Nick Folk celebrates after hitting a 48-yard FG to win the game, 18-17, against the Bucs.
Poise from Geno
If you put stats aside for a moment, there was one noticeable difference between Geno Smith yesterday and Geno Smith in Week 3 of the preseason versus the Giants: his poise/comfort-level. Geno did not pass the eye test against the Giants. He looked skittish and indecisive; like somebody who was far from ready to fill the shoes of a starting QB, no less, a starting QB in New York.
Yesterday he looked the part. The ball jumped out of his hand, he used his mobility effectively when the field opened up in front of him, and he knew when to throw the ball away if the play simply wasn't there. Jets fans, myself included, were literally high-fiving over the fact that Geno threw the ball away in these situations-- that's what years of Mark Sanchez, who could never seem to grasp this concept, will do to a fan base.
And yes, Geno's turnovers (2) did surpass his touchdowns (1) yesterday, but that doesn't change the main takeaway from Week 1: Geno has a solid foundation on which to build, and so at least for the near future, so do the Jets. It's all about how he develops from here. Does he continue to make the same mistakes over and over again the way #6 did, or do we see a marked improvement from week to week?
Muscle Hampster, caged
One can infer that the main element of the Jets' defensive game plan was to stop Doug Martin, and stop Doug Martin they did. Martin rushed for 65 yards, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry. It's the mark of a good defense to be able to hone in on eliminating one aspect of the opponent's game and carry it out successfully. In the Jets case, it's extra gratifying in that their defense struggled most against the run last season. With aging linebackers their opponents made a living running outside the numbers, beating what ever game plan the Jets had in mind with pure speed and athleticism. Yesterday, the D-Line, namely Muhammed Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Damon Harrison dominated at the point of attack and never let Martin get going.
Winslow off to a good start
Kellen Winslow was in the middle of many of the Jets biggest plays on offense. Not only did he catch Geno's lone TD pass, but also the long completion before it to set up the score. On the game-winning drive, Winslow caught a 25 yard pass to put the Jets at midfield. He led the team in receptions and yards at the end of the day. Something that tends to be overlooked when it comes to receivers/tight ends is their ability to put themselves in the right position on the field to make a play. Being that each of these receptions came after Geno extended the play (i.e. rolling out of the pocket, looking past his second read, etc.) Winslow's ability to find space and provide a sure-target for his QB shows off his above-average awareness. If he can stay healthy he should put together a good season.
A win's a win, but the Jets will want to improve on the following points as they face off with a very tough schedule, beginning this Thursday against the Patriots and extending through October:
- Lack of run game, albeit against a very stout Tampa Bay run defense.
- Inability to shut down Vincent Jackson (154 yards receiving).
- Ball security in the red zone (Geno Smith's INT came when the Jets were within striking distance of the endzone, something Mark Sanchez was notorious for).
The only way for the Jets to shake the "Circus" moniker, bestowed upon them by the media, perpetuated by their mishandling of Tebow, and embodied by the recently-retired Not Top 10 blunder known as the Buttfumble, is to win. The Jets took a step in the right direction yesterday, playing an all-around solid football game than the Bucs and putting themselves in a position to steal the victory in the closing seconds. However, the media's not quite ready to give up on the Circus theme that has sold so many newspapers, generated so much web traffic, and given every "analyst" something to talk about when he or she would rather crack jokes than talk X's and O's. From the FOX broadcasters who announced Folk's game-winning field goal as "the circus continues!" and the ESPN anchor who called the highlight the exact same way, it appears that the Jets will continue to be the butt of the joke until they leave absolutely no room for misinterpretation-- the focus of the franchise is on playing good football, not making big headlines.