The Jets are somehow back in the Playoff mix after their 26-3 victory today over the Bucs in Tampa. Gang Green is riding a 3 game winning streak and is back over .500 at 7-6. The last month of this season could get very, very interesting. This performance rivals the Houston and Oakland games in terms of domination.
More after the jump.
The Defense: We'll definitely profile some of the outstanding individual performers, but this was just an excellent defensive effort. Tampa's only 3 points came as the result of a personal foul on Bart Scott on which the officials arguably should have thrown an offsetting flag on the Bucs. The blitz packages had Josh Freeman's head spinning and overwhelmed Tampa's offensive line. Freeman was 14 for 33 with 93 yards and 3 interceptions. The Bucs didn't have a first down until the third quarter. They ended with 6 and 124 total yards. This was domination.
Jay Feely: Feely was money today. He hit 4 out of 5 field goals. One was from 40 yards, and a pair were from 49. Feely's kicking helped the Jets put the game away even as their offense struggled to advance deep into Tampa Bay territory.
Calvin Pace: He was constantly running free and finished with 7 tackles and a sack.
Mike Westhoff: A fourth successful fake punt this year deserves kudos. It was the third variety of fake punt the team has run. Apparently the Bucs didn't pick it up on film.
The Tiger Formation: I made that name up, but it's what we'll call the Wildcat package for Brad Smith. Smith only had 16 yards on 5 carries, but getting the ball into the hands of a playmaker in the open field is a good idea and at least gives upcoming opponents something to notice on film and spend time preparing for. Smith had a 21 yard punt return. I'd like to see him out there instead of Jerricho Cotchery. He's more apt to make guys miss. I know he doesn't have great hands as a receiver and would seem to be more of a turnover risk, but catching a punt is different from catching a pass.
Thomas Jones: Another big stat line against an opponent that was gameplanning to stop him. TJ had 99 yards on 24 carries and 2 touchdowns.
Kellen Clemens: The best thing you could say is that he avoided a catastrophic mistake, finishing with no turnovers. In other words, he was lucky that Tampa Bay's offense was no inept because he didn't make any plays. This was bad any way you slice it. This is a bad defense that was loading up to stop the run. Kellen only hit 12 of 23 passes for 111 yards and looked lost aside from a brief period in the second half. He left plays on the field. He wasn't making decisions quickly enough. When he found a receiver, his throws were wildly inaccurate. His mechanics were a mess. He struggled with all but the most basic throws, and even some of them were an adventure.
A lot of us (and I include myself in that number) have been making excuses for Kellen for four years. He was young and inexperienced. He wasn't supposed to play. His offensive line was terrible. The team never gave him a chance. He's out of excuses. By this point, if he was ever going to be a player in this league, he would have shown some sign of it. It's sad to say because from what I hear you'll never meet a more genuinely good person. However, I don't see how Kellen finds a job in the NFL after this season.
Shonn Greene: That would be three fumbles in six games. When the ball is getting punched out from behind like that, it's a sign you're carrying it way too loosely. The Jets are going to have to start taking carries away from him. Even though he's been productive, it's becoming too much of a turnover risk.
Mike Westhoff: Westhoff got credit for the fake punt. He also has to take heat for the onside kick. It's been obvious the up men have been leaving too early all year. It almost cost them against Jacksonville. It hasn't been corrected at all. The Jets had no shot of recovering that kick because their men were so far down the field.
Three down, three to go. Nobody can say for sure how this thing will end. One thing is for sure. The Jets have shown a lot of character this year. It would have been easy to pack it in after the midseason swoon. The way they have continued to fight and get themselves back into this position says a lot good.