Jets vs Rams: Final Grades, Analysis for New York

TJ Rosenthal@thejetreportFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2012

Jets vs Rams: Final Grades, Analysis for New York

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    The 4-6 New York Jets kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 27-13 win over the St Louis Rams, one that snapped a three-game losing streak. The Rams fell to 3-6-1. Gang Green has a Thursday night Thanksgiving matchup against the archrival Patriots, in what will be yet another must-win for a Jets club that is desperately battling to get back into the AFC wild-card race.

    The following are final game grades for the Jets.

Offense: B+

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    The Jets' ball-control plan of opening up the rushing attack, while taking limited shots downfield, was executed to perfection today. Kudos to a much maligned offense that was under intense pressure to perform. Especially given the media swirl all week in New York over unnamed sources calling Tim Tebow "Terrible," with ex OC Brain Schottenheimer of all people looking to administer the dagger (h/t USA Today).


    They held the lead then added to it. A pair of Bilal Powell rushing touchdowns sealed the win for the Jets who took no chances in the final quarter. The game plan was to play it safe, and it was executed to perfection.


    Few risks and no mistakes. This game is in the hands of the defense. Shonn Greene (13 carries for 59 yards) has been effective.


    The Jets unleashed their own version of "Air Coryell" this quarter with two completions of 20-plus yards. The first, a 25-yard TD pass from Sanchez to Schilens. The second, a 32-yard to completion to Jeremy Kerley that followed on the next drive. That drive ended in the second 50-yard-plus field goal from Nick Folk.

    Stephen Hill lost one in the lights and a few other miscues took place, but all in all the offense is doing enough to win right now without shooting itself in the foot.


    Sanchez had a pep in his step. Shonn Greene finished off his runs with a purpose. Again, a promising opening drive stalled for the second straight week, though. Joe McKnight had a key third-down grab. Many diehards hope to see more of No. 25. Tony Sparano has to find a way to stretch the field. One Tebow sighting on the Jets first drive resulted in a few-yard pickup by No. 15 on the ground. 

Mark Sanchez: A

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    Mark Sanchez did a terrific job in leading the Jets today to a much-needed win in the face of so much scrutiny for his play thus far this season. His 15-of-20 line for 178 yards and a touchdown don't tell nearly the whole story. "The Sanchise" was in control finally in and out of the huddle, and moved his feet well throughout. More importantly, Sanchez was mentally ready to play a complete game while many wondered not if, but when Tim Tebow would take over at QB this season.


    Playing with the lead, Mark Sanchez's sole job was to keep the clock and chains moving and not make any crucial mistakes. Mission accomplished.


    Mark Sanchez is morphing into a game manager playing wisely with the lead now. His day of 14-of-19 for 167 yards is no small feat given the talent that surrounds him.


    Yes folks, that's right, Mark Sanchez gets an A for something. So far he's 9-of-13 for 118 yards with a pretty pump fake prior to a 25-yard TD pass to WR Chaz Schilens. Sanchez has been the leader of the offense today. Finally.

    One sighting of Tebow was a handoff to Jeremy Kerley. This is Sanchez's game today.


    Embattled QB Mark Sanchez was efficient and in control of his undermanned offense. Sanchez fell victim to an opening-drive drop once again by rookie WR Stephen Hill. He’s been reasonably sharp so far (4-of-6 for 41 yards) and looks mentally ready to play four quarters today.

Running Backs

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    RB Shonn Greene: B+

    Greene set the tone for the Jets' ball-control plan from the get-go with a hard-nosed style and an early 4.0-plus yards-per-carry average. The positive effect he created allowed Sanchez to drop back with protection. The Jets QB then made good with his limited chances.

    RB Bilal Powell: A

    Powell had 11 carries for 42 yards and two TDs, which gives Jets fans hope that finally a Jets ground game will include players not named Greene. Powell was the closer today but perhaps his performance will inspire Tony Sparano to use him earlier in Thursday night's matchup against the Patriots.

