BGA: Jets at Bills – Final wrap-up

After a rough, humbling loss, the Jets continue to be capable of great heights and disappointing lows. The drill so far this year has been for a week of grumbling and doom-mongering followed by the Jets shocking the world in their next game, after which we’ll all overreact to how well they played and underestimate the next opponent. Whether that (already unprecedented) win-loss-win-loss pattern will continue when they face a tough test against a team they don’t match up particularly well against in Baltimore this Sunday remains to be seen.

I would say to expect the unexpected, but I don’t even know what the expected is right now, so we’ll all just have to come back next week and see what happens.

I hope you enjoyed the new format we debuted here today. There are links to each BGA article or the option to read the offensive and/or defensive BGA in full after the jump.

To re-read the offensive BGA in full, click here

Quarterbacks

Yes, it was windy. Yes, he was under pressure. Yes, he had one or two passes go off his receiver’s hands. Yes, he got banged up early on and that may have affected him later. Yes, he’s still “only a rookie”. Yes, he was under pressure quite a bit.

Yes, some of his returning receivers may have been rusty. And, yes, Jeremy Kerley – his favorite target and leading receiver – was out with an elbow injury.

However, at some point you have to stop making excuses, because some of the mistakes Geno Smith is making right now go beyond what’s acceptable at this level.

He knows it. He called himself “awful” after the game and that’s probably not an unfair assessment. This isn’t just a spotty performance blighted by a couple of bad errors, he was inconsistent throughout and has displayed an alarming lack of statistical productivity over the past month or so.

Timing, touch, accuracy, reading of the field and ball security were all issues for Smith at points during this game. Without dwelling on all his bad throws, he had three interceptions and it could have been more. On one of the interceptions, he seemed to be indicating that Jeff Cumberland should have run his route differently somehow, but I can’t really see how it would have made a difference. Even if Cumberland rounded off his route more sharply, the ball seemed to be too far out in front of him and it didn’t look like Smith saw Jairus Byrd lurking. He certainly didn’t see Byrd on his second interception and his third – caused because he bobbled the snap and had to look down momentarily, rendering him unable to see Da’Norris Searcy dropping off into the flat – made it four pick-sixes in four games. He’s only thrown one touchdown to a Jets player in that span.

This was the first time the Jets have lost when Smith has completed his first pass of the day. In their five wins, he is 5-for-5 for 106 yards and four first downs, but in their five losses, he is 1-for-5 for four yards with one interception. Getting him off to a good start was unsuccessful though, because although he was 3-for-4 early on, he went 0-for-5 over the last 23-plus minutes on the first half.

Smith did make a couple of good throws, gunning one down the middle to Kellen Winslow and hitting Santonio Holmes in stride downfield for a big play to set up a touchdown, but at the same time he got lucky on his first deep completion to Holmes, which got caught up in the wind.

I wanted to take a more detailed look at the read-option play where Smith fumbled and fell on the loose ball.

It’s Smith’s job here to read the defensive end. Mario Williams hasn’t committed himself yet, but Smith will need to get around him to gain positive yardage on the left side. As you can see, the right side of the line has done a good job of leveraging their men to the outside and Brian Winters is able to block his man with Nick Mangold’s help. Mangold is literally just using his upper body strength to help Winters sustain that block with his left hand. On the outside, D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s job is to let Williams go, in hopes that he commits himself to the inside or stays at home leaving a gap up the middle. The Ferguson has to block Kiko Alonso at the second level.

This is the point at which Smith has to decide once and for all whether he’s going to pull it out and run it himself. Williams starts to shift his weight across and Smith makes the decision here that he can beat him to the edge. Upfront, Winters is still holding his block as Mangold peels off to stop the man at the second level from being able to get over. However, what Smith fails to read is that Alonso has gained outside leverage on Ferguson and will be in position to limit any gain Smith can make running left.

