What a game. The New York Jets didn’t waste time personifying their Cardiac Kids and Comeback Kids nicknames. In true Jets fashion, their last second victory, 18-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Bucs, wasn’t pretty. But a win is a win, and I’ll take them as I get them.
- The Jets won. They have a 1-0 record. They’re undefeated. Geno Smith won his first official NFL game as a starting quarterback. They are tied for first place in the AFC East, along with the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. I can find a million different ways to communicate the same thing over and over and over again…the Jets won!
- Props to Geno Smith (256 yards, 1 TD). Despite a murky first half in which he threw an interception, fumbled, and took a sack for an 18 yard loss, he didn’t allow it to rattle him. During the preseason, one hit against Smith was his inability to read the blitz. Although he was sacked five times yesterday, he did well responding to the pressure and staying poised in the pocket. He scrambled when he could, and came up with some decent yardage gains. Ultimately, he finished the game as the leading rusher with 47 yards. That doesn’t reflect well on the offense as a whole, but for a quarterback who’s not considered to be a Colin Kaepernick or RGIII read-option kind of guy, I’ll take it. Overall, Geno’s presence of mind to tuck, run, AND slide or run out of bounds when the opportunity presented itself showed a lot of potential. Also, I liked his attitude after the Bucs scored the go ahead field goal with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game. He clapped his hands, nodded his head, fastened his chin strap and was ready to return to the field and lead. That show of confidence and positivity is exactly the type of attitude I want from my starting quarterback. And finally, let’s not forget the injuries that took Jeff Cumberland, Jeremy Kerley, and Nick Mangold out of the game. When a rookie quarterback’s safety nets are unexpectedly pulled from underneath him, you usually expect disaster. But again, Smith seemed unfazed and played well through that too.
- With Santonio Holmes still trying to return to 100% after foot surgery, it looks like TE Kellen Winslow might be Smith’s favorite player to target. Yesterday, the two players hooked up seven times for 79 yards and a touchdown. He scored a 7-yard touchdown in the second quarter to bring us within two of the Bucs, but it was his fourth quarter performance that made the difference. Winslow hauled in a 25-yard catch that moved the chains and helped set up the game-winning field goal. Lavontae David’s late-hit also helped, of course, but without Winslow’s huge catch, it would’ve been a whole different ballgame.
- During the preseason, Rex Ryan said the Jets have a top 5 defense. If they continue to play like they did yesterday, he might be on to something. From the opening snap, the Jets defense confused the heck out of Josh Freeman. The Jets frontline of Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Kenrick Ellis, and the 3-4 to 4-3 schemes kept Freeman off his A-game.
- I’m always quick to comment on the Jets’ defense inability to stop the run. However, I’ve got to give it up to them because yesterday they kept Doug Martin bottled up pretty well. The Jets only gave up 65 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, all which came courtesy of Martin. Beyond that, the Bucs had a difficult time getting anything else going. Anytime you limit a team to one rushing touchdown and less than 100 rushing yards, it’s a pretty good day.
- Darrelle Revis had a relatively quiet game. Smith threw in Revis’s direction four times early on, and completed just one of the passes. In the second half, Smith smartened up and stayed away from Revis. Ultimately, it paid off because the much hyped return of Revis Island to Metlife Stadium was a mere footnote at the end of the game.
- Nick Folk had a meh preseason and had to prove his worth. Yesterday, he came through when it counted most and nailed a 47 yard field goal in the final seconds. Nice work, Nick.
-Jets fans turned up, yesterday, and had Metlife Stadium rocking. The fans definitely took care of business as the 12th man on the field.
- There wasn’t much ground and pound, yesterday. Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory were held in check by the Bucs, who were ranked as the league’s top rushing defense in 2012. In all, the Jets only finished with 90 rushing yards, and more than half, 47, of those yards are credited to Smith. If the Jets intend to be competitive, they’ll have to improve their rushing game, for sure.
- The missed tackle by Dawan Landry in the fourth quarter could’ve been ugly. Between that, and Antonio Cromartie and rookie Dee Milliner getting torched for 154 yards from Vincent Jackson and 54 yards and a touchdown from Mike Williams, the Jets proved the secondary is it’s one main area of weakness. But ultimately, the Jets won, and the rest of the defensive unit stepped up in other areas, so all is forgiven…this week.
- The wildcat. We need to kill it because it’s not working. Plus, it drums up too many bad memories of Tim Tebow. Time to move on.
- I expected there to be A LOT of “ugly” moments from yesterday’s game. While the first half of play looked pretty brutal at times, Smith kept his composure and rebounded nicely in the second half. So what could’ve gone from bad to worse, actually went from bad to better. And with a rookie quarterback, that’s all you can ask for.
The Jets have a short week. Their next game is Thursday, on the road, against the New England Patriots, who also squeaked out a late fourth quarter win. If the Jets plan ot keep the streak going, the secondary will have to play much better than they played against the Bucs because Tom Brady doesn’t allow any room for error.