New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Jets
The Jets fell to 4-18 against the Steelers during their history in an ugly 27-10 loss.
The play from Mark Sanchez was poor, the wide receivers had too many drops, the defense could not get themselves off the field and penalty flags rained down like a plague of locusts.
Let's get to the individual grades; I promise you they won't be pretty.
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Mark Sanchez: D
The only thing that saves him from an F was that he did have two good drives to start the game, as much as they might be tough to remember.
Sanchez looked like a rookie for the better part of the game, finishing 10-of-27 for 138 yards and a touchdown.
Sanchez missed receivers consistently despite having decent time to throw and looked progressively more skittish in the pocket as the game progressed.
At least he didn't throw an interception.
Tim Tebow: B
He went in and gave an instant spark to the offense, even if it was for just two plays. Tebow's 22-yard jaunt was the team's highlight. Looking back, maybe he could have been used more in the offense. I am still waiting for Tebow to be lined up as a running back with Sanchez under center.
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Shonn Greene: B-
Greene was just starting to gain some momentum on the ground when he had to leave the game with an apparent head injury. After being cleared to return, the Jets' running game was not a factor any more in the game plan. He had just 23 yards on 11 carries, but he did have some promising runs and still ran with his usual toughness.
Bilal Powell: B
Powell did well filling in for Green while he was being evaluated by the medical staff. He racked up 33 yards on nine carries, showing a nice burst of speed at times.
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Santonio Holmes: D-
Holmes dropped three passes and had significant trouble getting open at all during the game. He did catch a touchdown and draw some pass interference penalties, but this return to Pittsburgh was not a memorable one for Holmes.
Jeremy Kerley: C+
Kerley had one of the team's early highlights with a nice 45-yard catch to help set up Santonio Holmes' touchdown. From that point on, though, he virtually disappeared, catching a meaningless 22-yard pass with 30 seconds left in the game.
Stephen Hill: INC
After starring in his first NFL game, you could barely even tell Hill was on the team. He had an early deep pass knocked away from him and wasn't heard from again.
Not sure if this was Hill's fault for not being open or Sanchez's fault for not getting the ball to him.
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Austin Howard: B
Howard had to work on the fearsome LaMarr Woodley and did a decent job on him for most of the day. He did allow Woodley one sack on a play which Bilal Powell eschewed his pass-blocking responsibilities.
Brandon Moore, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold: B
Nothing bad to speak of from Moore or Mangold, who turned in their usual solid performance. The Jets allowed just two sacks for a total of nine lost yards, which isn't bad against the Steelers.
They could have done a little better in the running game, but they gave Sanchez time to throw, which is tough to do in Pittsburgh.
Matt Slauson and Vladimir Ducasse: B
Slauson and Ducasse shared duties at left guard today, and it will be interesting to see what Rex Ryan has to say about that. Slauson got the start and didn't appear to do anything poorly, but Ducasse received considerable playing time as the game went on.
They were both part of a decent effort by the line unless there was something from Slauson that nobody picked up on.
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Konrad Reuland: B
Reuland caught two passes for 20 yards. They were the first two catches of Reuland's career.
Jeff Cumberland: B-
Cumberland was not much a part of anything as he caught two passes for 17 yards. Early in the game, he failed to realize he was a hot read on a blitz and a Mark Sanchez pass drilled him in the back.
It was a missed chance at a possible converted third down.
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Muhammad Wilkerson: B
Wilkerson was more active this week than he was last week against the Bills. He had his hand in four tackles, including one for a loss. He was a good part of a better overall effort by the defensive line.
Mike DeVito: B
DeVito was a solid part of a good run defense in the middle of the field today. He was in on five tackles and was part of a unit that held the Steelers running backs to just 56 yards on 26 carries.
Quinton Coples: C
The good news was that Coples did find himself in the backfield on a few occasions today. The bad news is that when he got there, he didn't do much of anything.
Coples was one of the defenders who had a chance at a sack on Roethlisberger, but he fell victim to the quarterback's size and toughness. He had just one assisted tackle.
Kenrick Ellis: C
Ellis wasn't heard from too much as Sione Pouha returned to the lineup today. Ellis assisted on two tackles and will have to find a way to make an impact with reduced playing time.
Sione Pouha: B
Pouha registered a sack when he contacted a downed Roethlisberger during the first half. Besides that, it was a quiet season debut for the big guy.
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David Harris: B
Harris had a shot to make an impact sack on Roethlisberger while this was still a close game, but like many others, he was simply brushed aside as he made contact.
Harris tied with Yeremiah Bell for 10 total tackles and was more active than he was against the Bills. He still struggles in pass coverage, but that's nothing new.
Calvin Pace: C
Pace was heard from early in the game with some presence in the Steelers' backfield but became increasingly quiet as the game went on. He had two solo tackles and two assisted tackles; not the stats you are looking for out of 62 plays in which the Jets were on defense.
Demario Davis: D
Wearing No. 56, Davis was finally heard from after being a non-factor against the Bills. He didn't do anything positive, as he is still learning his way, but at least there is evidence he is on the active roster.