So, Smith pulls it out at the last minute and obviously leaves it too late because the ball comes loose as Powell presumably starts to secure it. You can see that Powell would have been able to avoid Williams and then cut back into that lane between Ferguson and Winters and also that Alonso would be in prime position to stop Smith if he doesn’t fumble the ball. Alonso (how good was he, by the way? – Wow) literally jumped to his right to get outside Ferguson, but had Smith been able to read that, Alonso would have taken himself out of the play.

Typically on a read-option play such as this, the quarterback will option off of the defensive end only and might not see the whole field. Maybe Smith saw that at the last minute and tried to change what he was doing and that’s what caused the fumble. Either way, he has to read how the play is developing and try to be one step ahead.

As we’ve established last year, the one thing NFL quarterbacks cannot afford to be is indecisive. Evidently that’s not just when throwing the ball.

Onto Matt Simms, who for the second time this season got a chance to mop-up with Smith benched for the latter stages. While we shouldn’t get too caught up in the fact he drove them downfield for a score because the game was already over and the Bills were playing passively and with many of their starters being rested, it was a nice drive that he put together. His first throw, to Greg Salas, was accurate and had plenty on it in the blustery conditions and his second found Cumberland just coming out of his break. His timing on that completion was better than Smith’s usually was on similar passes throughout the game. On the touchdown, a defender slipped, so Cumberland was all alone. Simms saw him perhaps a beat late, but compensated for that by getting the ball out quickly and accurately.

On the second drive, he had a throw on the move that got caught up in the wind and really should have been intercepted and too other throws to the end zone were just offline and tipped at the line. It’s too small of a sample size to know whether or not he’s a viable option to start, but you have to wonder how many reps he’s getting in practice and whether his performances in practice have been good enough to pile any pressure on Smith.

Of course, they also have David Garrard on the roster as well. Could he factor into the discussion too?

Offensive Line

As the Jets struggled to get their running game going, the suggestion is that they came out flat and the offensive line was dominated in the trenches from the outset. In fact, the offensive line started off pretty well and, on balance, were winning the battle upfront for most of the first quarter. The very first play of the game was extremely well blocked as Nick Mangold walled off his man from getting into the backfield, Brian Winters sealed his man to the inside, David Nelson chipped Mario Williams to the inside and D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Jeff Cumberland pulled out in front of Bilal Powell who ran outside for a first down.

As the game went on, the Bills gradually started to wear the Jets down and the balance shifted. Unfortunately, it was the beleaguered rookie left guard Winters that was taken advantage of more often than not.

Winters has made some improvements since being given the starting job following Vladimir Ducasse’s struggles in week three and four. Initially, he wasn’t having any positive impact blocks at all and it was a challenge for him just to carry out his assignment correctly. He’s gradually started to have more positive moments, including in this game, where he made a few good pulling blocks moving to his right. However, the more he plays, the more teams are becoming aware of how best to take advantage of him. Teams know he’s the weak link and that’s bringing the rest of the line down at times.

Experienced players like the constantly-underrated Kyle Williams simply have far superior technique compared to the rookie and are able to gain leverage advantages, overpowering him and throwing him off balance. At times yesterday, Winters was struggling to make it to the end of a play without being knocked over. In the first quarter alone, he ended up on the ground seven times, including on five snaps in a row to end the period.

While sometimes a lineman will end up on the ground by design, perhaps because he was making a cut block, that wasn’t the case on any of these plays, as Winters was routinely removed from the equation when the Jets tried to create running room for their backs. On two plays in the first half, he let his man get off his block to make a stop and on another he allowed penetration deep into the backfield to blow up another run. His costliest mistake saw him beaten for a strip-sack that was a game-changing play because it deepened the Jets’ hole from “10 points and the ball” to 17 in the blink of an eye.

In the second half, Winters seemed to make fewer mistakes, perhaps after receiving some coaching or advice at halftime that helped him. However, the mistakes he did make were almost as costly. First of all, his missed block at the goal line robbed Bilal Powell of what should have been an easy touchdown on a neat shovel pass play. Then on fourth down, his man beat him to the inside and tackled Chris Ivory, who only just managed to break the plane.

