Another week, another loss for the New York Jets. Far too early to panic or wave the white flag, but the Jets continue to narrow their margin of error moving forward. There were some positives to take from the game, and the Jets looked like they belonged, which is an improvement over last week. No shame in losing to a good team like the New England Patriots, but the loss puts them behind the eight ball in the AFC East. Just another hole for Rex Ryan's Jets to dig themselves out of.
What did we learn this week?
Nick Mangold is an absolute beast: If there was anyone left who didn't realize how good Mangold is, yesterday should have changed that. Mangold's insertion into the starting lineup gave the Jets offense some confidence, and at times he was dominant. Watching the Jets first touchdown drive, Mangold was the best player on the field and it wasn't even close. He was so quick to control the defensive tackles, allowing the guards to get up to the second level and open up some holes in the New England defense.
Shonn Greene is the guy: The struggling running game elicited some premature calls for Shonn Greene to be benched. The Jets offensive line played much better yesterday, and Greene was finally afforded some decent holes to run through. He ran with authority, pushing the pile and bullying Patriots defenders at times, and the doubters should be silenced for at least a week.
Jamaal Westerman can still be the "DPR": Westerman was anointed the "Designated Pass Rusher" prior to the season, but hadn't done a whole lot in that department prior to yesterday's tilt with the Patriots. He finally made some plays, getting two sacks on Tom Brady. The Jets pass rush was pretty good overall, recording four sacks. If the Jets can establish Westerman as a legitimate pass rushing threat it will help others get free for some sacks.
Joe McKnight is electric: McKnight had some more good kickoff returns, and took one all the way back to the Patriots 20 yard line. He is patient when waiting for the lane to develop, then hits it hard and has shown great speed. The Jets need to seriously consider getting him involved on offense because he can be an explosive weapon.
Jeremy Kerley is growing as a player: Previously relegated to returning punts, Jeremy Kerley has seen more playing time in recent weeks. Yesterday he was open on a bunch of plays, and caught a touchdown pass. He's been very consistent returning punts, and always seems to be on the verge of breaking a big return. He's another player the Jets need to include more in the offense.
Ground and… Pound?: The Jets return to the "Ground and Pound" offense gets a grade of "incomplete." While the running game looked better than it has all season, the Jets can't really call themselves a "Ground and Pound" offense yet. Why? On their first three drives the Jets faced three third-and-short plays. The Jets had set themselves up in those situations with good runs. Brian Schottenheimer went to the air all three times, and the Jets failed to convert any of them. A real running team would pound the ball with their running back and pick up those yards.
Big plays and penalties: The Jets continue to allow big plays on third and long situations and help teams out by committing a lot of penalties. They're not going to win a lot of games doing that against good teams. It seemed like the Patriots were able to convert on big third downs when they needed to.
Looking ahead, if the Jets put forth this type of effort against the Miami Dolphins next week, they probably win. There's still some stuff to clean up, but they are improving. This week is a must-win against the winless Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
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