By Jay Kirell
FINAL SCORE: Jets 18 – Bucs 17 (4th Q)
4:30 PM FINAL THOUGHTS:
I don’t have children, but I’ve adopted a lot of rookies over my years as a sports fan to essentially treat them like my surrogate sports children. It’s the reason there’s a whole industry devoted to the draft in the major professional sports. People like the new, exciting and fresh. And when that happens to be on your team, it’s like you just had a child.
Geno Smith is every Jets fan’s baby now. He exceeded ALL expectations for him going into the game. Threw for over 250 yards with one score and one pick. Most importantly, he didn’t throw wildly away from his receivers. He put his receivers in perfect position to catch and run with the ball, something Sanchez was horrible at.
That’s not even mentioning the last drive of the game, with just :34 left and no timeouts. That rollout where he used his underrated speed and baited the defender into hitting him while he was straddling the line between out of bounds and the field – brilliant.
It’s clear there are plenty of things to like about Geno Smith – much more than we expected and there’s a good chance by the end of the season Jets fans could be saying we went from the biggest qb bust in years to the biggest steal of the draft in 2013.
But that’s if you’re only focusing on offense, and not the defense – where the young stud lineman basically won the game for the Jets and a huge chunk of that was the other less hyped Jets rookie – Sheldon Richardson, who had 3 tackles, 4 assists and a half a sack in one of the best rookie defensive games Jets fans have seen in years.
General Manager Jay Idzik might have gone 3-for-3 if not for the disappointing debut of Dee Miliner, who struggled with penalties and failed to have the same positive effect on the game that his fellow top draft picks did.
As a exhibition of player development, this game could not have impressed fans of the Green & White more. As a game result, it probably hurts the development of the team overall to lose draft positioning, but with the top college players being defensive linemen and quarterbacks – and this first game showing the Jets appear to have those positions covered, maybe the “Drown Me for Clowney” or “Slaughter for Bridgewater” can fade into the background and Jets fans can just curiously watch Geno Smith, Sheldon Richardson & other young players like Muhammed Wilkerson, Milliner, Quentin Coples (who missed the game with injury), Stephen Hill & Chris Ivory develop, while dealing with what will probably be a 5 to 6-win season.
Bad enough to miss the playoffs, but not bad enough to get a Top-5 pick.
If we get more games like this one day, I doubt Jets fans will mind.
4:22 PM – I don’t think Geno Smith is Jewish or celebrates Rosh Hashanah- but he just christened a new year for Jets fans.
4:20 PM – Smith has over 250 yards passing and he just suckered a Tampa defender into a late hit with his outstanding mobility. I think we have something here folks.
4:18 PM – and let the “drown me for Clowney” or “Slaughter for Bridgewater” begin – a field goal makes it 17-15 Bucs. Jets have no timeouts with :34 remaining.
4:15 PM – I should do an on-the-spot correction for my criticism of the Jets linebacking corps. Apparently Antoine Barns is a linebacker, and he has played very well, it’s just Harris and Davis that suck.
4:10 PM – I can’t think of a single Jets fan who isn’t secretly rooting for the team to lose this game. If the Jets lose this game, but the young players look good – that’s a win-win for a Jets fan in every sense. Better draft pick + player development.
4:09 PM – can you imagine what Tom Brady is going to do to this secondary? Eh, better cross that bridge when we come to it. When do we play New England [searches] …crap.
4:06 PM – Yup. Get past the Jets linemen and it’s pretty much clear sailing. Coples is missed.
4:04 PM – hey, he held onto the ball. Sanchez would have ran into a testicle or something.
4:03 PM – is it too early to say the Jets could have the NFL’s offensive and defensive rookies of the year?
4:01 PM – the optimistic Jets fan in me says … wait, what optimistic Jets fan?
3:59 PM – Sheldon Richardson. Steal. Of. The. Draft.
3:57 PM – I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the first season without Mike Westoff as special teams coach. Whoever took over for him is having himself a fine first game.
3:55 PM – I mean, yes, we took the lead, big whoop. Does any Jets fan really not see our crappy secondary getting burned to give up the winning touchdown – or at least, give the lead back to Tampa?
3:53 PM – so now the Jets go safe & go for the field goal. Then WHY GO WILDCAT TWO PLAYS BEFORE? Jeez this franchise just baffles you sometimes.
3:52 PM – Nobody can figure out what the Jets offensive coordinator, Morningweig, is thinking running the wildcat this much. Smith is having a nice drive here. Comes back and first pass afterwards is just thrown away. Clueless play calling here from the Jets.
