One of two miserable streaks would end this past Sunday for the New York Jets: Either the Jets would defeat the Baltimore Ravens and earn their second road win of the 2013 season (their only other road win came at Atlanta to the lowly 2-9 Falcons on Monday Night) or they’d fall in Baltimore and end this ridiculous NFL record for flip-flopping wins and losses to start a season. Obviously fans cheered for the former; but after a 19-3 flogging by the Ravens… they’d reluctantly settle for the latter.
After completing 8 passes in Buffalo last week, Geno Smith went 9 of 22 for 127 yards and 2INTs against a Ravens defense that crowded the box, and showed his receivers little respect on the outsides. The group led by guys like Santonio Holmes, Kellen Winslow, Jr. and David Nelson in name-recognition were led by players like Bilal Powell in receptions (3) and Greg Salas in receiving yards (48) on a day where Geno needed them most. Josh Cribbs is being used more and more in the wildcat, even completing a nice pass to Geno for 13 yards. I’ve been a fan of mixing in the wildcat to give the rookie-QB a rep or two off without taking him off the field, others have termed this practice “hiding your quarterback”.
Sooner or later, like third & eight with 7:00 left in the first quarter, or third & nine with 0:32 left in the first quarter, you’re going to need your QB to drop back and make a play to extend a drive. When asked, HC Rex Ryan says his starter “has a chance to become a good quarterback” but “as of late, the execution’s been off.” Always one to find positives in a player’s performance, Rex applauds Geno’s pocket-presence saying “(he) thought he did a tremendous job of moving in the pocket”. I saw Geno get knocked down a bunch, hurried many times, and he ended the game peeling himself off the turf… but I’m not the HC of the NYJ.
The turnovers need to STOP from the QB position (not just the INTs, but the fumbles too); and it’s not all his fault, we know. He’s running for his life behind a shaky offensive line, and Rex listing “Holmes, Cumberland, Winslow, Kerley, Ivory and Powell,” as “some good weapons” are reasons why it’s hard to truly evaluate Geno’s progress. Holmes hasn’t been 100% healthy all year; Cumberland and Winslow are serviceable TEs, but are hardly the crème de la crème of the bunch. In his absence, Jeremy Kerley has proven himself to be one of the most invaluable of Geno’s pass-catchers, as his 12.4yds/rec and 2TDs were missing from the lineup for the second-straight game due to the dislocated elbow suffered against the Saints.
The opposite can be said for Stephen Hill and his 23 receptions in 11 games, whom Rex Ryan says the Jets are trying to get “fresher to the game” as he termed it. I call it losing reps in practice and being dropped on the depth chart, but Rex describes it as “not running the legs off of them”. I haven’t had the issues with Hill’s legs as Rex has had; for me, it’s those hands, and his incurable case of the dropsies… but I digress. Great plays by the Perfect Swarm of Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison were overshadowed by the play of Antonio Cromartie and Ed Reed, who can be seen chasing Jacoby Jones as he streaked towards the endzone.
The Jets play the next two at home, hosting the division-rival Dolphins and then the Oakland Raiders. In playing at MetLife Stadium, Rex acknowledges that “our guys feed into it, we feel that energy from our fans.” Four out of the team’s five wins have come at home, and they’ll need to take the next two in order to remain in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs. How many performances like the past two weeks by Geno Smith (17 of 45 for 230 yards, 0TDs/5INTs) can the team withstand before the sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture resembles that feeling after the 26-20 victory against the Saints… a distant memory!
-Joseph Haas Editor, HCoftheNYJ.com