Texans vs. Jets: Final Report Card, Player Grades for New York Jets
Most reasonable Jets fans had to figure that the team would probably stand at 2-3 after five weeks, and that's just what they are. They have won the games they were favored in and lost the ones in which they were underdogs.
Tonight's game leaves Jets fans with mixed feelings.
Looking back, it's clearly a game they could have won with a couple of breaks, so that is frustrating for sure.
However, there is some sense of relief that the Jets aren't just going to roll over on this season. The Jets stood toe-to-toe with, perhaps, the best team in the NFL and weren't particularly hurt in this game by the absence of Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes.
On the positive side, Antonio Cromartie played a terrific game, and Jeremy Kerley showed he can be a weapon, even against a good defense.
On the negative side, the Jets continued to struggle against the run, couldn't get to the quarterback and still have no running game.
However, when you take this game as a whole, there are positive signs that this season isn't lost.
Here's a look at how the key Jets graded out in their loss to the Texans.
Mark Sanchez: C
This loss to the Texans does not fall on the shoulders of Sanchez. The Jets quarterback finished 14-of-30 for 235 yards and two touchdowns that were not his fault.
Sanchez's numbers were skewed by at least three dropped passes and four batted passes at the line of scrimmage.
If Antonio Cromartie could have stayed in bounds and Jeff Cumberland could have made some catches, Sanchez's numbers would have looked a lot better and the outcome of the game just may have been different.
Tim Tebow: B+
Tebow took his first deep shot as a Jets quarterback, and it should have resulted in a huge gainer. Instead, Jason Hill dropped the pass, and it just went as another incompletion.
Tebow had a great run down to the 4-yard line late in the game, but the Jets couldn't convert there. He finished with five rushes for 19 yards in his most productive game as a Jet.
Shonn Greene: D
For much of the game, Greene continued to just run directly into the line without trying to make something happen. Greene had eight carries for 26 yards. With the Jets down less than one score in the fourth quarter, Greene broke off a 12-yard run and a 19-yard reception, so at least whatever production he had came when it counted most.
Bilal Powell: B
Powell continued to run for a higher average than Greene but is still looking for that game where he gets a bulk of the carries. Tonight, Powell had 18 yards on just four carries. He still seems to deserve a chance to show what he can do with a bigger workload.
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Chaz Schilens: B-
Schilens caught four passes for 29 yards and actually did a decent job getting open most of the night. Schilens was open on at least two of the passes that were batted at the line. While he won't scare anybody, Schilens should work well as a possession receiver.
Jeremy Kerley: A
Kerley was the Jets' best threat on offense, catching five passes for 94 yards. If Kerley plays like this the rest of the season, the Jets won't miss Santonio Holmes as much as they expect. Kerley's biggest catch was a 36-yarder to help set up a Nick Folk field goal.
Clyde Gates: B
Gates caught one pass for 27 yards, but it helped set up the Jets' only offensive touchdown of the game. Three plays after his catch, Mark Sanchez hit Jeff Cumberland for the touchdown. Gates suffered a shoulder injury early in the game and was missed while he was out.
Jason Hill: F
Hill had a chance to make an immediate impact early in the game but dropped what would have been a long completion from Tim Tebow. He later had a false-start penalty, and his confusion about where to line up on a play forced the Jets to use one of their timeouts in the second half.
Antonio Cromartie: B
Cromartie made his much-anticipated debut at wide receiver and didn't catch a pass. However, he gets a high grade based on the potential he showed. Cromartie executed a nice double-move to get open deep and made a nice catch on a deep ball, even if he failed to get his feet in bounds.
He was targeted again on a swing pass that was batted before it got to him. Expect Cromartie to be a part of the offense going forward.
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Jeff Cumberland: D
Cumberland did make a fantastic catch on the Jets' only offensive touchdown of the game, but his fourth-quarter drop sealed the Jets' fate this night. The pass to Cumberland was a little high, but it hit him right in the hands and is a play an NFL tight end should make. He had an early drop as well.
Cumberland caught two passes for 51 yards. The Jets miss Dustin Keller more and more every week.
