MORNING AFTER REPORT: The Good, Bad & Ugly
The good news is the New York Jets showed progress on both sides of the ball last night. The bad news was the same old story for both sides of the ball: third-down efficiency, stopping/using the rushing attack and overall inconsistencies.
The 23-17 loss to the undefeated Houston Texans could be viewed as a moral victory in a losing effort — where we can take away many positives from their Monday night performance. The Jets (2-3) are, seemingly, through the tough five-game stretch in which they faced the Steelers in Pittsburgh while hosting Super Bowl contenders San Francisco and Houston.
Although many would have taken the 2-3 start prior to the season, what has transpired through first five games that leave the state of Jets Nation weary moving forward.
The GOOD: Mark Sanchez has found a connection with his now veteran receiving target, second-year WR Jeremy Kerley. Additionally, TE Jeff Cumberland had a career game — posting his first career touchdown on a 27-yard seam route in which Sanchez put the ball right in his bread basket.
The BAD: Late in the game Sanchez put a ball right in Cumberland’s break basket, only for the ball to the fly through his hands and into the hands of the Texans’ defense — sealing the victory for Houston. Additionally, the offense has only two TDs in their last 49 possessions largely due to their inefficiencies in the ground game.
The UGLY: The defense continues to be burnt by the ground game — albeit Arian Foster, who became the third fastest player to gain 5,000 yards from scrimmage. Additionally, incorporating two new players in the skills positions (Lex Hilliard and Jason Hill) brought route confusion and substitution problems on offense.
PASSING OFFENSE: C-
- There were moments where Sanchez looked to be getting in a groove on offense — their lone touchdown drive being one, he found Kerley and Cumberland each for 27-yard completions. The problem was tipped passes. He had as many tipped passes (3), two of which were for interceptions, as he’s had touchdowns in his past four games.
- Sanchez was held under 50% completion rating for the fourth straight game — statistically marking the worst slump of the Jets QB’s career. A contributing factor has to be the revolving door at receiver. He hasn’t had the same group of starters at the skill positions since Week 2.
- Vlad Ducasse continues to under-perform, who struggled — like everyone did — versus J.J. Watt. His inability to keep any hands on Watt late in the first half allowed Watt to disrupt Sanchez’s passing lane which led to his first interception.
- Starting for the second time in his career, Kerley finished as the game’s leading receiver, catching five passes for 94 yards. The five receptions tied his career best (vs. NYG, 12/24/11), while his 94 yards receiving established a new career high, surpassing his 79 yards receiving vs. NE (11/13/11).
RUSHING OFFENSE: F
- The Jets were outrushed by the Texans 169-69. They continue to get no push from their run blockers up front and get little from their jumbo packagers with OL Jason Smith.
- Bilal Powell continues to average four yards a carry — a standard benchmark for a decent ground game. They seem to be phasing out Shonn Greene (2.8 YPC — worst in the NFL) as far as snaps — but he looked effective late in the game. Is it time to let Powell start and switch Greene as the 3rd down/change of pace back?
- Although he wasn’t always effective, Joe McKnight saw significant field time after being “traded” back to offense. Credit the coaching staff and Tony Sparano for doing their best to utilize their playmakers.
PASSING DEFENSE: C+
- Antonio Cromartie is living up to his self-anointment as the best remaining corner in the league. He shut down Andre Johnson, not allowing a reception when matched up opposite the perennial All-Pro wideout. On his interception, he read the eyes of Johnson and at the last second turned, jumped the route and made an acrobatic play on the ball which sparked the offense for their only score on the evening.
- The secondary, which was introduced as a unit to start the game, bit hard on Matt Schaub’s play fakes — which is arguably the best in the league. That was the case on the Texans’ first TD drive, mostly due to Houston running effective ground plays out of the same formations — forcing the defense to respect the threat of a run.
- They were gashed for big yardage whenever Houston ran an up-tempo/no-huddle type offense. They were able to capitalize when Houston had a slower tempo.
RUSHING DEFENSE: F
- The good new was the Jets didn’t give up 200 yards of total rushing offense, but that’s about the most of it. Plenty of times Foster had the choice of which alley he wanted to choice with the Texans’ offensive line dictating the line of scrimmage time after time. For example on Foster’s 46-yard run up the gut, it was Kenrick Ellis who slid right and then proceeded to slip and get pancaked, leaving his gap assignment wide open Foster to gain entry.
- The team’s constant over pursuit on the run aided in Schaub’s play fake success — the top-ranked passer on play action this year.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
- McKnight’s kickoff return marked the 11th consecutive season, all under Special Teams Coordinator Mike Westhoff, in which the Jets have had a kickoff return for a touchdown, setting an NFL record. McKnight joins RB Chad Morton, CB Justin Miller, RB Leon Washington and WR Brad Smith as players with multiple kickoff returns for the Jets under Westhoff.
- Westhoff’s kickoff coverage units left the Texans with an average kickoff drive start of their own 10-yard line on their three kickoffs.
- Although the onside kick failed, I credit Ryan for having the grapefruits to go for the jugular and attempt to capitalize on momentum. I think he realizes he’s going to need those type of big plays in all three phases to have success through the remainder of the season.
- Tim Tebow finally got the opportunity to run some sort of passing offense. I liked his use in the red zone, although I’d like to see him more on a series-to-series basis rather than the play-by-play format they’ve used to this point.