On Sunday the New York Jets pulled out an improbable 18-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium.
1) The highs and lows of a rookie quarterback- Geno Smith made his first NFL start on Sunday and for the most part played well. Geno exhibited tremendous poise in the pocket and a firm grasp of the offense. Smith used his legs effectively when the opportunity presented itself (47 rushing yards) and avoided the big hits. With the game on the line Geno played with confidence and it was apparent that the stage was not too big for him.
As for the negatives there were times where it seemed like the rookie held onto the ball too long which resulted in an incomplete pass or a sack. Smith had a fumble on a strip sack and a poor interception but these type of mistakes are going to happen to a rookie quarterback. Overall you have to consider Geno Smith's performance against the Buccaneers an encouraging one with a lot of promise.
2) Offensive line struggles- It was no secret that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were going to stack the line in order to shut down the Jets running game. Gang Green's offensive line had some issues with the pressure as the unit was beaten for 5 sacks. Vlad Ducasse struggled at times as the defender was blowing past him before he got out of his stance. The line as a whole must tighten up their blocking as every team will probably stack the box and force Geno Smith to beat them through the air.
3) Winslow shines- Kellen Winslow made his Jets debut on Sunday and quickly emerged as the safety valve for Geno Smith. Winslow finished the day with 7 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. The tight end can do some big things in this offense especially when Santonio Holmes starts to command more attention.
4) Why the wildcat? I thought that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg put together a solid game plan on Sunday, one that protected his young quarterback. The only problem that I had was the use of the wildcat formation when Geno Smith seemed to be getting into rhythm. Smith would make a nice throw and then would be taken out of the game. The element of surprise has been eliminated with the wildcat so I just don't understand why it was used as often as it was.
1) Defensive line dominates- The New York Jets defensive line is as good as advertised. Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Kenrick Ellis, and Damon Harrison did an excellent job at the line of scrimmage. The Jets line is explosive and athletic and will create havoc throughout the season.
2) Improved speed and athleticism- The speed of the Jets defense has dramatically increased with the addition of Antwan Barnes, Sheldon Richardson, Demario Davis, and Antonio Allen. Rex Ryan is going to have a field day using all of this talent in exotic blitz packages.
3) Secondary struggles- Gang Green's secondary had some issues in pass coverage as both Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams made their share of big plays. The Jets defensive backs seem to play some soft coverage without getting very physical at the line of scrimmage. Antonio Cromartie surprisingly had an average day.
Even though it was not pretty, a win is a win in the National Football League. The Jets played smart, physical football and that is all you can ask for from a team starting so many new players. Hats off to Nick Folk for coming up big with the 48-yard game winning kick.
Offensive MVP: Kellen Winslow
Defensive MVP: Demario Davis
One side note: It was surprising to see the amount of empty seats at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, especially in the upper level. Has Woody Johnson finally priced out his fan base?