    RB Joe McKnight: B

    McKnight caught a third-down wheel route out of the backfield, and had a few more positive plays for an offense starving for a speed injection and more versatility out of its ground attack.

    QB Tim Tebow: C-

    Tebow barely had an impact out of the Wildcat, but his trustworthy hands should not be discounted or minimized. Tebow once again could not seem to find a way to break off a decent-sized run. However, his minimal carries that lightened the punishment load elsewhere were not the worst thing in the world either.

Wide Receivers

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    WR Chaz Schilens: A

    Schilens was dependable and came up with the biggest play of the day for the Jets—a 25-yard TD that gave the Jets the lead for the first time in what felt like months. 

    WR Jeremy Kerley: B

    Kerley made a key third-down grab near the sidelines and 30-yard reception that set up a Nick Folk field goal. It was a nice rebound game for the player whose late first-half punt muff changed the game last week in Seattle.

    WR Stephen Hill: D

    We will assume that Hill had a positve effect on certain run plays. His first-quarter third-down drop and inability to find the ball on a long end-zone corner route did him in, though. Not to mention his pass interference penalty that set the Jets back and forced them to give up on a drive in the second half.

    TE Dustin Keller: C-

    Keller caught two passes for 16 yards. We expect more from him but have to believe that opponents are trying to take away one of the Jets few threats in the passing game.

Offensive Line

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    Mark Sanchez was sacked a few times early on, but aside from that, the Jets offensive line collectively set the tone for the Jets ground game, one that modestly kept the chains moving from start to finish. 

    When the Jets went to the air, Sanchez had time to throw and completed just enough downfield plays to keep the offense on schedule.


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    With the pressure in New York mounting, and Rex Ryan taking on old friend Brain Schottenheimer, the Jets defensive architect came through. Ryan's players backed up their coach's belief in a unit that after a less-than-pedestrian first half of 2012 is starting to behave like a top-notch one. Both Sam Bradford (170 yards) and star running back Steven Jackson (81 yards) were held in check.

    It was the second straight week that a Jets rushing defense, ranked 30th (145 yards) heading into St Louis, slowed down a top running back for much of the game.  


    The Jets defense did a great job in taking the game over after the Rams' first scoring drive. The Rams were able to move the ball and score a second touchdown in the final quarter, but much of the Rams' late yardage may have been the result of Ryan dialing down the pressure in order to avoid gving up a quick score.


    More pressure, a string of three-and-outs, and the rise of Mo Wilkerson. Now it's time to close the deal.


    Now it's Rex 1, Schotty 1. This quarter was a lot more convincing of a win than the first quarter was a loss for Rex Ryan's defense vs. Brian Schottenheimer's offense. Eric Smith's interception on the Rams 20-yard line failed to lead to points, but soon after Sam Bradford was stripped and Bart Scott scooped up the fumble, taking back deep into Rams territory.

    The Jets are getting to Bradford now, speeding up his decision-making in the pocket. Rams star WR Danny Amendola limped off for the Rams late in the half. Keep an eye on that story.


    It's Schotty 1, Rex 0, thanks to a slow start for Ryan's unit. A St Louis wide receiver wide open in the end zone on 4th-and-goal? Steven Jackson (six carries, 29 yards) is already getting to the second level, and there was little pressure on Sam Bradford, whose long completion to Austin Pettis helped set up the Rams touchdown.

Defensive Line

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    Running back Steven Jackson was held to 81 yards rushing. Sam Bradford was harassed in the pocket, pressured and chased for much of the day. Defensive end Mo Wilkerson, the second-year player who Ryan noted prior to Week 1 was poised to break out this year, is now starting to shine. The defense desperately needed more contributions up front after the bye week. On Sunday, they reaped the rewards of the production.


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    Linebackers: B+

    David Harris was all over the field today. Bart Scott picked up a Sam Bradford fumble and set the Jets up for a first-half score. Rookie Demario Davis was closing down check-down receivers. The speedy Rams receiver corps was unable to roam free across the middle. Steven Jackson never escaped for that big long TD run he is known for. We like what we saw from this group. The entire group. Finally. Welcome back, linebackers.


