You probably didn’t hear all that much about the Jets the past two days from the national media. Well, at least not as much as you did the previous four weeks anyway. Funny how that works, huh? After weeks and weeks of the media portraying the Jets as an absolute joke and pundits everywhere seemingly taking great joy in taking shots at them, the Jets went out and absolutely slaughtered the Buffalo Bills in the first game of the season that actually counted. Yep, that’s right, believe it or not those 4 preseason games actually didn’t mean crap, and the Jets not scoring a touchdown meant even less than that. When the lights came on, the Jets dropped a 48-spot on everyone’s sleeper darling team, the Buffalo Bills. It felt good. It felt damn good. Let’s break down what we saw..
BUY: Mark Sanchez – I hate to say “I told ya so”, but… Ok, I’m not going to get too carried away just yet, but that was as good as we’ve ever seen the Sanchize look. He had time in the pocket, he looked poised and confident, and he showed a newfound zip on his passes down the field. It’s amazing what a quarterback can accomplish with a legit deep threat (Hill), competent blocking on the right side (Howard + a game plan using chip blocks), and most importantly not having Brian Schottenheimer holding him back. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that in the first game without Schotty, Sanchez had arguably the best game of his career, right? Speaking of which..
BUY: Coaching Staff - This goes to all of the coaches, from top to bottom. Rex Ryan obviously used the media’s negative portrayal of the team to motivate them and lead them into the Great Buffalo Massacre of 2012. Plus, he –along with Mike Pettine– showed he can actually coach a little football and put together a defensive game plan that absolutely shut down Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills spread attack. On the other side of the ball, watching the offensive play-calling and play design was a thing of beauty. All offseason I couldn’t say enough how much better the offense would be simply by getting rid of the black sheep of the Schottenheimer family, and the early results look promising. It had been so long, I forgot that an offense could actually stick with the run throughout an entire game; I didn’t realize you could exploit mismatches on defense and attack them; I didn’t know you could throw a pass beyond 6 yards. Week 1 was an eye-opening performance by the coaching staff. By the way, I haven’t heard many “Schotty must be laughing in St. Louis!” jokes that everyone seemed to love throughout the pre-season. I wonder why?
BUY: The Wide Receivers - Santonio Holmes was mostly double-teamed throughout the game and didn’t put up big numbers, but he clearly impacted the game just by being out there. Stephen Hill, on the other hand, did put up eye-opening numbers, scoring two TD’s in his NFL debut and getting himself open repeatedly. Jeremy Kerley also chipped in 4 catches, a TD (plus a punt return TD), and put his rough pre-season beyond him. Chaz Schilens even shocked the world by not only walking onto the field without pulling his hamstring AND making a catch. What a day!
BUY: Shonn Greene Carrying the Load – Shonn Greene was handed the ball 27 times and showed he could handle the load, which is extremely important for this Jets team. He ran hard throughout the game, didn’t tire, and was breaking tackles well into the 4th quarter which is exactly what we want to see. He’s never going to be a game-breaking threat but combined with Tebow’s wildcat, he can really be a factor in Sparano’s clock control offense. That being said..
SELL: Shonn Greene’s fumbles – Greene put the ball on the ground twice on Sunday, including once at the goalline and that is absolutely unacceptable. I’m as staunch a Greene defender as anyone, and I was generally encouraged by his performance, but he can NOT be doing that. Also..
SELL: The Run Blocking – Generally the run blocking was pretty solid on Sunday, but this team still needs a Tight End who can block. Cumberland and Reuland aren’t going to cut it, and when Jason Smith comes in for that role, it kind of tips their hand as to what is going to be run.
BUY: The Secondary – A dominant performance by the defense was marred slightly by an apparent concussion for Darrelle Revis. If the Jets are going to win in Pittsburgh, we’re going to need to see a healthy #24 out there to eliminate Antonio Brown from the Steelers offense. Against the Bills, we saw Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson manhandle the Bills receivers. We saw the new safeties, Laron Landry and Yeremiah Bell make big hits and actually make some plays. It was nice to see a Jets safety out there not just trailing a tight end by 5 yards while hopelessly diving for a tackle. We’re going to need a solid performance from these guys next week against a Pittsburgh team that likes to throw to Heath Miller down the middle of the field.
SELL: Depth on Defense – Perhaps this is nitpicking a little bit, but when the Jets started making some defensive substitutions late in the game, it got really brutal out there. Ellis Lankster can be a nice 4th corner, but when he was forced into a larger role he got picked apart. Isaiah Trufant should never be on the field for defense. Garrett McIntyre came in for an injured Bryan Thomas and the drop off was noticeable. Even Kenrick Ellis, who had a great preseason left a lot to be desired as Sione Po’uha’s replacement. We are going to need to see a healthy Sione this week against Pittsburgh and their crap offensive line.
SELL: The media – I wonder how some of these morons were able to recap the game on Sunday with a giant foot sticking out of their mouths. What a major disappointment Sunday had to be for the media hacks who had the Jets dead and buried before a single play that actually counted took place. I feel really bad that they had to file away their pre-written “clown” jokes since they weren’t able to use them. What a major disappointment. And did I take great joy in reminding everyone that the real “clowns” were people like Evan Silva, who called for the Jets to score a mere 6 points this week? Yes, yes I did. It was just one game and we can’t get too carried away because there’s a long way to go, but what a game it was. I have a feeling there are going to be plenty more like it.