Rookie QB Showdown: Geno Smith Outplays EJ Manuel In Jets Win Over Buffalo
By Tyson Rauch
On Sunday the New York Jets (2-1) defeated the Buffalo Bills (1-2) 27-20 at MetLife Stadium. This game was a roller coaster ride for Gang Green as the team found themselves tied in the fourth quarter after blowing a 20-6 lead. The Jets gutted out the victory with a 69-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith and a resilient performance from their very physical defense.
Offense Grade: B+
The New York Jets had an outstanding day on offense as they tallied 513 yards, the most ever under Rex Ryan. The tremendous effort started with the offensive line where the Jets won most of the battles in the trenches. The line did not yield any sacks while leading the way for a career rushing day for Bilal Powell (149 yards). Right tackle Austin Howard did a solid job on defensive end Mario Williams while left guard Vlad Ducasse struggled at times racking up four penalties.
Wide receivers Santonio Holmes (5 catches, 154 yards,1td) and Stephen Hill (3 catches, 108 yards, 1 td) did a tremendous job of spreading the field and taking advantage of a banged up Buffalo secondary. The Jets big play ability is a new dimension to the offense that has not been seen in recent years.
Defense Grade: A
The Jets front seven did a tremendous job of dominating the line of scrimmage and shutting down the Bills running game. The unit gave up one 59-yard rushing play and then shut down both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Once the running game was stifled the defense led by Mo Wilkerson (two sacks) pinned their ears back and went after quarterback E.J. Manuel. The Jets pass rush was relentless and repeatedly applied pressure on Manuel while racking up eight sacks.
David Harris once again led a linebacking group that was very active sideline to sideline. Demario Davis struggled a little bit in pass coverage against Scott Chandler, but made the big plays when he had to. Antwan Barnes is starting to show his explosive side that Rex Ryan raved about in the preseason.
The play in the secondary was marred by a dreadful performance by Kyle Wilson. The Jets defensive back committed five penalties on four consecutive plays which in the end cost the team seven points. Wilson was taken to school by wide receiver Steve Johnson and it was almost embarrassing to watch the defensive back’s meltdown. Rex Ryan ultimately benched Wilson for a series but it was a case of too little, too late.
Quarterback Grade: B+
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith had an excellent game on Sunday as he passed for 331 yards with two passing touchdowns and a rushing score. Smith exhibited tremendous poise in the pocket and the ability to make some big plays down the field. Geno’s game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes was a throw of beauty as the rookie took a big hit as he completed a strike deep down the field. Smith did throw two interceptions but the defense picked him up by holding the Bills to only six points.
The most encouraging part about Geno Smith’s performance on Sunday is that nothing seems to rattle the kid. The Jets are in the midst of blowing a 14-point lead and Smith remained calm and in control. Even after poor throws it appears that Geno is quick to shrug off his mistakes. These character traits will be huge in the young quarterback’s development.
Special Teams Grade: A
The Jets kicking game had a solid day as Nick Folk went 2/2 (including a 47-yarder) while punter Ryan Quigley averaged 41.4 yards. The punt return game welcomed back Jeremy Kerley but the Jets receiver did not get any chances in open space. Clyde Gates struggled on kickoff returns failing to get to the 20-yard line twice.
Rex Ryan has some work to do
A win is a win in the NFL but this game was not exactly perfect for the Jets. The team was penalized a record 20 times for 168 yards. Most of the penalties were from the lack of discipline variety and should not be tolerated on any level. Rex Ryan and his coaching staff must get these penalty issues cleaned up immediately.
In addition, Rex had some issues with time management as he wasted both of his challenges on back to back plays in the third quarter. Ryan appeared to challenge the plays out of emotion before thinking the process through. This approach could have really hurt the Jets as there was a play or two in the fourth quarter that should have been reviewed.
At the end of the day you have to give the Jets credit for finding ways to win this game where it appeared like everything was falling apart in the fourth quarter. This team has one of the best defenses in the NFL and will do some damage if they can clean up the turnover and penalty issues.
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.