While it’s clear he is making incremental improvements in terms of how often he executes his assignment correctly, the fact teams seem to be gameplanning to take advantage of him seems to be outweighing that. It may be too late to go back to Ducasse now, though, because that would just create another setback in terms of the line having to re-develop their chemistry. (For what it’s worth, Ducasse was in for one snap – the Ivory touchdown – and blocked his man off the line well to create that score).

In the lead up to the game, there was some discussion about Howard and Mario Williams renewing their rivalry, but as I noted in the BGA preview, Williams has actually been playing more snaps on the right than in the past. Sure enough, he was on the left side less than 25% of the time and neither Howard or Williams made a direct impact against one another. I wonder if this threw off Howard’s preparation because he was badly beaten twice in pass protection by other players, leading to Geno Smith getting hit twice. He also had a missed block in the running game that led to a tackle in the backfield and twice let his man get off his block to stop a run.

Ferguson, on the other hand, completely neutralized Williams in probably his best performance all season. While the Jets didn’t see much success in the running game, it was his block that sprung Chris Ivory for a 69-yard gain in garbage time too.

Colon actually had a dominant start to the game as a run blocker. However, he gave up a sack on a play where Smith had to step up to avoid an unblocked rusher and was a lot less consistent for the remainder of the game. That was his first sack given up all season. Colon also got called for two penalties, giving him 10 in 10 games for the season.

Finally, Mangold once again didn’t have the impact we’ve been accustomed to seeing over the years. He got stood up a couple of times, lost leverage on his man and allowed him to bottle up a run up the middle and was beaten for a couple of pressures in pass protection. One of those pressures came as Winters blocked nobody and let the guy run right past him, so that seems to have been a communication breakdown and obviously you have to wonder whether such confusion is the main thing limiting Mangold’s impact. He did have some good blocks in the running game, but it’s frustrating to watch because he’s been capable of so much more in the past.

Running Backs

If you looked at a boxscore, you’d think the Jets’ running game did a pretty decent job in this one. Chris Ivory racked up 98 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries and Bilal Powell averaged 5.4 yards per carry having entering the game averaging just 2.8 yards per carry since Brian Winters became the starter at left guard. Of course, the reality is that these numbers are skewed by Ivory’s 69-yard garbage time run.

While ultimately meaningless, that play does show a tantalizing glimpse of what Ivory can do when you give him some daylight. Other than that play, though, he averaged under two yards per carry.

In Ivory’s defense, it didn’t look like he left many yards on the field. He did have some positive moments – one first down run to the outside, one run where he broke a couple of tackles for a solid gain and a touchdown for the second week in a row. It’s discouraging to see another pass bounce off his fingertips though, even if you could attribute that to a lack of touch on Geno Smith’s part. To be honest though, even with a clean catch, that play was going nowhere.

Bilal Powell actually got the start this week, but again Ivory got the lion’s share of the carries. Powell did play more snaps, but they only ran the ball 25% of the time with him in the game, as opposed to 60% of the time when Ivory was in. Powell was used 10 times as an extra blocker in pass protection and – after struggling with giving up penalties, sacks and pressures over the last month or so – he did a good job of that. Powell had a nice run on the toss play on the first series and burst up the middle for 12 in the second half, but his three other carries and one reception were all stopped for short gains.

Powell had 149 yards rushing against the Bills in week three (on 27 carries). Over the last six games, he has 149 yards rushing in total (on 48 carries).

Tommy Bohanon averages 32 snaps in the Jets five wins and only 22 in their five losses, a sure sign that when they get behind in games and can’t run the ball as much they’re in trouble. In this game, he was only in for 16 snaps. Bohanon did catch two short passes and had one punishing lead block, but there was also a play where he was pushed back into the runner, leading to the play being stuffed.

Alex Green was inactive again.

Receivers

With Jeff Cumberland, Kellen Winslow and Santonio Holmes (the three of whom comprise over 35% of the Jets’ passing offense so far this year, in terms of yardage) returning to the fold, the Jets had almost a full compliment of receivers, but still couldn’t get anything going in the passing game.

