While we are happy to say we told you so about the Buffalo Bills being overhyped and the New York Jets remaining the second best team in the AFC East, we certainly can’t say we saw that coming. 48 points? Special teams touchdowns? The Jets looking like a high functioning NFL offense for an entire game? Today was a fun one at MetLife Stadium. Fun, because today demonstrated just how good this team could be and just how ridiculous all the negative pre-season hype around the team was.
Let’s start at the top, with the most important positon on the field and the most important player on the Jets roster not named Darrelle Revis…Mark Sanchez. Outside of a bonehead interception in the first quarter that had Twitter ablaze with cheap shots, Sanchez was as accurate as we’ve ever seen him, consistently fitting passes into tight windows and pushing the football down the field. Credit Tony Sparano for an aggressive game plan but credit Sanchez for dropping in some gems. He effectively spread the ball around, completing passes to 7 different receivers and showing tremendous comfort with rookie Stephen Hill. When you protect Sanchez, he can make all the throws necessary to win in the NFL.
The Jets wide receivers took a beating all summer, particularly Hill who many people claimed wasn’t ready for a big time role. He silenced those critics by turning in a monster 5 catch, 89 yard, 2 touchdown performance. Hill is a faster, bigger version of Braylon Edwards who Sanchez was extremely comfortable with in 2009 and 2010. Jeremy Kerley also got himself out of Rex Ryan’s doghouse with a 4 catches for 45 yards, a receiving touchdown an electric punt return touchdown. If they can stay consistent, the Jets offense has a ceiling much higher than anybody expected.
Austin Howard deserves to be singled out for praise. Mario Williams laid a goose egg today and Buffalo’s pass rush in general did absolutely nothing. The whole line deserves credit but Howard just recently stepped into a starting role and has the most prove. He was more than up to the challenge against Buffalo’s much hyped personnel.
Defensively, it was playmaking. The Jets made Ryan Fitzpatrick look every bit the overpaid, mediocre quarterback he is by intercepting him three times and taking one back to the house (we have been waiting for that defensive TD Cro!). Yes, the running defense and the lack of sacks was a mild disappointment but ultimately when the game was still in question, the defense routinely made game changing plays. LaRon Landry seemed to be in on every tackle and there is no question the tandem of him and Yeremiah Bell are a major upgrade from last year’s safeties.
The Jets and their fans have every right to enjoy this one. It was a statement victory in the division. However, there will be an even better chance to turn some heads this week in Pittsburgh. The talent is there to win, but will the consistency be there?
Check back tomorrow for No Huddle, a full Report Card and a closer look at Sanchez’s performance