How does a team win when it commits 11 penalties, fumbles the ball 5 times, and turns it over twice? I guess this is the space to try and figure that out. Against all odds, the Jets are 6-2 and back in first place in the AFC East after today's 23-20 overtime victory over the Lions in Detroit. Let's try and make sense of this.
More after the jump.
Darrelle Revis: Let's start out with the best player on the field today. There were plenty of Jets who did not do their job today, but Revis was in 2009 form. The physical freak known as Calvin Johnson had 1 catch for 13 yards. He was shutout after the first quarter. Revis blanketed him for four quarters. He had no room to breathe. It's about time Darrelle started living up to that big contract.
The Return of Revis Island: For the first time all year, we saw Revis shadow the other team's best receiver for an entire game. If Johnson went left, Revis followed him. If Johnson went right, Revis followed him. If Johnson went into the slot, Revis followed it. It's common sense. Have your best cover guy play their best receiver. Don't let the other guys create mismatches.
Antonio Cromartie: This was the plan when the Jets traded for Cro. Revis takes away the other team's best receiver. Cromartie blankets the second best. The man he spent most of his time on, Bryant Johnson, had 1 catch for 7 yards.
Sione Pouha: Pouha dominated the point of attack against Detroit's interior line and helped hold the Lions to 2.8 yards per rush.
Mike Devito: Vernon Gholston started in place of Devito, which seemed to light a fire under Mike. He only finished with 3 tackles, but he was blowing guys off the ball and shutting down running lanes throughout.
Nick Folk: No complaints here when the kicker goes 3 for 3. Since the longest one was 36 yards, he should have made all three, but making a kick to send it to overtime as time expires and another in overtime to win it is clutch.
Santonio Holmes: Holmes had his first 100 yard game in green and white. His 52 yard catch and run in overtime set up the win. He did cut the wrong way. Had he cut right instead of left, he probably would have scored. That's nitpicking, though.
Brad Smith: He did good work as a return man and saved the Jets' bacon twice on first half returns while playing on coverage units.
Dustin Keller: Seeing the return of Keller was a good thing. He finished with 4 catches for 58 yards, a pair of which were clutch drives on the late 10 point scramble.
LaDainian Tomlinson: I'm getting a little worried about LT. He's looking a step slower than he did earlier in the year and not beating guys as much one on one. He was instrumental in this win, though. His 10 yard reception was key on the tying drive. A less heralded play was the way he got out of bounds to stop the clock. Even though he only picked up 1 yard, getting to the sideline was huge.
Shonn Greene: He ran it with authority against a loaded front, picking up 46 yards on 10 carries. I'd like to see him get more carries as the year goes on.
Vernon Gholston: He got a suprise start. Although the numbers aren't compelling, Gholston got a consistent push when he was in. I guess the return to his home town did him good. Let's see whether this flash of life can be built upon.
Brian Schottenheimer: I can't figure out what the guy is doing. I get that he scripts his plays at the start of the game. That's where the problem begins. When you script plays, there should be a little bit of everything to evaluate what works, what doesn't, and how the defense approaches things. A disproportionate number of his early pass calls were slants or screens, which the defense was jumping. It took him a quarter and a half to start attacking down the field.
Beyond this, he does stuff that just makes no sense. He goes to a three tight end set and sends five guys out on a passing play. He puts in Wayne Hunter as an extra tight end to run block. Then he puts Hunter in motion. An offensive lineman isn't used to moving around. Hunter got caught out of position and held. Then let's talk about sending your deep threat, Braylon Edwards, on a route nowhere near the marker on a third down play. Braylon shouldn't be the safety valve. He should be trying to get down the field. The offense was struggling, and we saw Brad Smith for one play.
This team has no philosophy. The play calling just seems to involve throwing a dart at a board. I just am having trouble figuring things out.
Bart Scott's Penalty: I hate hearing this philosophy that you don't call out a guy for making a stupid play because you don't want to take away his aggressiveness. A guy can be aggressive without doing dumb stuff like throwing a guy from a pile after a play is over. That helped Detroit score its first touchdown.
Braylon Edwards: He had a touchdown that swung momentum in the second quarter and then a really bad fumble at the start of the second half that undid all of the good.
Mark Sanchez: I know a lot of people will argue that Sanchez hit the key passes when it mattered. He did hit some key plays. The bottom line is that 9 times out of 10 what he did today will not be good enough. His decisions were not very good. His accuracy was quite lacking on a lot of his throws. A 22 for 39 line is unspectacular. Some of the clutch plays were Tomlinson and Holmes making big runs.
Jerricho Cotchery: I'm not sure what has happened to him, but he had a drop and another ball he could have caught (and probably would have caught a year ago).
Drew Coleman: He has come crashing back to earth after the bye. While Revis and Cromartie bottled up the two Johnson's, most of Nate Burleson's 7 catches and 113 yards came on him. He burned Coleman badly on a number of these.
Center-Quarterback Exchange: It resulted in a pair of fumbles. Beyond that, it looked like Mark Sanchez and Nick Mangold were not on the same page. There were a number of late snaps.
Kyle Wilson: He looks elusive on punt returns, but he has to hold the ball with a tighter grip.
Rex Ryan: Ultimately all of the undisciplined penalties are on the head coach, particularly when it has become a habit like it has with Scott. The same goes for blowing a pair of timeouts within a three play sequence because the Jets kept lining up with 12 men on the field. The same goes for the lost direction of the offensive gameplans. This team is playing sloppy, sloppy football. The buck stops with the top guy.
A sloppy win is always better than a pretty loss. It's a lot better being the Jets tonight than the Lions after a devastating, potentially season destroying loss. However, Gang Green can not be too full of itself. This was not a good performance. If the Jets don't correct a lot, they will not be a Super Bowl team. Rex Ryan should treat it like a loss.