Welcome to BGA Extra, where I draw a line under the previous weekend’s game by responding to your questions from BGA during the week. After the jump, I respond to your questions about the win over the Browns. If you would like your questions answered in future, remember to read BGA each week and leave your question in the comments section. To read more of this story, click here
In what was essentially a meaningless game for the team (unless you want to get really caught up on them worsening their draft position), the Jets got a win that most certainly was important for certain individuals on the roster and the coaching staff.
I enjoyed the win and, more importantly, enjoyed the effort. Also, the fans at the game did a great job. That’s enough analysis for now, though. BGA Extra will be published on Boxing Day, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting BGA this year and wish you and your families all the best for the festive season (whether or not you celebrate Christmas). Drive safety, drink responsibly and enjoy the company of loved ones and any time off you get.
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
It looks like Nick Folk will miss out on going to the Pro Bowl after all, due to the recent heroics of Justin Tucker and the ongoing consistency of Stephen Gostkowski. Folk had his first “proper” miss of the year when his 49-yard field goal in the third quarter doinked off the right upright. His only other miss was a kick that went straight down the middle before being swept wide by a freak gust of wind.
For Folk, it has been easily his best season as a Jet and should earn him a bigger contract at the end of the season. I’d imagine the Jets would like to bring him back, but it remains to be seen how much of a financial priority the special teams unit is. To read more of this story, click here
Entering this game, I was pretty sure that we’d see Josh Gordon light it up. In recent weeks, Gordon has been unbelievable for the Browns, so holding him below 100 yards and without a touchdown on the day is impressive stuff from the Jets secondary.
I had an inkling the Jets might put Dee Milliner on Gordon and this proved to be something they stuck with all day. Milliner ultimately gave up over 115 yards through the air on 10 catches, but that’s not actually too bad considering he was targeted 18 times, per PFF. While Gordon got separation on a number of occasions, Milliner had blanket coverage on a couple of plays and earned Gordon’s respect. We were always anticipating that Milliner would struggle throughout most of his rookie season, but that he’d turn the corner at some point. Maybe we are finally at that stage, because Milliner’s breakout performance had already been preceded by some encouraging displays in recent weeks showing signs of improvement.
The unsung hero in all this was actually relegated to the bench and played less than 50% of the snaps this week though…
As I noted in the defensive linemen section, Quinton Coples was a disruptive force in the first half, causing the Browns to adjust and freeing up Muhammad Wilkerson to do more damage in the second half. It’s similar to what happened earlier in the season when Wilkerson had been quiet while Coples was out, but then really started producing once he returned to the lineup.
In the first half, Coples terrorized Mitchell Schwartz but – more impressively – also gave Joe Thomas problems. Coples used his speed to get the edge on a number of occasions, but whenever he was blocked off, he had his man on his heels and was driving them back into Jason Campbell to collapse the pocket. Campbell was forced to get rid of the ball early plenty of times, but Coples still had five pressures and was credited with a half-sack. Over the past month or so, he’s overtaken Wilkerson as the Jets’ most disruptive pass rushing force, although what happens in the second half suggests that it generally comes down to how the other teams gameplans to stop them both. To read more of this story, click here
The Browns picked up 115 yards on the ground, although their running backs were held to a respectable 72 yards on 18 carries (with the balance of the yardage on Jason Campbell scrambles and a big gain on an end around by Josh Gordon). However, it was in the passing game where the defensive line made their biggest contributions, sacking Campbell three times and combining for 25 pressures.
Muhammad Wilkerson had a pretty quiet first half, but the Browns’ pass protection couldn’t cope with Quinton Coples in the first half and once they adjusted to that, Wilkerson was freed up to do more damage. That’s exactly what he did, with all but one of his six pressures coming in the second half. Wilkerson was also credited with half a sack and was in on three tackles close to the line. Perhaps his most impressive play of all saw him chase down a running back on a screen pass to hold that play to a six yard gain when it could have gone for much more.
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.
The image below sums up the Jets’ approach to pass protection over the past few weeks:
Five men rush, six stay in to block, everyone blocks their man effectively and Brian Winters is the spare man ready to double team if required. On this particular play, the protection was superb. Smith had time to survey his options before hitting the obviously open Kellen Winslow on a crossing route underneath for a first down. What the image doesn’t show is that protection held for 3.5 seconds before Smith – sitting in the cleanest pocket you’re ever likely to see – released the pass to Winslow before any of the pass rushers got off their block or drove their man back into him.
The end result? No sacks and no quarterback hits, as the Jets surrendered just eight pressures all day and Smith threw the ball away safely four times and otherwise completed three of four attempts under pressure. That’s perhaps the best pass protection we’ve seen all season.
However, the image doesn’t tell the full story, because for much of the game, the Jets actually allowed Winters to block one-on-one and he actually acquitted himself pretty well.
It was fun to watch the Jets running game rack up over 200 yards yesterday, with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell accounting for 110 yards after contact between them. Ivory broke eight tackles, a season high, on his way to his third 100-yard game of the season. Powell’s 54 yards – 39 of which came on the burst before half time that set up the game-tying field goal – came on just seven carries and were the most yards he’s had in a game since Brian Winters moved into the starting lineup in week five.
The pair have combined for almost 1,500 yards with each of them having a career year. Ivory is likely to fall just short of the 1,000 yard mark (he needs 176 in his last game), but Powell might have a shot at 1,000 yards from scrimmage (he needs 103). Having lost Mike Goodson early in the season and suffered through some run-blocking struggles on the line, Ivory and Powell have established themselves as a solid one-two punch that could be a foundation of the offense next season.
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.