It is never easy being green especially when you play for the New York Jets. On Sunday the Jets pulled out a victory from the jaws of defeat when Nick Folk kicked a 48-yard field goal with two seconds remaining to seal off an improbable 18-17 come-from-behind victory. The game winning kick sent MetLife Stadium into a frenzy and capped off a resilient performance from rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
It was no secret that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were going to stack the box in order to slow down the Jets running game and to force the rookie quarterback to beat them through the air. The Jets offensive line did a decent job in terms of controlling the line of scrimmage, but at the end of day the unit was ineffective in terms of establishing the running game. Gang Green’s running backs had a hard time finding open holes which put a tremendous amount of pressure on Geno Smith and the passing game.
The rookie quarterback (24/38 256 passing yards 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble) displayed a tremendous amount of poise in the pocket as Smith repeatedly took hits as pass protection broke down. Geno often stared down his primary target but found ways to move the chains as he used Kellen Winslow (7 catches, 79 yards, 1 TD) as his safety valve.
The wide receivers had an average day with Stephen Hill leading the pack with six catches for 39 yards. Santonio Holmes returned from injury but Buccaneers defensive back Darrelle Revis did a solid job of removing the Jets playmaker from the game plan. Jeremy Kerley chipped in with three catches for 45 yards but it remains evident that the Jets need to add some additional playmakers to the receiving group. At this point in his career Geno Smith needs wide receivers that can run consistent routes and can get separation from their defenders.
The New York Jets defense did a great job of removing running back Doug Martin (24 rushes 65 yards 1 TD) from the game plan.
Gang Green’s front seven was stout at the line of scrimmage and eliminated all of the running lanes. Rookie Sheldon Richardson displayed explosiveness while shedding blockers and clearly will be a force to reckon with as the season progresses. Muhammad Wilkerson was his usual disruptive force with his tenacity to attack the ball carrier and the quarterback. Both Damon Harrison and Kenrick Ellis did a solid job of clogging up the middle and closing down the pocket.
The Jets secondary struggled against the Buccaneers including the Jets best cover man Antonio Cromartie who was beaten several times by Vincent Jackson (7 catches 154 yards). Rookie Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson were inconsistent in pass coverage and safety Dawan Landry had a huge missed tackle late in the game. If Gang Green’s defense is going to keep the team in games, this unit must play at a much higher level.
Heading into Sunday’s game no one truly knew what to expect from rookie quarterback Geno Smith. The rookie signal caller showed flashes in the preseason but in the eyes of many was not ready to start in Week One. Smith adequately played the part of an NFL starting quarterback as he displayed a firm command of the huddle and appeared comfortable in the pocket. Geno was aware of the pass rush and used his legs when necessary racking up 47 rushing yards.
Smith had some issues when it came to progressing through his reads and looking off defenders. Geno held on to the ball a bit too long and sometimes stared at his primary target, which put the pass in jeopardy of being intercepted.
At the end of the game Geno Smith displayed a tremendous amount of composure as he engineered a game-winning drive with 34 seconds left to play. Smith’s leadership was challenged and he rose to the occasion with a big 10-yard run that put the team into field goal range. Geno’s ability to elude the pass rush and explode out of the pocket definitely will keep opposing defenses off balance.
Special Teams: B
New York Jets kicker Nick Folk was the player of the day as he made all three of his field goals including the game winner. Punter Robert Malone had a sub par day with an average of 37.7 yards on seven punts. If the Jets are going to rely on the battle of field position to win games, Malone must become more consistent.
A Win is a Win
This was not a pretty victory for the New York Jets but at the end of the day the result in the box score is what matters the most. The Jets are going to rely on their defense to keep them in the game while Geno Smith learns the ropes of the NFL. Whether or not this is a recipe for success in 2013 remains to be seen.
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