Spirits were high, and fans felt vindicated for their loyalty after the New York Jets kicked their way to a 30-27 victory over the New England Patriots last Sunday. Though the conversation all week revolved around how the game ended, fans could rejoice in the fact that the Jets were above .500 seven games into the season, and that was something most didn’t see coming when they lined up against the Bucs at MetLife Stadium for Week 1. With ‘Patriots Week’ in the rearview, focus shifted to the in-coming Cincinnati Bengals, who were the leaders of the AFC North by two games and playing as well as any of the top-tier teams in the league.
If the Jets thought they’d get off to a quick start like they did against the Pats, those thoughts were quickly erased by a 10-play drive to open the game by the Bengals, culminating in a 9-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton to Marvin Jones. It was the first of four TD passes (9yds, 6yds, 14yds, 6yds) Marvin Jones would catch on the day, as the Bengals dismantled the Jets 49-9. Dalton finished his day 19 of 30 for 325 yard and 5 TDs, with a Mo Wilkerson INT as the only blemish on his ledger. Jones tallied 8 receptions for 122 yards, while A.J. Green caught a modest 3 balls for a very immodest 115 yards. Dalton was able to go long to Green at-will, as he seemed to run right by Antonio Cromartie on a couple of plays. When asked about Cro’s health, HC Rex Ryan responded that “he’s healthy enough to play.” Rex defended his top-corner, reminding us that “he gets everybody’s best over and over.”
Gang Green’s offense got the best from the Bengals defensive line, as they pressured Geno Smith relentlessly earning them 4 sacks and 2 INTs (both returned for TDs). Geno Smith went 20 of 30 for only 159 yards and the aforementioned interceptions. Matt Simms tagged in for Geno after this one was well-decided, completing 3 of 7 passes for 17 yards and scrambling for 35 yards on 3 rushes. Those 35 yards led the Jets in rushing on Sunday, as Bilal Powell (10 carries) and Chris Ivory (6 carries) could only manage a total of 30 yards on their 16 combined carries.
It’s hard to look at a 49-9 face-smashing and find positives, but to see Geno developing chemistry with recently signed WR David Nelson (8 catches for 80 yards), and seeing Stephen Hill (4 for 23dys) hang onto some footballs were good signs for the offense moving forward. TE Zach Sudfeld got some work in the offense, making 2 catches for 10 yards, as the team awaits the return of Kellen Winslow Jr. from his 4-game PED suspension. I wanted to see more of Josh Cribbs on offense, but he seems to have settled in nicely as the new kick & punt return specialist for the Jets (26.4 yards per kickoff return).
The Green and White defense has shown its teeth when challenged all season, but on Sunday, I think they ran into a bigger, badder beast in the forest we call the National Football League. Those Bengals deserve all the credit for playing both sides of the ball well, while the Jets lick their wounds from a battle they were ill-prepared for. Once up, Cincy kept bringing the pressure until the Jets were forced to throw in the proverbial towel. Mo Wilkerson added a sack to his INT, but the team couldn’t stop the Bengals with any consistency. Quinton Coples has been underwhelming for most of the season, and only tallied 2 tackles on the day. Dee Milliner saw some action early, but was pulled by Rex for ineffectiveness. Rex, as usual, came to the defense of his player, saying Milliner “gonna get better.” When pressed further on the first-round draft pick, Rex responded, “…this young man has a chance to be a good one.”
Jets will need to salvage what they can from the beating, and prepare for a team which is equally as dangerous as far as skill players are concerned! The New Orleans Saints and QB Drew Brees will look to light up the scoreboard at MetLife Stadium, and players like TE Jimmy Graham, WR Kenny Stills and RB Darren Sproles have their eyes on that green & white-colored endzone! On the defensive side of the ball, Rex welcomes his brother (and defensive coordinator) Rob Ryan to the friendly confines. Let’s hope the Jets are looking forward to the challenge… and not forward to the bye week!
-Joseph Haas Editor, HCoftheNYJ.com