Who are the New York Jets? Are the Jets the team that’s won big against the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts, exhibiting offensive explosiveness and the ability to dominate an opponent? Are they the Jets team that lost big to the San Francisco 49ers, getting shutout and completely embarrassed in all phases of the game? Are the Jets the team that won close against the Miami Dolphins, surviving a game they should have lost, and pulling one out in overtime through sheer resilience? Are the Jets the team that lost close to the Houston Texans, showing the fight to hang with an undefeated team, but falling in the end because they just didn’t have the weapons to compete for sixty minutes? Are the Jets Mark Sanchez’s team or aren’t they? It’s hard to figure out the identity the New York Jets, but this can’t be disputed:
they have a 3-3 record six games into the season, they have a 2-0 record in the AFC East, and they are tied for the lead in the division.
QBs: Mark Sanchez may not have had the prettiest stat line of Sunday’s signal-callers (11 of 18 for 82 yards and 2TDs), but he may have had one of the best games of the day. It was apparent that Sanchez was playing with a little more confidence, and some of that moxy fans fell in love with over his first two seasons. It didn’t hurt that two of Sanchez’s starting pass-catchers were making their return to the lineup. Dustin Keller (1 catch for 6 yards, and played over 40 snaps) and Stephen Hill (3 catches for 23 yards and 1TD) were able to play and performed well. It also helps when receivers are catching the ball instead of drop after drop after drop. Every QB looks good when the run-game is dominating, and Shonn Greene came to play against the Colts. Sanchez just looks like a better QB when the parts around him are playing up to par, any QB would. Tim Tebow looks like the ultimate “fourth down quarterback” as he referred to himself earlier in the season. The Jets have executed the fake punt to perfection each time they’ve tried it this year. They will fake it deep in their own territory, either short or long, and aren’t afraid to have Tebow let one fly as they showed against the Colts. Tebow threw a brilliant pass on fourth and eleven to reserve TE Nick Bellore who was wide open up the middle of the field. Gutsy play-call, great execution and some of that creativity we’ve been looking for from the coaching staff. HC Rex Ryan said “…the antenna should be up,” referring to his team going for it on fourth down. Good point by Rex, and great game by both QBs.
RBs: It took six weeks, but the ground-and-pound made its debut at Metlife Stadium in the form of 252 rushing yards and a performance for the ages by Shonn Greene. Yes… AFC Offensive Player of the Week Shonn Greene! Greene ran 32 times for a career-high 161 yards and 3TDs, joining Emerson Boozer as the only Jets backs to rush for 150+ yards and 3TDs in a game. Greene had runs up the middle, and off the edges, that left Colts defenders reaching for air and Jets fans cheering & begging for more. The spin move after getting pressured on the handoff, the footwork to maintain his balance, and the power to take it to the house barely resembles the running-back we’ve seen this season, who tended to go down easily after first contact. It was an unbelievable job by the offensive line, making gaping holes for Greene, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight, who also gashed the Colts with a 61-yard run. If the team can produce yards on the ground, and not rely solely on Mark Sanchez making plays through the air, the Jets can look more like this team and less like the team that was shutout by the Niners.
DEFENSE: Yeremiah Bell led the team in tackles, but it was great to see Mo Wilkerson making plays against the opposition’s running game at the line of scrimmage, or in the backfield. Wilkerson received a roughing the passer flag that extended a drive, but the Colts were only able to wrangle three points. No harm, no foul in a 35-9 blowout. Aaron Maybin was called for a personal foul when he put Andrew Luck to the turf on an interception return by Antoino Cromartie, who made it to the end zone. The flag negated the touchdown, and was a questionable call in my opinion. Luck appeared to turn and move toward the play, that makes him an eligible tackler, and should give Maybin the right to body-check him. Again, no harm, no foul in a 35-9 blowout. Enough can’t be said about Quinton Coples (1.5 sacks) and his breakout performance. He could have had a better stat line if not for another roughing flag. No harm, no foul in a 35-9 blowout. We love the energy and passion it takes to get off the ball and get to the QB, but we need a little more discipline when wrapping and bringing him down. In a closer game, those flags could be game-changing and HC Rex Ryan needs to address it.
INJURIES: It just wouldn’t be a Jets game without a skill player suffering an injury. This week’s VIP pass to the training room was won by Bilal Powell, who left the field with a dislocated right shoulder. As of now, he is expected to miss one game. Joe McKnight was tackled hard after his long 61-yard gallop and appeared to injure his shoulder and his ankle. As of yet, we have no word on McKnight’s ankle, and were given no news about an injury to his shoulder. Just add two more to list of Jets players who are dinged-up or have missed games due to injury. If the team can just keep a few players on the field, they may have a shot against the New England Patriots in Foxboro. HC Rex Ryan said “We go into every single game expecting to win,” referring to next week’s opponent. Expectation is one thing, execution is quite another.
ROOKIES: DE Quinton Coples wasn’t the only first-year player enjoying playing time during the victory against the Colts. LB Demario Davis, S Antonio Allen and S Josh Bush all saw time and all held their own. These players allow Rex to employ some exotic looks, using bigger safeties as linebackers in coverage as he did a few times on Sunday. After being criticized for his 2012 draft strategy and the players he did, or did not select, I’m pretty sure GM Mike Tannenbaum noticed his handy-work on the field… and probably cracked a wry smile at the snap of the ball.
Tune into the N.Y. Jets in 30, with your hosts the Amazing Jinx Grand (@JGSportsTalk) and myself every Saturday at 4pm for game analysis, predictions, and a breakdown of the next week’s opponent. Join the huddle! Contact Joseph Haas and Follow the conversation on Twitter @JerseyHaas