Game Recap: A Fighting Chance

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com


Last week’s loss to the Niners left a terrible taste in everyone’s mouth.  While the loss against the Texans was tough, at least the Jets and their fans can hold their head high playing an elite team to the final whistle.  I would argue was a closer game than the 23-17 final score showed, and what I saw during the course of the game made me much, much more confident of the Jets chances this season 

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures — If the Jets quit at the end of last week’s Niners game, this week the team never gave up, and actually played like a team with nothing to lose … and it actually worked to their advantage.  Down their star cornerback, nose tackle, top two receivers and top pass catching tight end, there were a number of daring plays during the game … some worked and some didn’t … but at least the team TRIED to keep the Texans guessing and worried about the final outcome.

No Depth / Depth — Leading up to the game, the ESPN analysts were KILLING the Jets and Mike Tannenbaum in specific in their inability to bring in sufficiently talented players to put around Mark Sanchez.  Now that the team has suffered some serious injuries, it has exposed the flimsiness of the front office’s plans.  In some ways I do agree that Tannenbaum  should have found better talent to put in place around Sanchez, but at the same time to see players like Jeremy Kerley and yes, even guilty tipster Jeff Cumberland coming into their own is a good thing.  The Jets will be getting back Dustin Keller soon (we hope) as well as the athletically freaky Stephen Hill, which will upgrade the offense significantly.  Kerley is now the constant in this unit and Keller and Hill’s additions will only help.  The team is going to be better served by letting these guys get into the game and play.  It might infuriate fans, but now that Clyde Gates is dealing with an injury, see if the Jets don’t promote Jordan White back to the roster … he might be able to provide an interesting flavor to the Jets slot in select situations.

Way to Go, Cro — Andre Johnson isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still a pretty great player and more importantly he’s an extremely physical player at 6-3 and 230 pounds.  To see Cromartie handle him as well as he did over the course of the whole game gave me hope.  The one area I’ve always wanted to see more from Cromartie in is his physical play.  I’ve maintained that Cromartie is a great player, but a player playing in the shadow of the expectations of Darrelle Revis.  Cromartie showed the world last night that he’s still a big asset to this team, picking off Matt Schaub for just the second time in Schaub’s first five games.

Batter Up — Sanchez has always struggled with getting balls batted at the line of scrimmage and in less than two years JJ Watt has proven that he’s a master of doing just that.   While Rex or Sanchez might say it was unfortunate that those plays were batted, the Jets had to account for that in their game plan and their inability led to some bad plays for the Jets in both halves.  Coaches never like to single out specific plays as gamechangers, but the one that was (yet another) six point swing for the Jets at the end of the first half was killer.

Open Highway — The Jets are still having real trouble in defending the run and Arian Foster was all to willing to take advantage.  The Jets had points in the game where they did well against the run, but it wasn’t consistent and Foster still ended up carving up the unit for over 150 yards on 29 carries.  If there’s any solace, it’s that the Jets will get a reprieve this week when they face a lagging Colts running unit… but after that they are going to face the Patriots, one of the league’s most efficient units.  The Jets have to start cleaning up and gaining confidence in defending the run THIS WEEK if they are going to stand a chance of staying relevant this season.

The Line, The Line — The Texans have invested wisely in their defensive linemen and it showed against the Jets o-line.  The Texans were collapsing the pocket regularly and I don’t know how many times Brandon Moore and Austin Howard were brutally beaten.  How scary a moment was it when Mangold went out of the game?  I think that would have been a bridge too far for this team had they lost Mangold for any extended period.  Keep an eye on Mangold’s status this week … it might be something worth monitoring.  I liked some of what I saw from Hilliard in the backfield and he might see more time on the field over John Conner the way Conner has been playing so far this year.  Of course all this meant that Sanchez was under duress much of the night and Shonn Greene had another bad game.  I get that Shonn Greene is supposed to be a runner that wears down a defense over the course of the game, but his longest gain was for 12 yards … and it came too little, too late.  If he’s great late in the game, then fine, just play him in the fourth quarter and find someone else to do the rest … he’s clearly incapable of making yards on his own with a line that’s not doing him many favors.  The Jets would be wise to really consider who’s a free agent to give this running game a much-needed shot in the arm.

Stealing Monday — Beyond Westhoff’s uncanny ability to scheme for special teams, one of his best traits is his unflinching nerve when the Jets play much better teams to try and steal possessions on special teams from their adversaries.  Westhoff and the unit added a much-needed seven points late in the game, while Tebow’s fake punt run and the onsides kick were daring plays — plays that helped keep the Jets relevant while outgunned against a stout Texans team.  Only by having a good special teams unit could the Jets dare to be so risky, and it worked out for them on the fake punt but unfortunately not on the onsides kick.  You have to credit the Jets for their bold effort, even if they weren’t able to secure the bal on the kick … that could have been a difference maker in the game.