With external pressure at an all-time high and internal pressure simmering due to the arrival of new GM John Idzik, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is essentially coaching for his job this year. What will it take for him to survive the axe? Barring a Woody Johnson intervention on his behalf, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of seven or eight wins along with a clear indication that the rebuilding job is going as planned. With this as a backdrop, I will monitor the progress of my Jets on a weekly basis and try and gauge the prospects of Rex keeping his job.
Week 5 opponent: Atlanta Falcons
Takeaways: Now it remains to be seen whether Monday night’s win over the Falcons catapults the Jets onward to a respectable season, but after watching the performance put on by Geno Smith, I was left with the impression that there could be better days ahead.
After Atlanta scored to take a 28-27 lead with just under two minutes left to play, it looked like New York was going to lose a game they had dominated throughout and deserved to win. Then, almost on cue, Smith took control of the huddle and calmly directed a directed a drive that set up Nick Folk’s 43-yard field goal on the final play, giving the Jets a 30-28 victory.
I can’t say enough how big of a win this was for Rex and the Jets. Last week we mentioned they difficult schedule they face in the weeks ahead, and with wins likely to be difficult to achieve, it is vital that they take advantage of every opportunity placed in front of them. Admittedly they faced depleted a Falcons team, but this was still an Atlanta squad loaded with talent on offense that has been tough to beat in the Georgia Dome since Matt Ryan became the signal caller.
Along with Geno Smith, credit definitely must be given to Marty Mornhinweg. The Jets offensive coordinator called a brilliant game featuring a variety of interesting sets and formations that kept Atlanta’s defense on edge for practically the entire first half. Mornhinweg mixed in plenty of running plays to keep the defense honest, and when it was time for Geno to throw he was giving plenty of safe options to choose from. His final stat line was impressive (16 of 20 for 199 yards with three touchdowns and a 147.7 passer rating), especially since he did it without Santonio Holmes. He came of age (for one week at least), and it was thrilling to watch. Additionally, Geno might have found a new favorite target in Jeff Cumberland, as the big tight-end proved to be a difficult cover.
The biggest takeaway of all might be that the offense played a clean game, committing zero turnovers. If they can come close to this level of offensive execution each week they will be in every game because of their defense.
Ah the defense. I am running out of superlatives to describe the defensive front of the Jets. All you can say is they are big, they are bullies, and they consistently dominate the line of scrimmage. Muhammad Wilkerson seems to be unblockable at times and has quickly turned into one of the better defensive ends in the entire NFL. The goal-line stand they put forth at the end of the first half was a thing of a beauty and ended up hurting Atlanta down the stretch.
I am still a little concerned with the secondary, as Atlanta was able to throw the ball down the field with relative ease late in the game. New York had a 27-14 lead early in the fourth quarter and only needed to get off the field to have a stress free ending to the game. Instead, on back-to-back drives Matt Ryan was able to push the ball down the field by methodically picking apart the pass coverage of the Jets. Hopefully they can shore this up in time for Big Ben’s arrival to MetLife Stadium this Sunday.
Rex Watch: Likely remaining wins needed to keep job – 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Who’s next: 10/13 vs Pittsburgh