By Tyson Rauch
The New York Jets (6-8), who were huge underdogs on Sunday, entered the fourth quarter down by only three points. Unfortunately for Gang Green it all went downhill from there as the Carolina Panthers (10-4) took advantage of several mistakes en route to a 30-20 victory.
Offense Grade: C
As expected the Jets offense struggled against one of the best defenses in the National Football League. The offensive line continues to perform inconsistently which leaves quarterback Geno Smith scrambling for his life while running backs are getting drilled in the backfield.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did his best to keep the defense off-balance by moving Geno around the pocket and implementing a diverse running attack, but at the end of the day it was just not good enough. The lack of a legitimate passing attack continues to haunt this unit. It remains mind-boggling how players like Santonio Holmes, Kellen Winslow, and Jeremy Kerley are not able to make more plays in the west coast offense.
Defense Grade: B
It is hard to be overly critical of a unit that kept the team in the game midway through the fourth quarter. Take away a 72-yard screen pass to Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams and this group basically pitched a shutout against a talented Panthers offense.
Quinton Coples had another excellent game while Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, Leger Douzable, and Sheldon Richardson did a solid job of disrupting the line of scrimmage. The Jets linebackers and safeties had their share of issues with missed tackles and blown coverages, but then buckled down in the red zone.
Tip of the cap to veteran linebacker Calvin Pace who recorded his ninth sack, a new career high.
Quarterback Grade: C
It was another up and down day for rookie quarterback Geno Smith. The Jets signal caller faced consistent pressure and came up with some big throws. Smith moved well around the pocket and seemed to do a better job of identifying blitzes. Unfortunately for Geno with the game on the line he threw a terrible pick six which all but iced the game for the Panthers.
Special Teams Grade: F
With the Jets battling to take over the game the unit gave up an awful blocked punt in the middle of the fourth quarter. The blunder resulted in a touchdown for the Panthers and took away most of the momentum that Gang Green had created.
No moral victories
This is a tough loss for Rex Ryan and his Jets as the team was in position to pull off the upset. Gang Green will most likely be eliminated from the post season leaving everyone to wonder about the direction of the team. The next two games could dictate a lot about the futures of both Rex Ryan and Geno Smith. Will the team continue to fight, now that there is nothing to play for? Will Geno be able to quiet the critics with a couple of solid performances? Stay tuned Jets fans the drama is only just beginning.
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.