The Jets put together their finest performance of the 2008 season with a 26-17 win over the Bills. The victory was only New York's second in Orchard Park since the 2003 season. Even though the Jets entered the contest with a winning record, there was little to be too confident in the club. This team had struggled to wins against weak competition and capitulated every time it was tested. After such a good performance in hostile territory against a quality opponent, we can now say the Jets are a threat to do big things this season.
Kris Jenkins: Jenkins seems to make this category every week. I do not want people to think that I only focus on the same things, but he has been so good that it has been impossible to not mention him. What Kris did to Buffalo's interior offensive line today can only be described as utter annihilation. The Bills looked like the Confederate Army at Appomattox. Bills center Duke Preston spent the vast majority of the day being driven into his own backfield. Jenkins finished the day with 5 tackles and 2 sacks. The Bills finished the day with an average of less than 2 yards per rush. The Jets finished with 5 sacks, due in no small part to how the constant double teams Kris demanded created one on one matchups for everybody else. Jenkins still got a lot of leverage when doubled. The Bills may have been without starting guard and cheap shot artist Brad Butler, but he would not have made a lick of difference. Jenkins is playing on another level right now. No tackle has played better football in 2008.
Darrelle Revis: The second year pro may have registered the best game of his career. He registered a strip sack on a corner blitz early in the game and recovered the fumble. He picked up an interception to put the finishing touches on the game. He completely shut down Lee Evans, a terrific receiver. Evans had only 4 catches, 2 of which came in garbage time with the Jets in prevent mode. Darrelle has been beaten deep a few times this season, but quarterbacks for the opposition failed to take advantage. That did not occur today. The former first round pick completely locked off one half of the field.
The Short Passing Game: This was a novel offensive approach. Brett Favre had been flinging the ball up for grabs off his back foot on a consistent basis. He took too many hits in recent weeks. He became a Hall of Famer in Green Bay's West Coast offense. Why not have him get the ball out to his targets on quick reads before the defense has time to adjust? This allowed the Jets to move the ball and eat the clock consistently starting late in the first half. Favre responded with an efficient 19 for 28, 201 yard line. With the way the defense stuffed the run and generated the pass rush, Gang Green only needed a game manager to move the chains. Except for one ill-fated throw to be discussed later, this was a solid job by the passing game.
Leon: Another game, another stellar performance by Leon Washington. Did the Jets really get this guy for giving up Herman Edwards? That is like getting a luxury car because somebody else wants your car with 200,000 miles on it. He essentially put the team on the board on the first drive with a 40 yard kickoff return and a 40 yard run after a catch. He later made a heads up play, stepping over the sideline before touching a kickoff near the boundary. This resulted in a penalty that literally picked the Jets up 30 yards of field position to start their drive. Washington is another guy who seems to be mentioned every week on the good side. If not for Jenkins, he would be in great shape to repeat as team MVP.
Icing the Game: The offensive line was spotty in run blocking until New York's last drive. Leading by 6 in the fourth quarter, the Jets killed over 8:00 with quick passes and power running. Thomas Jones had 34 of his 69 yards on this drive. This is the way a contender finishes off an opponent.
The Pick Six: You are Brett Favre. You are getting the ball back after your opponent missed a field goal in the fourth quarter. You are up 13 points with all of the momentum. You get pressured on the first play of the drive. You should take the sack instead of throw it to a covered receiver off your back foot. Jabari Greer took his mistake back 42 yards for a touchdown.
You are Brian Schottenheimer. You have a mistake-prone quarterback who tends to put it up for grabs when pressured. You are getting the ball back after your opponent missed a field goal in the fourth quarter. You are up 13 points with all of the momentum. You have had nothing but success in this game using short, timing routes. This is not the time to call a play that requires said quarterback to make a seven step drop and increase the chance he will make an error.
You are Robert Turner. Even though you are lining up at tight end, you are really a tackle. You are the sixth offensive lineman on the field and are lining up on the outside. How do you let a pass rusher get around you and to your quarterback on the outside? Why not push him inside where D'Brickashaw Ferguson can provide help and keep your quarterback clean?
Way too much went wrong on that play. Let us move on.
Bowens in Coverage: Buffalo tight end Robert Royal led the team with 5 catches for 70 yards in the game. David Bowens had a tough time against him and even picked up a holding penalty. David Harris may not be a stud in coverage, but the team clearly felt his absence. This is not to say anybody should be upset with Bowens. He has been primarily a pass rusher at defensive end and outside linebacker during his career. The responsibilities of a 3-4 middle linebacker are foreign to him. This is still a work in progress.
Washington over Jones Late: Late in the fourth on the aforementioned game-icing drive, the Jets ran Leon Washington inside instead of Thomas Jones. Jones had just broken a pair of big runs. He is bigger and a better runner between the tackles. Washington is the change of pace speed back. The Jets surely should involve Leon in the game plan, but the situation really did not call for him to be in at that moment.
Mangini's Pep Talk: The Jets came out and saw their defense give up a touchdown on the first drive because of a pair of horrendously blown coverages. The team also picked up four early penalties. These guys did not look prepared at the start of the contest before recovering. After a win like this, it is tough to get on the coaching staff, but the Jets were not ready out of the gate.
This was by far the best performance of the year. A week ago, I bemoaned this team's inability to put together sixty minutes. They may have looked spotty at some points, but getting a victory in an environment this hostile is quite an accomplishment. The Jets controlled this game. There finally is reason to believe this club can do something big in 2008.