The New York Jets moved to 4-3 today with a 27-21 victory over the San Diego Chargers. The Jets won on the strength of a 17-0 second half. When taking into account the quality of the opponent, it was easily the most complete half Gang Green has played all year. After all the rough feelings of the three game losing streak, the Jets have to feel good entering the bye.
More after the jump.
Plaxico Burress: Remember back when the Jets signed Plaxico how everybody said his size would give the Jets a big target to improve their red zone offense? That finally came to fruition today. Burress had 4 catches for 25 yards, but 3 of them were touchdowns. Burress is not going to create space through great speed or great route running. It is his size that makes him a human throwing lane. Just put it near him, and let him go get the football. He also made a nice move on the catch that was not a touchdown. He caught it near the line of scrimmage and juked his way to a 15 yard game.
Mark Sanchez: The interception was bad, an underthrown ball. Aside from that, Sanchez was excellent. He was 18 for 33 with 173 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Sanchez avoided dumb decisions with the football. He spread the ball out, completing passes to six different receivers with nobody having more than four. He also extended plays with his feet. Sometimes a quarterback can be his own best pass protector, sliding or stepping up in the pocket to avoid an oncoming pass rusher. Sanchez's internal clock also served him well. He got the ball off quickly when a rush was coming from his blind side. This is an encouraging performance.
Brian Schottenheimer: Schotty pressed all the right buttons today. Coming out up tempo was a smart move. He called a lot of long developing plays down the field to take advantage of his weapons. Good things like pass interference penalties happen when a team takes shots. It also opens things up underneath. When he took shots, he left extra blockers in to keep Sanchez upright. This does not mean I am in his camp. We have seen this far too often. Schottenheimer has a good game or a good streak, people think he has changed, and disaster later happens. It is probably a matter of time, but he gets props for now.
Santonio Holmes: He only had 2 catches for 24 yards, but he had a big impact running off defenders to open things up for others and drawing flags. He also had a beautiful touchdown catch wiped out by a penalty.
Offensive Line: Opened holes for the run game en route to a 162 yard rushing game for the Jets. They were constantly getting a push and getting blockers to the second level. They also did better work in pass protection than the hit and hurry totals would indicate. The Jets ran a lot of long developing plays. Their blocking was a big reason behind the good game the passing game had.
Shonn Greene: Greene is not a guy with fantastic vision who can change direction on a dime. He needs his linemen to open holes. Then he can explode through them and use his strength to run through arm tackles. That he did today. Shonn ran with authority to the tune of 20 carries for 112 yards. Even a lot of his short carries were productive because they picked up first downs. This was what we have been waiting for. He also seemed to play through an injury because the team needed him with LaDainian Tomlinson out.
Darrelle Revis: Another ho hum week for Revis. Vincent Jackson had 1 catch. Revis just goes out and dominates elite receivers every week. The interception was a gimme because Jackson could not handle a throw, but the huge return was one of the key plays of the game. Darrelle is a dynamic return man. The Jets would be crazy to risk him on special teams because exposing him regularly is too risky for a guy whose most important function is to shut down top receivers. It is still fun to watch.
Antonio Cromartie: As is the case with much of Cro's season, his game today was nowhere near as bad as people made it out to be. In fact, it was really good. He gave up a first down early and then a long completion where he was in pretty good coverage. The fact of the matter is San Diego's wide receivers had 4 receptions all game. Cro was generally stellar in coverage. Had Jackson hauled in that catch that turned into the inteception, Cromartie was in perfect position to knock him down short of the sticks to end the drive.
Kyle Wilson: Gave up one completion to Antonio Gates but was otherwise the third part of the blanketing of San Diego's receivers. He also had a hit on Philip Rivers on a blitz. There was also that key interception.
Donald Strickland: Solid work on the tight ends when he was in.
Aaron Maybin: One GGN member said it best a few weeks back. He might be a one trick pony, but that is one more trick than any other pass rusher on the team has. He registered another sack doing good work getting off a cut block. Then he came close to another.
Calvin Pace: Pace has been fantastic this season setting the edge. San Diego broke some big runs, but it was not because of Pace.
Jeremy Kerley: The 4 receptions for 29 yards on the stat sheet look unspectacular, but he made some key receptions and runs.
Kickoff Coverage Unit: These guys were great. They pinned the Chargers inside the 20 on 3 of 6 kickoffs.
Nick Folk: None of his kicks were particularly tough, but he made them all and put enough hang time on his kickoffs to set up the coverage units.
LaDainian Tomlinson: Broke some decent runs early and had a huge catch to put the Jets into scoring range before he left the game.
Eric Smith Against the Run: The Jets were lucky to have him in the first half because he saved some huge gains with his tackling against the run.
Eric Smith Against the Pass: He blew a pair of assignments against Antonio Gates. One turned into a touchdown. The other turned into a big gain.
Jim Leonhard: The pass to Antonio Gates was behind him. If Jim looks for the ball, he's got a shot at a pick. Instead, he interfered.
Shonn Greene Going Out of Bounds: Greene needs to show better awareness than he showed on the first play after the two minute warning. Even if it costs him a few yards, he has to go down in bounds and force San Diego to take a timeout. Not doing so saved over 40 seconds for the Chargers on the last drive. This was the second time he has done this recently. Think back to the Divisional Playoffs on his late touchdown run where he should have gone down instead of scoring, which would have allowed the Jets to take the knee instead of giving New England a shot to score, get an onside kick, and score again.
Defensive Line: Losing Kenrick Ellis and Mike Devito hurt, but the guys up front lost too many matchups that let the Chargers run with success in the first half. In the defense the Jets play, the linemen are not totally responsible for the pass rush, but they do need to do a better job pushing the pocket.
David Harris/Bart Scott: The past two years, the Jets have had one of the top inside linebacker duos in the league. These guys are not getting the job done this year. They allowed Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert to run through their tackles too easily to grind out extra yardage. They also frequently could not get off blocks to stop the run. They combined for an uncharacteristic 6 tackles.
Josh Mauga: He saw a ton of time at Jamaal Westerman's expense. Based on comments earlier in the week, the coaching staff seemed upset with how Westerman was setting the edge. Mauga was not much better. Some of the successful runs were on him. It also goes for the safeties and linebackers mentioned above, but Mauga was also to blame for the success in the passing game the San Diego backs and tight ends had.
Dustin Keller: He made some big plays, but the fumble was on him. The pass was behind him, but it should be routine for a tight end to put that away. He just got outfought for the ball.
Joe McKnight and the Kick Return Game: They were really bottled up.
Nick Mangold: Not bad overall since he was part of the excellent offensive line, but Nick took some uncharacteristic penalties. Maybe he was covering for somebody who blew an assignment on the one that wiped out a touchdown. The good news is the bye will let him rest that ankle.
The Jets can now get to their bye with good feelings. That three game losing streak has been sandwiched by a pair of two game winning streaks. A huge stretch with Buffalo and New England immediately is followed by a very manageable finish. We can now enjoy the next two weeks with our last impression the long awaited glimpse of what this team can do when everybody executes.