Game Balls: “That’s a Wrap”

Dan Marcus hands out some Game Balls for the Jets week 17 victory

This is the most celebrated 8-8 finish I can remember the Jets having with the rumors swirling around about Rex Ryan’s job future, this team really rallied around their beloved Head Coach and did not quit after being eliminated from playoff contention, winning their final two games and knocking the Dolphins out of the playoffs in the process. Despite completely fudging their draft position, the Jets played a great game against the Dolphins and some of the young players took some steps that make you believe the future is definitely bright for this team but enough preamble, let’s finish out the season strong with some Game Balls

Rex Ryan

After finding out that his job was safe right before the game, Rex completely cut loose and coached one hell of a game, emptying out the playbook and playing like a team with nothing to lose because they didn’t. Despite his shortcomings on the offensive side of the ball, Rex is a great leader of men and knows how to get the most out of his players and if the front office can get him the horses on offense then this team has the potential to be an immediate playoff contender. Although I would still like to see the return of “Not Kissing the Rings,” braggadocios Rex, “Woodzik” made the right move here because one of the most important aspects of all the winning programs in the NFL is continuity. You very rarely see a team with tremendous year-in/year-out turnover making Super Bowl runs very often. Now the ball is in John Idzik’s court to spend the money he freed up last season wisely.

Dee Milliner

There was a certain point this season where I felt bad for the guy not only because of the shoes he was brought into fill and the multiple benchings but because teams decided to pick on him early and often on a weekly basis. There was a point where many were calling Milliner a bust despite the fact he missed most of OTA’s and Training Camp because of injury and was thrown into the deep-end of the pool right off the bat, thrust into a starting role in Rex’s defense, where Corners are tasked with playing a lot of one-on-one press coverage with no Safety help.

The light finally went on for Milliner in the final few games as he followed up an outstanding performance against the Browns where he shut down Josh Gordon, while reeling in his first career interception with another good performance where he collected two interceptions including the one that sealed the game for the Jets. I believe this is Milliner’s first Game Ball but something tells me it’s far from his last.

David Nelson:

Nelson is one of the few guys from the Jets’ “Couch Potato” offense that I would actually keep on the roster for next season as he arguably became the team’s best receiver after being picked up early in the beginning of October. At 6″5, 215, Nelson is a big target and he has shown rapport with Geno and is one of the few receivers on the current roster that actually fights for the football and bailed out his Rookie Quarterback on several occasions by doing so. The lanky receiver reeled in five catches for 66 yards, including a very nice first-down grab on a hurried throw from Geno Smith.

Brian Winters

Winters is another one of those young players that showed some encouraging signs of growth/progress over the final few weeks of the season and it culminated with what was likely his best game of the season yesterday. The Rookie lineman was especially effective in the running game, road-grading the Dolphins front-seven, paving the way for 154 yards on the ground.

Bilal Powell

Powell has to be one of the more underrated players on the Jets and around the league and is becoming one heck of a player for this team. Despite being supplanted as the Lead Back by Chris Ivory, Powell has been very effective when called upon and yesterday was no different, after Ivory went down with an injury he ran the ball 21 times for 76 yards. In addition to running the ball, Powell was also able to sling it a little bit yesterday as he completed a Chad Pennington-esque touch pass to Jeff Cumberland out of the Wildcat. Perhaps his biggest contribution is one that won’t show up on the stat sheet as he helped propel Geno Smith into the end zone on the Jets’ go-ahead Touchdown in the Second Quarter. The guy with second-best name on the team gets to see it painted on the last Game Ball of the season.

Quinton Coples

Although he’s listed as an Outside Linebacker, Coples is basically the fourth member of that outstanding Defensive Line, since renamed the “Son’s of Anarchy.” Although not included among the “Sons” Coples is (at least in my mind) perhaps the best pure pass-rusher on this team and only figures to get better as he matures and learns a pass-rush move or two. Yesterday Coples made his case for being recognized along with other members of that group, collecting a sack while putting some pretty consistent pressure on Ryan Tannehill. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Coples but right now a Game Ball will suffice.

Geno Smith

I almost wasn’t going to include Geno on this list for motivational purposes but he played well enough to earn a spot. Although I’m not completely sold on his ability to take the reigns and become “the guy,” Smith has shown some growth in the final four games of the season, cutting down on the turnovers and making smarter decisions with the football. In fact he went the final two games without committing a single turnover and came to an “Eddie Murphy in Trading Places-esque” realization that he does have legs and as ZZ Top would say “he knows how to use them.” Geno ran the ball 10 times for 44 yards and the aforementioned Touchdown and he also threw it pretty well going 17/27 for 190 yards. The bar is so low for Jets Quarterbacks that an efficient turnover-free day will earn you a Game Ball. Case and point.

Honorable Mention

Sheldon Fridge-Ardson

Not too much to say here, he’s been great on Defense and should win Defensive Rookie of the Year but today we’re recognizing him for his contributions on offense. It’s always fun when a fat guy gets a Touchdown and this season, Richardson collected two of them (twice as many as Santonio Holmes)


Happy Baggie Day Folks!