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    Rams wide receiver Brandon Gibson was all alone without any Jets coverage in sight as the Rams took an early 7-0 lead. The rest of the day, the Jets secondary hit hard, and prevented the big-play strike. Safety Eric Smith had an interception, and Yeremiah Bell blew up some Bradford pass attempts. Cornerback Ellis Lankster thrived in press coverage and Kyle Wilson, who has been susceptible to giving up the big play downfield as of late, stayed within himself, keeping receivers in front of him.

    Rams wideout Danny Amendola was held to 41 yards.

Special Teams

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    A blocked FG, missed FG and botched fake punt are not the way to aid a pedestrian Jets offense. Joe McKnight's return to action allowed for a key 42 yard return setting up the Jets first FG. The Rams had a TD return called back due to a holding penalty and almost broke another. Consider the two a warning for a unit that can ill afford to give up big plays Thursday night aginst the Patriots.


    Thank Chaz Schilens, who saved a TD return while the Rams were trying to come back from a three score deficit. Nick Folk missed a FG that was not blcoked this time. Luckily an imperfect quarter didn't hurt the Jets late.


    No big plays were allowed on Ram returns in a one-score game, so that was a plus. Kyle Wilson gave his club a minor scare by fumbling near the sidelines on a punt return try. Fortunately he covered up and all was quiet on the Midwestern front again. Scaring coach Westhoff like that was unnecessary, however.


    A second long Nick Folk field goal made up for another blocked field goal, the second in the past three games. A Rams kickoff return for a touchdown was called back, luckily. Hopefully that was the last of the big run-backs.

    Tim Tebow ran a failed shovel pass to Lex Hilliard on a fake fourth-down punt near midfield. Wonder if the Jets would have tried that trailing just 7-3 against a team with a more potent offense.


    Welcome back, Joe McKnight. A 42-yard kickoff return helped the Jets regain some momentum after falling behind 7-0. Nick Folk followed with a 51-yard field goal. The Jets will need a few additional big plays from this unit today.


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    The amount of pressure that Rex Ryan and his embattled offensive coordinator Tony Sparano faced heading into this must-win game against Brain Schottenheimer and the Rams was remarkable. They were 3-6 and on the brink. Stories began to raise the notion of Ryan's job security, amidst the Jets growing sea of issues.

    So what did Ryan do? He went out and had a terrific defensive play-calling performance against his former offensive coordinator while keeping the Jets focused on the Rams, not the "Terrible Tim" saga that the Daily News started last week. Ryan showed why he is the Jets leader by providing a roadmap for the way out of the circus tent for now. It was only the 3-6-1 Rams, but as Ryan stated prior to kickoff, the Jets were "starving for a win." Thanks in big part to Ryan, they got one.


    The Jets stayed with the ball-control plan and closed the deal in a must-win contest. Great job by the entire coaching staff.


    Rex Ryan has a pulse on this game, one that he knows the defense can close. The Jets ran a draw play on 3rd-and-long in order to punt near midfield, proof of the way Ryan wants to play the remainder of this game. 

    The coaching staff has not given in to media pressure calling for more plays for Tim Tebow. They recognize that Sanchez is in control of his play today and are not getting in his way through excess substitutions involving packages designed for Tebow.


    The offense was as productive as one could expect. Running back Joe McKnight was finally turned into somewhat of a threat, and the defense took the game over.

    We wondered if the Jets would be able to withstand an early uppercut given this past week's "Terrible Tim" drama. The Jets second-quarter comeback showed that these Jets are not ready to splinter apart just yet.


    Rex Ryan said this week, "I think the mark of a good coach is to maximize the talent u have around u. I think without question we do that." Sadly, he could be right.

    We give the coaching staff a C- though for valuing Stephen Hill so highly, and that no other veteran was brought in to start the season. Another key drop, but don't blame the kid, blame the staff for that.