by Joe Grinwis
Wow Jet fans. This has truly been a remarkable season thus far, and it continues to take another wild and crazy twist as the Jets enter a Week 17, Primetime home game against the Cincinnati Bengals in a win and they’re in scenario. If the Jets win, they will clinch the 5th seed in the AFC Playoffs and will travel to…. Cincinnati.
Quarterback – A
Sanchez: 12-19, 106yds, 0 Turnovers
I don’t care that Sanchez only had 12 completions. I don’t care that he only had 106 yards passing. What matters is that Sanchez walked onto the field at Lucas Oil Stadium and played his best game of his young career. In order for the Jets to beat the undefeated Colts they were going to need some balls bounce their way and win the turnover battle. The biggest concern was how the young rookie would fair in a big moment like this and he delievered. Yes, Sanchez has had better games statisically speaking in his first 13 games, but this, his 14th start, was his most impressive start in his career and for that reason, he deserves an A. Games like this make you love the kid.
Running Back – A+
Jones: 23 carries, 105yds, TD
Greene: 16 carries, 95yds
Jones and Greene paved the way for this victory, once Brian Schottenheimer decided giving the best running game in the lead the ball, and picked up 200 total yards on 39 carries. Greene, whose had fumbling issues all season, did not fumble the ball once.
Wide Receiver – B
Cotchery: 4 receptions, 45yds
Edwards: 2 receptions, 18yds
Not much went on here, but there was only one drop from this unit the entire game and Edwards came up with a couple of big 3rd down receptions, as well as the two point conversion that got the game to 18-15 in the 3rd Quarter.
Tight End – B
Keller: 3 receptions, 19yds
After only picking up five receptions in his last three games, Keller was a big part of the offense early on in the game, as he caught a quarter of Sanchez’s completions. No drops from Keller this game, something that has plagued him the last five weeks of the season, and he continues to be an adequate blocker, turning himself into an all around Tight End.
Offensive Line – B
Alan Faneca had the block of the day in the second half on Jones’ 29 yard run to the Indianapolis 1 yard line, but the one problem the Jets had was Dwight Freeney. Arguably the best pure pass rusher in the league got to Sanchez twice, once he was not even blocked by D’Brickashaw Ferguson and there was no Tight End lined up on that side of the line, so that should not have confused D’Brick. Other than those two sacks, once which forced the Jets to kick a Field Goal, the line played well.
Defensive Line – B
Marques Douglas recovered the fumble forced by LB Calvin Pace in the endzone, but the line didn’t do a great job of getting to Manning early on in the game. As the game progressed they started to bring a little bit more pressure, as Shaun Ellis had another quiet, but effective performance.
Linebackers – B+
Calvin Pace played like a man possessed yesterday afternoon as he picked up his seventh sack and third forced fumble of the season in his 11th game. Bryan Thomas led all ‘backers and Jet defenders with 6 solo tackles, and David Harris had a total of 9. Harris and Bart Scott, who has been a great addition to this team, are not arguably the best 1-2 duo at the ILB position in the NFL. They simply are the best. Nobody else compares.
Secondary – C+
Lito Sheppard was continually burned by rookie wideout Austin Collie, until the Colts pulled Collie and the rest of the Indianapolis offensive starters, and Darrelle Revis arguably had his worst game this season, and he still looked like an All-Pro. The Jets could have been down by more than five when Manning left the game if Manning had connected to a wide open Wayne, who burned Revis, and a wide open Clark, who burned Eric Smith, early on in the first half. Kudos to Dwight Lowery, who I have been on this season, for sealing the game with an interception.
Special Teams – A+
Welcome to the NFL, Brad Smith. You could make a case for Smith having his best three games as a Jet the last three weeks, and now he owns the longest play in the history of the New York Jets: a 106 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It was the Jets first kickoff return for a touchdown all season. Jay Feely made his Field Goals, and the Colts did not once have a good kickoff return. Also, Bryan Thomas came through and blocked Adam Vinatieri’s extra point on the Colts first touchdown of the game, keeping it a 6-0 score.
Coaching – B+
If not for the horrific play calling from Schottenheimer in the first half of this game, this grade would be an A. But in the second half, whether Schottenheimer woke up or Rex Ryan held him against the wall screaming, the play calling improved as Jones and Greene got the bulk of the plays their way against the Colts fast, but undersized defensive unit. Yet another good game plan from Ryan and Pettine on the Defensive side, and thanks to the defense the Jets were able to keep it close until they finally were able to make some plays on offense and ran with the game all the way back to East Rutherford with a win and they’re in Week 17 scenario.
I won’t be writing another piece until after the Jets-Bengals game, so I’d like to finish this off with a prediction for next Sunday Night.
It is my belief that the Jets will use the same ground & pound philosophy that they used in the second half of the Indianapolis game and Sanchez will not throw the ball more than 25 times. If the kid doesn’t make more than 1 mistake, the Jets will win this game and they won’t just win this game, they will win it going away.
Cincinnati – 17
Jets – 27