The Jets fell to 3-12 today after losing 17-16 to the New England Patriots in what will likely be Rex Ryan's final home game as Jets head coach. The Jets played the Pats much closer than many of us expected, even leading for a long stretch. New England eventually did enough to hang yet another L in the loss column for the Jets. Let's jump into it below.
Geno Smith: This reminded me a lot of the performances I have been seeing from Mark Sanchez lately in Philadelphia. Geno started out missing wildly on his throws. Then his offensive line started taking control of things. Geno had plenty of time, and things got easy. Geno eventually got into a groove and started making some plays on his own. There was one stretch where he was playing great. At one point in the third quarter I said to myself this was the first time since Week 5 last season it felt like Geno was carrying the load. It wasn't to last. An interception on his own side of the field with his team leading in the third quarter set up New England's go ahead touchdown. It was an example of Geno not having an internal clock to get rid of the ball quickly enough. He had time but waited too long and got hit on the throw. Two critical sacks followed in scoring range. The first ended the team's hope of a tying touchdown. The second forced a longer field goal try than was necessary, forcing a lower trajectory on the try. It was blocked. This would be easy to overlook, but Geno has shown a lack of situational awareness too often this season taking sacks when his team cannot afford them. Scoring only 16 and aiding 7 for the opponent isn't good enough to win against a team like New England.
Marcus Williams: It's tough to give him a whole lot of credit for the interception. He was pretty soundly beaten on the play. Tom Brady delivered an inaccurate ball because Jason Babin was in his face, resulting in a tip right into Williams' hands. It seemed like one of New England's big halftime adjustments was to start attacking Williams on short stuff. On the field goal drive early in the second half that got New England's offense going, the Pats completed pass after pass on Williams. The receiver faked running deep and could run Williams off with any kind of move either back, inside, or outside.
Antonio Allen: Danny Amendola beat him cleanly on an option route for a critical Pats first down late in the game, and Allen lost contain on a run that sealed the game.
Darrin Walls: The pass rush did a lot to protect Walls, but he didn't look strong in coverage. He was also beaten by Shane Vereen one on one on a 15 yard run during a Pats scoring drive.
Chris Johnson: He averaged 3 yards per carry while Chris Ivory was over 4.8 per run. Ivory can create his own yardage when nothing is there. Johnson seldom can at this point.
Percy Harvin: He had a 25 yard catch on Darrelle Revis but was otherwise bottled up.
Calvin Pryor: He was beaten in coverage for a touchdown and could have easily been flagged for a dumb penalty shoving a Patriot.
Tanner Purdum: It seemed like he was responsible for the gap that allowed Vince Wilfork to block the field goal. It also seems like this wasn't the first time this season a team exploited the middle on a long snap.
Offensive Line: I thought this was a superlative performance by the guys up front pass blocking, even after Nick Mangold was lost. On many of the big plays the passing game made, Geno Smith had all day to find receivers, and those receivers had a lot of time to shake the coverage. I think today might provide a lesson for the Jets when they consider which needs to prioritize. A good quarterback doesn't necessarily need a stellar offensive line. They know when to change protections, when to get rid of the ball, and how to move to evade pressure. I know some people are rolling their eyes. It's true. I can name you good quarterbacks who make it work without a good offensive line. Finding a quarterback isn't going to be easy for the Jets. There is a greater chance than many of us want that either Geno Smith or some uninspiring veteran will be under center in 2015. Any such quarterback will require propping up. We saw today that even a Geno level quarterback can make plays with a lot of time. Offensive line might be a big place to focus this offseason.
Sheldon Richardson: He added another half sack to his total and had a big pressure to disrupt a third and goal for New England.
Quinton Coples: 6 tackles and half a sack for Coples.
Muhammad Wilkerson: He was a presence providing pressure on Brady.
Jason Babin: I counted three plays he made either in the backfield or close to it. That includes forcing the errant throw from Brady that turned into an interception.
David Harris: I thought this was a great effort by Harris. He had 10 tackles. He was good against the run. He also did a nice job dropping into zone coverage. He was playing at the proper depth to undercut routes and flew to the ball to minimize gains on any receptions in front of him.
Jeff Cumberland: Cumberland actually used his athleticism to make a few plays today, including a 20 yard touchdown.
The season ends next week in Miami. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying this season couldn't end quickly enough.