By Tyson Rauch
Heading into Sunday’s game no one knew what to expect from a New York Jets team that had nothing to play for. Would the Jets play inspired football with the goal of knocking the Miami Dolphins out of the playoffs? Or would Gang Green sleep walk with an eye towards the offseason? Following a 20-7 victory over the Dolphins (8-8) it was quite evident that New York (8-8) was committed to playing physical, aggressive football for their embattled head coach.
Offense Grade: B+
As expected the New York Jets built their offense around the rushing attack. Gang Green compiled 154 rushing yards which included 76 from running back Bilal Powell. The offensive line did a solid job of controlling the line of scrimmage and bought Geno Smith time to make some plays down the field. Wide receivers David Nelson (5 catches) and Jeremy Kerley (5 catches) once again made big plays in the passing game that kept scoring drives alive. Nelson has been a valuable member of the Jets offense and should be brought back next season.
Defense Grade: B+
The Jets defense did a solid job in the trenches stifling the running game (92 rushing yards) and then applying pressure on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Quinton Coples, Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and Sheldon Richardson were very active up front which freed up linebackers Demario Davis and David Harris to make tackles. Rookie defensive back Dee Milliner had a solid performance picking off two passes while producing solid coverage throughout the game.
Special Teams Grade: B-
A nondescript day for the special teams units. The return game was not much of a factor on either side of the field. Punter Ryan Quigley averaged 36 yards a kick while Nick Folk surprisingly missed a field goal when the game was still on the line.
Quarterback Grade: A
Geno Smith continues to make strides as he had another turnover free game. Smith did an excellent job of moving around the pocket and effectively used his legs when he faced pressure. The rookie (17/27 190 yards) made several big throws when given a chance to get his feet set. More importantly Geno displayed tenacity and leadership on the field that clearly rubbed off on his teammates. Maybe the game is finally starting to slow down for the young signal caller.
You could not ask for a better performance from the Jets as they were playing a desperate Dolphin team that had a post season berth on the line. The Jets were aggressive on both sides of the ball and had a refuse to lose mentality. Geno Smith was an emotional leader while the Jets defensive line created havoc in the Dolphins backfield. It was a true Rex Ryan type of victory. Coincidentally the organization announced that coach Ryan would be returning for the 2014 season following the game. Sunday was clearly a good day for the New York Jets.
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.