Geno Smith turned in another solid performance yesterday, accounting for 262 yards and three touchdowns through the air and on the ground. The biggest difference, something which I pointed out following the Oakland game where his fortunes started to change, is that he’s getting the ball out on time. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this three game run and his willingness to trust his receivers to make their break as the ball is in the air has corresponded with the return of his top three targets.
It looks like Smith will make it to 16 starts, making him the first quarterback in Jets history to start every game in his rookie season. That’s an impressive achievement, even though there were people calling for him to be replaced at one stage. He’s done well to push through since then.
Smith still had some inaccurate throws and questionable decisions, but the Jets converted 12-of-18 third downs and he strung together three touchdown drives, finishing each of them off himself, with two touchdown passes to David Nelson and the game-clinching 17-yard run with just over three minutes remaining.
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The Jets took care of the Browns 24-13 yesterday, overcoming a 10-point first half deficit with mostly mistake-free football. This was the way they hoped to win games all year (and until the bye week, that was going to plan): Mix in enough creativity to gain some offensive momentum, don’t take too many risks and lean on the defense to get you off the field. Then, crucially, execute down the stretch, which the Jets did when they drove for a game-clinching touchdown with just over three minutes to go.
There were some positive signs from some of the younger players and guys who will be expected to contribute next season, but perhaps the most positive sign was the fact that they played hard for their coach throughout and avoided leaving the home fans with a sour aftertaste with which to end the season.
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During the season, Bent’s Game Analysis charts games for some of the Jets’ upcoming opponents, enabling a break down of what to watch out for on gameday…
With both teams out of playoff contention, today’s game is essentially meaningless and there may be people within each team’s front office (and fanbase) that wouldn’t mind losing this one to improve on their draft position. Nevertheless, there are some talented players on show and it should be interesting to see the teams pit their wits against one another.
After the jump, I break down the positional groupings (BGA-style!) to try and highlight what the Jets need to look out for. To read more of this story, click here
Welcome to BGA Extra, where I draw a line under the previous weekend’s game by responding to your questions from Bent’s Game Analysis during the week. After the jump, I respond to your questions about the loss to the Panthers. If you would like your questions answered in future, remember to read my BGA game breakdowns every Monday and leave your question in the comments section. To read more of this story, click here
I feel like most of us had come to terms with the fact that the Jets weren’t going to make the postseason this year before yesterday’s game kicked off. Either way, we can now look at these remaining games with a more pragmatic and less emotional perception.
As I said following the Ravens game, you don’t get anything for a moral victory. However, at this stage of the season, when you’re essentially out of contention, you can get some encouragement from remaining competitive with such a good team, when it would have been just as easy to go through the motions and get blown out.
This front office has some big decisions to make and a ton of flexibility, so the organization could transform dramatically over the next six months. Keep watching, because whatever happens over the next couple of weeks could factor into some of those decisions.
We hope you are continuing to enjoy the new BGA format. There are links to each BGA article or the option to read the offensive and/or defensive BGA in full after the jump. To read more of this story, click here
Last week, Antonio Allen’s blocked punt for a touchdown turned a tight affair into a comfortable lead for the Jets and, although the Raiders pulled within 10 in the second half, that play set the foundation for their win. This week, the Jets were on the wrong end of a momentum shifting punt block, which set up a short touchdown and dug the Jets into a 10-point hole. As we’ve learned over the course of the season, the Jets are ill-equipped to battle back from such situations and so it proved, with Geno Smith’s pick six giving the Panthers – who had led by just three 10 plays earlier – a 17-point lead.
While it looked like this was Garrett McIntyre’s fault because he blocked nobody and chased Jason Williams into the backfield, Williams had actually shot the gap between Zach Sudfeld (the left guard) and long-snapper Tanner Purdum. Sudfeld blocked his man straight on, so the rusher would have been Purdum’s responsibility with no punt protector in the backfield.
I also felt that it was so obvious the kick was going to be blocked, that Ryan Quigley would have been better served in trying to avoid the rush and maybe run for it. While you might not have much chance of a first down, perhaps you can create enough room to kick the ball on the run and even if you can’t a three yard loss is better than the 13 yard loss than transpired. A little head and ball fake there and there’s no way Williams would be able to prevent Quigley from side-stepping him.
Whoever’s fault it was, it was a demoralizing blow for the fans and the players. It was visible as the Panthers pounded it in a few plays later. To read more of this story, click here
Despite Cam Newton’s productive day, with over 220 yards passing by halftime, the Jets didn’t actually do a bad job in coverage. As noted in the previous section, it was on short passes where they got carved apart and that comes down to tackling, avoiding blocks and taking good angles.
