It was a good day at MetLife Stadium. The New York Jets finished up the season 6-2 at home with an encouraging 24-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns. More important than the victory, was the performance of rookie quarterback Geno Smith, rookie cornerback Dee Milliner and rookie guard Brian Winters.
Smith went 20/36 for 214 yards with 2 touchdowns, along with 48 yards rushing and a touchdown against a defense that was ranked 8th overall coming into the game. He showed poise in the pocket, knew when to scramble and was consistently strong on third down. Performances like today make you wonder just how much better Smith can be with a full off-season to hone his mechanics and an improved collection of wide receivers and tight ends.
The Jets skill position players did show up in support of their rookie quarterback today. Chris Ivory continued his second half surge with 109 yards rushing on 20 carries, Bilal Powell chipped in 54 yards on 7 carries. Jeremy Kerley led all Jets receivers with 5 receptions for 70 yards. David Nelson caught his first two touchdown passes of the season. The offensive line had one of their better performances of the season as well. Outside of a holding penalty, Brian Winters had a good “quiet” game. He didn’t allow any sacks. He had a nice block that sprung a 40 yard Powell run and generally held his own.
On defense, the Jets smartly stuck Dee Milliner on Josh Gordon all day. The rookie needed to be thrown in the fire and in a “meaningless” game, why not get him the experience? Milliner held up relatively well, recording his first interception and racking up 5 passes defensed. The Jets defense was solid in the red-zone and also recorded 3 sacks (congrats to Calvin Pace for hitting 10 on the season!) and 2 interceptions.
The book is far from written on the 2013 Jets rookie class and today was a positive step in the right direction for three players who have had difficult seasons. While the decision has likely already been made either way, it certainly didn’t hurt Rex Ryan’s case for his team to grab a win today and finish strong at home. We also know he isn’t lacking any passion…