By Tyson Rauch
A win is a win in the National Football League, but make no mistake about it: The New York Jets’ 19-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders was far from perfect. The Jets played sloppy on both sides of the football, leaving the outcome of the game uncertain until late into the fourth quarter. At the end of the game, Gang Green’s dominant defense and the powering running game was enough to pull Rex Ryan’s team through.
Statistically, the New York Jets offense had an excellent day controlling the time of possession (34:50) while tallying 212 rushing yards. The running game, led by Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory (71-yard touchdown run), opened up the passing game that featured catches by seven different receivers. Unfortunately for Gang Green, the offense was 1-4 in the red zone, which ended up keeping the Raiders in the game far too long.
The play calling was predicated around the running game, with a surprising wrinkle of including Michael Vick in the first half. The addition of Vick was a bit odd, as the offense was rolling and there did not appear to be a need for gadget plays. One would think that Rex Ryan would have learned his lesson from the Tim Tebow days.
The Jets defense started out slowly, as rookie quarterback Derek Carr sliced up the unit with the short passing game, which resulted in an early touchdown. Once the New York defense got settled, they completely stifled the Raiders passing attack while holding the ground game to only 25 rushing yards. Gang Green’s front seven led by Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Demario Davis did an excellent job of controlling the line of scrimmage while Dawan Landry and Calvin Pryor patrolled the secondary. Surprisingly the Raiders did not repeatedly test cornerbacks Darrin Walls and Antonio Allen which made the Oakland defense very easy to defend.
One interesting note on defense was that linebacker Jason Babin (1 sack) often replaced Quinton Coples on third down passing situations. Babin has a relentless motor and generates an explosive pass rush from the outside. It will be interesting to see if this substitution pattern continues in weeks to come.
Geno Smith: B
The New York Jets quarterback had an up and down day as his solid management of the game was offset by his two turnovers. Geno Smith made several quality throws, but sometimes fell into the trap of staring down his receivers, which resulted in incompletions or poor execution. Smith continues to improve with his mobility getting out of the pocket, but now must work on sliding instead of taking the big hit. Geno had a big fumble inside of the red zone which momentarily sucked the life out of the stadium.
Special Teams: B
Placekicker Nick Folk is as consistent as they come nailing both of his field goal attempts including a 45-yarder. Ryan Quigley remains a serviceable punter averaging 38 yards a kick while Saalim Hakim did a solid job on kickoff returns. Rookie Jalen Saunders made his debut as a punt returner but did not get a chance to show off his skillset.
Take the win and run
The New York Jets got a much needed victory as the team faces a daunting schedule over the next six weeks. Geno Smith continues to develop as a quarterback while his supporting cast will remain a strong running game and a stout defense. Going forward, Gang Green must reduce the stupid penalties (11 on Sunday) and continue to dominate on the defensive line if they want to remain competitive against high powered offenses. This Jets team remains a work in progress, but has the potential to play with any team in the NFL.
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.