Mark Sanchez is a lot of things — former first-round pick, fourth-year starter, leader, scapegoat — but a liar he is not.
Like anyone starting a new year, you always to start off with a bang. Dominating in all three phases of the game with 48 points, it’s safe to say the Jets exploded into the 2012 NFL season. Getting off on the right foot, clown shoe or not, is huge for a Gang Green team that was only able to post 31 points in four preseason games. In 60 minutes on Sunday, they matched that total and then some.
Closing out preseason when asked about the lack of offense from the starters, Sanchez jokingly retorted, “We’re saving our scoring for the regular season”.
Maybe Rex Ryan, who’s only guarantee this year was that there would be no guarantees, should defer to his starting quarterback for future promises regarding his team. Sanchez’s back-up, Tim Tebow, took a welcomed back seat to the offensive “circus show” — getting in on nine offensive snaps. His biggest play on the afternoon? Falling on an onside kick in the second half on the Jets “hands” team.
In review, there is little to poke and pry after a convincing victory. However, the Buffalo Bills — improved or not — are little like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who’ll be looking to avoid an 0-2 start next week following a tough loss to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos Sunday night. It’s clear skies for the Jets as they prepare to take off to Pittsburgh to avenge their 2010 AFC Championship loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field.
PASSING OFFENSE: A+
- Sanchez certainly loves to play the Bills, who now improves to 7-1 against the AFC East rivals. In what could be argued as Sanchez’s best individual performance, he had no problem sharing the wealth — finding seven different targets on the afternoon. Perhaps the best sign? Sanchez willing to air it out and take a chance. He completed eight passes of 15+ yards.
- Inexperienced? Yes. Talented? Very much so. The new look Flight Boys arrived in first class fashion, particularly rookie Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. Hill’s skill set and freakish size and speed will force safeties to roll over-the-top protection on a consistent basis. Hill’s debut ranks first in team history for most receiving yards and touchdown receptions. Kerley became the first Jet to record a receiving touchdown and return a punt for a touchdown in the same game in team history.
- I said all last week that the game would be won or lost on the line of scrimmage and a dominating performance from the oft-maligned offensive line lit the fuse to the the Jets offensive fireworks show. The unit that featured three Pro Bowlers in 2011 gave up 36 sacks last season and 22 sacks in preseason. On Sunday, they gave up zero sacks to a Bills’ front four that was billed as an aggressive group. Their $100 million man, Mario Williams, could only manage a single tackle against Austin Howard — the back-up turned starter. No sacks, no pressures and no tackles for loss for the former number one overall pick. The group helped the Jets rush for 118 yards and throw for 266, while holding the Buffalo defense without a sack. In nine games under Rex Ryan in which they do not allow a sack, the team has produced a 7-2 record.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B+
- The Jets may have made headlines through the air, but they methodically set up the pass with the run. Shonn Greene proved his bell cow status, carrying the ball 27 times out of the 36 total rushes — a career high.
- As expected, Bilal Powell assumed the third down back duties and performed admirably. The running backs said they are not worried about sharing the carries earlier in the week, as Powell and Joe McKnight getting five touches on offense.
- Again, have to tip your cap to this offensive line. They manhandled a, perhaps by myself, over-hyped Bills defensive front.
PASSING DEFENSE: A
- BILLS FIRST FIVE OFFENSIVE DRIVES — 1. INT by Darrelle Revis 2. INT by Kyle Wilson 3. 3-and-out 4. TD by C.J. Spiller 5. INT TD by Antonio Cromartie. Gang Green defensive takeaways resulted in 24 points. ‘Nuff said.
- I’d really like to have seen a better pass rush against Ryan Fitzpatrick, who wasn’t sacked and hit only five times. Quinton Coples had a lack-luster performance with only 1 tackle and no QB hits.
- Cromartie, who received some flack for his backflip in to the endzone following his interception return, said the act was for his daughter, a gymnast.
RUSHING DEFENSE: D
- While Ryan may be smiling after a decisive Week 1 victory, he has to be snarling at the performance Spiller put against his run defense.
- Spiller averaged 12.1 yards on only 14 carries with two-monster runs of 40+ yards. The problem? On those runs Spiller broke numerous tackles before finding space. Facing bigger backs like Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, they’ll have to do a better job of wrapping up.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A+
- Kerley’s return is the second-longest punt return in team history and longest by the Jets since Terence Mathis set a Jets record with a 98-yard punt return against Dallas (11/04/90).
- Newly-acquired punter Robert Malone punted for the first time in the game with 14:23 remaining in the fourth quarter. Malone’s punt travelled 55 yards and was downed at the four-yard line by CB Isaiah Trufant. In the game, Malone punted twice for 103 yards (51.5 avg.) and a net average of 38.0 with one inside the 20.
- It wasn’t a perfect game for Ryan, but it was definitely a dominating complete game performance. Getting a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams is the type of square meal that’ll help him keep the weight off. (Although he may need to beef up to avoid flying bodies on the sideline ;)).
- Everything went according to Tony Sparano’s offensive plan. They established the run, were efficient and, at times, fast getting to the ball and line of scrimmage. Sanchez found multiple guys all over the field and — most importantly — didn’t turnover the ball over (aside from the first quarter interception that proved to be harmless).
- The bad? The Jets seemed comfortable, settled even, after their huge lead. This is a team with a self-described chip on their shoulder. And they let the Bills sneak back in for 21 unanswered points. Although it was only for a moment they have to stay in the game for the full 60 minutes — especially with games against some of the top ranked defenses coming up.
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