New York Jets Report Card – Divisional Round
Jets @ New England Patriots
Mark Sanchez: 16/25, 194 yards, 3 TD
As with Indy, Sanchez once again struggled in the early goings. Again, the culprit was putting too much muster on the football. Receivers (typically Keller, but others as well) were overthrown time and time again. This process continued throughout many patches in the game. In the 2nd half, Keller managed to make an unbelievable catch on an overthrown ball that would have almost certainly resulted in an interception. One of his touchdowns came on a spectacular catch by LaDainian Tomlinson; the L.T. touchdown pass was poorly thrown.
So why such a good grade? Simple: review the stat line again and see for yourself. In a big game like this, on the road in a hostile envrionment, Sanchez avoided turnovers, made the timely throws and still came out with a superb completion percentage. Brilliant.
Running Backs: B
L.T.: 10/43/1 TD (reception)
Shonn Greene: 17/76/1 TD (rush)
You expect the running game to pick up speed as the game goes along, and indeed it did: as the backs finished with a yard per carry average over 4. You would like to see L.T. not fall over his own feet on a key hand off, you would like to see him NOT take a direct snap from center, but you WOULD like to see him continue to add key touchdown receptions such as the one he had here. The duo combined to go over the century mark on the ground, which is not surprising.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A+
Braylon Edwards: 2/52/1 TD
Santonio Holmes: 3/20/1 TD
Jerricho Cotchery: 5/96
Dustin Keller: 3/15
This was about as perfect as it gets. The receivers made every play they were asked to make. Each of the three wide receivers contributed something: Holmes caught a touchdown (beautiful catch), Edwards caught a touchdown (on an extremely physical play), Cotchery was the receiving yards leader. Keller’s targets came early in the game, and the only reason his stat line is so bland is because that coincides with the weak moments in the game for Sanchez.
Offensive Line: A
No sacks allowed and a 4+ yard per carry average on the ground. Spectacular performance by this offensive line, despite missing Right Tackle Damien Woody due to injury.
Defensive Line: A
Shaun Ellis was on a rampage 10 years in the making, notching 2 sacks and a series of impressive tackles. Pouha added a sack, and DeVito tallied a forced fumble. The small and agile New England running backs hit the second level several times, though that is hardly surprising against a big 3 man set. Many of their
David Harris intercepted Tom Brady, ending a near legendary pickless streak for the New England quarterback. Calvin Pace delivered a crushing blow on Brady, contributing a sack and forced fumble. The linebacking unit hit hard and hit often, but running backs Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead (and even some receivers) scratched out too many extra yards in the second level.
The secondary ended up allowing Brady to throw for 299 yards, but much of it was in garbage time (or “comeback time” at least). Many of the Jets quarterback pressures were created by the secondary. You have to feel good about the way they were able to handle a diverse set of weapons.
Special Teams: D+
Nick Folk missed a gimmee field goal and his kickoffs looked lackluster. Punter Steve Weatherford has had a wonderful season, but he struggled to pin the Patriots deep tonight. A late Patriots kickoff return was taken out to midfield. We nearly had another Santonio Holmes type moment on a punt return. Antonio Cromartie looked somewhat impressive as Brad Smith’s fill in on kick returns, though.
Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer really pulled something off here: if Sanchez wasn’t struggling with accuracy, he would have hit somewhere close to 90% of his passes. The gameplan put the quarterback in a position to succeed. The offense was not able to dominate time of possession as much as you may have liked, but Schottenheimer’s gameplan sufficiently mixed run and pass, playing conservatively yet opportunistic at the same time.
Rex Ryan out-coached Bill Belichick and perhaps just as importantly, Tom Brady. The future hall of fame quarterback look frustrated, angry and confused all day. Give it to Rex for creating the plan that threw the best of the best off balance, and for pulling out one of the biggest road playoff wins in Jets history.