Austin Howard: B
Howard spent some time on J.J. Watt and did as well as anyone on him. He had help on a number of plays, but none of Watt's big plays came on Howard's watch. The Jets found some yardage on the right side of the offense at times, so Howard gets some credit for that.
Brandon Moore: D
Moore was beaten for one sack by Watt and allowed pressure all night. It was Moore who blew a block on Brooks Reed, allowing the defensive lineman to blow up the direct-snap play to Joe McKnight. Moore did have a fantastic block on Tim Tebow's run to the 4-yard line, though.
Nick Mangold: A
Mangold rates as an A for getting himself back out on the field when everybody expected the worst. After rolling an ankle, he wasn't able to put any pressure on his foot as he was helped from the field. He had to be carted off to the locker room. But, Mangold knows his importance to this team and got himself back out on the field.
As for his play, the Jets couldn't find any running room up the middle, but a lot of that was caused by the ends collapsing down quickly. One of the pass deflections came over Mangold.
Matt Slauson and Vladimir Ducasse: D
The Jets continue to rotate Ducasse and Slauson at left guard and aren't getting the best results. The most damning play from this duo came on Watt's tipped pass that resulted in an interception.
On the play, Ducasse engaged Watt briefly then drifted back into no-man's land. This allowed Watt the freedom to extend his arms for the tip. There was no running room on the left side to speak of.
One of the few positives from this duo was that Ducasse had blocking duties on Watt on Cumberland's touchdown catch and did enough to keep him away from Sanchez on the play.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson: C
The big gripe on Ferguson was that he was a big part of the problem for the Jets' lack of any semblance of a running game on the left side of the offense. He found himself on Watt a number of times and probably did the best of any Jets offensive linemen and what was did against him.
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Quinton Coples: F
Another invisible game for Coples as he failed to show up on the stat sheet. He generated pressure on one play, and that was the only time he really showed up.
Muhammad Wilkerson: D+
Wilkerson had his second straight quite game, registering just one solo tackle and one assist. He came within a step of a big sack on Schaub, but ultimately, didn't get there in time. He did make one nice read of a potential screen play, causing Schaub to delay, which resulted in an illegal-man-downfield penalty on the Texans.
Kenrick Ellis: C-
Ellis was in on six tackles, which is a good number for an interior lineman. However, Arian Foster had a big day running through the middle of the Jets defense.
Mike DeVito: C
DeVito had the best game of all Jets' defensive linemen, even though that isn't saying much. DeVito had four solo tackles and assisted on four others. He was more spry than he had been for most of this season and picked up the slack nicely for the absent Sione Pouha.
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David Harris: C-
Harris had his usual nine tackles but was completely overmatched in the middle of the field. Unless he was head-on with Arian Foster, the Texans running back made him look like he was standing still.
The middle of the Jets defense was vacant at times, and Harris continues to show he has no pass-coverage ability. He gets credit for playing hard, but at this point in his career, he is just limited physically.
Calvin Pace: D+
Pace played the same type of game as Harris but with just three tackles. The game simply moves too fast for Pace, especially when the Jets play an elite team. He had one tackle in the backfield but was a big part of the Jets' failed run defense. To his credit, Pace made a big stop for no gain on Foster on 3rd-and-11 with 10:00 left in the game.
Bryan Thomas: C
Thomas was having an active game, registering three early tackles, including one in the backfield. However, his hamstring injury popped up again, and his missed a majority of the game.
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Antonio Cromartie: A+
This may have been Cromartie's best game as a Jet. He held Andre Johnson to just one catch for 15 yards and came up with a huge early interception. Cromartie has had similar games, now he just has to do this on a consistent basis. Up next is Reggie Wayne, but for now, Cromartie should enjoy the accolades he deserves for this performance.
Kyle Wilson: B
Perhaps, lost in the brilliance of Cromartie's game was the strong play in coverage by Kyle Wilson. Wilson spent much of his night on Kevin Walter, a dangerous receiver if he is allowed to be. Walter had just four catches for 46 yards and much of that was thanks to Wilson.
Wilson did have a couple of plays in which he showed lackluster effort in the running game, but this game was a step forward in his pass coverage, and that's what's most important.
