Jets Regular Season

Run defense helps Jets win season opener

Admin - September 9, 2013

It's been a while since the New York Jets started a season with expectations being so low. Most experts predicted the Gang Green would win 5-6 games at most; some went as far as anticipating a 3-13 season. The Jets went into the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as 3-point underdogs. Not a single "expert" on the entire ESPN panel picked the Gang Green to win this one. The Jets, however, had different ideas, as a solid showing from rookie QB Geno Smith, tremendous play from the young defensive line, and a few dumb mistakes from their opponent ensured that the Jets started a season with a win for the fourth time during Rex Ryan's era.

Some might think that the Jets were lucky to win this one, but the stats speak otherwise. The Jets had 22 first downs, the Bucs managed only 12. The Jets gained 304 total yards, while limiting the Bucs to 254. The time of possession was also in the Jets' favor - 32:22 against 27:38. The Gang Green's biggest accomplishment, however, was limiting Tampa Bay's powerful ground attack to only 65 yards (2.6 yards/carry).

Here's a look at how different Jets' units performed against the Bucs:

Quarterback: Geno Smith had somewhat of a rough start but he pulled it together, showing veteran-like poise and leadership. Smith finished the game 24 of 38, 256 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. He completed over 60% of his passes. When was the last time we saw QB Mark Sanchez do so? Grade: B

Running backs: Both RB Chris Ivory and RB Bilal Powell struggled big time. The Jets gained 90 yards on the ground but 47 of them came from Geno Smith. Grade: D

Receivers: TE Kellen Winslow had an excellent game - 7 receptions for 79 yards, 1 TD. WR Jeremy Kerley had an impressive start but then disappeared after being hit hard by a Tampa Bay's defender. WR Stephen Hill was a forgotten man in the first half, but then came to life in the second, finishing with 6 catches for 39 yards. WR Santonio Holmes started but failed to make an impact - just one catch for 13 yards. Grade: B-

Offensive line: They did pretty well in pass protection, with the exception of OG Vlad "The Turnstile" Ducasse. Their run blocking, however, could use some work. Grade: C

Defensive line: For the first time in many years we saw the Jets apply pressure on the quarterback with just the front four. What they did against the run was even better, as Doug Martin, who ran for over 1,400 yards last season, was limited to just 65 yards on 24 carries (48 yards on 23 carries if we take out the trap play that gained 17 yards). Grade: A

Linebackers: This unit looked much better than last year. They looked faster and tackled superbly for the most part. Considering that LB Quinton Coples, arguably the team's best pass-rusher, was out with an injury, they will only get better. Grade: B

Secondary: Both CB Antonio Cromartie and CB Dee Milliner kept getting burned throughout the game. Milliner gave up a touchdown, while Cromartie at times looked like a rookie against WR Vincent Jackson. Both safeties played well for the most part, S Dawan Landry had an interception. Grade: C-

Special teams: PK Nick Folk was 3 for 3 on field goal attempts. P Doug Malone averaged almost 50 yards per punt. The return game was far from impressive. Grade: B

Coaching: Once again the Jets suffered from time management issues, which have become almost like a trademark of the Rex Ryan's era. There were also a few questionable all out blitzes on third downs, almost all of which resulting in big gains for the Buccaneers. The plan to concentrate on the Bucs' running game and let Freeman beat the Jets through the air worked out well. Grade: B-

On Thursday the Gang Green will face a much more difficult test, as they will travel to New England to take on the hated Patriots (1-0). The Pats barely escaped the Bills in Week 1 but will definitely have extra motivation against the Jets.