Film review: No Mojo for Mo Wilkerson

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
3:00
PM ET
One last look at the New York Jets' 37-27 win over the Oakland Raiders:

This was an unusually quiet game for DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who was credited with only two tackles. He wasn't disruptive in the pass rush, appearing at times as if he were less than 100 percent. You can't help but wonder if his wrist injury is affecting his ability to shed blockers.

Wilkerson showed up on the injury report two weeks ago, meaning he probably hurt it against the Baltimore Ravens -- his last impact performance. He has been limited in practice, but he continues to downplay the injury, insisting it's no big deal. But could it be a coincidence that the Jets' run defense has slipped since Wilkerson hurt his wrist? The Jets have allowed 275 rushing yards in the last two games.

It's almost unfair to pick on Wilkerson because he's such a good player, undoubtedly the team MVP. That, of course, is why we take notice when he's not his usual dominant self.

Other takeaways after breaking down the tape:

1. Glitches for Geno: Rookie QB Geno Smith, perhaps playing for his job, took some nice strides in this game. No doubt, it was a winning performance. But, for the sake of evaluation, we can't ignore the entire picture. He got away with some poor throws. There were two near-interceptions and a blown touchdown opportunity on the first drive, when he missed TE Kellen Winslow in the end zone. Winslow beat a linebacker in man-to-man coverage, but the pass was thrown over the wrong shoulder.

[+] EnlargeJets
AP Photo/Bill KostrounJeremy Kerley bailed Geno Smith out on a touchdown pass against the Raiders.
Smith's 25-yard touchdown to Jeremy Kerley was off the mark as well, underthrown, but Kerley bailed him out with a terrific "jump-ball" effort in the end zone. You can get away with questionable throws against a bad team like the Raiders -- "Bad News Bears," as Charles Woodson said -- but Smith won't have the same success against the Carolina Panthers if he doesn't sharpen up.

2. A run of beauty: Chris Ivory's 15-yard touchdown was one of the best plays of the season. In a span of 15 yards, he broke five tackles, demonstrating an impressive combination of power and agility. Let me break it down by missed tackles:

A. Ivory, cutting back on a misdirection run, slipped an arm tackle by DE Lamarr Houston at the 15.

B. Ivory plowed through S Charles Woodson, who squared up with him at the 13.

C. Showing quick feet, Ivory used a stutter-step move to get around S Brandian Ross at the 11.

D. Ivory confronted LB Sio Moore, who earlier was flattened and dazed by an Ivory block while rushing the passer. That unpleasant encounter may have stuck in Moore's head because, instead of throwing his full weight into Ivory, he avoided a head-on collision by lowering only one shoulder and trying to rip out the ball. It didn't work.

E. Ivory spun out of Moore's tackle attempt and rammed into CB Tracy Porter at the 3. Ivory drove him back and into the end zone for the touchdown. It was the best 15-yard run in a long, long time.

3. Making Sparano look good: Former Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, the Raiders' offensive-line coach, must have been giddy after Marcel Reece's 63-yard touchdown run. It was vintage Sparano, a power run with the right guard pulling. The Raiders blocked it beautifully.

Rex Ryan used a "46" front (think '85 Chicago Bears), meaning eight in the box and linemen over the center and two guards. In theory, it should've been the ideal front to stop a power running play. Ryan didn't name names, but he said the 3-technique lined up a bit wide (it looked like Wilkerson), allowing a double team. Reece had a huge hole. NT Damon Harrison missed a tackle at the point of attack, and that was all she wrote. Reece, unusually fast for a fullback, split S Dawan Landry and CB Antonio Cromartie and was gone.

4. The other lousy defensive play: Eight minutes after Reece's touchdown, the Jets suffered another breakdown, when Cromartie and S Ed Reed collided while defending a slant route. This was a weird play because the Raiders had two receivers in the same area, TE Jeron Mastrud and WR Rod Streater. It looked like QB Matt McGloin was throwing for Mastrud, covered by DB Kyle Wilson.

Reed came flying downhill, looking for his second interception. He ran into Cromartie, who was on Streater. Somehow, the ball got through Mastrud and the collision, finding Streater, who ran 48 yards for the touchdown. You can call it a fluke play, but it also showed a lack of familiarity between Reed and Cromartie.

5. Dee-licious: Embattled rookie CB Dee Milliner played perhaps his best game of the season. He was targeted three times and didn't allow a single completion. Interesingly, the Raiders seemed to be picking on Cromartie, who was targeted seven times. He allowed four completions for 97 yards, including a touchdown.

6. Solid pass pro: The Jets did a nice job of handling the Raiders' blitz. They came into the game as one of the heaviest blitzing teams in the league, and they didn't disappoint. Unofficially, they sent five or more rushers on 23 of 29 dropbacks. Smith was sacked only once (Ivory missed a block in blitz-pick up), although he was hit six times.

For the most part, Smith kept his poise, completing 12 of 21 for 132 yards, one interception and one sack against added pressure.

7. Odds and ends: Two of Smith's best completions (30 and 16 yards) came with three tight ends on the field. On the 30-yarder to Winslow, Smith rolled to the right after a heavy run-action to the left. The entire offensive line pulled left, but the Raiders didn't bite on the fake, leaving the five linemen standing by themselves on the opposite side of the field. Kind of funny on the all-22 tape. ... Rookie LG Brian Winters struggled with his run blocking, allowing two tackles behind the line for minus-8 yards. ... Santonio Holmes should've made that catch in the end zone. ... Credit LB Quinton Coples with some outside pressure on Reed's interception. ... Blocks of the day: As I mentioned earlier, Ivory crushed Moore on a blitz. Later, on a well-executed screen pass, RG Willie Colon blew up DT Vance Walker with an open-field block. Ryan highlighted both plays in his "Play Like a Jet" film session Monday.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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