Yes, you read that correctly – 48 points. The highest point total for the Jets in their history on opening day. And probably about 41 more points than most analysts were predicting they would score. With the exception of 2 or 3 Buffalo drives, it was complete domination on all sides of the ball – offense, defense, special teams and even coaching. You could not have dreamed up a better start to the season for Gang Green. And I totally predicted it (sort of).
QB – After a rocky start and a terrible INT, Sanchez settled down to have one of his best games as a Jet. He was confident and poised, and appeared to be throwing the ball with more power and zip. He made smart decisions and wasn’t sacked once. But what was most impressive was how well he handled the presence of Tebow, who was in from the first snap. The Jets used Tebow more than I thought he would, and while his direct impact on the game was minimal (no passes and just 11 yds rushing – the Wildcat was not very wild), he did enough to throw the Bills’ D off-balance. But QB controversy…not this week. Tebow was even booed at one point when he came in at the end of the 2nd quarter and couldn’t move the ball. This was a statement game by the Sanchise.
RBs – Solid game for Shonn Greene. No big runs, but he seems to always pick up positive yardage. Give the Jets credit – they said they would get back to “ground and pound” and they did – 27 carries for Greene and one TD. That said, they only gained 118 yards on the ground in total, so there is more work to be done there.
Receivers – Welcome to the NFL, Stephen Hill! The rookie who dropped numerous passes in the preseason had an amazing first game – 5 catches for 89 yards and two TDs – just the 5th player in history to do that in their first game. He’s big and fast and will be a major factor this year (Plaxico who?). Jeremy Kerley went from the proverbial “doghouse” to the “penthouse,” becoming the first Jets receiver to catch at TD and return a punt for a TD in the same game. Phenomenal performance for Kerley. And let’s not forget about everyone’s favorite captain, Santonio Holmes – solid game for him with a couple of key first downs.
O-Line – the unsung heroes of this game. Sanchez had great protection all game and wasn’t sacked. Game ball should go to Austin Howard – the undrafted starting Right Tackle was matched up against the $100MM man and biggest offseason prize, Mario Williams and held him to one tackle – yes, tackle – all game. Wow. Great start for the big men.
Defense – I’ll group these guys together because it was a pretty dominating performance, especially in the first half. Revis picked up right where he left off with a beautiful INT on the Bills’ opening drive. And on the other side of the field, everyone’s favorite father of eight had a pick 6 of his own, ending it with a flip into the end zone. Laron Landry was all over the place, and levelled a vicious hit on Fred Jackson that knocked him out of the game. On the downside, the front 4 never really generated any real consistent pressure on Fitzpatrick (Coples was very quiet) and they gave up a couple of very big plays that exploited their lack of speed in the middle. This could be a trend to watch.
Special Teams – Kerley’s punt return TD was the highlight of the game, but kicker Nick Folk should be commended for putting nearly every kickoff (and there were a LOT) into the back of the end zone.
Coaching – Big kudos to the coaching staff, especially new O-coordinator Tony Sparano. He called a really balanced game, getting almost everyone involved, and found a way to incorporate Tebow into the game without disrupting the flow. Unlike last year, I never found myself questioning the playcalling, or more importantly, yelling at the TV. Let’s see how long that lasts….
So far I’m perfect on the season with my predictions. This was a must-win in my opinion as things get much harder next week on the road at Pittsburgh, followed by another road game against Miami and then two tough home games. The Jets will need to replicate their defense of the first half, and put-up another near turnover free game to have a chance against Pittsburgh in their home opener. Here’s hoping my initial prediction was wrong…
1 game down…15 more to go….great start. J-E-T-S!