The Jets are 5-3. Gang Green defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars today at the Meadowlands by a 28-23 score. With the win the Jets guaranteed they will end 2015 with more wins than they had in 2014. It took only half the season to accomplish that. This was not an easy win. The Jets had to battle to come away with the victory. Let's talk about what happened below.
Ryan Quigley: I am going to start with the much-maligned Quigley. Nick Folk's late injury left Quigley with placekicking duties at the last minute. Quigley responded by making all four extra points. Many of you likely had flashbacks to the game in Miami in 2008 the Jets almost lost because Mike Nugent got hurt, and they couldn't try an extra point. Quigley didn't have to make the chip shot extra points of the past either. For a guy not used to kicking, he did a great job making all four. He also did not put the Jets at a disadvantage with the way he handled kickoffs. He could also be in the good column for his punting. Quigley pinned Jacksonville inside the 20 five different times. The biggest was his 43 yarder downed at the Jacksonville eight yard line with under a minute left that essentially ended the Jaguars' hopes.
Muhammad Wilkerson: He was almost invisible on the stat sheet, but I thought he was one of the most important Jets defenders in the game. He did nice work in the run game setting the edge a couple of times. He was also constantly in the backfield harassing Blake Bortles. I would bet when the numbers for quarterback hits come out, Wilkerson will fare very well. He also had a number of pressures, including the one that moved Bortles on Marcus Williams' game-ending interception. Wilkerson does not play a position that lends itself to big stats. He does a lot of the dirty work. Him winning his assignments will not always show up in the stat sheet, but it is important.
Lorenzo Mauldin: He recorded two sacks, but he was really involved in three sacks. On two plays, he was rewarded with half a sack. He also got a full sack of his own. On one of these plays, he made a really nice move around the edge to get to Bortles. Mauldin also recorded a hit on Bortles when a blown assignment led to him running free. He took care of business. (Wilkerson drew a double team, allowing Mauldin to run free. Again, Wilkerson's impact isn't always on the stat sheet.)
Darrelle Revis: Revis is a lot of fun to watch. He's so thorough with his film study that it seems like sometimes he runs the receiver's routes better than the receiver does. One of the few times he was beaten was on a play when his man improvised and broke his route. In any event, Revis did his job well today. Marcus Williams' first pick should be almost entirely credited to Revis for winning his battle and getting a juicy tip into the air. If only the rest of the secondary covered the way he did...
Dion Bailey: Bailey led the team in tackles with 6. He got some of the chances Marcus Williams had a week ago. Bailey took advantage. He also recorded half a sack as a blitzer. He also held up on an island against Julius Thomas in the end zone. He did leave the game with an ankle injury. I am hoping he is all right because it is starting to feel like he might turn into a nice role player in this defense.
Defensive Line: I singled out Wilkerson, but the guys up front had a really nice bounceback game today. T.J. Yeldon did not have any running lanes. He finished with 64 yards, but 45 were on a single carry. Damon Harrison and Sheldon Richardson both had 5 tackles. Leonard Williams was doing nice work with his assignments. The Jets sacked Blake Bortles 5 times, knocked him down way more than that, and pressured him even more than that.
Calvin Pace: He was definitely helped by the coverage, but his strip sack was huge, and he hustled to get the recovery.
Brandon Marshall: Marshall was held to 4 catches for 44 yards, but he made three huge plays late in the game. First, was the biggest of those four catches, a 20 yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter to give the Jets some breathing room. It was a spectacular grab. Second, he recovered the onside kick once the Jaguars scored to cut the lead to 5 late in the fourth quarter. Third, he hustled and recovered Chris Ivory's fumble on the final Jets drive. A Jacksonville recovery would have given the Jaguars excellent field position and a real chance to win the game.
Eric Decker: Decker did most of his damage early, but he led the Jets with 6 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. It feels like he and Ryan Fitzpatrick have developed great chemistry. Fitzpatrick made some pinpoint passes to Decker, one a back shoulder throw, another in traffic where Decker highpointed the ball, that shows these guys are really comfortable with each other.
Marcus Williams: If you look at the box score, it is going to seem like Williams had a monster game with 2 interceptions and half a sack. The truth is a bit more complicated. The first pick landed in his lap on a tipped ball. The second was a desperation throw as the game was ending. Still, Williams had to come in when Antonio Cromartie was injured. He gave up a few completions, but he also had a big pass defensed on third down. It was certainly a nice recovery from his rough game in Oakland.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: He left some throws on the field, including a bad underthrow to Marshall when the receiver got behind the defense. There were points where his pocket presence was lacking, namely Jared Odrick's sack. I'm not sure why Fitzpatrick thought lowering his head was a good idea instead of trying to evade the defender. Ultimately, though, the Jets won and put up 28 points on a day where they had no run game. Fitzpatrick threw for 272 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was effective enough.
Jeff Cumberland: I look at that 44 yard catch, and it makes me wonder why I should be surprised when a guy built like a defensive end who runs like a wide receiver makes a big play.
Kellen Davis: Sometimes it is about hustle. He recovered Nick Marshall's muffed punt, and the Jets converted it into Brandon Marshall's touchdown.
Zac Stacy: He actually made a play in the passing game, and I thought his pass blocking was solid.
Game Management Before Halftime: The Jets were ahead 14-3 and got the ball back on their own 15 with 1:30 left in the first half. They had all three timeouts. The ran it three times and punted. This really bothered me. It wasn't the run on first down. You have to run it on first down to bleed the clock a little bit. In the event the other team gets it back, you want to limit the amount of time they have. When you have three timeouts, you can afford to do this because the clock isn't an issue. I hated the run on second down and hated the run on third down even more.
This was a chance to put the game away. A touchdown would have put the Jaguars down by three scores. Even a field goal would have made the league a full two touchdowns. When you've got a chance to put the other guy away early in the game, you have to take it. If you let the other team hang around, crazy things can happen. Close games can turn on lucky plays.
In a big picture sense, this bothered me even more given the unique circumstances of the game. The Jets had to do what they could to avoid this being a tight game. They didn't have a kicker.
Antonio Cromartie: Cromartie was torched on the ensuing drive. He bit hook, line, and sinker on Allen Hurns' double move for a 30 yard touchdown that completely changed the game.
Offensive Line: With two starters out on the interior for much of the game, it was tough to expect anything good, but the results here were disturbing. The Jets averaged 1 yard per rush. It seems like all year this team has shown an inability to run effectively inside. Really the team has shown no ability to run effectively at all unless Chris Ivory is doing something special to create yards on his own.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson: Ferguson has to get special mention. He allowed two sacks and picked up a silly personal foul after the second.
Buster Skrine: Skrine had his share of hiccups, including on the Jacksonville touchdown to cut the lead to 28-23.
Chris Ivory: I know the run blocking was bad, but 26 yards on 23 carries? Even if he did have two touchdowns, Ivory was not grinding out yards the way he is capable of doing by lowering his shoulder. I wonder how hurt he is. He hasn't shown much ability to explode outside the way he did early in the season when nothing was there.
Rontez Miles/Darrin Walls: Trent Green got all over Miles for his missed assignment on Yeldon's 45 yard run, but I thought Walls could have made a better effort in run support also.
Up next is a short week and a game against Rex Ryan's Bills.