- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
1. A Sanchez-ian performance: Geno Smith's stat line (8-for-19, 115 yards) resembled something out of 2009, when the Jets micro-managed then-rookie Mark Sanchez. Back then, they overcame Sanchez's modest passing days and frequent mistakes all the way to the AFC Championship Game, thanks to a terrific defense and a strong running game. The Jets have tightened the reins on Smith in recent weeks, and it never was more evident than on the Jets' last two meaningful possessions Sunday -- both three-and-outs. In both cases, it was run, run, short pass. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg didn't want to Smith to lose the game. Was it a lack of trust? Perhaps, but there were other factors in play: a patchwork receiving corps and strong defense. Smith was reduced to game manager, and it worked: no turnovers. Prepare for more ugly ball down the stretch.
2. A new bell cow: The flavor of the month in the backfield is Chris Ivory, who rushed for a season-high 139 yards against his former team. In recent weeks, the Jets have gone away from Bilal Powell, relying on Ivory as the workhorse. Why? Because Ivory is healthy and fresh. He was huge in each of the past two wins; he ran for 104 yards against New England in Week 7. Ivory's powerful, downhill style should make him an effective weapon in the second half of the season, especially with the weather turning cold. The question is his durability. If he stays healthy, Ivory will be one of the big stories over the final seven weeks. Mark it down.
3. Much-needed bye: The Jets are a beat-up team, especially on offense. This week's bye comes at an ideal time. The major question surrounds wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who suffered a potentially serious elbow injury. The bye will give extra time for wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who has been nursing a hamstring injury for five weeks. The team is hopeful he can play in Week 11 at Buffalo. Tight end Jeff Cumberland (concussion), safety Antonio Allen (possible concussion) and linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) also are on the mend.
4. Milliner responds: That Rex Ryan, he sure knows how to push his players' buttons. His latest project: rookie cornerback Dee Milliner. One week after his in-game benching in Cincinnati, Milliner responded with a solid game against Drew Brees & Co. Perhaps buoyed by Ryan's mid-week gush fest -- he predicted that Milliner would be the top rookie corner by season's end -- the former Alabama standout managed to get through the game without being sent to timeout. Unofficially, he allowed five completions for 49 yards -- not bad, considering the opponent. "The kid played his butt off," Ryan said. If Milliner becomes a consistent player, it would be a huge boost to the defense.