Geno Smith was just the second rookie QB to win on the road in the 44-year history of Monday Night football. He was also the first rookie to throw for 3 TDs and 0 INTs under the Monday spotlight since Dan Marino. Love even more shocking factoids? Through 5 games, Geno has thrown for more yards than Tom Brady, RG3, Big Ben, Luck, Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson. That was fun, wasn't it? But that's not what's really important here. What's important is that in a one-week span, Geno was able to bounce back from a terrible turnover-ridden performance on the road and play an extremely clean game-- zero turnovers and an 80% completion percentage.
And when it mattered most, Geno led the team on a perfect drive into Falcons territory and into field goal range. Jets' right guard Willie Colon told reporters after the game that Geno checked out of numerous plays on that drive, calling audibles at the line like a seasoned veteran. The key for Geno moving forward is to continue to build on this success, which is easier said than done. The league will continue to learn his strengths and weaknesses, and so he too must continue to evolve. Nobody ever questioned whether or not he had the physical talent to do so, it's his poise, work ethic, and ability to translate it all to the field that will dictate his success.
The MM Factor
For as long as the Jets have been without a competent quarterback, it's seemed like even longer that they've been without a good offensive coordinator. Right now, Marty Mornhinweg's looks like the most valuable off-season addition to this team. The Jets offense was nothing short of atrocious last year. This season, with a rookie QB, they're ranked 14th in total offense. They showed a great balance between the ground and air game last night, along with a myriad of formations that kept the struggling, inexperienced Falcons defense off-balance. The biggest credit to MM, however, was his ability to draw up a game plan for Geno that helped the rookie not just limit but eliminate his mistakes after the 4 turnover performance in Tennessee. There can't be enough praise heaped on MM for that feat.
Muhammed Wilkerson's performance wasn't a "coming out party" because he doesn't do this week in and week out, but because it was on the national stage with Jon Gruden highlighting his stellar play every step of the way. Jets fans know-- this is what Muhammed Wilkerson does. He had a sack, a strip of the QB, and 3 tackles for a loss last night, leading a stellar defensive line in another dominant performance.
And the Jets were nearly robbed. After stopping the Falcons on 4th and goal on their last defensive stand, a late flag for holding Tony Gonzalez, be it pink or yellow, was completely errant. Just last Sunday night the Patriots unleashed three defenders on the practically-unguardable Tony Gonzalez when the game was on the line in the redzone. The defenders "blew up" #88 at the line of scrimmage, not letting him get even close to running his route and completely eliminating him as an option for Matt Ryan when it mattered most. The NBC telecast highlighted this play multiple times, praising Belichick for his late-game situational football. Last night Rex Ryan stole a page from his rival's playbook, but the refs were seeing things a bit differently this time around. You've got to wonder if the refs told Ryan that stopping Gonzalez from getting off the line of scrimmage with a double team would not be tolerated before the game even started. If not, this call was a complete injustice and nearly lost Rex and the Jets the game.
GIF of the week
Hats off to you, Julio Jones.
While my biggest takeaways from the game might make it seem so, the Jets were far from perfect. Had they lost the game, holding call on Gonzalez aside, we'd be looking at their inability to turn a blocked punt and a recovered fumble into more (Jets settled for 2 FGs on these redzone possessions), the offense's lack of production as a whole in the 2nd half and the defense allowing Matt Ryan and company march down the field in the 4th quarter. But they won, so we don't have to focus on that. Next week the Steelers come to the Meadowlands, where the Jets (shocker!) are one point underdogs. Keep 'it coming, oddsmakers.