Upon Further Review: Jets Week 16

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
8:00
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A review of four hot issues from the New York Jets' 24-13 victory against the Cleveland Browns:

1. Steamed Rex: Yes, it's true, Rex Ryan mentioned his uncertain job status Saturday night in the team meeting. No doubt, he did it to motivate his players, but this wasn't all about rah-rah stuff. Ryan was "pissed," according to a source, because he heard rumors the organization already is looking for his replacement. If that's true, he has a right to be upset. That he chose to bring it up in front of the team doesn't cast an optimistic light on his chances of returning in 2014. He has done a nice job with this team, but it looks like general manager John Idzik could be looking in another direction.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
AP Photo/Bill KostrounQuarterback Geno Smith delivered one of his best performances of the season against Cleveland.
2. Geno grows up: Instead of winning in spite of Geno Smith, as they've done on a few occasions, the Jets won because of him. The rookie quarterback validated recent praise from his coaches, giving the organization a feel-good performance to take into its offseason evaluations. Smith played his third turnover-free game, passed for 214 yards and threw for two touchdowns, demonstrating pocket presence and a willingness to run when necessary. In the past three games, his passer rating is 83.5. Give some credit to Ryan, who stuck with Smith despite brutal performances during the three-game losing streak. The patience is paying off.

3. Milliner Dee-livers: Everyone assumed Antonio Cromartie would draw the tough assignment, Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, but the Jets threw a curve. They gave it to rookie Dee Milliner, basically telling him, "Let's see what you got, kid." Gordon was targeted a ridiculous 16 times, finishing with six catches for 97 yards and three drops -- a subpar game by his standards. Milliner covered Gordon for most of those targets, and, although he was far from flawless, he played his best game -- his first interception and five pass breakups. This was a long-overdue performance from the ninth overall pick, who has experienced three in-game benchings.

4. Dominant in the red zone: Over the past five games, the Jets have allowed only three touchdowns in 18 red-zone possessions. They held the Browns to a 1-for-4 clip, aided by some dropped passes. Nevertheless, it was still impressive. Why the turnaround? In recent weeks, as they've used more two-deep safety looks, the Jets have taken on a bend-but-don't-break persona. Ryan hates that term, but it applies in this case. It doesn't help the yardage total, but the name of the game is preventing points.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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