The big story is probably Stephen Hill, who once again had no catches. Over the last seven and a half games, Hill has caught just 10 of 28 passes, with none of them going for over 20 yards. His production has completely dried up.

During the game, the announcers made several references to the fact that the Bills’ emerging possession receiver Chris Hogan is nicknamed “7-eleven” because he’s always open. Cute. Perhaps we should call Hill “Chick-fil-A” because he’s never open on Sundays.

What if that’s not entirely fair, though?

Let’s look in detail at his day. Hill actually wasn’t targeted at all in the first half, other than right at the end of the second quarter when the Jets were already 20-0 down. It was apparent they tried to make a concerted effort to get him involved from then on, as they looked for him nine times, but came up completely empty. Why though?

Here’s his first target late in the first half. You didn’t get a great look at this but hopefully you can see that the ball is on its way, but the throw is obviously late because instead of arriving as he gets slight separation from his man, this gives the defender a chance to close. The throw was inaccurate anyway, sailing high and wide.

On this play, Hill has stopped his route, but the ball is only just being thrown. By the time it gets there, the defender can close and again the accuracy is poor with the ball over Hill’s head.

This is more of a decision making issue from Smith. Hill initially ran a square-in, but then broke for the corner. Clearly he has a step here with Leodis McKelvin scrambling to recover. The first option on this play was a pick play dump-off to Holmes in the left flat, but Holmes slipped. With Plan A out of the window, Smith failed to adjust. He actually had Greg Salas open over the middle for an easy touchdown as well, but instead rolled right and was looking at Hill, but then just at the moment when he should have led Hill to the back of the end zone with a pass out of McKelvin’s reach, he instead looked back to the inside for some reason and then ran out of time and threw it away over Hill’s head. McKelvin was grabbing at Hill as he made an effort to recover and any throw in that direction would have at the very least drawn a penalty 99 times out of 100.

Another play like the one above where Smith’s throw is a little late and wide of the target. In Smith’s defense, this was a low snap, which affected the timing.

On the next one, he wasn’t open. However, as the image clearly shows, McKelvin pulls down on Hill’s right shoulder, making contact before the ball has arrived. Hill got his hands to the ball and PFF actually counted this as a drop, but it should have been pass interference.

This time, he got the step on the defender and might have been able to catch up to Smith’s throw if the defender doesn’t pull back on his arm, as shown. There was a penalty on this play anyway, so the Jets still got the first down, but this wasn’t called.

Just like the others, this is again (a) too late and (b) overthrown.

Can’t blame Smith for this one, as Matt Simms makes the throw and doesn’t get enough on it, as it flutters through the air and McKelvin drops an easy interception. You can see that Hill has at least two steps on his man at the back of the end zone but Simms fails to put enough juice on it to get it in the window between three players, including McKelvin who you can just see entering the picture on the far right.

Finally, he’s wide open for what should be an easy touchdown at the back of the end zone. Simms has to do a better job there of anticipating and finding a clean passing lane. Marcell Dareus knocked the pass down, but Simms would also have been wary of Kiko Alonso sitting in the middle of the field.

So, the assumption on Hill seems to be that he’s not getting open, but on this evidence a better timed or more accurate throw probably would have led to a successful completion on most of these plays. This doesn’t excuse Hill entirely – he simply has to find a way to get himself involved in the offense, whether that’s by sharpening up his routes even more, paying more attention to detail, being more physical or catching the ball in traffic. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to run a screen or end around to get the ball in his hands too. I’ll give him credit for one more play though, he beat his man off the line with a clean release and then drew the safety over to the middle of the field to create the room for Smith’s long completion to Santonio Holmes in the third quarter.

I wonder how many of those nine passes David Garrard would have been able to complete…

Holmes had two big catches, but failed to make a clean grab on a low diving attempt that was initially ruled a catch and then overturned. He also appeared to miss his block on a screen pass, which meant that the player he was supposed to block (Aaron Williams) jumped the route and almost picked it off. He made two great plays and the Jets needed that, but they need more consistency than big plays from Holmes right now, especially with Jeremy Kerley out.

