The Jets might be out of the Playoff race, but they still came to play today. New York defeated the Cleveland Browns in the Meadowlands 24-13. That gets the Jets to 7-8 in 2013. It might be a modest accomplishment, but this team will finish 2013 with a better record than it had in 2012. Let's recap it below.
Rex Ryan: I'm giving Rex the top spot. It isn't because the team played a perfect game. There were moments where the Jets lacked discipline. There were moments where they made mental errors. They started very slow. I'm giving Rex a lot of credit because of how they responded to their slow start. We heard a lot about how the Jets players say they support Rex. Talk is cheap. Today's game spoke much louder. It is easy for a team out of the Playoff race to pack it in when facing a double digit deficit late in the year. The Jets responded by raising their intensity level. How much does this matter? How much will it play in John Idzik's decision about the 2014 head coach? Nobody knows, but I think it does mean something when a team could easily pack it in and instead goes out and competes hard for its coach. It's a real credit to Rex Ryan that the Jets kept fighting.
Geno Smith: I will have to confirm by rewatching, but Geno's mechanics in this game looked better than they have in a long time to me. He was consistently setting his feet on his dropbacks and planting his back foot, which led to balls coming out on time and accurate passes. He made good reads and used his legs well, netting 48 rushing yards. Geno finished 20 for 36 with 214 yards, 2 passing touchdown, and 1 rushing touchdown. Was it a dominant performance? No. Does it overshadow an otherwise disappointing rookie year? No. What it does is provide a glimmer of hope and perhaps gives Geno confidence as we get closer to the offseason. At the very least, it is good to see he has bounced back from and was not destroyed by that brutal stretch of games he played last month. He also drew a late hit penalty with a nice flop.
Offensive Line: The oft and justly maligned unit put together its best performance of the season. The Browns registered no sacks. It wasn't a mystery why Geno was able to set his feet. There were enough holes opened for a big rushing day.
Jeremy Kerley: He kept making plays on third down and led the Jets with 5 catches for 70 yards.
David Nelson: He ran some smooth routes and used his body well to win a contested ball in coverage. He only had 4 catches, but a pair were touchdowns, and another extended a key drive.
Chris Ivory: 109 yards on 20 carries with a ton of that yardage coming after contact. The offensive line kept giving him a little bit, and he took more with his punishing running. This was the guy the Jets thought they were getting when they traded for him.
Bilal Powell: It was a generally quiet day, but his 39 yard run on a draw set up a big field goal right before the half.
Dee Milliner: The most productive receiver in the NFL this year was held 26 yards under his average today, and Milliner was on him for most of the game. The ball skills and instincts that were so lacking throughout his rookie year appeared today as Milliner defensed several passes and picked one off. Gordon is a game-breaking player, and Milliner contained his damage today. After a rough rookie year, this is at least a glimpse of what Dee can become.
Muhammad Wilkerson: He just keeps dominating. 4 tackles and 0.5 sacks don't do justice to the way he impacted plays by getting penetration and helped others succeed.
Sheldon Richardson: He played well against the run as usual, but he started to show some skill as a pass rusher with a couple of quarterback hits. Watch out when he starts to put it together.
David Harris: 6 tackles, and he hit hard today.
Ed Reed: Reed has been so bad that I'll throw him a bone for a decent game. He was challenged a few times, but held up well and picked off a pass.
Josh Bush: The federal government might get a report of a UFO tonight because Bush's pass on the fake punt was so off the mark. The play was set up perfectly. I was going to blame the coaches for making Bush the thrower until I remembered he played quarterback in high school. C'mon man.
Santonio Holmes: This may or may not have been Rex Ryan's last home game with the Jets. It almost certainly was Santonio Holmes' last home game with the Jets. He only had a pair of catches and didn't come up with three balls he could have caught.
The 2013 season concludes next week. The Jets have a chance to send the rival Dolphins home for the winter. Then what could be a wild offseason begins.