LaRon Landry: B-
Landry had eight tackles but failed to register any of the game-changing plays that fans have become accustomed to. Owen Daniels did find plenty of open room along the top of the Jets defense, so Landry, Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith will take some blame for that. However, this was a sold, if unspectacular, game for Landry.
Yeremiah Bell: A-
Bell led the Jets in tackles with seven, all of which were solo tackles. Arian Foster's 152-yard total would have been a lot more if not for a few clutch tackles by Bell. Bell is the one player on defense whose impact is not fully known by fans, much the way Jim Leonhard was. He continues to play at a near Pro Bowl level.
Eric Smith: B
Smith had two total tackles in the game and didn't commit a penalty, which was a change. It was a nondescript performance by someone whose playing time is dwindling.
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Nick Folk: A
Folk hit his only field-goal attempt, a 21-yard chip shot. His kickoffs have failed to generate touchbacks, though, and that could be a problem down the line. Folk executed a perfect onside kick that should have been recovered by Chaz Schilens. More on that later.
Robert Malone: A
Malone continued his standout performance, and hopefully, will be the Jets' long-term solution at punter for years to come. Malone averaged 44.2 yards on six punts, but his average was brought down by twice having to settle for pooch punts.
He boomed a 61-yard punt and a 58-yarder that pinned the Texans at the 9-yard line. Two of his six punts landed inside the 20.
Joe McKnight: A+
McKnight put the Jets right back into the game when it looked like it could possibly get out of hand. After a Texans' touchdown put the score at 20-7, McKnight returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. He continues to be a threat every time he touches the ball on a kickoff.
Tim Tebow: A
Tebow is now 2-of-2 converting fake punts. This time, it couldn't have caught anyone by surprise as it was the perfect opportunity to do so, and the Jets had a commercial break to think about it. Kudos to Konrad Reuland for throwing the key block.
Chaz Schilens: F
Schilens is on the hands team because he supposedly has good hands. Folk's onside kick went right through his hands. It should have been an easy recovery for Schilens and a huge play for the Jets.
Rex Ryan: A
Not everything Rex Ryan tried worked tonight, but you have to love the effort given by the coaching staff. Ryan pulled out every stop he could think of and showed a tremendous amount of confidence in his team in doing so.
Obviously, a win would have been huge here, but it was essential for the Jets to at least show that they could give what could be the best team in the NFL a legitimate game.
One week after being embarrassed by the 49ers, the Jets started the game tentative on offense and defense. However, as the game progressed, the Jets took Ryan's lead and eventually became the aggressors.
As for a football standpoint, the onside kick backfired, and some will have a problem with that call right there. There was also the idea that the Jets were left with just one timeout when the Texans got the ball for the last time in the game.
The Jets had to burn one timeout early when Jason Hill had no idea where to line up on a crucial play in the fourth quarter. Whether that falls on the coaches or Hill is something only the players and coaches will know.
The Jets were severely undermanned against a team that is much more talented than they are, yet they had the ball with a chance to win in the end. Just as the coaches deservedly got ripped for the 49ers effort, they should be lauded here.
Tony Sparano: B+
The good part about Sparano's game plan was that he continued to take shots down the field, even without Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill. The Jets should have connected for at least five plays of 20 yards if the players executed properly. Sparano is putting the players in the right place to succeed; it's up to them to execute.
On the negative side, the Jets' running game continues to lack any creativity. Shonn Greene simply isn't going to run the ball down the throats of an elite defense, yet the Jets continue to try it. Bilal Powell still should be getting more looks than he has been, and they should really think about calling more screen plays.
Mike Westhoff: A+
As much as people want to say the Jets are a mess, and at times, they have been this year, the special teams cannot be lumped into that category.
Joe McKnight's return, Robert Malone's punting and Nick Folk's perfection all fall under the umbrella of Westhoff's genius.
As a fan, it's hard to figure just how much of this is based on schemes and how much is players simply doing their jobs, but every year, the personnel changes, and every year, the specials remain excellent. If not for the special teams tonight, the Jets would not have been in this game.