Davis had pressure on Roethlisberger twice but failed to do anything with that pressure. Roethlisberger fell out of his grasp once and another time he was a second too slow in getting there.
Aaron Maybin: D
After a promising preseason, Maybin has vanished the first two weeks. He didn't register anything on the stat sheet and showed up in the backfield one time, ready to clean up if Garrett McIntyre missed his first sack.
Speaking of which...
Garrett McIntyre: A+
McIntyre was the team's best player today, sacking Roethlisberger twice and recording five solo tackles. If the rest of the defense would have matched McIntyre's energy, this game may have had a different result.
With performances like this, he is going to see significantly more time than Maybin and Davis on defense.
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LaRon Landry: F
I guess if Jets fans are going to enjoy the bounties of Landry's aggressive style, they are going to have to live with the negatives as well. Landry registered two personal foul penalties and could have been called for two others.
He also missed a sack on Roethlisberger on the play in which Jerricho Cotchery converted a third down to the 1-yard line.
Yeremiah Bell: B-
Bell made a number of plays in the running game, registering 10 total tackles in a very active role. However, he was part of a unit that allowed Roethlisberger to march up and down the field, mostly through a vulnerable middle.
He probably should have had a huge strip and fumble recovery, but the replacement referees seem very unlikely to overturn anything they aren't sure of.
Antonio Cromartie: F
Cromartie was picked on early and then made a putrid defensive play on what was the turning point of the game. Facing a 3rd-and-16 from the Jets' 37, Roethlisberger heaved a pass up for grabs in the end zone toward Mike Wallace.
If Cromartie simply would have nudged Wallace slightly, he would have gone out of bounds for an incompletion and probable punt. Instead, Cromartie was lost as Wallace got both feet in for the score.
It was the turning point of the game, as the Steelers opened up a 20-10 lead.
Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant: D
Lankster and Trufant received more playing time with Darrelle Revis out and didn't provide much at all. They were part of the problem in the weak middle of the field.
Kyle Wilson: B+
Wilson wasn't picked on nearly as much as the other defensive backs. Roethlisberger actually stayed away from Wilson to throw at Cromartie. Wilson was very active in the run game, registering seven total tackles, a good number for a cornerback.
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Jeremy Kerley: F
Kerley had three punt returns for two total yards and a fumble. Not the type of performance you'd expect from the reigning AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Luckily, his fumble only cost the Jets in field position as the defense forced a quick three-and-out after it.
Kerley took his eye off the ball and the punt hit his facemask as it came down. You can count on Mike Westhoff to correct that this week.
Joe McKnight: B
McKnight had a decent game returning kicks, running back four of them for an average of 28 yards each. It's clear that McKnight will not accept touchbacks, so it is important for him to at least get to the 20-yard-line consistently.
He did that every time but once.
Roger Malone: B
After taking much of last week off, it was an active day for the new Jets punter. Malone punted six times for an average of 45.3 yards. He nailed one inside the 20, and it should have been two if not for Isaiah Trufant's inability to keep his foot out of the end zone while downing the ball.
He boomed three of his six punts for more than 50 yards. He is leagues better than T.J. Conley.
Nick Folk: B+
Folk has quietly gone about his business this year after his training camp competition with Josh Brown. He hit his only field-goal attempt and knocked the opening kickoff for a touchback, his eighth in 10 tries to start the year. His next two kicks were returned past the 20-yard line, though.
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There wasn't a ton to complain about as far as game strategy by Rex Ryan, Tony Sparano or Mike Pettine, but as coaches they do have to take the blame for some things.
With Darrelle Revis out, the decision to go conservative on defense and play mostly zone backfired as Roethlisberger picked apart the Jets defense piece by piece with short passes.
On offense, the Jets' play-calling also got conservative after two impressive drives to start the game.
The real gripe people should have with the coaching staff falls on discipline.
The Jets were hit for seven penalties by a flag-happy crew that called 17 total penalties on the day. While it's not Ryan himself that is out there hitting players late, the coaching staff has to take some of the blame for the flags.
Also, the Jets were visibly tired as a unit defensively, losing fundamentals and resorting to arm tackles as the game went on. This lack of conditioning may just have been a one-game instance, but again, it's on the coaches to have these players in shape and prepared to go.
They simply weren't today.
No gripes on game management as the clock was not a factor and Ryan was right in challenging two plays, even if the referees didn't overturn one when they should have.
One point of debate this week will be the lack of Tim Tebow in this game. With the Jets offense struggling so bad, they could have used the spark.
Tebow provided a nice 22-yard run on his only rushing attempt and then wasn't heard from again.
It is likely that Ryan or Sparano would rather have seen Sanchez work through his poor play rather than turning it over to Tebow. Their failure to give Tebow significant playing time may have shown Sanchez that he shouldn't be scared to make mistakes and that they won't have the short leash with him that the media predicted they would.
But in the end, the Jets could have used him today in some capacity.