I actually disagree with Dan Dierdorf’s analysis on the DeAngelo Williams long touchdown pass. He criticized Ed Reed for taking a bad angle, but for me the fault there lies entirely with Dee Milliner. Milliner had plenty of time to get off the block, but Brandon LaFell did a good job. What was unforgivable is that if you can’t get off the block in that situation, you cannot allow the runner to get outside you. With the angle Reed took, he was obviously assuming Milliner would at least block off the sideline and force Williams back inside. If that happens, Reed makes the tackle at the 30. If Reed takes the conservative angle, he’s making the stop at about the 10 or 15 yard line, with Milliner being driven into his path the whole way. To read more of this story, click here
I had a nasty flashback to last season during yesterday’s game. When DeAngelo Williams caught that dump-off pass and turned the corner with David Harris struggling and failing to get off a block at the second level, I had a horrible sinking feeling.
Yes, the secondary could and should have prevented that from being a touchdown, but we’ll concern ourselves with that later. Harris’ inability to get off blocks has been his Achilles’ heel over the past few seasons, but hasn’t been as much of an issue this year, so the fact it was happening yesterday – and not just on that isolated play – gives cause for concern. Is Harris worn out, has the defensive line been less effective at keeping blockers off him or were the Panthers one of an increasing number of teams in recent weeks to exploit something of a weakness?
Compounding matters is the fact that Demario Davis isn’t doing a good job of avoiding or getting off blocks either. While the Jets managed to hold the Panthers to 3.6 yards per carry, they had nine carries of four or more yards in the first half alone, a much bigger number than usual. However on “short passes” (as classified by the NFL gamebook) Cam Newton was 11-for-11 for 193 yards and a touchdown in the first half, a staggering number that underlines the Jets issues in coverage near the line and tackling in the open field. To read more of this story, click here
After last week’s game, where Muhammad Wilkerson had probably his quietest game of the season and the Raiders were able to neutralize him by running away from him and hitting him with double teams, it was important for him to make more of an impact this week to demonstrate that you can’t take him out of the game and prove that he isn’t wearing down late in the season.
Wilkerson served early notice that you can’t keep a good man down with a spectacular play on the first series. Finding his path into the backfield blocked by tight end Greg Olsen, Wilkerson just lowered the boom, shoulder-barging Olsen over and then engulfing Cam Newton for a three yard loss as he tried to run up the middle.
Wilkerson ended up with a modest six tackles and got into the backfield to pressure Newton twice, although he tripped on one of these plays. However, he did blow up a handful of runs, including a couple near the goal line, and also displayed impressive lateral pursuit to chase two plays out to the sideline.
Wilkerson has gone three games without a sack and the run defense has given up a lot of yardage over the last two weeks, dropping them to third in the league, but it was good to see him getting back to making impact plays and the fact he’s down in 6th place in Pro Bowl voting remains one of the biggest farces in recent memory. To read more of this story, click here
After his not-so-wise words earlier in the week, Santonio Holmes had a disappointing performance highlighted by an awful drop on his first target of the game.
I tend to think his comments – which many have acknowledged were taken out of context – were overblown before the game and will be blown up even more after the game. The Panthers secondary didn’t play that well, because there were Jets receivers open pretty regularly and a better quarterback likely would have been able to punish them. Though they say they were motivated, I’m pretty sure Captain Munnerlyn didn’t need to be any more fired up than usual to have intercepted that pass which was thrown right to him. In truth, if the main outcome of the comments was that the Panthers played more physically, this actually benefited the Jets in some cases, because they drew a couple of penalties that led to first downs, although the officials missed one on a throw to Holmes in the end zone. It also led to the 15-yard penalty after the pick six and perhaps even to some of the over-aggressiveness that led to Cumberland and Hakim being open downfield on plays that the Jets couldn’t capitalize upon.
The biggest disappointment is that they couldn’t get more from Holmes’ matchup with rookie Melvin White. Holmes schooled him several times on routes, but only caught two passes and drew one penalty in nine targets, as Smith threw behind him twice. Maybe a healthy Holmes would have been able to adjust to those passes in mid-air but he was only able to get his fingertips on one hand to the ball. Ultimately, I wouldn’t attribute the ineffectiveness of the passing offense to how well this suddenly motivated (like they wouldn’t have been anyway with a division title up for grabs) secondary played. The Jets just don’t have a good passing game this year.
Despite this, whether they were taken out of context or not, it’s never a good idea to poke the bear and the outcome is pretty humbling for Holmes. The fact that some teammates have been commenting that it wasn’t exactly helpful is reminiscent of the reaction to Kerry Rhodes doing something similar against the Dolphins in 2009, shortly after which he fell completely out of favor. To read more of this story, click here