Just stop the bleeding. That’s what we all were thinking as the reeling New York Jets got set for their second meeting with the Dolphins. The 2015 season has been a bumpy ride so far. A 4-1 start had since evaporated into a 5-5 record that heading into yesterday has the Jets on the outside looking in and bunched together with too many AFC teams.
Prayers answered. Boy the Dolphins have looked bad in both meetings this year, haven’t they? After London, the Fish canned HC Joe Philbin. Today they axed OC Bill Lazor. Miami was the perfect remedy. The Jets weren’t perfect. It took a while to add insurance to a 7-0 lead in the first half, but the inside pressure combined with young energy outside in Lorenzo Mauldin, and a group effort by the secondary with Darrelle Revis out, did the trick. Fitzmagic? Well that’s what goes down when you shave your beard. Good things happen.
Todd Bowles gave some different players more opportunities. Linebackers have a seat. Corners, let’s go. Fix these coverage issues. Welcome to the NFL finally Mr. Devin Smith. A little of this, a little of that, and the Fish. Nice combo meal. Now it’s onto the Giants.
Next Man Up Secondary
It is essential to have depth in the war of attrition NFL. With Darrelle Revis out due to a concussion, the secondary showed their “next man up” skills. Marcus Williams, who filled in for “the Island,” has been playing well since the preseason. His INT of Ryan Tannehill inside the Jets 10 yard line preserved an early 7-0 lead the Jets maintained until a late first half TD scoring drive capped by Devin Smith’s first NFL TD, grew the lead to 14-0, which felt like 28 points the way the Miami offense was looking. Williams got hurt on the return but not to worry…Buster Skrine and Darrin Walls kept the defensive flow intact from there.
Maligned CB Antonio Cromartie looked healthier on Sunday. Quicker. More in tune with the intent of the receiver he was guarding. In one sequence, Cromartie out positioned a Dolphins WR deep down the sidelines and in a race only with himself, almost caught up to the overthrown ball for a pick. On the next play, the “Robin” of the Jets superhero veteran star corner tandem “Batman and Robin” shadowed a route beautifully towards the sidelines, broke on the ball and seemingly ripped it out of mid air, until a review took the great takeaway play from Cromartie, even though I’m guessing there are many who still believe Cro was robbed on technicalities.
John Idzik era draft selection Dex McDougle added coverage, as Todd Bowles went for more cover corners and less linebackers than in previous weeks. For obvious reasons. S Calvin Pryor proved that him being healthy is now a key element to the defense’s success. It was a job well done and one that may have returned hope to a portion of the stereotypically glass half full fan base that was losing faith in the secondary or what had been a strength of the team and a big reason for its fast 4-1 start this season. Revis comes back next week too. Just in time for Odell Beckham.
Smith, Quincy and Mauldin: A December Surprise?
In politics they call it the October surprise: A news event deliberately created to influence an election in November. With the stale Jets desperate for a spark, perhaps they found their own potential surprise in rookie duo Devin Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin. A pair of Mike Maccagnan draftees who helped change the game on Sunday, who if they can grow into bigger weapons from this point forward, have the potential to be game changers for the Jets as they gear up for a December playoff push.
Smith had struggled until his twenty yard grab and subsequent TD catch yesterday, the first of his career. We all know that. He broke his ribs this summer, has had trouble connecting with Fitzmagic all year long, then had the key fumbled kick off return weeks back against the Bills. A play that turned the tides against the Jets in a game with big postseason implications. Then the dropsies followed last week in Houston. It was a rookie campaign that seemed headed towards utter disaster. Until Sunday.
Smith is a field stretcher. A player who can be one the defense must concern themselves with. A guy who could pull safeties out of the box for Chris Ivory. The ground game has had trouble finding room on inside runs for too many weeks now, including yesterday and don’t let Ivory’s 87 yards and magician like escape for a TD fool you. It could use a deep threat who strikes fear.
Throw Quincy Enunwa in this conversation too. He’s big, plays physically, and was targeted plenty yesterday. Enough that if the trend continued would shed extra attention off of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, which it seemed to as Marshall went off and Decker had room to work most of the afternoon. The Jets are playing without a tight end and realize that they need some size and inside presence in the passing game. Enunwa provided some with two grab for 29 yards but could there be more looks coming his way in the future?
Todd Bowles admitted this past week that the Jets defensive line has been solid but hasn’t gotten off quickly enough on the outside, that it lacks an edge speed rusher to put it over the top. Bowles also added that Lorenzo Mauldin has shown potential. On Sunday Mauldin broke out. Closing pockets, pounding Ryan Tannehill, cleaning up loose balls with a fumble recovery after a Sheldon Richardson hit. So for one day at least, Mauldin helped to provide the finishing touches on the front seven’s ability to run stop by speeding up the QB on third and long.
So maybe this is how the Jets climb out of the playoff bubble pack they put themselves in by failing to grow in November. Maybe the missing pieces that Gang Green needed to contribute have found their footing in the nick of time. As December football officially begins.
Cruz and Hopkins Must Be Ominous Reminders For the Jets With ODB
Giants Jets next week. This one means more than local bragging rights for both teams. Each squad has squandered opportunities to distance itself from the pack. The Giants in the NFC East. The Jets in the AFC Wildcard race. If I were the Jets I’d consider recent history against Big Blue and their most recent experience against a top flight receiver.
My advice is, don’t let Odell Beckham be a big factor. Don’t let HIM beat you. Don’t forget the 99 yard play when Victor Cruz was THE GUY. Learn from the DeAndre Hopkins explosion last week. Give Darrelle Revis safety help. Yes, even the great Revis needs a teammate close by with ODB.
That’s right, force the Giants to work the ball around to other places. Randle. Dwayne Harris. Check downs to Shane Vereen. Take Beckham out of the game by not leaving it all up to one guy even arguably the game all time greatest cover CB.
– Ryan Fitzpatrick: Efficent through the air. No interceptions. Used his legs. Still didn’t slide though. A lot of head first stuff. Just a friendly reminder that scrambles like that keep Geno Smith a smidgen closer than a heartbeat away from the President’s chair. You know what I mean.
– Chris Ivory is still struggling to find room inside. It has forced him to bounce outside at times which has resulted in big losses too. Can there be a solution to this nagging problem?
– Bilal Powell was a key to the late first half touchdown drive. His style is different from Ivory’s. More perimeter based. More screen pass based. It wouldn’t surprise me if Powell was used more this month, which in turn would help keep Ivory fresh as well.
Photo Credit: Sun-Sentinel