Greg Salas continues to show promise with a spectacular diving catch for 25 yards to get Matt Simms going. He had one other tough catch over the middle earlier in the game. David Nelson on the other hand had just one catch, short of a first down, but did draw a penalty. Josh Cribbs was in for four plays and ran the ball a couple of times.

At tight end, Kellen Winslow’s return saw him surprisingly limited to just eight snaps, although he did have a nice catch over the middle. Jeff Cumberland had three catches including a touchdown, but only one of those catches didn’t come in garbage time. He was also a bit rusty as a blocker, making a couple of mistakes.

Zach Sudfeld, who had been starting, had just three snaps with Winslow and Cumberland back. Konrad Reuland didn’t get any reps.

To re-read the defensive and special teams BGA in full, click here

Defensive Line

Even in the worst blowout losses, you can pretty much rely on being able to see the silver lining in the performance of the defensive line. Once again, that was the case here, with the Bills being held to just 68 yards on 38 carries – including just six yards on 13 carries for CJ Spiller.

The pass rush was less productive than usual with EJ Manuel under pressure just seven times in 31 dropbacks, but that’s mainly attributable to Manuel getting rid of the ball quickly. Manuel got rid of the ball 0.3 seconds faster than he usually does on average, holding onto the ball for more than 2.5 seconds just 27% of the time (he averages 47%).

Ironically, if there’s one unit on the team that did come out a bit flat, it probably was the defensive line. On the first few series, Muhammad Wilkerson got blocked out of a play and Sheldon Richardson was driven off the line, while Damon Harrison was driven off the line twice and sealed inside once. That didn’t affect the outcome, though, because the defense stiffened and from that point onwards dominated up front.

As usual, Wilkerson was at the center of everything, as he was in on nine tackles (seven solo). The longest gain on any of those nine plays went for two yards. As a pass rusher, he pressured Manuel just once, breaking a string of five straight games with a sack. However, it was a dominant display against the run. Sometimes, however, you can be punished for being too good.

Late in the first quarter, on third down, Wilkerson jumped up and batted down a pass to force a punt. The game was still scoreless at that point. From the footage, it looks like Demario Davis had a bead on the ball as he was dropping into the passing lane. Wilkerson’s great play to bat the ball down may well have robbed his teammate of a go-ahead pick-six. See below:

Damon Harrison was actually the only starter who missed more than 10 snaps, as the Jets rotated their personnel as infrequently as I can recall in the Rex Ryan era. You may recall that I wrote a BGA in the offseason asking if Rex should substitute less on defense. Based on the result of this game, the answer is no. Harrison, despite a rocky start, rebounded and made some great plays as the game went on. He was constantly disruptive with penetration and was in on nine tackles of his own (four solo, five assists). Three of those were three yard gains, but that’s as far as any of those plays went.

Sheldon Richardson had a huge impact too. He was also in on nine tackles (five solo) and again none of these plays went for more than three yards. The best saw him sniff out a screen pass and make a tackle for a loss on third down. He had one pressure, coming up the middle on a bullrush.

Kenrick Ellis was solid off the bench again, playing 20 snaps. He stood up his man to blow up one run and got penetration to blow up another. He also came flying up the middle for a pressure.

Leger Douzable played just 12 snaps. He did help to bottle up one run.

Linebackers

Three of the four starting linebackers played every snap this week, with Calvin Pace the only one to get a rest (for nine snaps, on which rookie Troy Davis replaced him.) Despite the fact there were a ton of plays stuffed at or close to the line of scrimmage, they were all able to make contributions, led by Quinton Coples who continues to settle into his edge rushing/setting role.

Coples was in on several run stops, including one for a loss and a handful more at or close to the line of scrimmage. While it was hard for the Jets to generate much pressure with Manuel getting rid of the ball so quickly, he did beat his man cleanly twice to nail Manuel as he threw. He was forced to the inside on one running play and got fooled on a Manuel bootleg, but on the whole he is really starting to produce. Despite the injuries, he has 21 tackles already this year, having had 30 all of last year.

