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Greenberg: Geno and the Jets, Pluses and Minuses

Posted Sep 9, 2013

The agony and the ecstasy of the Jets in Week 1:

OFFENSE

Best Play: Actually, not designed. The 18-yard completion to Kellen Winslow on second-and-16 that set up the Jets’ touchdown was improvisation by both quarterback and receiver, good sign of early chemistry on a drastically changed offensive unit.

Best Reason to Believe the Jets Can’t Ruin Smith by Throwing Him to the Wolves Too Early: He had a fumble and an interception on successive possessions in the second quarter and didn’t wilt.

Next Best Reason to Believe No Matter How Many Rookie Mistakes Smith Makes, He Still Will Give the Jets a Chance to Win: He scrambled six times for 47 yards. Ray Lucas was the last Jets quarterback to give them this dimension.

Best Reason to Believe the Above Alone Still Will Get Them Nowhere in the Long Run: Smith was the Jets' leading rusher by 18 yards. They must run the ball a lot better than this.

Worst Rookie Mistake: Smith, operating from his 11, failed to protect the ball that Mason Foster knocked out of his hand, setting up the Bucs’ first touchdown. Smith’s interception was ugly but just a blatant overthrow, not a misread.

Bad First Day at the Office: Dee Milliner was beaten on a 17-yard touchdown catch by Mike Williams and was an innocent victim of blind football justice besides. He was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play, but actually Dawan Landry threw the elbow.

Can’t Blame This on Tim Tebow: The Jets scripted direct snaps on two plays on their first series. After a 4-yard run by Bilal Powell and a Jeremy Kerley incompletion — that’s by Kerley, not to Kerley — they still had to punt.

John Idzik’s Best Work of the Offseason, Snap Judgment Dept.: Kellen Winslow Jr. caught seven of the eight passes thrown to him for 79 yards and a touchdown.

Most Apropos Sentiment by Rex Ryan: “We’ll Take It.” Not only did a premature snap because of a miscommunication result in a Jets safety and an out-of-bounds hit by the Bucs’ Lavonte David save Landry from infamy, but the Jets were about to go 3-and-out in the fourth quarter when Leonard Johnson was called for defensive holding. The Jets methodically drove from there to Nick Folk’s go-ahead field goal. And then there were the consecutive delay-of-game penalties on the Buccaneers' first possession.

Scariest Moment: Nick Mangold down, holding his arm.

Potential Season-Saving Moment: Mangold returning to the game.

Most Encouraging Sighting: Stephen Hill with six receptions.

DEFENSE

Play of the Game: Demario Davis flashed remarkable closing speed to run down Vincent Jackson after Landry’s missed tackle that set up Tampa Bay’s apparent game-winning field goal. If that had gone for a touchdown, no out-of-bounds hit was going to save the Jets.

Rookie of the Game: Not Geno Smith but Sheldon Richardson, who had seven tackles and a shared sack with Calvin Pace that stopped the Bucs on the first of their two possessions after Folk’s field goal with 5:05 to play put New York ahead.

Least Stalwart Moment: The next play after the Smith fumble, Doug Martin ran for a touchdown through a hole even bigger than the one in the logic that Ryan is a beaten man just because he doesn’t incessantly brag anymore.

Best Reason to Believe that Even with Seven New Starters, It Still Can Be Business as Usual for a Ryan Defense: Otherwise, the Jets held Martin to 65 yards, the sum total of the Bucs’ running game. They had only two first downs rushing.

Best Call: The blitz on second-and-14 from the Tampa Bay 16 that resulted in the Richardson-Pace shared sack of Josh Freeman. Unless it was the fake blitz on the next play, when the Jets only rushed four and forced Freeman to throw incomplete into coverage. Unless it was the blitz that resulted in Freeman’s gross overthrow on Landry’s interception.

Unsung Hero: David Harris, typically, with seven tackles and a hurry.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Best Play: If you missed Robert Malone’s 84-yard punt, it is still visible in the night sky every 90 minutes. It was a punt so good — the second longest in Jets history — that it trumped even Folk's 48-yard field goal with two seconds remaining to win the game.

Next Best Play: Malone put one out of bounds on the 5, setting up the Bucs’ snap-to-nobody that resulted in a safety.

Worst Play: Malone outkicked his coverage with a line drive that Eric Page returned 28 yards.

Best Reflection of a Job Well Done in Coverage: Except for Smith’s fumble, the Bucs started in Jets territory only one other time — on that Page runback.

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