Jets Survive in Ugly Fashion and Other Thoughts

Darrelle Revis knows the Jets walked away with a “sloppy win” yesterday. After all, head coach Eric Mangini told his team before kickoff he didn’t care how they earned a win. Style points were thrown out the window and the Jets main concern was leaving the Meadowlands at the end of the day with a 9-5 record.

“Like Coach said, we don’t care how we win this game, this is a must-win for us and that is what we came out to do. We came out to win the game, no matter what,” Revis said. “If it had gone into overtime for us to try to win the game, [Mangini] said, ‘go out there and win.’ We [did] exactly that.”

The Jets accomplished their mission and thus remain in control of their own playoff destiny with just two games remaining. If they can beat the 3-11 Seahawks in Seattle and the 9-5 Dolphins at home, the Jets will clinch their first division title since 2002. With less than three minutes remaining yesterday it certainly looked like the Jets had dug themselves a hole, but the Bills showed why their promising 5-1 start to this season has crumbled. After grabbing a dramatic win, this game can either catapult the Jets from their recent woes or simply expose them as a disappointing unit that enjoyed a gift from the football gods for one shining afternoon. We will have to wait until the Jets battle Seattle to find out.

“It’s Seattle. Just like last week, it was Buffalo. This is a must-win. Last week was a must-win. Six weeks ago was a must-win. Week three was a must-win. It’s the next game. We all know what it is. We all know where we’re at,” Mangini said.

If the Jets make the playoffs, Ellis’ 11-yard scamper into the endzone will go into the highlight reels in Jets history as one of the plays that catapulted a bumbling team but it will quickly fade away if the Jets collapse.

*The afternoon began with a nice bounceback from the Jets’ offense, which found the endzone on its first two possessions. In the Jets five-game winning streak, they totaled five opening drive touchdowns, but the efficiency was missing during losses to the Broncos and 49ers. After so much success, it was baffling to watch the Jets offense flatline the past two weeks. With the offensive talent the Jets have, it would have been alarming if Gang Green was stifled by the Bills yesterday. Brett Favre seemed to get out of his rhythm after his fast start and began to resemble the gunslinging, high-risk quarterback he’s always been by tossing up some jump balls, but he finally was in-sync with his receivers. After combining for just two catches in the loss to the 49ers, Laveranues Coles (five catches, 82 yards) and Jerricho Cotchery (4 catches, 34 yards, one touchdown) made a big impact. If the Jets want to make noise in the playoffs, Coles and Cotchery will need to play a significant part.

*David Clowney had to wait 15 weeks, but he finally found himself in the lineup. While Mangini credited Clowney’s special teams abilities (one tackle), he shined in his lone opportunity at wide receiver. On Clowney’s one-handed catch which went for 26 yards, he not only displayed his smooth hands, but he showed his ability to strech the field. Clowney is clearly the fastest receiver the Jets have and it would benefit the Jets to feature him in the offense more. Favre’s ability to throw the long ball would grow even more dangerous for defenses with Clowney running downfield.

*Another week and another one-carry workload for Leon Washington. I know there’s only so many players who can get the ball, but why is Washington so limited within the offense. He took his one carry for a 47-yard touchdown yesterday, but he did not receive another opportunity. “It’s not a conscious effort not to get [Washington] the ball,” Mangini said. “There are a lot of people that we want to give opportunities to get the ball, whether it’s our receivers who were able to get more touches yesterday.” It makes sense that the Jets need to spread the football around but it doesn’t make sense that the Jets limit their most explosive player on offense. They didn’t force the Bills to stop Washington, the Jets stopped him themselves. Inexcusable.

*After returning two weeks ago from a groin injury, linebacker David Harris is clearly back to the level he was performing at last season. While Harris thrived in 2007 by recording 127 tackles after moving into the starting role after eight weeks, he looked as though he was suffering through a sophomore slump this year. Harris finally seems healthy and it showed yesterday as he recorded 11 tackles.

*What a bounceback outing yesterday from outside linebacker Calvin Pace, who had disappeared in recent weeks after a great start. Pace recorded eight tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble. The Jets pass defense clearly is struggling, but those weaknesses can be limited if the Jets can attack the quarterback. The Jets only totaled three sacks yesterday, but the statistic does not speak for itself. The Jets pressured J.P. Losman repeatedly, forcing Buffalo into quick slant patterns.

*Abram Elam will give you heartaches in pass coverage at times, but he always has a penchant for making big plays. Elam did a solid job of pursuing Losman and focusing on the ball strip first. Several players explained that they were surprised by the Bills’ decision to pass, but the surprise factor certainly did not affect the Jets.

*Where has the Jets’ run defense gone? After performing as one of the league’s top units for much of the season, the Jets run defense has disappeared in recent weeks. Three weeks ago, Broncos running back Peyton Hillis frustrated the Jets by rushing for 129 yards and yesterday Marshawn Lynch provided Gang Green their own frustrations by gaining 127 yards on 21 carries.

*Nose tackle Kris Jenkins might have certainly received the first-half MVP award if one existed, but his performance in recent weeks suggest that he might be wearing down. Mangini believes that all players are in a similar spot this late in the season. “It’s a long season. He’s a big man. Big men, they take a lot of wear-and-tear. It’s no different than other guys of comparable size,” Mangini said.

*Running back Fred Jackson’s 11-yard touchdown run in which he seemingly carried the entire Jets defense more than five yards was an embarassment for Gang Green. I would not be surprised if Mangini spent a good amount of time reviewing that play with his players.

*With 2:06 remaining in the fourth quarter and your offense facing a second-and-five while up 27-24, why are you passing? The Jets were having trouble stopping Lynch and a five yard run on first down put the Bills in prime position to grab a game-clinching first down. But why pass? I can understand if your quarterback is Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but the Bills should not be handing Losman the ball in such critical situations. Mangini defended Buffalo’s decision to pass by mentioning that most teams that core plays they like to use and that it’s not uncommon to pass before the two minute warning, but I bet he was surprised when he saw Losman roll right for a pass.

*Vernon Gholston clearly has hit rock bottom in his rookie development. Earlier this season, Mangini credited the sixth overall pick for his special teams abilities, but yesterday there was nothing for either to hang their hat on. Gholston clearly is lost and the coaching staff clearly has lost confidence in him. When asked about Gholston being inactive, Mangini mentioned that David Barrett, Drew Coleman and Jason Trusnik have all been active and inactive this season. With no discredit to Barrett, Coleman or Trusnik, Gholston was the sixth overall pick. His situation seems a bit more alarming.

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