3:45 PM – Smith with back-to-back nice passes. Last time Sanchez did that was 2010, I believe.
3:44 PM – Balai Powell – fumbles like that are probably why you never started here.
3:42 PM – Chris Ivory – drops like that are probably why you never started in New Orleans.
3:32 PM – The Jets punter had a 44-yard punt just now. Only 40 yards short of the one he did last quarter.
3:30 PM – Three quarters of watching Geno Smith has convinced me Mark Sanchez is the biggest bust since Ryan Leaf.
3:27 PM – commentators on tv just said there’s a home for Mark Sanchez somewhere. Yeah, on a TLC reality show.
3:17 PM – again, the punters in this game are shining. The Jets punter came within a fingertip of an 85-yarder.
3:16 PM – Smith takes off from his own endzone and gains about 15 on a simple run up the middle. This must warm the hearts of even the most-frozen of Jets fan.
3:15 PM – Mangold is back in the game. The dude is without question the heart of the Jets team.
3:13 PM – The punters are the MVP’s of this game so far. It seems like every punt ends up inside the 10.
3:10 PM – Milliner makes his first good play blindly breaking up a sideline pass.
3:07 PM – Rex might want to consider blitzing to get Freeman out of his groove. He’s just picking apart the secondary right now.
3:05 PM – Cromartie gets beat again on 3rd down by Vincent Jackson, who is closing in on 100 yards for the game.
3:03 PM – Another injury. The way this game is going there’s going to be more players in the training room than on the field by the fourth quarter.
3:01 PM – I’m pretty sure the guy who backs up Jeff Mangold greeted me at Walmart a few weeks ago.
2:59 PM – This will probably get overlooked, but the Jets punter has been providing the defense with excellent field position.
2:58 PM – Looks like Mangold got his elbow or forearm smashed by another player’s helmet. Ouch. Now he’s out of the game and some dude nobody expected to play is anchoring the offensive line.
2:55 PM – Mangold, the Jets star center, is down. This is bad. Really bad.
2:54 PM – The Jets are still trying the Wildcat. Let’s see how long this lasts.
2:50 PM – FIRST HALF IMPRESSIONS:
+ Defensive line is beastly and is only going to get better, barring injuries.
+ Geno Smith definitely belongs in the NFL and may be better than Sanchez right now.
+ The offensive line is giving Smith plenty of time.
+ The receiving corps are not yet a liability in this game.
– The secondary is horrible.
– The linebackers are worse.
– The running game is non-existent.
– This feels more like the Bucs are playing down to the Jets level than the Jets playing well.
2:37 PM – And at halftime, it’s the Tampa Bay Penalty Flags 14 – the New York Concussions 12.
2:33 PM – Geno with his first NFL touchdown pass on what as a picture-perfect drive following his first NFL interception. The kid has moxie. Beautifully thrown touchdown with lots of zip on the ball. Quite the change from the Pennington-Sanchez noodle-arms.
2:32 PM – Geno Smith has made more high-quality throws in traffic and outside and down the middle today than Mark Sanchez has in his whole 2012 highlight reel.
2:29 PM – The Bucs are out to HURT the Jets. That’s two plays in the same series where they’ve seen to go head-hunting. Kerley just got sandwiched in a very violent collision.
2:24 PM – And on the very next play, Geno Smith says anything you can embarrass yourself with, I can do better and runs backwards 19 yards before getting sacked. SMH.
2:23 PM – Josh Freeman didn’t want to be left out of Mark Sanchez karaoke night, apparently.
2:20 PM – Geno just did his best Sanchez impression with a sailing interception right to the defender.
2:19 PM – Jeff Cumberland just got the crap knocked out of him. Gholston on the Bucs clearly put his shoulder into it but still got a penalty. Hey, I’m not complaining.
2:18 PM – Jets in a hurry-up offense. Smith looks comfortable running it. The ground game, however, has fared no better hurrying up or slowing down, though Ivory did a reasonably good job of fighting for a first down.
2:16 PM – Clyde Gates has some sort of dredlocked-claw coming out of the back of his helmet.
2:13 PM – Yup. Run right up the middle into the weakest part of the defense – the putrid linebacking corps.
2:12 PM – Jets have horrible field position to start out with. Smith can’t find anyone open and the pocket collapses around him. Mason Foster strips it and the Bucs look like they’re about to go up 14-5.
