New York Jets: Who Played Well and Who Didn't in Rout of Jaguars
There's no doubt the Jaguars' offense is in transition and their defense isn't much better.
Still, this is the NFL, and there's a reason for the phrase "any given Sunday."
There were a lot of players who stood out for good reasons in Sunday's win, but there were also a few who will not look so good on film today.
Each game must be a constant evolution towards the Super Bowl and Sunday was exactly that.
New York has shown eruptions of brilliance on both sides of the ball so far this season, but they have to become more consistent if they want to feel Super Bowl confetti in 2011.
Muhammad Wilkerson's sack for a safety set the tone for the entire game.
The victory against the Jaguars was evidence of how lethal New York can be when they get off to a fast start.
A defense of the Jets caliber only becomes more powerful when their offense gives them an early lead.
Wilkerson provided a boost of momentum at an early point in the game and the Jets never looked back.
He had two solo tackles, a sack and tackle for loss, plus another quarterback hit.
More impressive than his stat sheet was Wilkerson's ability to consistently fight off blocks and pressure the quarterback. He has already shown his ability to stop the run, but if he can provide pressure, more often he will become a potent defensive assassin.
Keller was the best offensive player on the field Sunday afternoon.
His prowess after the catch was only surpassed by his flawless performance catching the football.
Keller had six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. He caught every pass that was thrown to him, with a long of 37 and an average of 16.8 yards per catch.
Keller's potential within the Jets' offense is often discussed, but he rarely sees the attention he got yesterday.
If offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer continues to feature Keller in the game plan, the Jets offensive capabilities can explode.
Keller will allow Santonio Holmes to see better matchups and open up the deep ball for Plaxico Burress.
New York has more firepower than they have had in a long time, and Keller is a devastating member of their arsenal.
Keller's talent and his relationship with Mark Sanchez is a key to unlocking the full potential of Gang Green's offense.
Sanchez's performance in Sunday's game mirrored how much of his career has gone.
Just when he looks like he's becoming an elite quarterback, he takes a step backwards.
That being said, Sanchez played better than the numbers he put up.
His interceptions were frustrating and inexplicable, but he made plays when he had to and continued to look in command of the offense.
Sanchez threw for 182 yards and completed 17 passed on 24 attempts. His two touchdowns were accompanied by two interceptions.
The interceptions can be a deceiving statistic; Sanchez was accurate and efficient in Sunday's rout.
Regardless, his mistakes must be rectified—he won't be able to get away with them against better opponents.
The good news is those mistakes can be cleaned up.
Sanchez has had so much success at such an early age that it can be easy to forget how young he is. Many of the great quarterbacks in NFL history didn't hit their stride until their third or fourth season.
Sanchez still has room to improve, but he is consistently getting better.
Mark Sanchez will have to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl instead of his running game carrying him like they have in the past.
In order for the Jets to reach their lofty aspirations, Sanchez must emerge as the quarterback he is capable of becoming.
Antonio Cromartie was a forgotten man this offseason, and after a sketchy performance in this year's opener, it seemed like the Jets may have been looking elsewhere for a reason.
Cromartie's performance against the Jaguars went a long way towards proving why he and Darrelle Revis are such a dynamic combination.
Revis shut down his side of the field without breaking a sweat, Cromartie chose a more flashy approach.
His rare athletic ability was oozing all over the field.
Cromartie's greatest strength is man coverage, and he took full advantage of an impotent Jaguars offense.
Josh McCown played a terrible game, but Cromartie would have given any quarterback problems yesterday.
Cromartie had three tackles, two interceptions and two more passes defended in his brilliant performance.
Eric Smith played like two entirely different players in his first two games of the year.
Against Dallas he was a clear weakness.
He played much better against the Jaguars, but still missed two interceptions even though he eventually ended up with one later in the game.
Smith is still a weak spot on the Jets' defense, particularly in coverage and against talented tight ends. If Mercedes Lewis had played, Smith may have had a long day at the office.
Smith did fill up the stat sheet against a weak Jacksonville offense.
He had five total tackles, two passed deflected and an interception.
Eric Smith still has a lot to prove in 2011, but he showed flashes of why Rex Ryan and the Jets thought he was worthy of a new contract and a starting position.
It's one thing to struggle against a player like DeMarcus Ware, but Jacksonville doesn't have any defensive players of that caliber.
Wayne Hunter played better against the Jaguars, but he still had a hard time in both the running and passing game.
Even though Ware had a huge game against Hunter in the opening game, he still played fairly well at right tackle.
Hunter's performance on Sunday was much of the same. He played well at times, but was also beaten badly a few times, resulting in a hard hit on Sanchez on one occasion. He was also flagged twice in the game for holding and a facemask.
Collectively, the Jets' offensive line did not play up to their standards. This was especially true in the running game and Hunter was a part of that.
He is absolutely a liability against teams that are able to bring a lot of pressure on the quarterback.
Hunter must grow as the Jets' offense does. The Jets have looked like a top-tier offense at times, but have yet to put it together for an entire game.
It was a scary moment for Jets nation when center Nick Mangold went down to the turf writhing in pain.
After the smoke cleared, Mangold was most likely OK, but he didn't return to the game.
Free-agent rookie Colin Baxter stepped in and performed well, especially considering the shoes he was trying to fill.
The Jets need Nick Mangold in the lineup, that's indisputable, but it's good to know that if he isn't always super human the Jets have someone capable of stepping in for a little bit.
Baxter's name wasn't called very much, which is usually a good sign for an offensive lineman.
He won't be a starter anytime soon, but he did what was asked of him and that's all that can be expected of a player.
Last but not least, the heart of the Jets' defense, the linebackers.
Bart Scott, David Harris and company were all over the field, swarming in force.
They shut down a talented Maurice Jones-Drew and ran Josh McCown off the field.
The linebackers were all over the stat sheet.
Calvin Pace had five total tackles
Bart Scott contributed four solo tackles, a sack and two hits on the quarterback.
David Harris joined in with three tackles and a pass defended.
Bryan Thomas added four tackles, two of them for a loss.
Josh Mauga topped it all off with two tackles and an interception.
Bart Scott and David Harris may get the headlines, but the Jets' linebacking corps is talented from top to bottom.
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