On the inside, David Harris and Demario Davis were both around the football a lot too. Harris played well against the run, with nine total tackles, but did get beaten for a 31-yard catch by Scott Chandler.

Davis did a good job, but there were two plays where he gave up a catch because of a mix-up in zone coverage – once with Harris and once with Antonio Cromartie. As noted in the defensive line BGA, it looked like he could have had a pick six on one play. Interestingly, Davis had eight total tackles, but only one solo tackle.

Pace was the only Jets player credited with a sack on the day and that came as Manuel rolled out and Pace came up from coverage to tackle him for no gain. As a pass rusher, he did generate one pressure. There was also a play in coverage where – although he failed to wrap up the receiver in the flat – he slowed them up enough so that the tackle was made in the flat.

It was interesting to see Davis get some reps in relief of Pace. With Garrett McIntyre out, he was the only other outside linebacker on the roster, although they perhaps could have had the option to go to a 4-3 set with Nick Bellore in. Ironically, this was probably the opportunity Ricky Sapp’s been waiting for, only to have been claimed by the Houston Texans during the week. I hope the Jets don’t regret making him available because they now look extremely thin at the position.

Davis didn’t generate any pressure, although he almost got upfield on Cordy Glenn on one play. In the running game, he was blown off the line once and lost contain badly on an end around, but I wouldn’t be too concerned over this because I expect him to be primarily a special teamer once McIntyre is back.

Defensive Backs

So, I’ve been waiting at least 10 years to see Ed Reed in a Jets jersey. Maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be if the secondary is going to give up a 121.9 QB rating to a rookie quarterback, leading to a 23-point blowout.

While you can’t blame Reed for much, if any, of the success the Bills had, it was arguably a boneheaded decision to get him to start and play the whole game when the other safeties had been performing perfectly adequately. What this seemed to achieve was to remove the advantage the Jets had with two weeks to prepare coming off their bye week and instead made their defense slightly vulnerable.

Maybe it only affected a handful of plays, but when those plays could be momentum-changing third down stops, you’re adversely affecting your chances of winning. On one play, Antonio Cromartie was talking to Reed and pointing out where he should be at the snap and the Bills quick-snapped and threw an immediate pass to his man for an easy first down. On another, Reed ran deep when he perhaps should have picked up an intermediate route, which led to a receiver being uncovered and the Jets got lucky that EJ Manuel missed Scott Chandler with his pass. Cromartie was – not for the first time this year – visibly frustrated with some of his teammates following what he obviously saw as coverage breakdowns caused by them. Of course Ed Reed is a legend, but throwing him in there when it was obvious he perhaps wasn’t 100% ready was never going to fix those issues, just add to it.

Reed actually looked good, coming up to make a tackle in the backfield and assisting on another run stop in run support. As expected, the Bills never threw the ball in his direction and the only time he had a negative play was when he missed a tackle down the field. However, it seems very unfair that Antonio Allen should be relegated to being the backup slot corner and playing just three snaps.

Allen was targeted on two of those snaps as well, giving up two first downs. Perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been forced to enter the game cold on those plays.

The other key issue is that Rex Ryan said that Dee Milliner will start next week and “played extremely well, except for the deep ball”. The obvious question in response to that is “which one?” but then again perhaps he’s referring to “the deep ball” as some kind of abstract concept. Yes, Milliner lost sight of an underthrown and basically up-for-grabs ball for the first touchdown and later got burned for another big gain over the top. However, to be fair to Milliner, he is making progress. For the first month of the season, he basically had one positive play – the Edelman “fumble” – but in this game he had three tackles close to the line of scrimmage (one for a loss) and broke up a pass (although it did look like he made contact with the receiver before the ball arrived). On the other hand, he was too far off his man on two easy first down catches and did miss a tackle after a screen pass, so he was up and down. I still think Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster (no snaps between them) would be more consistent, but Milliner is gradually improving. The Jets can’t afford for him to get burned a couple of times per game though.

