During the week one loss to the Bengals, a number of key issues combined to ensure the Jets lost a winnable game. The Bills proved themselves a different level of opponent but in the short week there was a lot of work to do. Getting a win against the Buffalo was a clear upgrade on the opening weekend experience, but did we see improvement with the problems that the Jets can’t afford looking ahead to some challenging match ups? Lets take a look at four of them.
Success in the red zone
In 2015 the Jets ranked third in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on 66% of opportunities. Against Cincinnati however, they came away with a TD from only 2 of 5 trips inside the Bengals 20 yard line, a 40% rate. The other three visits ended in two field goals and a missed attempt. Brandon Marshall described the Jets’ week one red zone execution as the ‘poorest he’s ever seen’, since arriving with the team last season. Ryan Fitzpatrick identified the red zone problems as one of the biggest differences in the game, accepting no excuses despite the Bengals having the fifth best red zone defense in 2015. “This can’t be us” he said, “we’re not going to win a lot of games if we’re settling for three [points] all year.”
So did they improve in week 2? The first drive of the game certainly looked like more of the same. An incomplete shovel pass to Bilal Powell on third down meant a field goal was the best they could manage, followed by another field goal at the end of the first quarter. However, the second quarter resulted in two consecutive touch downs, a distinct improvement. The Jets ended the game with 4 of 7 redzone attempts ending in touchdowns, a much improved 57.1% rating. However, the Bills ranked in the bottom half for red zone defense last year. The Seahawks and Pittsburgh, who the Jets face in the near future, ranked in the top 6, so more work will be needed to avoid regression to the level of week one in this significantly important area.
Nick Folk has been a stalwart of consistency in the last few years so his missed field goal and PAT (the first of his career), against the Bengals seemed an anomaly, but one that cost the Jets greatly. Both were kicks that are made by NFL kickers 95% of the time and although Todd Bowles put the field goal miss down to the block, there was some nervousness entering week two. Even though Folk made the rest of his attempts, it was enough to raise concern. A problem with kicking, an area of consistency (outside of Folk’s injury last year) , was not something the Jets expected to deal with. Thankfully in week two, Folk made 3 of 3 attempted FGs and all extra points, redeeming himself from the errors of week one. Lets hope that was a one off and it’s back to business as usual.
Defending the deep ball
Coming to terms with the fact that Revis may be past his best is tough, even if his decline is not entirely unexpected. However, the way AJ Green torched him, and the rest of the secondary in week one was a huge cause for concern considering some of the Jets’ upcoming opponents. Green’s 54 yard touch down in the first quarter was not purely Revis’ fault but he was certainly beaten despite the confusion with safety Marcus Gilchrist. Regardless, Revis allowed 120 yards in that game and was beaten frequently. It seemed a continuation of the problems faced by number 24 against other high calibre receivers last year. Against Buffalo the problems with the deep ball continued, with an 84 yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin in the first quarter followed by a 71 yard TD completion to Greg Salas in the second half. In short, the Jets secondary are giving up many big yards with big consequences. This is something that can simply not continue against the likes of Antonio Brown.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was at best average in week one and struggled under pressure from the Bengals defense. He completed 19/35 attempts for only 189 yards, 2 TDs, and an INT which ended the game in the Bengals favour. He performed as would probably have been predicted, no fireworks and little risk taking. As mentioned above, the red zone accuracy was poor. Brandon Marshall also wasn’t up to his best, dropping a couple of catchable balls and being beaten in the end zone by Dre Kirkpatrick. Quincy Enunwa was the brightest spark in terms of the passing game.
In week two Fitz completed 24/34 for 374 yards and one touchdown, a marked improvement, although we must consider the Bills reduced pass rush. He looked more assured, leading the offense down the field on multiple occasions with minimal errors. Brandon Marshall redeemed himself with over 100 yards and Eric Decker looked like his 2015 self, scoring his first TD of the year. Add in Qunicy Enunwa’s continued impressive performance and we saw a passing attack much improved on week one. It’s not often the Jets offense are grabbing headlines over the defense.
It seems like the Jets made some significant improvements in week two, but things are still far from perfect. The Bills were in disarray and were still able to exploit the deep ball in particular. The Jets face a difficult few weeks and it would be foolish to assume that the problems of week one are completely solved. That said, you can’t ask for more than positive progress and that is what we saw in week two at least in some of these problem areas.
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