2:08 PM – Hey look, a big defensive play and Richardson and Barnes were involved. I sense a theme.
2:05 PM – Vincent Jackson just burned Antonio Cromartie – raise your hand if you didn’t see this happening?
2:00 PM – Jets offense manages to put points on the board. Screw you, Vegas!
1:58 PM – Revis just came about a half second from getting an interception. Smith was pressured, but overall the Jets line has protected the kid better than they did Sanchez last year. The line, if any part of the offense can be considered improved, is it.
1:56 PM – whether it’s Powell or Ivory – nobody is running on the Bucs defense.
1:55 PM – Smith just had a sort-of graceful run to pick up a first down. The dude is definitely not a young Michael Vick, but he knows how to use space.
1:53 PM – Tommy Bohanan – the great white hope of a 7th round pick “aka – Wayne Chrebet II” – just had a nice 21-yard gain. Kid looked like he belonged in the preseason.
1:48 PM – Smith with a nice short pass in traffic to Holmes for a first down to end the quarter. Sanchez probably doesn’t make that throw.
1:47 PM – and just to rub salt in the wound, Revis turns around and makes a play immediately after the Jets go back on offense.
1:44 PM – Milliner with another penalty, unnecessary roughness. Never saw Revis get that type of penalty.
1:42 PM – throughout the Rex Ryan era the Jets defense has been built from the secondary forward. Now this season the strength is clearly on the line – which should make for interesting schemes. Whatever they did just failed though, as Miliner was burned for a touchdown from what had been, just moments ago, an embarrassing offense.
1:41 PM – oh look, New England is up 10-0. Way to depress me, FOX.
1:40 PM – Geno Smith had his best throw so far – that was almost a catch-of-the-year candidate by Kerley, but he couldn’t quite hold on.
1:39 PM – The only bad thing about the Jets defense being so fun to watch is that it makes the offense that much harder to take.
1:35 PM – Wilkerson just had a classic Lawrence Taylor sack. This guy is going to be a Hall of Famer one day if he stays healthy.
1:33 PM – Richardson has pretty good technique and just explodes off the line. Him, Ellis and Wilkerson are going to be scary. And the Jets are minus Coples this afternoon.
1:28 PM – Revis just made a play. Crowd boos. Love it. Feel the hate, Jets fans. It shall sustain us.
1:27 PM – Balali Powell, who would probably be a really good practice team player on a championship team, is the starting running back for the Jets.
1:26 PM – Barnes, whoever he is – was in on that safety. I really aught to look this guy up.
1:25 PM – Bucs offense is so horrid right now they just had a safety. Is it just me or do there seem to be an inordinate amount of safeties in season openers?
1:23 PM – the Jets other rookie, Sheldon Richardson, just picked up a penalty for holding.
1:22 PM – The Bucs next series isn’t going any better than the first. Even though they’re less than what they were, the Jets defense can still hurt you in bad field position, and the Bucs are backed in their own end zone.
1:19 PM – Jets go wildcat twice on first drive. The wildcat that hasn’t fooled anyone in the NFL in five seasons. Aaaaand welcome to your 2013 New York Jets offense.
1:18 PM – Smith’s first pass is a 20+ yard gain to Kerley – who’s a good No. 4 receiver on a playoff team, but is a No. 2 receiver here. Ball looked wobbly. Scrambles on the next play.
1:15 PM – Alright, it’s Geno’s first drive of his career. Darrell Revis’ first chance to play against the Jets. So, there are some interesting subplots in this otherwise meaningless game.
1:14 PM – Man, the Tampa Bay offense looks like what I expected the Jets offense to look like. This is emabrassing. Ever since that first down it’s been like watching a bad high school offense.
1:12 PM – Antoine Barnes picks of the Jets first sack of the season. I literally have no idea who that is.
1:09 PM – This Jets defense is clearly the worst of the Rex Ryan era. The line, while filled with more young talent, suffers from the paper thin linebacking corps and a newly mixed together secondary.
1:06 PM – Dee Miliner, the Jets first round draft pick, just got beat for a first down on his first test in the NFL.
1:00 PM – A few minutes to kickoff for the latest installment of personal torture known as the first game of the New York Jets season. This year the team looks to be one of the worst in the league, not an uncommon prediction if you’re a long-time Jets fan like myself.
The bright spots to look for: Muhammed Wilkerson and his continued development. Geno Smith and his debut. And whether the Jets offense can do ANYTHING in real games. Here we go…