This NFL season has been just as unpredictable as the play of the New York Jets. Sunday marked the day that the Jets announced to the NFL that they are a legitimate playoff contender and can compete with the best teams in the league. The Jets’ 26-20 victory against the Saints was surprising to say the least, but what might be even more astonishing, was the play of Chris Ivory, who the Jets have been banking on all season.
With the Jets alternating wins and losses each week, they are 5-0 in odd weeks and 0-4 in even, with a 4-1 record at home. This marked the fifth time in Rex Ryan’s coaching career that he had defeated his brother, Rob Ryan, and now has 5-0 record against him.
The Jets defense was phenomenal, holding the Saints to 3-11 on the third down and a total of 41-rushing yards (lowest of the season). The Jets lead the NFL in rushing yards allowed with 73.8, with a 3.1 ypc average. Gang Green made plays when they had to, including an interception forced by Dawan Landry, and a hit by Quinton Coples on Drew Brees that resulted in an incomplete pass to essentially end the game.
1. Turnovers Make Winning Easy… Well, if you’re the one forcing them.
Having forced only five interceptions all season, the Jets had to feel accomplished with two of them coming in their win against the Saints. The first interception came with 8:44 left in the first quarter when Landry jumped a route to deflect the ball where DeMarrio Davis scooped it out of the air; this led to a 39-yard field goal. The next interception came with less than 3 minutes left in the second, when Antonio Cromartie picked off a pass intended for Nick Toon. Geno Smith scored five plays later, on a 3-yard run, to give Gang Green the lead going into half (20-17). The Jets finished with a +2 turnover mark, which is their best of the season. Turnovers usually result in points, and in a game like this, the Jets were probably not going to be able to win without them.
2. Quinton Coples Finds His Groove
The former 16th overall pick, out of North Carolina, had his best game of the season, by constantly getting pressure in the backfield. He had two monumental plays in the fourth quarter that helped secure the win for the Jets. On a 4th and 19, he put the hit on Drew Brees that essentially ended the game. He also had a game-changing tackle on Josh Hill, on an end around play, on 4th and 1, where the Saints were on the Jets 36 that resulted in an 8 yard loss. Coples finished the game with three QB hits and two tackles for loss, while also holding the edge on almost every run play.
3. Chris Ivory
With a 7.7 ypc average, it is safe to say Chris Ivory had himself a quality performance. Ivory had three carries of 25 plus yards, including a 52-yard burst, finishing the game with 18 carries for 189-yards and one touchdown. More than halfway through the season Ivory finally looks healthy and well-rested, as he has Bilial Powell (9 carries for 29 yards) splitting time with him. Powell actually finished the game with one more play than Ivory, but it is doubtful that Ivory minds that with the way he performed. This was Ivory’s first game against his former team and he made his impression; the Jets have to hope he can keep performing at this pace. Without Ivory’s fantastic play, they probably would not have won this game– plain and simple, but if he can continue this trend, watch out AFC.
4. Dee NICE!
Well Milliner backed up his coach’s praises of him earlier in the week, with a tremendous game against one of the most dynamic passing games in the league (3rd in pass yards per game). Rex Ryan seems to know how to motivate his players; a week after being benched, Milliner came out and had six tackles and one pass deflected, as well as playing tight coverage on his assigned receivers. Now Milliner was certainly no Darrelle Revis out there, but it was far better than what he has shown this season. Ryan said mid-week that Milliner will be “the best rookie cornerback in the league.” He will have to, at minimum, continue to play at this level for the Jets defense to be elite.
5. Nick Folk GOLD
23-23 with two game-winning field goals. Enough said. Nick Folk is the best kicker in the NFL right now and his numbers are backing it up, as the majority of his kicks come from 40-49 yards, where he is 11-11. He has accounted for 83 points this season and was essential in the victory against the Saints. Folk has responded after two straight off seasons of being challenged by other kickers that the Jets have brought in. In a season where everything about the Jets has been inconsistent, Folk has been the one constant.