Week 1 – 9/11/11
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Jets
Mark Sanchez: 26/44, 335 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble
Once again, Sanchez showed a bit of Jekyll and a bit of Hyde. Two costly turnovers – a near pick six and a fumble in the fourth quarter could have cost the Jets the game. Still, his completion percentage was decent and 12 yards per catch is reasonable. He certainly performs better when the game is on the line, and the coaching staff needs to help him get off to a better start. The fact that he couldn’t further exploit a wounded Cowboys secondary is a bad sign – but hang on, he will be just fine.
Running Backs: C
Shonn Greene: 10 carries, 26 yards. 1 catch, 7 yards.
LaDainian Tomlinson: 5 carries, 16 yards. 6 catches, 73 yards.
The running backs didn’t have many opportunities on the ground; Rex employed a pass-first offense. A rushing average of less than 3 yards is worrisome, but Tomlinson’s 73 yards through the air led the team – that alone earns the C grade.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A-
Santonio Holmes: 6 catches, 70 yards
Plaxico Burress: 4 catches, 72 yards, 1 TD
Dustin Keller: 5 catches, 61 yards, 1 TD
Derrick Mason was a non-factor, but Dustin Keller was a reliable target in the receiving game. Burress struggled with timing, but flashed with a back shoulder touchdown catch. Holmes’ night was quieter than it looks, but still effective.
Offensive Line: D
Cowboys LB Ware seemingly beat everyone on the line; Wayne Hunter looked lost at times. The line allowed 4 sacks and never got the running game going. They should return to form.
Defensive Line: C-
The defensive line generated pressure, yet they rarely sealed the deal. Jets DE Mike DeVito made the play of the game, forcing a Romo fumble on the Jets 1 yard line.
Scott and Pace added a sack, but for the most part, the linebackers struggled to close in on the quarterback. And of course, coverage is a word that does not exist in their dictionary.
When you think of the Jets, two strengths that come to mind are the secondary and the offensive line. Interestingly, they were able to win this game despite the struggles of both of those units. Darelle Revis finally looked human for a change, but still made a couple key plays including a interception late in the 4th quarter. Judging by my eyes, Antonio Cromartie had a decent game but the stat-line on paper? Woeful. Eric Smith has no business being on the field unless he’s smashing opponents, which he didn’t do tonight. The Jets struggled to cover the middle of the field, and paid dearly for it. I don’t recall seeing Kyle Wilson get burned despite playing several downs, so that’s a good thing at least.
Special Teams: A+
Speaking of surprises, two of the stars of this game were Nick Folk (who hit the game winning 50 yard field goal), and Joe McKnight (blocked a punt in the 4th quarter that was returned for a touchdown by Isaiah Trufant.) How’s that for a surprise? Punter T.J. Conley looked alright, putting 2 of his 6 punts within the 20.
Coaching is probably the toughest position to grade, but here’s the bottom line: win, and you’ll tend to end up on the plus side of “C” as far as I’m concerned. There were definitely problems here: the team looked unprepared in the 1st half and the offensive gameplan was sub-par. Nevertheless, when it was all over Rex’s strengths shone: grit and determination. They say a team adapts the personality of its head coach, and this game was a good example of that.
Up next: Week 2: Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets.