Not even Nostradamus himself could’ve predicted the Jets would be 5-4 going into the bye week, with victories over the likes of both Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but the team continues to silence its critics, week in, week out.
QB Geno Smith has played an integral role in the team’s success, managing games and beating opponents with both his legs and his arm.
Sunday’s game was especially interesting, and was reminiscent of when Smith was under center at WVU, as his receivers excelled in yards after the catch. His eight completions combined for a total of seven yards downfield, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
But with a strong running game, downfield passing isn’t a necessity, and ex-Saints RB Chris Ivory was more than motivated to trample his former team.
The Jets RB rushed for 139 yards on only 18 carries, averaging 7.7 yards per rush. He’s known for being a powerful, downhill runner, similar to what Shonn Greene was for the team in 2009, but on Sunday showed flashes of explosiveness in the open field, busting into the second and third levels of the Saints defense multiple times.
Could he be the Jets new “bell cow”? Gaining 100 of his 139 yards versus his former team after contact (via Pro Football Focus) will certainly help his case to be the workhorse as the team goes into the bye week.
And on the defensive side of the ball, Jets did a great job of getting pressure with their stout defensive front, disrupting the timing of Brees’ passing game by taking him off his spot and knocking him down.
— Erik Frenz (@ErikFrenz) November 4, 2013
Rex Ryan improved to 5-0 against his brother, Rob, and the team’s gameplan to run the football to keep Brees off the field worked to perfection.
Let’s break down the four key plays that resulted in the Jets entering the bye week over .500, with the luxury of facing only one team with a winning record (Panthers) during its final seven games of the 2013 regular season.
- Play No. 1: First quarter, 7:43, 2nd-and-4, INTERCEPTION
It’s the Tip Drill Show, starring S Dawan Landry and LB Demario Davis!
Jets went to work in their 3-4 base defense, with S Dawan Landry trailing TE Benjamin Watson, who was running a crossing route.
As Brees dropped back to pass, PFF’s Midseason All-Pro Team DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison got pressure up the A-Gap and forced Brees to step up in the pocket.
Landry read Brees’ eyes—notice he never really takes his eyes off Watson—and saw the TE coming open across the middle. He accelerated and put his hands on Watson as the ball was arriving, careful as to not grab or push him to warrant a flag. He reached his hand in to break up the pass, which was thrown behind Watson, and Davis was able to come down with the tipped ball for the early turnover to keep the game scoreless.
- Play No. 2: Second quarter, 14:57, 2nd-and-12, 52-yard gain
The Jets were pinned deep near their own end zone—looking for some breathing room. They would get that and more, thanks to Ivory’s second-longest career run and some excellent blocking by his teammates.
The Saints stacked the box with nine defenders, but it didn’t seem to matter on this play, and it actually helped the Jets RB burst through a hole to quickly bust into the third level of the Saints defense.
Ivory is known as a great downhill runner, but he flashed great open-field speed here, looking explosive after hitting a hole opened up by RT Austin Howard, who continues to improve every week. FB Tommy Bohanon was the lead blocker on the play, and he literally picked up CB Corey White and turned him outside to move him out of Ivory’s way.
S Kenny Vaccaro (who I was hoping Jets would draft) was able to take a great angle and would eventually chase Ivory down, but not after a 50+ yard pickup that helped flip field position and led to a Nick Folk field goal.
- Play No. 3: Second quarter, 0:42, 1st-and-goal, 3-YARD TOUCHDOWN RUN
Here’s a prime example of what a strong interior running game gives you. Faced with a 1st-&-goal situation, OC Marty Mornhinweg guessed the Saints would stack the box and sell out on the run up the middle. He was right.
Smith did a great job of selling the play-fake on what looked to be a routine handoff to Ivory, but instead kept the football and bootlegged around right end.
DE Cameron Jordan had contain on the play, and even though he’s having a great season, Smith made him look silly for a brief moment. The Jets QB made it look like he was headed for the sideline, but then changed direction and cut back inside. He juked Jordan out of his shoes, trotting his way to the end zone thanks to some great blocking by WR David Nelson.
Touchdowns in the 2-minute drill had become foreign to Jets fans with QB Mark Sanchez behind center, but Smith has changed the culture and scored a momentum-shifting touchdown at the end of the half, giving the Jets their first lead since early in the first quarter, which they never relinquished.
- Play No. 4: Fourth quarter, 7:54, 4th-and-1, 8-YARD LOSS
Sometimes Saints HC Sean Payton attempts to get too cute in his play calling. This was one of those times, and it was a play that, in my opinion, completely changed the outcome of the game.
The previous play, a pass to FB Jed Collins (which he dropped) was questionable, but this one takes the cake. It really exposed the Saints’ biggest weakness—short-yardage situations (they probably wish they had Ivory back now).
Anyway the Jets completely sold out on the run and showed a rare look, operating in a 46 Bear front. Saints ran an end-around and faked a handoff to RB Pierre Thomas. Brees, instead, handed the ball off to TE Josh Hill(?).
Coples was in charge of setting the edge on this play, and it’s a good thing he did, because if he overpursued, Hill would’ve had plenty of real estate to run through and this play may have resulted in a touchdown.
DID YOU KNOW? Former Chicago Bears DC, Buddy Ryan, is credited with creating the 46 Bear front and used it often. Rex took a page out of his father’s book, and he did so successfully during the most pivotal moment of the game, to beat his brother. It’s all in the family!