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Greenberg: All the Right Calls at Miami

Posted Dec 30, 2013

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on newyorkjets.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the New York Jets organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Jets officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

Is there anybody out there who in August wouldn’t have signed up for 8-8?

Best Call, Management Dept.: Woody Johnson’s and John Idzik’s to bring back Rex Ryan. No-brainer, as this practically was all along. If the owner didn’t strongly believe in this coach, then he wouldn’t have made Ryan’s retention for this year a condition for any GM accepting this job. As long as the Jets were playing hard, young players were improving, and Idzik and Ryan shared vision, all the belabored speculation merely filled cyberspace and airtime.

Best Call, Marty Mornhinweg Dept.: On second-and-10 from the Jets’ 45, Bilal Powell took a direct snap and made like Kenny Stabler, the lefthander perfectly leading Jeff Cumberland to the Miami 25 and setting up a Nick Folk field goal that made it a two-score game. Bet you didn’t know Powell was a lefty. Bet the Dolphins didn’t, either.

Best Offensive Jet: Powell made the above throw, took on the heavy lifting (21 carries for 76 yards) after Chris Ivory suffered a cracked rib, ran for five first downs, and pushed Geno Smith through Dannell Ellerbe into the end zone to finish the quarterback’s touchdown run.

Next Best Offensive Jet: LG Brian Winters led the way on Sheldon Richardson’s touchdown, on Geno Smith’s touchdown, and on a 10-yard run by Powell that preceded his lob to Cumberland.

Best Offensive Play: Kellen Winslow, almost stripped by Jelani Jenkins after catching a Smith throw over the middle, broke the tackle, pulled the ball off his hip and completed a 34-yard catch-and-run that was his longest this season and put the Jets in fourth-quarter field goal position.

Best Defensive Jet: Dawan Landry made the defense on receiver Marlon Moore that knocked the ball into the air on Ed Reed’s interception; made the stop on Brian Hartline that put a key Dolphin out of the game early; and led the Jets with eight tackles. Dee Milliner had a big game but also was beaten by Mike Wallace on the Dolphins’ only touchdown.

Best Defensive Play: With the score 14-7, Jets, and the Dolphins approaching the red zone, Milliner jumped inside Mike Wallace for the first of the rookie’s two interceptions.

Worst Defensive Play: Milliner had Wallace but nobody had Rishard Matthews on a 21-yarder from Ryan Tannehill to the Jets 9, setting up Miami’s touchdown.

Best Break(s): Milliner pushed the envelope with his two end zone breakups, both times getting his hands in Mike Wallace’s face while never turning around to play the ball.

Next Best Break: Nobody on the Jets defense was spying Tannehill when, on Miami’s first fourth-quarter possession, he pulled the ball down on a third-and-21 and would have made the first down had he not slid down about a foot short. That enabled the Jets, with a good push by Muhammad Wilkerson and the tackle by Davis Harris, to get a fourth-and-inches stop on the next play, keeping them up by seven.

Best Run: On a third down at the Miami 7, Smith bounced off Powell — who had been pushed back into the quarterback — and was in the process of breaking the goal line tackle by Ellerbe when he got the shove from Powell.

Best Throw: By Smith, off his back foot, on a 24-yard sideline completion to David Nelson in the first quarter. Barely wobbled and didn’t come close to getting picked.

Next Best Throw: By Smith over the top to an almost-perfectly-covered (by Nolan Carroll) Nelson, who made the catch for a first down at the 2, setting up the go-ahead touchdown.

Worst Throw: Smith had Nelson open on the goal line in the third quarter and threw it a foot over his head.

Best Stat: No turnovers for the Jets. Almost always the biggest stat there is.

Best Thing to Take into 2014 from This Season’s First Two-Game Win Streak: Smith did not throw an interception in either game.

Biggest Anxiety to Take into 2014: Smith improved dramatically in the final four games by beginning to make things happen with his legs. That goal line leap that turned into a somersault and a hard landing at the 2 begs the question: Will he be able to stay healthy?

Best Jet in 2013: Muhammad Wilkerson.

Next Best Jet in 2013: Nick Folk.

Best Thing About Going 8-8: Wins over the Patriots and Saints.

Worst Thing About Going 8-8: Routs by the Titans and Bills. With the possible exception of the first Patriots game, it’s hard to find a loss that should have been that one more win that could have gotten the Jets into the playoffs. They pretty well got clobbered in their defeats.

Best John Idzik Pickup: Chris Ivory.

Second Best Idzik Pickup: Landry. The Jets need a dynamic presence at the other safety position, but Landry quietly had a solid season and, of all the short-term acquisitions, might be the one most worth bringing back. Perhaps Willie Colon, too.

Most Believable Reasons That 8-8 Will Prove a Big Step Forward: The Jets’ front seven is close to the NFL’s best. And there is ample cap room for an impact player or two.

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