Against a depleted Dolphins team that seemed to lose another player to injury every five minutes or so, the Jets badly needed to take advantage. They did just that, in a convincing 38-20 trouncing of the Phins that was not as close as the score would indicate. Let's take a look at what went right (hint: a lot) and what went wrong in today's contest.
Why don't we save the best for last, and start with what went wrong.
Darrin Walls: The Dolphins had two scoring plays before there was less than a minute to go in the game. Darrin Walls was the victim of both of them. That's not good. As some of you may recall I was an early supporter of Walls. I take it all back. I must have been suffering from delusions or hallucinations or something. Walls is a bad defensive back.
Buster Skrine: Jarvis Landry had the best day of his NFL career today. He caught 13 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. He basically was the entire Dolphins offense. A large chunk of that production came against Skrine, including the 40 yard bomb that set up the Dolphins' first touchdown when the game was still up for grabs. Skrine was repeatedly targeted, and repeatedly burned. He also failed to wrap up multiple tackles. All in all a forgettable day for the Jets slot cornerback.
Breno Giacomini: Breno got beat on the opening Jets drive which ended in a failure to convert on 4th down and 1. He was called for multiple penalties. He was ineffective in run blocking. A poor day for Giacomini.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson: Ferguson was beaten for a sack and flagged for a false start penalty on a rough day.
Jets Run Blocking: The offensive line as a unit struggled to open holes between the tackles for Jets running backs. The final statistics show a pretty good day with 130+ rushing yards. But much of that total was gained on the back of Chris Ivory's own efforts in the face of no running room inside. Ivory was a force and ran up the rushing totals, but most of it was in spite of the blocking, not because of it.
Quincy Enunwa: Quincy wasn't all bad. He caught a couple of passes for 29 yards. He also got a key block to spring Ivory for a 17 yard run. But he dropped multiple passes, which in the end lands him in the bad column.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: Any discussion of the good has to begin with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Granted, he was facing a bad Dolphins pass defense that seemed to get more depleted with injuries by the minute. As the game wore on and Dolphins continued to drop like flies you half expected the Dolphins
Deflator, errr... equipment manager to suit up. Nonetheless, it's one thing to be given an opportunity, it's another to fully take advantage of it. Given the opportunity, Fitzpatrick broke out of his mini-slump in a huge way, with 277 yards, four touchdown passes (the first Jets quarterback to achieve that feat since Mark Sanchez did it in 2011) and a 119 passer rating. Fitzpatrick also threw the deep ball more accurately and with better results than he has all season. One more poor performance and Fitzpatrick's job may have come into serious question with the coaching staff. This, however, was the polar opposite of a poor performance. This was controlled, mistake free, efficient excellence. Well done Ryan.
Chris Ivory: Ivory somehow managed to produce 100+ yards from scrimmage, despite mostly ineffective blocking from his offensive line. Most of those yards were on second and third effort plays by Ivory, including a remarkable touchdown run in which Ivory appeared to break the tackles of half the Dolphins defense on his way to the end zone. Ivory earned his money and then some today.
Antonio Cromartie: The stat sheet will show Cromartie was beat on a late touchdown pass with less than ten seconds to play. It was a meaningless play in what was Cromartie's finest game this season. Cromartie made a nice breakup of a pass with a big hit, and defended another pass on what should have been ruled an interception. Other than those plays the day was mostly a quiet one for Cromartie, primarily because he had his man covered and the Dolphins rarely tested him. A very nice game for Cromartie.
Calvin Pryor: He set the tone early with a bone crunching hit to break up a pass on the Dolphins opening drive. Pryor also sniffed out a screen pass for a big loss, broke up another pass with a big hit, and in general looked every bit the part of a first round draft pick today. One gets the sense we are witnessing the emergence of a legitimate playmaker at safety. When was the last time we could say that as Jets fans?
Damon Harrison: He did a really nice job shedding blocks and shutting down the Miami run game. Harrison led the run defense that held the Dolphins to 12 yards rushing. A very nice effort by Snacks.
Marcus Williams: He came up with the big interception early in the game when it looked like the Dolphins were driving for a score. Williams did a really nice job reading the quarterback's eyes and breaking on the ball to come up with a big play when it was much needed. Unfortunately he injured his knee on the play and did not play another down.
Brandon Marshall: It looked like it was the Jets plan to make a concerted effort to get Marshall the ball in this game. He was targeted 11 times, and did not disappoint, coming up with nine catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Marshall was simply dominant today.
Jeremy Kerley: He came up with a big 58 yard punt return to set up a Jets touchdown. In a year where the Jets have been starved for big plays on special teams, Kerley delivered today.
The Pass Rushers: Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Lorenzo Mauldin all came up with sacks today, with Richardson's resulting in a turnover. These are the three main guys the Jets rely on to generate pressure on the quarterback, along with Leonard Williams. Nice to see all three get a sack in the same game.
Devin Smith: After an extremely rough first half of the season fans were calling for Smith to be benched. He was largely ineffective for much of the season, and often hurt the team with his poor play. Today he began to answer his many critics. Smith made a very nice grab in traffic for a touchdown on a play that required concentration, strong hands, and the ability to fight off tight coverage. It's only one play, but it's a start. Congratulations to the rookie; may it be the start of something big.
The Jets are now 6-5 and in the thick of the playoff hunt. A loss today to a Dolphins team with a center who could not snap the ball and in general a team devastated by injuries would have been disastrous. Fortunately the Jets answered the bell and rebounded from a rough stretch with a resounding victory. Next up: an "away" game at JetLife Stadium against the Giants. Enjoy the feeling of victory and savor the week without calls for firing everybody.