by Patrick Stanton
JetNation Senior Columnist
Brooks Bollinger (14/26, 119, 1 TD 0 INT / 6 rushes, 56 yards): B+ We learned two things this week: Bollinger excels against terrible defenses and playing at home. Regardless, Bollinger was effective enough to manage the Jets offense to some time consuming drives today and put points on the board. His statistics wonâ€™t win any awards, but when you consider that Jolly absolutely choked in the end zone and robbed him of a TD, you have to be happy with Bollingerâ€™s play. He made smart reads, stayed cool under pressure, scrambled with success and didnâ€™t give up the ball. You canâ€™t ask for anymore from a 3rd string QB.
Cedric Houston (28 rushes, 74 yards, 2.6 avg, 1 TD): A- Wow! I had forgotten what an effective ground game looked like until today. While Iâ€™m not about to anoint him the second coming of Freeman McNeil just yet, Houston looked good today and allowed the Jets to effectively balance the offense and most importantly, keep the defense off the field. He showed some scrappiness in there today, mixed with some good speed, quick bursts and most impressively, driving for more yards after initial contact. With Martin out, the remainder of this season is in a sense his audition for 2006. While his YPC average was pretty low, I think Houston may turn out to be a solid deep round draft pick with a bright future for us. Time will tell, but time is finally on his side.
B.J. Askew (9 rushes, 54 yards, 6.0 average) B+ Where the hell has this guy been? (Yeah I know, donâ€™t answer that) In the last TD drive, Askew accounted for 48 of the 50 total yards on the drive and at times was running like an out of control truck. Granted it was in quasi-garbage time, but seeing Askew back there in a somewhat â€˜full timeâ€? basis showed some possibilities. I think the Jets need to keep taking a look at him.
McCareins (4/ 45, 1 TD) C+ ; Coles (3/20) C+ ; Cotchery (1/9) Inc. Merry Christmas Justin, you were just given an early gift from the NFL officials. The Raiders had a valid argument as McCareinâ€™s momentum would have taken him out of bounds alone. Other then his TD grab, McCareins looked average at best out there. Coles and Cotchery were a non-factor although Cotchery can sure take a hit.
Doug Jolley (2/15, 0 TD, 1 dropped gift wrapped TD) F How do you drop that? How? I mean seriously, how do you let that happen?
OFFENSIVE LINE: B
Seriously, how happy do you think these guys were to see Houston & Askew in there today? As bad as they have been this year, not having a back that can make something more out of a little less has been the Achilles heel of this offense. Albeit against a poor defense, they only surrendered 2 sacks and enabled 130 yards of total rushing. On the negative side, they were unable to punch the ball in for a TD not once but twice from close range and had the Raiders been better, it could have been costly. It wasnâ€™t pretty, it wasnâ€™t exactly award winning by any stretch, but after what weâ€™ve seen this year from them so far, Iâ€™ll take it any day of the week.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
Who were these guys and what did they do with the real Jets defensive linemen??? The Jets defensive line was an absolute beast today. Accounting for 5 of 6 Jets sacks, holding Jordan to 49 yards total rushing and having Abraham/Reed tied for 3rd place in overall tackles, the defensive linemen of the Jets were everywhere today. For the first time in a while, we finally took control and owned the line of scrimmage at times even pushing the OL of the Raiders backwards. For the love of god even Lance Legree got into the action today. Granted it was the Raiders after all, but you know what, it was nice to see a change of pace for the better.
Terry Bradway I have one thing for you: Jonathan Vilma is a beast and must not traded under any circumstances. The frequent subject of Jets trade talk involving QBs, Vilma was a machine out there today. The man was everywhere he needed to be and was making excellent reads today. Meanwhile Brown has continued to exploit Eric Bartonâ€™s absence and had a solid game as well, including 1 sack. Jets fans should take some comfort in knowing that despite all the holes around them, the Jets linebacking corps looks solid for the future.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: A-
With Tuiasosopo at QB today itâ€™s hard to tell whether todayâ€™s pass defense was a product of good coverage or Tuiasosopoâ€™s first start. But you know I have to give credit where credit is due and the fact is these guys did a pretty good job today. While I hesitate to get too fired up about it because Oaklandâ€™s offense is completely out of sync, the fact is the NFLâ€™s 6th ranked pass defense held the Raiders to 124 total yards passing. Combine that with the fact that the always dangerous Randy Moss was held to 18 yards on 2 receptions and the leading Raiders receiver, Jerry Porter had a total of 36 yards and 1 TD and the DBs have to be commended.
Ben Graham (4 punts, 41.3 avg , 45 long, 1 inside 20yd line) B Graham looked a little rusty today because for the first time all year he wasnâ€™t needed 15 times. Graham hasnâ€™t exactly been booming the punts distance wise but heâ€™s still been effective and his method has prevented opponents from being able to effectively return his kicks. Given the recent history of Jets punters, this guy is a Hall of Famer.
Mike Nugent (4/4, Made:33, 20, 35, 21) C While he looked good on todayâ€™s FGs, Nugentâ€™s grade takes a hit based upon his poor and extremely erratic kickoffs today. What exactly was going on today is beyond me. Kickoffs to the 20 and one out of bounds? Unless Westhoff is telling Nugent to angle his kicks, this kid has a lot of work to do in the off season.
Where in the hell has this team been all year Coach Edwards? Normally coaches that win in a pretty convincing fashion get better grades, but Edwards isnâ€™t getting off that easy. Itâ€™s sickening that Curtis Martin has been playing on a knee that now requires season surgery for weeks while Houston and Askew havenâ€™t even caught a whiff of the field. Ironically, it was Martinâ€™s season ending surgery that forced Edwards to give Houston and Askew a chance and the result was an effective running game that hasnâ€™t been there for most of the season. While they may end up not being the full time answer to the long term future of the Jets running game, today they proved that they have a role in this offense and that Martinâ€™s days of being the primary RB of this team have passed. Now that Iâ€™m done being negative, Edwards had his team ready to play today and a implemented a solid game plan that stopped the Raiders biggest threat, LaMont Jordan, in his tracks. The Jets played one of their best defensive games of the year today and the offense was sparked for the first time in weeks. Letâ€™s hope Coach Edwards can use this as a stepping stone to build upon for next year and becomes inclined to look at other youth throughout the roster.