Sunday, December 8, 2013
Rapid Reaction: New York Jets
By Rich Cimini
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Jets' 37-27 win over the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium:
What it means: The Jets (6-7) snapped a three-game losing streak, avoiding the first four-game skid of the Rex Ryan era. This was their biggest scoring day since Week 1 of the 2012 season. Yes, really. Mathematically, they still have a shot at the playoffs, but that wasn't the story of the game. They needed this win for their own sanity, preventing a once-promising season from careening off the rails. A loss to the injury-plagued and talent-starved Raiders (4-9), who played with backup QB Matt McGloin, would've been devastating for Ryan. Before the game, he received a quasi vote of confidence from owner Woody Johnson, who said in a radio interview he's "happy" with the direction of the franchise. They equaled last season's win total.
Stock watch: Rookie QB Geno Smith, clinging to his job, delivered his best game in two months. He threw his first touchdown pass in seven games, ran for a touchdown and committed only one turnover, his 20th interception. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, desperate to spark the slumping offense, used a lot of no-huddle and moved the pocket, allowing Smith to throw on the run. He also dusted off some read-option plays, one resulting in Smith's 8-yard touchdown run. Smith was far from perfect -- he missed open receivers -- but it should be a much-needed boost of confidence.
Offensive explosion: The Jets scored more points than they did in their previous three games combined. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley provided a spark in his return, scoring the first touchdown, but this was a balanced attack. They ran well, led by Chris Ivory, and they handled the Raiders' blitz without too many problems. For a change, they resembled a real NFL offense. They began the day with an eight-quarter touchdown drought.
The defense rests: The biggest downer of the day was the defense, which allowed 63- and 48-yard touchdowns. That's inexcusable. They also allowed a 100-yard rusher (fourth-string running back Marcel Reece) and a 100-yard receiver (Rod Streater). Interestingly, the Raiders challenged cornerback Antonio Cromartie more than struggling rookie Dee Milliner.
Reed's role tweaked: Safety Ed Reed made his first interception of the season, setting up a field goal. It came on a day in which he lost some playing time, sharing snaps in the first half with Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett. Reed, an every-down player in his first three games, was used only on passing downs early on. Ryan should've used him this way from Day 1, but he forced the future Hall of Famer into a full-time role.
What's ahead: It gets tougher for the Jets -- a lot tougher -- as they go on the road to face the Carolina Panthers (9-3).