Game Balls: Two In A Row
The Jets went into Jacksonville yesterday and made a bad team look like – well – a bad team and won consecutive games for the first time this season. Embattled quarterback, Mark Sanchez, was asked by the coaching staff simply not to screw it up as the running game and defense carried the team to victory. In addition, let me preface this by saying that I have no delusions of grandeur but the Jets did receive a great deal of help from the AFC North yesterday in keeping their once-remote playoff chances alive. That said, let’s save the scoreboard watching for the next three weeks and get right to this victory Monday tradition:
“Beast Mo” as some of my fellow TJB writers affectionately refer to him, is living up to that nickname and continues to play like a man possessed. Wilkerson has just been dominating at the point of attack, making opposing offensive linemen look as though they are on roller skates. The stats don’t tell the whole story with “Big Mo” because although his final stat line read: three tackles, three QB hits, and one sack, he could have easily had a couple more sacks. I could not be more impressed with Wilkerson this season and just hope that his presence continues to rub off on his old buddy Quinton Coples.
The aforementioned Coples had one of his better games as a Jet yesterday as the coaching staff finally put him in better pass-rushing situations, using him on stunts with Wilkerson as opposed to simply bull-rushing and occupying blocks. “Q” finished with two tackles, two QB hits, and his third sack of the year and made many Jets fans wonder what the pass-rushing tandem of Coples and Wilkerson will do in games, weeks, and seasons to come.
This may have been the first “Game Ball-Worthy” performance the “Hit Man” has registered but he was all over the field yesterday, racking up 10 tackles, a pass defensed and two bone-crushing QB hits including a sack. Inside Linebacker in a 3-4 is one of the less glamorous positions, leading many to wonder why Harris is paid so much relative to his on-field contributions but look no further than yesterday’s game to see why he was pegged as being one of the core members of this team.
Since the one they call “Revis Christ” went down with a devastating injury in week 3, Cromartie has been nothing short of fantastic and has proved that he is a dominant, shut-down corner in his own right. Cro was no more spectacular against the Jags than he has been since stepping in for Revis but I felt the need to give him a game ball in recognition of how outstanding he has played and for his contributions in all three phases of the game. I’m still waiting for him to hit a home run on offense in the “Cro Package” but in the interim here’s a Game Ball.
Shonn Greene/Bilal Powell:
For the second straight week, the Jets two-headed running attack will have to share a Game Ball the way they share carries as both were almost equally effective. Greene had another characteristic performance, trudging through with his head down en route to picking up some hard-earned yards, racking up 77 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. “Boom Powell” as I will be calling from now on, has been running with a full head of steam the past few weeks and yesterday was no different as he totaled 78 yards on 19 carries, good enough for a 4.1 YPC average. It seems as though Powell is the more explosive runner of the two and when he’s in those drives tend to be more fruitful. Regardless, it was nice to see a real commitment to running the ball.
Brandon Moore and the Offensive Line:
Brandon Moore gets lead billing on this Game Ball because he is habitually the most over-looked and under-appreciated member of this unit and he reportedly lit a fire under the entire offense in the locker room after an abysmal first half. The line came out in the second half and as Nick Mangold would say “kept swinging that ax” until the proverbial tree fell and the Jets running game was able to assert their will on the lowly Jaguars. I only have one complaint and that is the continued rotation at Left Guard but we’ll get to that soon.
Take A Lap!:
Whoever Instituted the Left Guard Rotation:
I can’t explain how frustrating it is seeing Vlad Ducasse in the game every third series, it’s the same feeling as seeing Tebow in the game disrupting the flow of the offense. Slauson is obviously the better player, even Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo will tell you that, but apparently the mandate is coming down from above. The bottom line is that Ducasse may just not be good enough to take over the spot full-time and if that’s the case then leave him on the bench and leave Slauson in the game. There isn’t a unit on the field where continuity and cohesion is more important than the offensive line so don’t mess with it and TAKE A LAP!
It’s a sad state of affairs when I have to put the team’s best and most reliable receiver on this list but he put the ball on the ground again yesterday, ruining a drive that appeared to be pretty promising. Although the gaffe didn’t translate into points for the Jags, this team turns the ball over enough already. We don’t need the receivers fumbling balls when completing passes is already a difficult proposition. Better teams will capitalize on those opportunities so Jeremy Kerley count your blessings and take a lap.
The Punt Team:
I can’t for the life of me understand how a Mike Westhoff-coached unit could screw up with such frequency but somehow they manage. It may seem silly to penalize a unit for mistakes that were almost made but the margin but which they escaped from making them was so thin that it deserves to be talked about. On two separate occasions, the Jaguars came within fingertip-length of blocking Robert Malone punts, which would have proved catastrophic. The Jets can ill-afford any more special teams breakdowns if they expect to somehow run the table but something tells me there will be at least one more colossal screw-up before the season is over.