catching over 60% of his targets, Nelson has been good as a blocker and did have another good downfield block in this game.
By contrast, Smith and Santonio Holmes are still struggling to find (or re-establish?) any chemistry. Holmes has caught the ball on fewer than 40% of his targets and the amount of time he missed both in camp and during the regular season has got to be a factor in that. As noted earlier, Smith didn’t see Holmes when he beat Joe Haden deep down the sideline and there were four occasions when his throw to Holmes saw him get nailed as the ball arrived. Holmes only managed to hang onto one of these, as one was overthrown, one was a drop and one was broken up on a physical play by Haden. The two did connect nicely on a third down conversion, although Holmes had to dive to grab that one. I can’t fault Holmes’ effort though. Even when blocking he was working hard to the whistle, doing a good job downfield on two plays in particular. It’s got to be difficult for him to hide his frustration though.
Jeremy Kerley is a different story as he and Smith seem to have had great chemistry all year. Kerley had five catches for 70 yards (and another eight yards on a running play). He was targeted 11 times though. Kerley might have had a touchdown if he didn’t slip over on a short third down conversion in the red zone, but Smith did hit him in stride nicely a couple of times. They had success on a couple of slant routes, which is not something the receivers have seen much success with this season.
Kellen Winslow played 28 snaps – the most since his suspension earlier in the year. I’m not sure I understand the logic behind increasing his playing time at this stage of the season, so I wonder if this could be a sign that Rex Ryan has been given more freedom to maximize his chances of winning these last two. (Whether that’s with a chance to save his job or just an opportunity to polish up his resume for the next one remains to be seen.) On the other hand, maybe it’s just a case of burning rubber and using up all the fuel in a rental car that’s about to go back.
Winslow had three catches for 35 yards and showed some good open field moves, almost getting in the end zone in the second quarter after slipping the underrated TJ Ward’s tackle just before Nick Folk’s last second field goal. He was only targeted once in the second half, though. As a blocker, he allowed penetration on a run that was blown up and had a downfield hold to negate most of the yardage on Bilal Powell’s 31-yard screen play.
Jeff Cumberland has struggled recently as a blocker, but did a much better job yesterday. He had a couple of good kickout blocks and a good block on the edge, only letting his man get off his block to stuff a run once. He also had two first down catches.
Zach Sudfeld and Greg Salas got some playing time but were not targeted. Youngster Saalim Hakim was in for three plays, one of which saw him taken down for a big loss on an end-around.
Next up…the defensive line looks to be back to its disruptive best.