Cromartie blotted his copybook by getting burned for a touchdown late, but other than that had played well. He broke up two passes – one of which should have been a pick six which would have made it 27-14 late in the third quarter and maybe got the Jets back in the game. He also was as active as I’ve ever seen him in run support, getting in on several plays near the line and laying some lumber. The Jets can’t afford for Cromartie to be good “on balance” though. Injured or not, he’s been burned so many times this season that it’s probably cost him $50m already.

The other starter, Dawan Landry, was active in run support too, but had a quiet day in coverage. He gave up two short catches.

Finally, Kyle Wilson and Jaiquawn Jarrett combined for just 16 snaps. Wilson gave up one short catch and was almost beaten for a touchdown but got away with it because of an errant throw. Jarrett’s best play saw him finish off a receiver in the backfield after they’d been slowed up in the flat.

Special Teams

After opening the season by making all 23 of his field goal attempts, Nick Folk had to miss eventually. And when it came, you knew it would be at a really bad time.

Folk’s kick looked to be right down the middle, but then got swept wide right by a huge gust of wind. At the time, the game was scoreless and the Jets were in control of clock and field position, but this gave Buffalo the ball back just shy of their 40-yard line. Although they were only able to generate one first down on the drive, this enabled them to pin the Jets inside their 10-yard line, from where they ran the ball three times and punted. Now in control of the field position battle, the Bills took a 3-0 lead and from there the Douzable penalty/Milliner losing sight of the ball/Winters giving up strip sack trifecta bit them hard.

It’s interesting that Folk’s kick took such a sharp right turn there, almost as though Dick Dastardly was controlling it with a remote device or something. Dan Carpenter’s go-ahead field goal in the same direction was straight and true. As we’ve all observed, Folk’s kicks do have a strange tendency to veer right and then come back to the left and I wonder if this makes them more susceptible to being caught by the wind.

In an effort to reverse-jinx Folk into not falling into a slump, I should remind you all of these statistics he had entering the season (from Bent and Bassett’s Season Preview):

[T]here’s been a worrying trend since the end of the 2008 season. Since then, he has only missed four of 49 field goals in weeks one to seven, but has missed 27 of 70 (almost 40%) in week eight or after. Prior to his hip surgery, this wasn’t an issue – he made all 13 field goal attempts after week seven in 2008. The cold weather could be a factor – over the last three years, he has made 97% of his field goals when the temperature was 60 degrees or above, but only 65% when it is colder than that.

As I said, it did seem to be a perfectly good kick that just got caught in the wind. I’m really hoping that his reduced workload is the main thing you can attribute his success so far to, because that would mean it’s hopefully sustainable this time.

In contrast to Folk, punter Ryan Quigley actually used the wind to his advantage with a 47.3 yard gross average. However, he did put one in the end zone and there was a 12-yard punt return that included four missed tackles.

Konrad Reuland is arguably lucky to still have his roster spot. Although he has hardly featured on offense all year, even with Kellen Winslow suspended and Jeff Cumberland missing time through injuries, he was retained as a fourth tight end, apparently because of his special teams blocking. Therefore, it wasn’t encouraging to see him miss a block on the opening kickoff, leading to Josh Cribbs getting stuffed at the 15. He did bounce back with a better block on a good Cribbs return later on, though and also made one tackle.

Cribbs also had a nice punt return and continues to be a major upgrade over anything the Jets had before his arrival. He drew two penalties as well, but did muff a kick in the end zone that he potentially could have returned.

Darrin Walls and Leger Douzable each committed special teams penalties, with Douzable’s in particular being extremely costly. Isaiah Trufant drew a penalty, Ellis Lankster blew up a couple of returns and Greg Salas got some pressure on the punter after he dropped the snap, leading to a two-yard punt.

Here are the links to each of this week’s BGA articles:

Quarterbacks
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Receivers
Defensive Line
Linebackers
Defensive Backs
Special Teams

If you have anything you’d like me to take a closer look at or any other questions for me, leave them in the comments section of this post (please re-submit any questions you’ve asked in any of the above posts), tweet them to @Bent_Double or email bentdouble@gmail.com and I’ll respond in BGA Extra on Wednesday/Thursday. I’d also appreciate your thoughts and feedback on the new format.