Game Balls: A Pulse…Perhaps

Daniel Marcus

There was a point in this month-long drought where I did not think there would be another edition of “Game Balls” however, it is back and hopefully there are more to come in the near future. The Jets dug themselves a virtually insurmountable hole by virtue of their three-game losing streak but went into St. Louis and took out the lowly Rams and showed that maybe, just maybe this team still has some fight in them. And with that let’s paint em up:

Muhammad Wilkerson:

The former first-round pick and New Jersey’s native son is showing why the Jets were willing to take him with their first pick in the 2011 draft. Most people thought that this would be “Big Mo’s” breakout and season and over the past few games he is breaking out with a vengeance. Wilkerson is consistently manhandling offensive linemen at the point of attack and collapsing the pocket with his immense size and strength.

Oh and he also has quite the knack for forcing and recovering fumbles, after a week in which he accounted for the Jets only points on a fumble return for a touchdown, Wilkerson recorded another forced fumble yesterday as well. “Wilkshake” finished the game with four tackles, a sack, the aforementioned forced fumble and now a much-deserved game ball.

Mark Sanchez:

The beleaguered franchise quarterback had one of his best games of the season, a vintage Sanchez-esque performance where he managed the game effectively without making any big mistakes and converting key third downs. Admittedly one effective game against a mediocre team does not absolve the “Sanchize” for the season he’s had to this point but it was nice to see a bounce-back performance a midst the wenek of turmoil.

The formula is simple for Sanchez: be careful with the football, don’t do anything stupid, convert third downs and chances are the team will be in a good position to win. Easier said than done, I know but let’s give credit where credit is due, I would give him this game ball simply for the progression where he realized his primaries weren’t open and hit a wide open Konrad Reuland for a big gain and a first down. Anyway, it also doesn’t hurt that he completed 75% of his passes as well so here you go Sanchez, hopefully there’s more where that came from.

Nick Folk:

I have always had one foot on and one foot off the Nick Folk bandwagon since the Jets signed him back in 2010 but there is no denying that he has been clutch when the team has put him in bad spots and yesterday was no different. Folk hit a couple of huge field goals from 51 yards out (no chip shots by any means), bailing the offense out after their drives stalled. I don’t know if there is a guy on this team as under appreciated as Folk because when his field goal attempts aren’t getting blocked, he’s virtually automatic. It’s ok Folk, we appreciate you here at TJB so have a game ball.

The Run Blocking:

The offensive line has looked a little “Jekyll and Hyde” lately as the run-blocking has seemed to get better each week, opening up some nice lanes and alleys for the backs. Shonn Greene was the proverbial “Bell Cow” in this game, seeing the majority of the carries but all three backs got in on the action and were pretty effective. Is “Ground and Pound” back? I can’t say with great certitude that it is but I think that we are getting there with each passing week, as the line continues to become more cohesive as a unit. One would also be remiss not to mention the job that the backs and receivers played in the running game as well so all you road-grading run-blockers this one is for you.

Eric Smith:

Oh Smitty, talk about unsung heroes, now that he’s healthy Eric Smith is once again taking on a much bigger role in the defense and on Special Teams where he is the captain after all. However, this game ball is more for his defensive play as he saw an increase in snaps as the extra defensive back, sometimes lining up as a linebacker in a number of “sub” packages. His biggest play of the game came when he ran all the way across the field to pick off a Sam Bradford pass deep in St. Louis territory, it would have been a lot better if the offense would have been able to turn the great field position into six points or even three for that matter but there’s only so much Smitty can do so we’ll give him a game ball.

Take A Lap:

Let’s be real, this is the Jets and even in a convincing win there were still a number of players or units that had less-than-stellar games and here they are:

Stephen Hill:

Raw isn’t even the word anymore with Hill, it looks like he has the yips out there and can’t perform the most basic function of a wide receiver and that is, you know, actually catching the ball. Hill looks like he’s living a lower profile than Osama in Pakistan as he is rarely seen or heard from and when he is it is for all the wrong reasons. Not only did the rookie receiver drop another pass, which was put right in his bread basket but he also committed a penalty. That said, I still do think Hill will become a very good player for this team but he has to learn to catch the ball first.

The Pass Protection:

I really don’t get why the offensive line is having such a tough time keeping their quarterback in the upright position, especially since Wayne Hunter is no longer around but Sanchez was roughed up quite a bit yesterday early on. I think it has something to do with moving from Bill Callahan’s zone blocking scheme to Sparano’s match up scheme but it’s something that needs to be cleaned up because no quarterback is more accurate on their back.

Special Teams:

In recent years, the Jets have been putting the “special” back in Special Teams committing mental mistakes a plenty and against better teams like New England it becomes the difference between winning and losing. Not only did they allow another field goal to be blocked, which in all reality could earn D’Brickishaw Ferguson his own set of wind sprints but they also gave up another kick return touchdown that was thankfully called back on a penalty. If the Jets have realistic aspirations of finishing this season above .500 the Special Teams errors have to stop and fast.

Tim Tebow:

God is he useless, I’ve been saying all year that Tebow is at his best with a clipboard in his hands because he is certainly not of any value with the football in his hands on offense or Special Teams. On offense he accounted for a grand total of negative six yards, I mean it’s no surprise that when he doesn’t sniff the field the offense has a lot more flow. Oh and here’s the kicker, he called that God awful fake punt despite the fact that the Rams came out with their base defensive personnel. Tebow is among the worst mistakes this teams has made and needs to put on his baseball cap and headset because using him has only proven to be a detriment to the team.